Watching the Super Bowl or Go To Church? That is the Question

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl. Super Bowl Sunday always brings baggage with it. There are several issues you hear every year from Christian types. Let’s examine a couple

1) It’s a sin to worship football on God’s Day.
This one gets lots of mileage. It never seems to dawn on folks that Saturday is technically God’s Day, so actually it’s college football that’s evil. Furthermore, the fact that people watch football on Sundays doesn’t mean they have turned from the faith. It means they watch football on Sundays. “Let no man judge you  regarding holy days” is what a guy named THE Apostle Paul said.

2) God doesn’t care who wins football games.
This is usually from the same people who think God cares about all their inane details of life. If God cares about all your inane details of life, does He not care about the details of athletes’ lives? Does He not care about people who are interested in such stuff? Many believe that God is sovereign, has every meticulous detail worked out from before the foundation of the world, but not football? Really? A little consistency here people.

3) People skip church to watch football and that is Satan.
Yeah, well, listen up, newsflash, people have been skipping church for any number of things. Based on some of the excuses I’ve heard, watching football seems fairly legit. If you believe that God will bless you for attending church during the Super Bowl, you might need a refresher course on the concepts of the New Covenant. Furthermore, if you believe you are inherently better than others for having gone to church while others watched football, you might want to examine your pride. If Super Bowl Sunday is one of the few Sunday nights you are in church just to prove a point, you have serious issues.

4) Football is stupid.
Fair enough. I think most of your interests are stupid too. Just because you don’t get my enjoyment of football doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It just means it’s different from your enjoyment. God did freely give us all things to enjoy. If your heart condemns you not; go for it.

5) Football is unclean.
Pigs don’t chew the cud. Tom Brady throws deflated pigskins. Do the math. Just made that up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were actually a complaint that some make.

Romans 14 is probably called for here. Don’t flaunt your footballness. If a fellow believer is tempted to skip church because of you skipping for football, I strongly encourage you not to skip. Otherwise, do your thing. Hast thou faith? Have it to yourself before God. I trust the Holy Spirit enough to let Him lead you on this issue.

Or, you can be like my church and never have Sunday night church, then you don’t have to worry about it.

It’s Easier to Prove Faith With Miracles than Good Works

Since so many believers think good works are a bad thing, what do they use to prove their faith?

According to James, good works is what proves the legitimacy of faith. “Good works” doesn’t mean full-time ministry, nor stuff you do in church, but rather doing what God says we should do in our lives. Love is the summation.

But, since we’re stuck on good works being bad and having liberty, which we think means I can do what I want, love seems like a burden. Not much fun to put myself aside for the needs of others. Too much like work.

Instead, one of the main things people use to prove faith is “miracles.”

By “miracles,” I mean what people call miracles. In the Bible, miracles are rare, obvious and astounding, blatant violations of physical laws.

To people, “miracles” are when things fortuitously work out my way. I’ve heard some of the following listed as miracles:

–good weather
–sweet parking spots
–missing an accident by four seconds
–getting your husband to divorce you
–sore throat went away after only three days
–getting an A on a test you didn’t study for

Although any of these things may be nice for you, they aren’t miracles.

The reason I know they aren’t miracles is because everyone claims such things as miracles. If they are truly that common, then, by default, they aren’t miracles.

So, why do people keep saying that nice things that happen to them are miracles? Because it proves their faith. It’s a way for them to talk about how much God loves them.

Since they can’t prove their love for God by their consistent obedience, they claim miracles. This softens their own conscience, “Obviously God loves me, look at how I hit all those green lights through town!”

Much easier than loving people.

Yet many of these “miracles” end up disastrous. The girl who miraculously meets this “great guy,” who then dumps him after a week because he stole her money and just wanted sex.

What happened to your “God thing?” Is your “great guy” still a miracle?

Nope, that one is long gone, faded into the mist, never to be remembered again. Plus, God has now miraculously given her girl friends who “totally get me.” Until next week when they gossip about her and she can’t stand them. And on and on.

Miracles are obvious and not regular. Be sure to differentiate between miracles and time and chance happening to everyone. The sun that shines on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Your attempts to proclaim miracles all over your life is not proof of your faith, nor does it mean God loves you, and mostly it just advertises to everyone that you’re a spiritual fraud.

Will Christ Deny Us If We Deny Him? That’s What He Said

One of the reasons Christians are adverse to good works is because they want to avoid merit. Merit means God looks at what we do and then decides to reward or punish us for what we did.

Grace, to many, means God overlooks all wrong and instead views you as perfect in Christ. Although there may be an element of truth in this, the idea that God no longer sees you is ridiculous.

God is all-knowing and all-present we affirm, but somehow or another He doesn’t see my sin? Riiiiiight.

God is very interested in what we are doing. If it were otherwise, I fail to see how you could have a “personal relationship” with Him.

There are many verses about doing what pleases God. There are many verses that talk about God responding to us based on what we do.

For instance, 2 Timothy 2:11, 12:

It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us

There are some “ifs” to deal with. Ifs are conditional words. “If/Then” statements are cool. They are statements of action and reaction. If I punch your face, then your face will hurt.

If you are dead with Him, then you will live with Him.
If you suffer, then you will reign.
If you deny, then He will deny you.

If you read these statements and are bugged by them, you’ve probably bought into the notion that if/then statements are a “law mentality” thus don’t apply to those under grace.

But Paul tells us not to be deceived, God is not mocked–you will reap what you sow. Reaping and sowing is an if/then idea. This is not law mentality; this is common sense.

There are many who throw in 2 Timothy 2:13 to oppose what Paul just said. Since people don’t like thinking about God denying us if we deny Him (sounds too much like losing your salvation and works), they attempt to make verse 13 contradict and cancel out that scary idea.

If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

Here is a typical explanation that attempts to wipe out the warning about being denied.

“So why does Paul start talking about disowning and denying in the second part of the passage? He does it to reinforce his point which is that Christ is trustworthy. Here’s the punchline: since Christ cannot disown himself, Christ cannot disown you! Not ever. You are one with the Lord. His future is your future and his future is very good!”

In other words, they read this as saying Christ won’t deny you, a “believer,” if you deny Him, because Christ can’t deny Himself.

Guess He didn’t really mean what he said then.

I doubt it. Verse 13 means that we are unfaithful people. We say things all the time and don’t do them. Christ isn’t like that, He’s faithful, always does what He says. He can’t deny His own character.

Paul just told you about Christ’s character–He will let people reign with Him if they suffer with Him. He will let people live with Him if they die with Him. He will deny people if they deny Him.

He said it, not me, and He always keeps His word, because He is faithful to His character.

We may not like this. Certainly it is much easier to think that grace means nothing you do matters. However, Christ is the judge, not you, and this is what the Judge said.

I imagine we should respect His character and get moving.

When Good Works Get In The Way

Yesterday I made the point that doing good actually is good. There’s nothing bad about doing good.

But, but, but what about the older brother in the Prodigal Son parable? What about the Pharisees and all their “good works?” What about all those who say “Lord, Lord, look what we did” and He tells them He never knew them? Surely that good is bad.

All of these examples are about one point–works to achieve salvation.

The older brother of the “Prodigal Son” thought Dad owed him for services rendered. He was ticked that the younger, idiot son got “salvation” while he got no reward at all.

The Pharisees thought they were so good because of their works, they didn’t even think they needed a savior, which is partially why they did not recognize Christ.

Those who point to their works on Judgment Day have missed the point. They did good works as a point of pride. Again, they are looking for the payout–look what I did; now where’s my heaven?

All of these people have works in the place of faith. They didn’t need faith, they never saw their need for grace, because they had their works.

No man is saved by works. Boasting about what you do is eliminated.

To take these examples and then tell Christians, “So be careful not to do good so you don’t become like them” is grossly missing the point.

Sure, there should be warnings about the dangers of works apart from faith. But to go to the exact opposite extreme and point to the dangers of works with faith solves nothing.

People go to extremes, it’s what we do. Stop it.

“Faith works by love,” is how Paul puts it. “I will show you my faith by my works” is how James puts it. Both are expressing the same truth–faith leads to works. Faith is hearing God’s Word. God’s Word is largely filled with commands. Faith does what God says.

Faith is first. You must be born again. Apart from Christ you can do nothing. Which then has to mean that with Christ I can do all righteousness. It has to mean that, otherwise saying apart from Christ “you can do nothing” makes no sense.

What would be the point of apart from Christ you can do nothing, if it’s also true that with Christ you can do nothing?

It is through faith in the Gospel, our joining in the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ that we are raised to newness of life. This new life is always marked by being a servant of righteousness.

There is nothing wrong with doing righteousness then. In fact, it is the greatest proof of what right is!

Doing Good Is Never Bad

It is my contention that Jesus Christ wants us to work with what He’s given us. When we don’t, we disobey Him, and we also disrespect the Gospel.

Works don’t and cannot save us. We are saved by grace through faith. This saving faith raises us up to newness of life where we are equipped to fulfill the true righteousness of the law.

However, these works of righteousness are not automatic, we have something to do with it. We are to work out what He has worked in us.

Upon saying this, there are two frequent objections.

1) You are trying to perfect yourself by the flesh.
This comes from Galatians 3. However, Galatians is about people going back to the OT covenant Law of Israel to achieve perfection. Primarily they sought this by circumcision and Sabbath keeping.

No one here is telling you to go under the Law, to be circumcised, nor to keep the Sabbath. Galatians goes on to say we are to fulfill the law of Christ, which is love, demonstrated by bearing the burdens of others.

This is what Christian virtue is all about. It’s the new life in Christ–no longer slaves to sins but servants of righteousness. No longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me.

2) You are enslaving yourself to the law!
There is a notion within, at least American Christianity, that freedom means “the ability to do whatever you want.” Although this may be a notion of freedom, it is not biblical freedom.

Biblical freedom is freedom from the law that condemns and kills. Biblical freedom goes further and explains that we are now slaves of righteousness. This new slavery to righteousness, is actually true freedom! We can finally do what pleases God!

For the believer this is untold joy and peace! For the unbeliever, this sounds horrendous. I cringe when I hear professed believers say that serving Christ is bondage. They are missing the point.

There are plenty who teach that life in Christ means you can do what you want and get away with it. They promise liberty, they sound charming, but in the end, all they do is bind you and enslave you to stupid.

There is a reverse legalism at work with these libertine teachers. They make you feel bad for wanting to do good. Good works are suddenly one of the worst things you can do. You are always in danger of falling into bondage to works righteousness.

Which, I mean, how ironic is that!? If nothing matters, why are they always so panicked about people wanting to do good?!

For many of these folks, hearing that someone wants to do good is perhaps the worst thing they can hear. It seems they’d rather you admit to being a crack whore than saying you’d like to give more money to church.

In the end, people like sin. Like, a lot. They also like to feel good about themselves. Since this isn’t possible by sinning and listening to God, they like to surround themselves with people who sin.

Since we’re all sinners, none of us has to feel that bad about it.

Unfortunately, this does a great disservice to the power of God available in the Gospel. Gospel living is desiring and then carrying out good works, all summed up in Love.

Desiring to do good and doing good are never bad. Ever. Don’t buy the stupid doctrines that attempt to prove otherwise. They are wrong.

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Hey Christians! Get to Work!

Learning requires time and work. Whatever skill you wish to achieve, or what subject you desire to “know,” you’re going to have to dedicate yourself to it and do the work.

Somehow, we think Christianity is an exception.

I imagine that’s because of our aversion to “works righteousness.” Since the Bible clearly says we are not saved by works, we assume Christianity will just happen for us.

This either takes the approach of “Let go and let God” where you just kind of float around and let God take the wheel. Or it’s some sort of warmed over Calvinism that God always does what He wants, so just sit and let Him do His thing.

Either way, or even if there are other reasons, all of them are wrong!

The New Testament is filled with commands to get moving, to get to work, to study, to be sober and watch, to move toward perfection, to purge yourself, etc.

When you look for these verses, you’ll find them all over the place. If you desire not to see them, that is possible too apparently!

In our desire to avoid works righteousness and elevate grace, we end up making human responsibility null.

Then we wonder why we have no fruit. Many lack assurance and can’t figure out why. Many are stuck in besetting sins and can get no victory.

I believe many want to fight these things and legitimately do the work to overcome, but alas, they’ve been told that is wrong. “Just let God do it in His time.”

Therefore, we’ve conveniently blamed God for our mediocrity.

I imagine when we stand before Him on Judgment Day, this line of reasoning isn’t going to hold water.

It is high time to wake out of slumber and get busy using what Christ has provided through His Gospel. Work out what He’s worked in.

Christians are the one people who have been redeemed to do good works. It’s the whole point of being here! It makes us peculiar, because everyone else has no motivation and thus become lazy.

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.