True Performance Based Christianity
Pastor Tony Butler
“Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed,
not as in My Presence only,
but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God Who works in you
Both to will and to do
Of His good pleasure.”
It has been said that Christianity is not a big “do,” but a big “done!” The Bible teaches that we are declared righteous before God through faith, based on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can’t be saved by our works, but are saved only by His completed work on the cross. We are to put our trust in what He did for us in order to get to heaven, instead of putting our trust in what we can do for Him. He paid the penalty of our sins in full by becoming our Substitute, taking our sins upon Himself that He might cleanse and forgive us through His shed blood.
What about after salvation? Is there not “doing” involved? Salvation begins with grace; is it lived out and completed by works? The Bible tells us that faith without works is dead. How do we put grace and works together? How do we reconcile “done” with “do” if all the glory is to go to God? I have found that in the church Christian works are based on one of three types of Christianity, which are not three, but one. The other two are counterfeits.
The first is what I call “People-based Christianity,” which is a life lived on dependence on other people. They need constant oversight. They run out of gas quickly, and must constantly be refueled through seminars, concerts, retreats, and gatherings. Their strength relies mostly on the support and counsel of others.
The second is what I call “Personal-based Christianity,” which is a life lived on dependence of self. These are Christians who distrust God, and have a need of control. Their confidence is in their abilities, gifts, and talents. They tend more towards results, than the end product. They rely more on the material, than the spiritual, though they have a form of the spiritual. They have a struggle with trusting God for reasons known and unknown. Service to God is in their strength and ministry is carried out in the way of man, under the pretense of the way of God. Often it can’t be distinguished, and must await the Judgment Seat of Christ, where all works in His Name will be revealed as to what sort they are.
The third is the real thing, true Christianity, “God-based Performance,” which is God, Himself, calling us to work according to His will, and then actually doing the work through us unto the praise of His glory, and with His power. Christians who are God-based in their performance rely on His ability. They concentrate more on those for whom He died. They recognize that without Jesus, they can do nothing. Theirs is not pretense, but an inward reality that transcends all of their circumstances. God-based performance understands that only God, Himself, can fulfill His pleasure. Their whole identity is found in Christ, and all that He says He is in them. They dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.
The first two “performance-based” approaches to doing Kingdom work lead to disunity, disputes, murmuring, and every evil device that the trappings of outward religion bring to the Church. It exalts man, not God. It produces self deceived, hopeless, and bound saints; but the secrets of God are to them that reverence Him, that is to say, those who place Him in His proper place in their lives. The third “God-based performance” produces only that which brings Him glory. His mighty power is seen working through the lives of His people. It produces true joy and holy confidence. The first two are “churchianity,” the third is Christianity. Which one best describes you?