To the Editor:
The sincerity of Mr. Alper's invitation I do not question, and would like to take the opportunity, by his invitation, to offer up a perspective as to why I believe many people do not attend church, based on my experience.
I am a believing Christian. I believe Jesus died as punishment for all sin, past, present and future, on time, on Calvary's Cross, and that because of His finished work I am forgiven and redeemed from the curse of the law of sin and death.
What, in my opinion, is the precious truth of God's grace in the giving to mankind a savior is not what is being taught, nor preached in any church I have visited over the years, even the last couple of years. Most often what has happened is I felt so condemned by "Thou shall not," I go and get a six pack of beer in the next town over.
I don't know if pastors are too fearful to preach and teach on the New Testament, but they are still expounding the law as it was given to Moses. The New Covenant came in the person of Jesus, and it is based on God's unconditional love and grace towards all men.
The Old Testament law written in stone was fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The purpose of the law was not to save man, but to cause him to know he needed a savior. The stories of the saints all point to God following through on the promises he made to the people who knew him and had a relationship with him based on faith. All the Old Testament biblical accounts point to the coming of Christ, a savior sent forth from God.
We are living in a time of supreme grace, and yet that's not what is being told to God's people. There is liberty for a believer who relies on the Grace and Truth that came by Jesus Christ. The only thing a believer must actually do, is Believe. The Grace of God will do the rest if you will let yourself be led by the Holy Spirit of truth and receive the gift of righteousness. It is a gift from God that no man can earn.
Yet most churches tell us we must do or not do in order to earn something we could never deserve unless it was given as a gift.
I don't have all the answers to why church doesn't work for many of us, even us who believe, but I know God is good, and he does not send sickness, disease and mental problems on his children, nor does he cause accidents and weather related catastrophes. God does not kill people, nor does He cause birth defects in unborn babies. God did not create harmful drugs, and He does not make people kill other people.
It is my belief that a large percentage of churches are exporting what is referred to as sin consciousness, constantly reinforcing sin in its members, when it could be expounding the Grace of God that our sin has been put away in the body of Jesus, and what we inherit because of what He freely did on our behalf.
Hallelujah, we are saved, forgiven, and can stand righteously before our Creator because of Jesus finished work on The Cross. That is really Good News to me, and if I am going to go to church I want to be fed "The Good News of the Gospel of Salvation," not condemnation.
I am looking for a way to see beyond the difficulties of my life, not to hear I am a dirty rotten sinner constantly being chastised and rebuked, and punished by God because of my inability to keep the law according to those who espouse the law, and cannot keep it any better than I can. I know where my righteousness comes from, and it can only be a gift from God.
I guess this means I am probably not going to come visit your church, and please do not take my editorial as a personal attack. I believe you are most likely a very nice person Mr. Alper. For those who get what they need from going to church I pray they are blessed. I did get a bit excited to see an editorial with the word church in it. Thank you for the opportunity it provided.
Look at the scriptures: Hebrews 7:25, and 8:12, Ephesians 2:6-10, Romans 5:17, 1 John 4:19 and see what is the true nature of our God. Ask Him to lead you, and believe that it is His good pleasure to do so, just for you, all because of the life, death and resurrection of The Lord Jesus in whom we have life and the forgiveness of sin.