Justification and Hitting Faraway Targets

One of my interests is rifle shooting.

That is, shooting at targets really far away.

That is, shooting at targets between 10 and 20 football fields away.

As you might imagine, such a pursuit requires all kinds of specialized gear and techniques.

You can start with a long-range rifle of the highest quality made by brilliant engineers.  You can spend days developing and testing the perfect combination of powder and bullet.  You can even train your mind and body to act and react consistently shot after shot - eliminating, as much as you can, the human variables in the equation.
I'm thinking about the modern institutional Church - whether it's equipped and trained to hit the target God intends it to hit.
Yes, let's assume you've done everything humanly possible, all the way through that fateful moment of actually squeezing the trigger.  The fact is, you can still miss and miss big.  For if, at the moment of firing, you pull the rifle even the tiniest amount left or right - you'll miss by a country mile out there at 2000 yards!
I'm thinking about how far the church has been pulled off course - not over 2000 yards, but over 2000 years!
The fact is, even slight angular changes at the beginning of a projectile's trajectory make HUGE differences way out at the target.

And so it is with Christianity.

The current debate in scholarly Christian circles over the meaning of the term "justification" and related but different terms such as "sanctification" and "salvation" is one example.

You'll need to read N.T. Wright's book "Justification:  God's Plan & Paul's Vision" to really understand what I believe is the proper view on these terms, but here's a short intro to the book.

And if you've got the intestinal fortitude, have a look at this rebuttal of Wright's view.

The fact is, if you look at the whole Judeo-Christian story from front to back, it's easy to see that God expects us to keep his commandments in order to maintain membership in his kingdom.  

But somehow the Church has adopted the idea that all that is required to "get to heaven" (another problem in terms, but for another day!) is BELIEF.  All you have to "do", is believe something and you're good to go.

The obvious logical conclusion to that mindset is, "It doesn't matter what I do, or how I actually live.  I believe in Jesus (whatever that may mean to me) and that's all I need to do."  The problem with that quaint idea is that the whole of the Judeo-Christian story proposes something quite different.

Maybe you're the kind of person who's more convinced by what the New Testament says than by what the shape of the whole Bible indicates.  If so, have a look at what these New Testament passages and their contexts have to say on the matter:

Matthew 7:21-27
Luke 6:46
2 Corinthians 5:10
Galatians 5:19-21
Ephesians 5:3-6
Titus 1:16
Hebrews 10:23-31
James 2:14-26
I John 2:3-4
I John 3:7-10
Revelation 20:11-15

I believe large chunks of the church have misinterpreted and misappropriated the very important work that Mr. Luther did those many years ago.  As a result, we've been set on a trajectory that will put us far from the target on the Day of Judgment.

Now as to the question, "How can I keep God's commandments?" - well, we've dealt with that here, and here and here and here and here and last, but not least, here.

If we say we believe the Judeo-Christian story, then let's do our best to allow the whole story of the Bible define our worldview - from front to back.  That way, we won't be like the rifle shooter, jerking the trigger and sending the bullet a country mile from the target.

And that way, we won't get a shock on judgment day.    :)

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