Faith Not An Excuse To Get Into Heaven?

Shane Clairborn recently made the following comment:

We have to see our faith not as an excuse to get into heaven and ignore the world around us but really a way of engaging the world that we live in.

I think there’s two different issues here. First, we are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:5) No amount of works justifies us. Faith is not an excuse to get into heaven, it is the way to get into heaven. Now, it’s hard to figure out exactly what the context of this quote is, so I’m hesitant to say that I disagree with Clairborn.

For the second part of that quote, I think I agree with Clairborn. As Christians, we are in the world, not of the world. Being in the world means that we need to engage the world. Clairborn uses Matthew 25 as an example. I really like this example and have been using it as a model for my ministry.* We don’t sit in our church with our fingers covering our eyes. We are to go out and feed the hungry, visit the sick and dying, visit those in prison. We do this not to earn salvation. We do this because we have been saved.

You can read the full article from the Christian Post here.

*You can debate the use of Matthew 25 as a model of ministry with me. Just note, I do not discount the eschatological thrust of the passage.


4 thoughts on “Faith Not An Excuse To Get Into Heaven?

  1. Joel and I have tossed this thought around, what was actually meant by the greek word πιστος, which we know of as “faith”.

    I think we’re slowly coming to the conclusion that this “faith” is a lifestyle (e.g. James 3), and not a “belief” (e.g. doctrinal statements).

    Unfortunately, many Christians today think the opposite.

    • That’s an interesting thought. Can you flesh that out any more? I’d be curious to see how that doesn’t turn faith into a work. (Typical Lutheran hangup here. ;)) If that is the case, that would shed new light on the article I just read on “Christian Atheists”.

      What I’d really like to do is get Clairborn’s thoughts on this, because as I said in the post, the context of this statement is missing, so I’m kind of split on the issue. I can see both sides, but don’t want to put words in his mouth

  2. First, I made a boo boo… it’s James 2, not James 3. Whoopsie!

    Scripture teaches that we are saved through grace alone. By receiving God’s grace, and accepting Jesus Christ into our lives, we are submitting ourselves to following God’s will. It then follows that our works become the outward signs of God’s unconditional love for us, which is manifested internally through receiving salvation through God’s grace. In this way, grace, or faith, and works go together.

    Where it gets tricky is in determining the condition of the human heart. If you are doing works to get something out of it, e.g. a ticket to heaven, then you are doing them for the wrong reason. However, if you are doing them out of love, and only love, for your neighbor, then you are sharing the gift of love and grace you received from God with another.

    If you look at the Acts church, they did not separate their faith and their works. Who they are and what they did was intimately linked with what they believed.

    Claiborne is an interesting cat. I think if you want a good glimpse into his “theology” (so to speak), then read “The Irresistible Revolution”. That one and “Jesus for President” really turned my faith on its head and made me think….a lot.

    • First, I made a boo boo…
      It happens to all of us.

      That’s where I thought you were going, but just wanted to clarify. Thanks for your insights. And i think you are completely right: because we have this amazing gift of grace, we want to do good works.

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