2018-04-01

"Good Friday" vs "Easter" Churches - The Secret for Victorious Living

Who are Christians? "They are sinners saved by grace.", said the traditional churches that celebrate Good Friday. "They are the new creation of grace.", said the grace-based churches that celebrate the Easter resurrection throughout the years. Grace only churches run the risks of becoming like the prodigal son of the parable whereas the sinners centric churches are like the elder son of the parable that work to achieve favor. The victorious churches are the ones with right balance, who appreciate the consequences of sins and also appreciate the new status and authority obtained for us, for which Christ had paid the heavy price. Grace is not just forgiveness for sins but also the power for us to live the righteous life that we should.
Today is Good Friday when we remember the suffering of Jesus Christ on Cross to redeem us from our sins. Most churches will have services to tell the story of Jesus' triumphant entrance to the cross and the resurrection. Just like the famous movie, "The Passion of Christ", a major part will be about the betrayer and the suffering and ending with a very short resurrection. It is as if the major thing in life is the suffering of the cross and salvation is the sole purpose of Christ and Christianity. We have forgotten that "Salvation through the Cross" is the necessary but beginning step of the total purpose of God which is making disciples of all nations that they will follow the teaching of Jesus and become like Him (Matthew 28:19-20).

Paul puts it clearly and strongly in Romans 8:29-30 (NIV)
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

He told the Galatians, in Gal 4:19 NIV
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,

The purpose of God for men is that through Jesus, we all can become like little Jesuses, his brothers, and sisters, sharing the same image and attributes. His suffering on the cross is a needed, though a very painful step, to enable us to become children of God. But we are not to remain as babes but to grow up to mature men in Christ.

Who are you, Christians?
Your answer will determine your mindset and behavior and hence the outcome.
  1. We are sinners saved by grace. Eph 2:8
  2. We are the new creation of grace in Christ. 2Cor 5:17

The Traditional Good Friday Churches
If your answer is 1- sinners saved by grace, then which part of the verse do you focus your mind on? 

Most people focus on "sinners" and unconsciously live like one without the empowering of grace. While they will confess that they are indeed saved by grace, they act as though they must, by their own effort, live righteously to earn the favor with God. They are already so grateful that Christ has saved them and now they want to repay His kindness with their work. They got trapped again into performance for acceptance just like the elder son of the "Parable of the Prodigal Son".
  • Luke 15:29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 
  • The elder son had no idea of his sonship and authority at all. He lived and worked a servant!
    See his father shocking answer in verse 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 
The traditional Good Friday churches forgot about the Easter resurrection new creation, authority, and power. They did not make use of this new status and power that Christ had gone through the suffering of the cross to obtain for us.

The Easter New Creation Churches

New Creation focuses on what has done for the believers. Their new life, new status as children of God, and new authorities as Sons of God.  Paul did not end "the salvation is by grace" at Ephesian 2:8. He continued with verse 10, For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. So salvation is the first and needed step to achieve the goal which God had prepared long ago, the good work that reflects the glory of God. God is glorified through the good work of His sons. Matthew 5:16 NIV In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

However, if they forgot about their sins, and take lightly the sins paid for, privileges of grace becomes a license to sin. They become like the prodigal son who knew his rights and privileges, and did, Luke 15:12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. But he wasted the resources given him, 15:13b and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  The grace based gospel run the risks of becoming a prosperity gospel that God becomes the genie to give us whatever we wanted to spend on ourselves.

The Right Balance Victorious Living

The remembrance of Christ's Good Friday suffering on the cross for our sins put us in vigilance for the strong temptation and evil consequences of sins. The Easter resurrection of Christ let us know for sure, and for our present living, the new creation and righteous power that Christ had obtained for us. We are saved for God glorify good work. We are blessed as means to testify of God's goodness and to bless others and not for just ourselves only. We are to forget the past, no longer as sinners, but focus at present, new creation sons of God, toward the goals of eternal glory, waiting for the return of Christ.
  • Philippians 3:12-14 Living Bible (TLB)
    12 I don’t mean to say I am perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be.
    13b ... Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.
Cross and Resurrection are both sides of the same coin. Looking back, Christ died for our sins. Looking at the front, Christ in You. Looking back, we are freed from our sins.Looking forward, we are joyful in doing what He wants best for us.

Don't stay on Good Friday but start living from Easter Sunday to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lim Liat (c) 30 Mar 2018

For a detailed discussion, please read True Conversion and Wholehearted Commitment: Foundations of Discipleship.

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