Saved by Relationship, not by Rules
Sunday we wrapped up our series by talking about what it means to truly know God. The reality of this entire series is that if you fall into any of our first three categories of Christian Atheism (Let's not go Overboard/I don't Fear God/God can't Love me), ultimately it's because you don't really know God. If you truly knew God, you couldn't believe any of these things. But what do I mean when I talk about "knowing God?"
Let's be clear: There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God. And it's not a small differentiation either. One is about information and one is about intimacy. One is about rules and regulations, the other is about relationship. I'm not sure why it is, but throughout history, it seems humankind most often drifted towards rules. Perhaps it's because we're lazy. Rules are infinitely more manageable than relationships. They are clear and concise. You can know if you have followed them or not. You can know if you have measured up.
But that's the problem. You don't measure up. None of us do. God is Perfect, so perfection is the standard. And although we are called to strive after this, the reality is perfection is unattainable. Still we try.
Now I'm not saying a holy life isn't important- far from it. We should absolutely strive for holiness of life. But no amount of rule following will save you. And really, that's the point of this entire series. An Atheist is someone who does not believe in God, so they live as if God doesn't exist. They have no expectation that God is going to save them, because they don't believe in God. A Christian Atheist DOES believe in God, but in so many ways, they don't have a relationship with Him. They may even try to live by all the rules; but without a relationship, they will always fail to trust God for their salvation. They will live as if they have to earn their way to heaven or be good enough. They will live as if they don't believe God is going to save them. They will live as if God does not exist.
So what's the cure? Romans 10:9 gives us a clue.
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 NLT)
Openly Declare = You say you are a Christian.
Believe in your Heart = You live as if He exists.
In other words, it's not about rules. It's all about a relationship with Jesus. You are saved by Jesus. The question is, do you believe that?