This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NIV).
Do you think churches who excommunicate members want them to be saved in the same way Jesus wants ALL people to be saved? Call me skeptical but I’m betting most congregations practicing excommunication do so with an emotional mix of sadness and anger. In the middle of that mix it is difficult to remember that the purpose of dis-engaging someone from Christian fellowship is to do something to help heal a breach in their faith. Congregations don’t enter into this practice lightly, but I’m pretty sure there is un-righteous anger involved in most cases.
And what is Jesus wanting us to be saved from? If you believe that we are sinners, the answer “sin” comes easily. Yet there are so many people who posit that, once saved by Christ, we aren’t able to sin again. Last night, during a Bible study, this subject came up. We are saved once for all and walk forever in a state of grace no matter what we do, even when we sin. We are foolish to think that once-saved believers also can’t harden their hearts or disavow the faith they embrace. Or to choose sin instead of that grace. Thank the Lord for His Way back.
What good is the knowledge of the truth? Pontius Pilate is famously quoted as saying “veritas?” to Jesus when Jesus tells him that He is the truth. It isn’t just the foundation of honesty to which Jesus is referring: it is Himself. Paul re-iterates this when he says that our Savior wants all people to have a knowledge of the truth. In other words, Jesus wants all people to know Him.
Finally, does pleasing God (by praying, or doing other things) earn us points with Him? To be frank, I can’t answer that; neither can you. When something pleases God it’s up to Him what He does with it. We don’t earn salvation; it is freely given by Christ to us because of who He is and not anything we’ve done. We don’t have to pray for our leaders, but we should as a way to support them and to exercise our faith. We don’t have to do good works, but we should because this pleases God and demonstrates our faith. We don’t have to go to church but we should to worship, to build up others, and to be fueled ourselves. I don’t know if this earns points with God, but I do believe living our fruits of His Spirit pleases Him and spreads His Gospel. It means we choose Him, choose life.
Choose life; choose Jesus. That’s the answer.
For further reading: 1 Timothy 5:4, Luke 1:47, Ezekiel 18:23, Titus 2:11, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:5
Lord, there are so many questions that I have. Help me through them and thank You for my life of grace.