I had a great exchange of thoughts with a Christian friend the other day. She got me thinking about accountability for those professing to be Christian, especially teachers of His Word and other such leaders. Are there some held more accountable than others? Certainly a good question. Jesus said:
Matthew 18:3 “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus also taught that there are those commissioned to study scripture more and assist the unbelievers and those weak and young (children) in their faith.
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
God ordained some and calls them to a higher standard of accountability to lead others. That is one reason there is so much trouble in deacons, elders, teachers of His Word, Pastors and others accepting Christian roles in society. They don’t realize or accept this higher standard of accountability. An accountability that also requires deeper research into His Word. Just a couple of examples: Romans 8:28 says that we know all things work together for good. Often people stop there. It continues that this promise is not for everyone, but for those who love and obey the Lord. Look at John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Is that what it means? Whoever believes in Jesus will be saved? Satan believes in Jesus, so is he saved? Belief without deeds is worthless. When believing in Jesus, you must be a changed individual. Your past lifestyle must change.
2 Corinthians 5:17 New International Version (NIV); “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
The doctrine of Salvation by Grace, was originated by the Apostle Paul. Paul was writing to the church in Rome when he said:
Romans 3:23; New International Version (NIV); “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
There is some disagreement, but many scholars feel Paul was influenced by the writings of Matthew, such as:
Matthew 5:48 New International Version (NIV); “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
We are being told that we must be perfect as God and then told we all sin. Certainly God did not sin. Here Paul continues with verse 24 of Romans 23:
“And all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Yes, it is a gift from God. One we can never be able earn. We are not saved by our works, but we are still judged by our works.
2 Corinthians 5:10 New International Version (NIV); “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
James, the brother of Jesus doubted Jesus’ Deity. It was not until late in the life of Jesus, even during crucifixion and resurrection, that James became not only a believer, but one of the strongest followers and spreaders of the gospel. In his writings, he had no problem agreeing with the idea of faith and grace. However, he also wanted to address Christians in general and specifically the twelve tribes of Israel when he said:
James 2:14-17 New International Version (NIV); “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
One of the most dynamic Christian authors and teachers is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is perhaps best know for his theory of “Cheap Grace”. A theory recognized certainly by many but often not publicly endorsed due to its perhaps misunderstood application or our own secular theory of “toleration”; being afraid of taking a stand or offending someone.“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship. When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”
Somewhat different from teaching that as long as you have faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection; you are assured of eternal life. Christianity and Saving Grace are not just something we read about; it is a way of life. A way others see Christ in you. If we do not live a life being aware that our very actions may influence others in a negative manner, and if we live only to accept “cheap grace”, we are in danger of falling short of God’s commands. What we do that affects others is most assuredly an act to be judged.
Mark 9:42 New International Version (NIV); “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”
Romans 14:12 New International Version (NIV); “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”
Proverbs 12:15 New International Version (NIV); “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”
I am always looking to and listening for wise Christian counsel. We are all accountable for what we say and do. We are all ultimately accountable to God, and we should always remember to act accordingly.
Bill Davis <“)))><