The Evangelical Universalist Forum

"You must do nothing to come to Jesus" vs "This is what you must do now"


#1

I visited a new church with my family last week and the pastor said something that I hear all the time. I see these two statements as contradictory, but somehow, many Christian’s don’t seem to see a conflict and I am wondering how it can be explained.

Statement 1: "Notice that Jesus doesn’t tell us to clean up our act first, then come to him. He takes us as we are!

no less than 1 minute later did he say:

Statement 2: “We must turn our back on old ways to prove that we are his. We can’t live like we are living before. Jesus makes it clear, we need to leave sin behind”

So, I guess from my perspective, I see those two statements as contradictory. We are told that God requires nothing of us to come to him. But then, the minute we do, we must leave behind all of our old ways. It just seems word games here. Seems like the old bait and switch tactic.

I am not suggesting that either of these two statements are true in and of themselves, just two things see from the same exact people. It is like talking out of two sides of their mouths.

Example:

Guy comes to Jesus as he is. Realizes he is in need of forgiveness. Says a prayer. Next week preacher talks about sin and if we are still sinning, we may not be His…

“Wait just a minute here? You said Jesus accepts me as I am…”

“Well, he does at first… I mean, if there is no change, then maybe Jesus isn’t in your heart?(they love to create doubt)… Maybe you didn’t really believe?”

“But I don’t get it, I mean, you said I just need to believe and trust him and he would perform the work? Now you are causing me to doubt my salvation! You say that because I still have some questionable sin in my life that I am working through, that I may not actually be in God’s hand???”

“Let’s dedicate you life to Jesus again”

rinse repeat after months and months… :slight_smile:

I can only imagine the many people who suffer from mental illness that much of the Church teaches. They might mean well, but I think anyone with a brain can see a conflicting message here all around.

I think what people are trying to say is that the first step is trusting in God, then we must strive and follow him. This is a requirement to be a believer and if we don’t want to follow him, then maybe we are not really believer and or trusting God. We may need to take a introspective look.

But even if that is what most of Christendom actually believes, they don’t sell it that way. They sell it as black and white, and neglect to give you both parts before you start the journey. The old bait and switch… Get um in the Kingdom first, then tell them the truth!


#2

Bang on the money Gabe :smirk:


#3

In traditional evangelicalism, these ideas do sound like a schizophrenic bait and switch.

Yet some think that these two apparent textual themes in tension are reconciled by seeing the N.T. design as consistent with Israel and the O.T.'s “covenantal nomism,” wherein God’s grace chooses and loves Israel as his covenant people without any prior clean up. But the expected response to such grace is their obedience to God’s law to reflect God’s character which is necessary to retain their status as those who can expect to inherit the glories of the new heaven and earth.

Of course, this interpretative solution is unpopular in the evangelical tradition that sees the point of belief as receiving total and unconditional eternal security (which is especially one of the appeals of believing one is elect in the dominant tradition of 5 point Calvinism).

My own sense as a universalist is that affirming both themes is no deal breaker, if we embrace that God’s love is unconditional, and that the necessity of transformation is consistent with this, while also affirming that God’s love is committed to ‘bring to completion the work He had begun’ in all of his offspring, and thus achieve whatever degree of transformation in us that God deems appropriate for the eschaton.


#4

When I was a teenager in Winnipeg, I was shocked by a report that the preacher at the largest Baptist church in the city bellowed this assurance during his altar call: “Come down the aisle and commit your life to Christ. If you do, then you can leave here and spit in God’s face and you will still be saved.” In other words, say the magic words, get your ticket punched to Heaven, and it doesn’t matter a whit what kind of human being you subsequently become.


#6

In theological terms, you’re talking about forgiveness vs. sanctification.

One (forgiveness) is completely God’s work. Salvation is by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The other (sanctification) is something believers walk in. It’s still God’s work in us, but it’s also something that we are encouraged to engage in (Ephesians 2:10).

So I really don’t find any contradictions between these two doctrines. Sure, different preachers may express these in different ways, and some will confuse the two, but it’s also true that a tree can be recognized by its fruit (Matthew 12:33). That’s not to say that we’ll now be perfect in the way we live (we won’t), but we should be growing.

So, yes, we don’t need to do anything to come to Jesus. And once we have Him, out of the joy of our salvation, we will begin to want to serve Him, not in order to earn anything from Him, but simply to rejoice in what He’s done for us.


#7

Paul uses the term “imputed.” God imputed sin. The term “imputed” is interesting. It means to have charged to or against one’s account. It is to assign liability to someone making them responsible for the act of another. God literally rendered a class-action verdict in the charge of Adam’s sin against all humanity. In the exact same way, whenever we’re talking about God’s imputing righteousness, God is crediting righteousness to our account, even as he imputed sin to our account. This is the good news. Your account and everyone else’s have been eternally credited with righteousness! The good news is the most wonderful thing to know and be aware of on a constant basis.

Williams, Michael. One: The Gospel According to Mike


#8

Yes & amen!

When the Bible talks about our ongoing sanctification, it’s not saying that we’re engaging in making ourselves righteous. It’s walking in the good works that God prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). It’s agreeing with God that the old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). It’s living out a living faith, proving that our faith is alive and not dead (James 2:26).

None of this saves a person. We are saved by grace alone. And then God also begins to transform His people as they learn to walk not by the flesh, but by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).


#9

Yeah, no. I am sure people have convinced themselves of this. When someone does something nice for you with the expectation of devotion, it ceases to be a gift. It is just an exchange.

Guy1: I’d like to give you $20.
Guy2: Wow, thanks!
Guy1: Now I need you to do “X” for me. But don’t worry, it has nothing to do with the $20 I gave you. I just want you to be so delighted in the $20 I gave, that you naturally just want to do “X” for me. But, by the way, if you don’t naturally want to do “X” for me, then I am going to take my $20 back.

This is how Christianity is sold in evangelical circles. Honestly, I think people invented “We just are just overjoyed that he saved us that we want to follow him! Not to keep our secured position” It sounds great. But it is delusional. Why? Because if you don’t do “X” you are not getting the gift. Is God an indian giver?


#10

Do we have to ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling’?
Is there a spiritual battle to be won? Or lost?
If it is all God’s work, are you saying those that are ‘saved’ are the only ones God has chosen to save?

Seriously, we don’t have to do ANYTHING to ‘come to Jesus’? Do we even have to come to Him? And what does that entail? This stance seems very weak to me, and not fully in line with the expressions from Paul and other Christians.


#11

THAT IS A BIG BINGO MAN! Preach it brother :grinning:


#12

I totally agree, There is a skunk in the wood shed so to speak. This is why people are leaving the churches in huge numbers. Fundamentalist evangelical Christianity is on a downward slippery slope, and I am excited about the possibilities.:slightly_smiling_face:


#13

I’ll go a step farther, God’s love is unconditional… Period. Bob get beyond we have to do something… Transformation in this life is indeed done, but the understanding, the realization may never happen unless we who do understand stand in the gap and show how Jesus has ALREADY bridged the gap between sin and God. Our goal today, (from my view) is not to save anyone, but to show and explain what we all have received. Simple but complex if looked at through the evangelical eye.


#14

Once again, let’s not confuse the requirements of forgiveness vs. those of sanctification. The prerequisite for salvation is grace. The prerequisite for progressive sanctification is forgiveness.

Grace ⟶ forgiveness ⟶ sanctification

This is all I’m trying to say:

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Romans 6:15-19)


#15

Some people maintain (not me) true forgiveness doesn’t exist apart from true repentance… that could leave their potential sanctification in the hands of another’s hopeful repentance — yeeks! :cold_sweat:


#16

Just to be clear. I think what is being said is that none of the following are required any longer to be ‘right with God’, though they were at one time:
Not needed:
faith
repentance
thankfulness for Christ’s work
knowledge of God
asking forgiveness for sins
character change
ceasing sinning activity
stopping any activity the Scripture is very clear about stopping
worshipping other ‘gods’
serving Mammon
may I say: etc. etc.
None of those things need to be done to be ‘saved’?
It’s 'all taken care of"?
I’m not asking in order to argue or judge - I do want to know if my perceptions are correct.


#17

As I understand it… all those things are inherently beneficial to the believer, SO it’s not a case of “needed” as opposed to “not needed” BUT… if you’re saying “needed” I’d be asked “needed for what”?


#18

I said at the beginning of the post - needed to be ‘right with God’, in the normal sense of that term.
Or ‘saved’, in the normal sense. Or to be ‘in Christ’.
This is not an attack just needing clarification.


#19

Yep Dave all good, I should have read your first part more carefully; so yeah… in the ‘normal sense’ that evangelicalism attaches to it assuming we’re not right with God. That list is really more pertinent to how believers can or are to respond to the realisation of their right-ness with God. Thus I’d be looking at it in terms of folk being saved into the call of God for service, i.e., in practical terms… “love thy neighbour”, something not unique to so-called believers, as opposed being saved from… as per the ‘normal sense’ of evangelicalism.


#20

I appreciate the question and the clarifying answer, and realize differing semantics and views of what Jesus did may explain varying stances here.

But I see Jesus, the one for me who most reveals God, not seeing the unrepentant and unforgiving who reject God’s ways as folk able to fundamentally be “right with God.” And (presumably unlike some) I’m unconvinced that Jesus’ view of this doesn’t remain correct.


#21

I tend to agree with that. In addition, the talk about Christ’s work being ‘done’ or ‘finished’ (unless we are talking about the finished work as a sacrifice for sin) seems out of sync with what Paul teaches - that Christ is now Lord of the earth - not a bystander (or sitter) but actually in charge. AND that his ‘body’ is the Church. Those statements have entailments; necessarily, if Jesus is King of the world, any idea of His being of no real account now other than his past ‘work’ is just not true. There are other things to say as well.