Saturday, May 04, 2013

Part Four: Some reflections on the practical outworking of Man-Centered Theology

Christ is the head of the Church...that He may in all things have preeminence.”
Col. 1:14-18

In wrapping up my thoughts (for now) on Man-centered Theology and how it works out in my local church, let me again briefly state what I mean by "Man-centered Theology:"
A view of Christianity where the overwhelming focus in teaching and practice is on self, rule-keeping, outward appearances and performance; whether ‘to please God,’ to ‘prove one’s salvation,’ or to assure that we ‘make it to heaven.’ This focus inevitably leads to a system of spiritual bondage and condemnation every bit as harsh as the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament.


Is there "miracle cure" for this chronic illness that spreads with fatal results in so many churches? 

Yes. God’s Ultimate Remedy:  the Gospel of Grace. It's Powerful enough for salvation, sanctification, and it's our only guarantee of heaven, period.

In the Christian life expounded by the apostles it’s called “a Christ-Centered Theology.”

So let’s think about this. If I am presented a ‘gospel’ that emphasizes my behavior more than Christs’ sacrifice and resurrection, then I have based my Christian life on faulty assumptions, at the very best. At worst I have simply adopted one more man-made system of behavioral conditioning, having completely bypassed Christ, his supernatural work of salvation, and his offer of eternal life as a free gift.

If my Christian life looks back to my promises to God instead of God’s promises to me in Christ Jesus, I have committed myself to an empty religion and a life of perpetual self-condemnation and failure.

Strictly speaking, biblical Christianity is not at all the same thing as 'Religion'. The essence of Religion is this: the attempts of mankind to please God (the gods) and earn his approval; to attain eternal life/nirvana/etc., through ones’ efforts and good works.

The essence of biblical, Christ-centered Christianity is this: the Creator God himself, in his grace, drawing mankind to himself and reconciling man to himself through Jesus Christ.

This is the Gospel of Grace: Completely apart from all effort and worthiness on our part, a perfect and holy God became man, lived a sinless life on this earth; He took upon himself the just punishment for the sins of all mankind and died in our place. He rose again, conquering death, and gives eternal life to all who simply take him at his word, believing that He himself is the only Truth, Way, and Life - that there is no other way to heaven except through faith in Him. I must trust Him to do what He promises as the Guarantor of eternal life to all who believe in Him. I can do nothing else, nothing more to assure my salvation or acceptance before God. I must trust Christ and entrust myself to Him. I must trust that He saves me and loves me not because of my worth, but because of His Grace.

This is Christ-centered theology:
The focus and sum of my Christianity is Christ Himself - the confidence that His death and resurrection, all that was accomplished by Him in and through that is what gives me all that I need for life and godliness. A Christ-centered life begins and ends with the awareness that my life is lived in daily dependence upon Him and what He has done, without which I may all too easily fall from grace into a life of self-dependence and man-centered religion. (Gal.5:4)

The Christ within who is our hope of glory is not a matter of theological debate or philosophical speculation. He is not a hobby, a part-time project, a good theme for a book, or a last resort when all human effort fails. He is our life, the most real fact about us. He is the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us.” (Brennan Manning)
A Christian life lived with any other focus eventually becomes a study in hypocrisy, self-condemnation and pseudo-asceticism, plumbing the darkest depths of the human soul. The natural result of self-centered religion is a man-made system of control and performance, public punishment and shaming, manipulation and abuse.

Lord, give me the grace and boldness to speak up for the glory of your Grace and the splendor of your Name. Anything else is pointless.

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