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The Simple Message

by Larry Bryant

Thoughts on how Billy Graham’s focus on simple Salvation compares to much of what is being shared today. Seems no one qualifies for Salvation if you look across the many different messages being given, and if by chance you qualify – then there are all the “rules” that one must be able to live within…..seems like the simple message Jesus brought has become very clouded…….

In my experiences, over the last 4 yrs, in getting out into the world and working with people from different backgrounds, beliefs, and challenges in their lives, I see in my own life I have pursued Salvation over pursuing a relationship with my Savior.

I think in many ways this comes from the normal teaching we hear every time we’re in church – you should read your Bible every day, you should know all the answers asked about the Bible, you should be able to quote, name, state, chapter and verse in a split second, you should be doing this as a Christian, that as a Christian, and when we see that we are not, then the race to live better begins. .  The rules placed upon us, or implicated in our teachings, cause us to feel we have to “qualify” daily or we are not or cannot be saved.

Jesus brought a simple message, those who call on His name, and confess their sins, and are Baptized, will receive both eternal salvation and the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is a real person who indwells within us and helps us as we walk this journey called life, and we receive Him when we are baptized.  Without Him in our daily lives, building a closer relationship with Jesus is more difficult if not impossible.

Interestingly today we see proclaimed Christians spread information on Social media that doesn’t support edification, doesn’t support building others up, and many times is just the passing along of information declaring a judgement should be rendered because of a failure in someone’s life.  By spreading these types of comments and what may even be lies, we Christians make ourselves out to be more like the world and less like Jesus.  The very thing a close relationship with Jesus would preclude from occurring.

We want to be His on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening – but I suggest the work of the church doesn’t occur while we are in the building – it occurs when we are building and making relationships with others both inside and outside the church building, and using those relationships to introduce Christ and what he has done for us while at the same time admitting our faults – which we need to do as those around us see them anyways.

Many times our actions speak of an indifference to people – look at that Christian, or those sinners, how dare they – look how they live their lives, how could anyone support that, or them, or name the issue you feel strongly for or against, without realizing we have a plank in our own eye……one that we don’t deal with, but are quick to say “but I’m a sinner saved by grace” as if by saying that no one should notice our plank, and that we live better lives than others because grace has covered our sin.  As Christian’s we need to realize grace has covered our sins, but not the visibility of those sins and failures to others around us.  I’ve come to realize I will never be worthy, and will always be needy, and will never be better than others, but in the same need of Grace.

I stopped by the Billy Graham library following his burial, and while I was there an older gentleman and I spoke – he was reflecting how appropriate it was Billy Graham’s casket was built by convicted murderers, the lesson being we are all convicted murderers as each one of us, in our sins, put Jesus on the cross.

I have come to realize its not the pursuit of Salvation that I need to be living in, its the pursuit of a relationship with Jesus, who will lead me to a changed life. I’m worn out trying to live “good enough” to make God satisfied with me, I want Him in my life and the relationship will bring the sanctification and satisfaction both of us desire.

I cannot live true Grace without Him in my life, and my life has to be honest, I am a sinner, I am not where He wants me to be, I’m saved by grace but not living a life as I should for one gracefully saved.  Saved by grace doesn’t mean mean I can say, post, live, or do whatever I want or desire, but means as my relationship grows, my desires will be more as He desires in my life. Only He can change me, I cannot do it myself.

Somehow, we in the church need to recognize the status quo of how we have been teaching must change if we want others to join us in the journey of living a Saved life – we need to teach others it’s not about the church, not about we who are in the church, but it’s about Jesus and your relationship with Him.  No one reading this article knows of my true journey with Christ, nor do I know your true journey, but I do know both of us need a close relationship with Jesus to ultimately live as He wants us to live.

Join me on the journey of making Jesus your best friend, encourage me in my walk and don’t throw rocks as I stumble, or don’t reflect Him as you think I should, but gently support me as He works to make me more like Him everyday.

That’s the message and outward living we need more of.  Jesus is the only way to Salvation, Lord Jesus, help me not to be the stumbling block to others, but a resource sought out to help others like me in finding our way to you.

 

Larry Bryant is an Elder in the Tell City Church of Christ, Tell City, IN.

 




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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10