In Christ Alone…

August 19, 2008 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

On a daily basis, lots of REALLY GOOD stuff gets posted in the various “comments” sections around here.  When someone wrote about the crisis of faith they’re experiencing as they try to sort through all the pieces of their Sovereign Grace experience, I said,

I think the sort of spiritual abuse that is sometimes meted out by groups like SGM is particularly damaging BECAUSE they have essentially “orthodox” Christian doctrines and do hold to the truth…on paper, at least. When you have a false religion like Mormonism, it’s so much easier to come out on the other side and write the whole thing off as an invention of Joseph Smith’s twisted and self-serving imagination. Sovereign Grace does teach many of the basic truths of Christianity…it’d be SO MUCH EASIER if one did not come away from SGM having to sort through which parts of SGM’s absolutes (their implied absolutes) were false and which are still true.

That is the real danger behind so many of the cultural parts of SGM. What was meant to be helpful parenting info, for instance, somehow morphed into a churchwide regime for a production-line approach to churning out kids who were compliant and obedient. What was meant to help people parse out “Biblical” manhood and womanhood morphed into the monster of rigid and often phony adoption of silly gender-specific behaviors (i.e. household chores that are either “pink” or “blue”). What was intended as a way to respond to our Godless society’s sexual immorality morphed into the legalistic courtship system.

SGM has such problems with taking what are essentially good and honorable goals, creating formulae for implementation of those goals that work for a very specific type of family situation (i.e. the Mahaney family), and then spreading the word down through the food chain so that when it finally hits the local level, it is put into action in such a way that it has become something of an unspoken doctrine.

At practically the same time, reader and commenter “Protestant Knight” was posting the following:

I had a recent crisis of faith when I discovered -via this blog- about circumstances and conflicting accounts regarding a former pastor of mine and his church. The whole experience was dizzying, depressing, trying… you name it.

I was sluggish in my home chores, walking around in a daze punctuated by tears, grieving as if someone died… when I realized the person that was dying was me. God was helping me die to myself, and this will continue to happen, in a good way, until I fly to Him.

God was merciful, in that he revealed to me I have been worshipping man, and not Him. God was certainly there, but this was in spite of my focus on personalities, correct doctrine, biblical _____, the right books, the right music, the right… the right… the right.

All of these things are only of benefit when Christ is your Rock, your Fortress, your Center, your Pillar, your First Love. If Christ is absent, these things become chains and blocks of cement that continue to weigh you down, and drag you into a performance-centered faith that means nothing to a Holy God. They sink you in an ocean of legalistic death, where if somehow you do enough, you can crawl into heaven.

Christ imputed His righteousness on me, and that’s all I need. The only way I can relate to Christ is through grace. And grace knows nothing of chains and blocks of cement.

I always thought dying to yourself meant becoming what others think you should be… adopting their speech, their reading lists, their conferences, their endless array of “stuff.” And as John Piper said in a recent message I heard by him, “Stuff is killing us.” It made me wonder just how many in SGM truly heard this for what it was, because it goes way beyond crass materialism.

I want to reach that point where all I need in this world is my daily bread, and Him. The vocation (calling) will come, and my spouse is a gift, an evidence of his grace, a symbol of Christ and the Church’s bond… but what I need first, above everything else, above the heap of man-centered STUFF, is Him.

I am still in an SGM church. This new revelation isn’t going to affect my attendance there, but it’s good to know my attendance there counts absolute zero towards my salvation. Christ’s free gift to me… how precious it is. My desire is to preach the word to a dying world, equip the saints, and fall on my face before Him.

My encouragement to you is to simply cry out to God. He is there, and He will not turn you away. Soak up His word for a season with nobody looking over your shoulder with their clipboard. He can sponge away sin with His blood, He can reveal Himself to you, and He can be your everything. He is not looking away.

I’m sure this is not an original thought, but what immediately came to mind, after reading “Protestant Knight’s” comment, was the song In Christ Alone.  If you click on the link, it will take you to a youtube video, where you can read the lyrics and hear the song.  I know it’s a familiar one, and probably nothing new to anyone, but it blessed me anew today in light of the conversation here.

© 2008, Kris. All rights reserved.