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Legalism Schmegalism (Part 1)

February 10, 2010

Before I begin writing about this, I would like to preface with this. I am not out to *get* anyone. I am not bitter or angry with the IFB movement (Independent fundamental Baptist). This is based upon my own experiences, and my own opinion that I have formed while seeking the Lord and reading His Word. So if you don’t happen to agree with me, I’d appreciate that you take my mother’s advice. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” šŸ˜‰

I don’t even know where to begin on writing of this topic. Which is why this post will more than likely turn into a series.

In the Independent fundamental Baptist World (IFB) world, “Legalist” only has one or two definitions.
1. Working for Salvation
2. Adding the traditions of men to the scripture

They scoff at those who would dare call them a legalist for any other reasons than the two definitions listed above. And the second definition is very subjective around the various camps of the IFB movement. What is a “tradition” to one, another can pull all kinds of crazy tricks with the Bible to “prove” that it is a biblical mandate. And Vice Versa.

To deter from the above definition in any direction would make you a lliberal compromise or ecumenical, who doesn’t truly love the Lord and his commands.

Or worse yet, someone who doesn’t even know the Lord as their Saviour.

At least that is what I drew from my experience in an IFB church/college, and famous IFB preacher's writings and sermons.

Now I will say that there are philosophies and thoughts out there that are liberal and ecumenical in the religious world. But it still is just that. "Religion and Religious". Legalism and true Eccumencisim is just the same old dungy poo poo wrapped in a different package.

One can be accepting of every religion and philosophy and be "open-minded" and still have the stinky garment of Jesus-less religion wrapped around their body.

And that is the MAIN thing. You can be absolutely correct 100% in your understanding of biblical moralist (Old fashioned, devil stomping, hell and fire brimstone preaching, KJV only, no woman preachers,pants only for men, long hair for women, no drinking alcohol, no smoking, drugs,only hymn singing with only the piano mind you, soul-winning, and all the other "godly" standards, etc...) and still miss a relationship with Jesus. In other words, you can still go to Hell.

And you can go from a strong IFB devil stomping person, to the other extreme, and go completely haywire and still miss a relationship with Jesus. In other words, you can still go to Hell

There IS a middle ground between legalism and worldly Eccumencisim...and that is The Way, the Truth and the Life; Jesus himself. (John 14:6) And that is the KEY to understanding the differences between leaving "legalism" and not embracing eccumenicism

You see, the movement that I was involved in was so steeped in legalistic religion that I missed the point of the Gospel entirely

Just as Jesus condemned the Pharisees by saying in John 5:39,

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

The Pharisees were so indignant about how they searched the scriptures, and they thought that they had eternal life because they searched the scriptures and followed them religiously. They thought they were pleasing God.
But they missed a very important thing. They missed Jesus! And it was the scriptures that testified of HIM. I honestly can say that was me. I was zealous *about* the Word of God. Zealous of *obeying* God by what he had written in the scriptures.

I was willing to give up everything… and did my very best for the longest of time. But I missed Jesus! Of course I knew he existed. I knew he was someone special. I knew he died on the cross for me. But I didn’t have full understanding

The IFB movement was a stumbling block to me for seeing Jesus.

Romans 10:1-4
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

And that was me. I had a true zeal of God, but it wasn’t according to the correct knowledge. I was ignorant of God’s Righteousness, although I thought I knew it. And I tried to establish my own righteousness…trying to please God through my own efforts. Not to gain salvation, but to prove my salvation to Him, me and those around me. I had not submitted to the righteousness of God, which is Jesus Christ.

Sure I prayed a sinner’s prayer… (which is paramount in someone getting saved. They MUST pray the sinners prayer) In fact I prayed it everyday. Maybe even more. “Just to be sure”.

Thus I was missing the point of Jesus and his purpose here on earth. Which I will get to as time goes on šŸ™‚

So to end “part 1” of my thoughts on legalism.

Legalism is more than working for your salvation. It is more than the traditions of men adding to the Bible. Legalism can also be living the Christian life in the power of your own determination and flesh.

And while I knew in my mind that I couldn’t earn my salvation…and I knew that I shouldn’t add the traditions of men to my life. I got easily confused because these men that say that they aren’t being “traditional” use verses to “prove” their positions. And who am I anyway? A dumb teenager that knows hardly anything.

And I would try harder and harder to live the Christian life according to what I was hearing being preached. I would read the Bible to see if what they were saying was correct, and heck it sounded correct. I was so ignorant it isn’t even funny. And I didn’t know how to help that ignorance. So I went blissfully along. Thinking I knew a lot about the Bible, but actually knowing hardly anything.

As time went on, and the harder I tried to live the Christian life, I would fail. Nothing “major”. But see, I was something that many in the IFB movement aren’t. I was honest. I would bring what they preached full circle, and I found that I was an utter failour. And because I was honest with myself, I was a frequent visitor to the “altar“. And not because I was having premarital s*x…but because I hadn’t read my Bible often enough. Or I wasn’t praying long enough, and always fell asleep. Or I wasn’t leading enough people to the Lord, etc.

And the more honest I was with myself, the more depressed I grew. And the more depressed I grew the worse I thought of myself, and would often doubt if I was truly born again.

And the catch 22 began…..

To be continued….

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