A Quick Thought

So I was checking my facebook, and behold, some people arguing (nothing new). But it’s what they were arguing about that caught my attention.

Apparently, only 1 in 4 Baptist churches in the U.S. reported any baptisms in 2012 (yes that was a year ago but it takes a while to get these statistics together shhhhhhhhhh child there is more keep reading). This is definitely something worth remarking on, and 150+ comments proved this. I was curious and wanted to see how the discussion was going. I was hoping against hope that it was a discussion about evangelism and how we can better reach people. Sadly, it wasn’t……… -_-

Instead, people obviously began early on arguing about baptism itself. It seems some people were of the opinion baptism (and by baptism they meant the SBC) is a legalistic practice (organization run by old white guys who only speak the King’s English) and should be abandoned by the Church. Because that makes total sense.

So I did what any smart person would do about an internet debate. I jumped right in! 😛

Here is what I posted:
“Remember, God defined religion as helping, “orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” — James 1:26-27 So, does God endorse your liturgy? That’s a totally different question. But He commands religion.

But nevertheless, baptism is a sacrament, not the world’s/new-age definition of, “religion” (which is really just a backlash against liturgy). Believers who understand the Gospel and what it means should be baptised. It is a public sign you have been changed! 🙂 Baptism, along with the Lord’s Supper, is meant to create unity in the worldwide Church no matter what the culture or year. These are not just, “traditions;” they are sacraments, commanded by Jesus for His Church to follow as a sign of obedience. And truly, why NOT be baptised if you are Redeemed? Other than fleshly resistance, there’s really no reason for the Christian not to be baptised. 🙂

I’m not getting into the denominational bickering here, though. Too many hypocrites accusing other hypocrites of being hypocrites while denying their own hypocrisy. Sigh….”

So I think that pretty well sums it up. Should we discuss liturgy? Sure! But I’m getting pretty tired of this religion smashing. Biblical religion is the exercise of our faith. I’m also pretty tired of all this new-age stuff in the Church anyway.

“You are a part of God and God is in you. Spirituality is better than religion! Overcome! You can move mountains, you can do anything through Christ who strengthens you blahblahblah some more random pickings of outofcontextBibleverses etc.” Um… what?

Personally, I define, “legalism” as forcing your personal convictions on someone else. Now, a conviction is something not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but that might help the believer in his or her own personal faith.

For me, that was choosing not to flappantly date, but rather to court and date with a purpose. But no matter how right I believe this to be, should I force this on someone else? No. Because they should come to that decision on their own, between them and God.

However, some things aren’t convictions. Thus, it is not my personal opinion that pastors engaged in sexual sin should resign or else be forced from the Church (although I totally agree with it). Rather, it’s a commandment. Do you see what I mean, then? A conviction is something that’s a bit extrabiblical, but still rooted in Scripture, limited to and intended for the advancement of the personal faith of the individual believer. Rather, a Biblical command is something that applies to all believers, no ifs-ands-or-buts.

I also personally define, “faith” as life-encompassing. Your faith defines who you are. “Christianity is the truth about politics, marriage, economics, television, media; everything.” — Lecrae

image

Your faith should drive everything about you, change everything about you, define everything about you. Otherwise, it’s not genuine faith and you don’t actually believe it.

Spirituality is about yourself and what you want. It is self-centered and inward-focused. Faith in Jesus is about denying yourself, picking up your cross, and following Him, even to the death. It is trusting God to care for your needs, so that you can give yourself entirely in total abandon to His will. Spirituality is about trying to find your own way to get close to God somehow. Faith is the way that He chose for us to truly be drawn near. Spirituality and new-age thinking is about rejecting God’s will in favor of your own paths. Faith is recognizing that only He gets to decide how we are to be reconciled to Him.

Spirituality is nowhere near biblical; the faith Jesus calls us to is the whole point of the Bible.

Neither legalism nor spirituality are biblical. But get this: I’m not even out of high school yet, but in my (albeit) short existence, I’ve seen something interesting. My hypothesis? Legalists are more likely to see their sin and repent to a right standing with God, than a Christian following the desires of their flesh and their own self-determined doctrine.

Why is this? I think it’s pretty simple. Assuming these two groups of people are legitimate Christians who have simply fallen into sin, rather than non-believers who are posing as Christians:
Legalists are Christians who are well-meaning, who have simply slipped up. They are following the letter of the law, yet not the Spirit of the Law, in an attempt to please God. I have found that it is easier to lovingly convict a legalist of their sin for several reasons:
1) They are already closer to and more familiar with the Bible;
2) They tend to be more willing to listen to correction without becoming immediately defensive;
3) A well-meaning Christian who slipped into legalism is most likely driven by a desire to please God; regrettably, they fell into sin. Thus, they are more likely to hear instruction of what God really wants, and to repent from their sin.

However, a Christian who has slipped into lawlessness is a bit harder to bring back. This is because they have been seduced by the desires of the flesh, and not a misdirected desire to please God. These poor folks tends to make up their own rules as they go along. Sometimes these folks fall into this sin as an overcorrection against legalism; they trade a sinful abundance of law for equally sinful total absence of law. Sometimes they never had a correct understanding of God’s grace and Christian responsibility. And occasionally, they simply just don’t want to give control of their lives to Jesus (these are the folks whose legitimacy of salvation we should be concerned about).

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m nowhere saying that legalism is then somehow better than lawlessness. They are both wrong because neither nurtures the proper relationship with God for which Christ died to create. I’m simply saying that someone who has sinned by exaggerating their convictions of God’s rules for our lives is more likely to repent of their error than someone avoiding God’s rules in the first place.

So, is baptism a legalistic practice? Heavens, no! Christ even commanded it (one last time for good measure!) in the Great Commission, just before He ascended into Heaven! However, is demanding that the KJV be the only English translation of the Bible a legalistic practice? Um, yeah. Also, there is sufficient Biblical evidence against the whole claim that there is only one proper translation of the Bible into English (which according to a great deal of those same people, is the only language spoken in Heaven; Hebrew* is nice and all, but really, English is better……….), but I won’t even delve into that mess in this post. 😉

So, Christian, be faithful and religious!!!! Don’t be spiritual or legalistic. Follow God and not man, as a follower and not a rebel, and then be amazed by the works He does through you!

*assuming earthly languages are even spoken in Heaven in the first place

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