In the fifth grade, I loved to read fiction. I remember going to the bookshelf at school and checking out books and taking them home and finishing them in one sitting. In that time, there was one book that I pulled off the shelf and checked out over and over again—Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawlings. I loved that book. Yet, even after having had read it several times, I do not remember much about the story, but I do remember one statement quite vividly: “Well, it’s been my experience God helps those who help themselves … And if you want God’s help bad enough, you’ll meet him half way.”1 Though this statement is made in the context of a boy getting some hunting dogs, it accurately paints the common religious mentality of all men, whether one’s a devout Jew in Palestine or a redneck in Oklahoma wanting a pair of hunting dogs.
The problem with humanity’s natural view of religion is that it always has a “meet God half way” mentality apart from the Truth. The natural ignorant man who is zealous for God will always try to find a stepladder to him. The Buddhist will use intense meditation, the Muslim ritual prayers and fasting, the Jew strict and hedged obedience of the Torah, the Baptist will not “smoke, drink, or chew, or go with girls that do,” and the “contemporary” Christian will sing nothing but praise choruses and read the Left Behind series until Jesus comes back. Regardless of the religious guise in which it manifests itself, the “meeting God half way” is the greatest and most successful lie that the devil has ever told.
This is the very testimony of the apostle Paul concerning the Jews. He writes, “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom. 10:2, 3). As we saw yesterday, the Jews problem lay not in their lack of zeal for God, for Paul testifies of their great zeal, but it lay in that they were ignorant in their pursuit. He writes that they were ignorant of the righteousness of God, and therefore they sought to establish their own righteousness. And it is not as though they did not have the declarations of God’s righteousness in the Scriptures, but they were willfully ignorant of it, that is “the righteous of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all who have faith” (Rom 3:22, translation mine). Therefore, when the Righteousness of God became flesh and dwelt among them, they despised him and crucified him. For that is what all self-righteous people do—they work toward God by their own power and deny and despise the necessity of the righteous work of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, the idea that one has to meet God half way, part way, or any way is a lie straight from the pits of hell. Either Christ does all of the work and saves you, or Christ does none of the work and you are damned. God will not let any man meet him half way, for if he does, that man would get half of the glory for his salvation. There is no work that is left to be done, for “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4).
Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study