Saturday, September 10, 2011

Guess Who Knocked on My Door This Morning

This morning a local COC group was in the neighborhood knocking on doors and leaving their literature regarding an upcoming Seminar that they will be holding beginning tomorrow. They left me two pieces of information. A flyer for the Seminar and a tract titled "The Safety Chain." The front of the tract depicts a family of four (man, woman, boy and a girl) with a literal chain going from the family to a bible. (See below).

I've seen this tract and image before. But now that I am no longer a member of the COC I see this image very differently. I suppose the average COC member sees a family protected by a "safety chain" that keeps them tethered to the Word of God. Much like a safety harness worn by a construction worker who is working several stories above the ground, the tether keeps him protected from falling to his death should he miss a step on the girder that he walks upon.

Now I see something very different.

A chain seems so counter-intuitive when considering the freedom we have in Christ and what He has accomplished for us (Romans 8:1,2). But when considering the COC's system of faith and work righteousness, a chain seems so appropriate. The COC claims to "speak where the Bible speaks", yet where in Scripture do we see the concept of a "safety chain." Salvation is in Christ, not a chain. Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd, the Vine, the Way, the Truth, the Light, but never as a chain. And if the chain connects us to the Word, what's the chain? It must be something other then the Word.

Inside the tract, on page three, the following appears:

"Please read the following chain of scriptures prayerfully. It will only take a few minutes and could save your soul!"

A few things come to mind.

We see that the "safety chain" is a chain composed of "links" of Scripture, fashioned together into a "safety chain." Who determined the pattern of this chain? Which Scriptures are worthy of link status?

Also notice that this chain "could save your soul." "Could" save your soul? Sounds a little noncommittal.

Of course the Scriptures in the tract deal heavily with the promotion of water baptism, weekly Lord's Supper observance, weekly contributing, assembling, and singing a capella only music in worshiping God.

This is work-righteousness in textbook form.

Forget about the salvation that we have in Christ. Forget about the one-time for all-time sacrifice of a perfect Lamb for the sins of the world (Please, please, please read Hebrews 10:11-18).

No, your salvation, they would have you to believe, is predicated on your ability to perform the aforementioned rites and present yourself righteous before God based on your spiritual accomplishments.

Of all of God's commandments I broke while a member of the COC I suppose I may have been guilty of breaking the 4th Commandment the most often; not remembering the Sabbath.

But not by working on Sunday or gathering sticks like the example we have in Numbers 15:32-36. My transgression was much worse.

Just like the other commandments that Christ expanded upon and placed the root of the sin in the heart (i.e., killing vs. hating in our heart, adultery vs. lusting in the heart; see Matt. 5:21ff) I neglected to keep the Sabbath by trying to work my way to heaven.

See, Jesus taught that He was the Lord of the Sabbath (Lk. 6:5) and that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27). Christ also taught us to come to Him, all of us who are weak and heavy-laden, and we would find REST for our souls (Matt. 11:28, 29).

Do we keep the Sabbath today? Of course we do. That is, if we REST in the WORK that JESUS did for us to save us. His work, not ours. If we are trying to rest in OUR works, we are violating the Sabbath and storing up wrath for ourselves in the judgement to come.

Jesus Christ is our Sabbath. He is our Rest. Please stop running yourself ragged on the treadmill of religion, trying to make yourself worthy. You will never be worthy of God's majestic Grace. If you were, it wouldn't be Grace.

"For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken afterward about another day. Consequently a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God. For the one who enters God's rest has also rested from his works, just as God did from his own works." (Heb. 4:8-10)

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you are saved! - and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast." (Eph. 2:4-9)