Starting a new series of quotes I hear coming out of our mouths, as believers in Jesus, and what they sound like they really mean, I am going to lead out with a recent quote I heard about the book of Hebrews.
A friend expressed the idea that he was always glad to get past the “doctrinal” portion of a New Testament book, including Hebrews in the present case, and to move on to the “practical applications.” “Just tell me what I gotta do!”
This friend would never, ever say that we are saved by works; he would not say that we are kept saved by works. He would not say that our sanctification is by works. He would say, like I do, that works are the fruit of our love for Jesus “because He first loved us.”
But does that quote give a different impression?
I think it does. I think it implies skipping over the rich doctrinal part of Hebrews that describes in detail what Christ has done for us and rushing headlong to the part that tells us what we can do to start “paying Him back.”
Hint: we can’t pay Him back. Approaching Him as though we have a spreadsheet ledger system keeping track of what we do in one column and what He did in another is really quite diminishing of the faith we profess in Christ’s finished work!
We all say things like this at some point. But let’s think how they sound to pagans. They make Christianity sound like just another religion of works!