“Caught in a rut” takes one to the wrong place.

    We all tend to get into ruts. We do things certain ways and can’t seem to get away from them. We have good reasons for starting the path, but when some reason comes along that shows we need to change course, we don’t because we are caught in a rut.

    This happens in our ecclesiastical lives as well as personal. We may so long emphasize a certain point that it becomes the only impetus in church life. For example, a good brother many decades ago came up with a way to teach what man’s response to the gospel should be. He boiled it down to five steps, because that makes it easy to illustrate by simply holding up the fingers on one hand. “Hear. Believe. Repent. Confess. Be baptized.” These are each scriptural ideas and spiritual necessities. But some detriment has been caused by the fact that many have assumed this simple memory technique is the whole of God’s plan for salvation.

    “What detriment?” you ask. Mainly, the idea that God’s plan for man’s salvation depends on man doing all the right things. Let me restate: These five actions are spiritual necessities. But even when we have done all that our master asks of us, we are still undeserving servants (Luke 17:10). Though we never intended to teach it, some, by following the “hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized” formula, have taught people to rely on their own efforts. In so doing, we have taught error rather than truth because we have left grace and God’s power out of the plan.

    God’s plan for man’s salvation begins so very long before man can do anything! If you want the entire plan of salvation in a short statement, let me suggest John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV). Notice: 1. God loved. 2. God gave. 3. Man believes. 4. Man receives.

    Of course, each of those parts needs to be defined. Love is not unrestricted approval and acceptance, as many wish it to be. Believing is not simply accepting a truth, but rather living by that truth (which leads us to ask the question, “What shall we do?” as the hearers did in Acts 2:37). Receiving eternal life? It probably takes a lifetime of study to ever realize the full meaning of what we receive, the abundant life as Jesus called it in John 10:10.

    The application of this? Never be satisfied with where we are in our understanding of God and truth. What we DO know, we should teach with all the power God provides (1 Peter 4:10-11). BUT, let those of us who think we know always be willing to learn and grow. And let us stress to our hearers that they also must be pressing on toward that high calling in Christ (following Paul’s example in Philippians 3:12-14). Otherwise we could find ourselves teaching something that we don’t even intend to teach.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Bonnie on December 17, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Reading “Caught in a Rut” really hit home. I’ve been there lately. I termed it “habit”. I’ve HAPPILY begun to emerge from said rut. What broke through? Love. My children and grands have shown so much love and caring. I believe earthly love is one of many ways to bring God’s love back into focus.
    It is no fun being down in the pits (a rut). It is such a delight when we begin a renewal of enthusiam for reading the scriptures, of God’s Grace.
    We humans seem to function like an elevator, up, down, up, down. I Vote for UP.


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