I'm adding more reasons why I love Jesus and His religion.
I feel entitled, because I am both saved by grace and walking out that salvation continually everyday.
I carry my cross.
I get back up again.
The reason I can use all these I's is because if I were the only one in the world, Jesus would have still died on the cross, to save me. But this is ludicrous. He came to save the whole lot of us, one by one.
He died, once for all, this is true.
Romans 6:10 says: The death he died he died to sin, once for all...
I dismantle the theology that once saved, always saved. Jesus died for us, and as we are still here on earth in flesh, we are commanded to die daily, to that flesh. This is a work out process. It's like being thrown into a body of water, a lake or ocean, and not being able to swim. The lifeguard tosses a buoy to save. The soul is saved until the next time. Until he learns to swim, until she's gasping for breath and needs a savior again. We take up our cross, and run sacramentally to the One who can help, because we are unable on our own.
If we heed to scripture, it is plain that Jesus set up our religion. He is found in it. He came to fulfill the Law, not abolish it. Matthew 5:17
God the Father gave Moses the 10 Commandments. Jesus set it up in a new covenant, reiterating the old. He established his Church on the rock of Peter. Peter wasn't perfect, isn't seen to be divine, but Jesus chose his Apostles to lead the kingdom. Jesus takes earthen vessels to shine forth his glory, to reach the lost, to love the forsaken.
Matthew 16:18: Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
To use a familiar cliche`, Disregarding religion as not being a part of Christ's mission is like throwing out the baby with the bath water.
But, I digress.
I get it. I first met Jesus within a combination of religion and personal soul searching. At 18, I was depressed (probably clinically so), lacked direction, and was confused. My short synopsis: At rock bottom, I decided that what I needed to survive was to find the Truth. I didn't know what it was, just knew I had to find it. I was sick of seeking approval from those who would never give it. I was tired of identifying with status, accomplishment, etc. I didn't really know what I was seeking but looking back I know that the Holy Spirit was directing this thought: "I think I can make it, if I can find the Truth about his life. I need the right philosophy. Maybe then I can learn to be happy and productive."
These thoughts led me to Scripture. A friend from camp had given me her old worn out Bible with highlighted verses and love inscribed within the front cover, "To Susan, Jesus will be the best friend you've ever had."
I sought solace in the moaning Psalms of David. I could relate to his muck eating mire.
Another friend from high school reached out to me at the community college. She and I worked part time at a grocery store, attended classes, studied pool side at her home, and went to church. She knocked me over the head one day during a routine panic attack. "Susan! What is wrong with you?! This isn't you. It's a beautiful day, you probably made a good grade on that math test....and God loves you!"
Not long after, I made a decision for Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. It wasn't a rote, unthinking surmise. No, it was thoughtful, methodical, and conscientious. The next morning underneath a ceiling fan laying on a couch, with 10 other college age girls on a beach weekend retreat, I knew everything was changed and would be different from then on. I was soon baptized within a Southern Baptist sanctuary. (A religious hoop to jump through?) I think not. Jesus himself was baptized by the John the Baptist. It is just something we do in obedience and love as disciples of Christ. We know it well in scripture.
Years later at age 33, I became Confirmed and received Holy Communion for the first time in the Roman Catholic Church. Confession was another sacramental hurdle to get through beforehand. I could finally take out the trash. This is another sacrament instituted by Jesus tracing back to the Early Church. One reference is Matthew 18:18. I was actually drawn to the Catholic church because of Confession. It was a concept I thought brilliant, to be able to deal with sin without dragging my husband through the debris. Rob and I communicate and hold each other accountable, but again, we need dvine help. This is in place, solid...in our religion.
If we are called beyond ourselves, to be holy, without blame...able to do what God expects, we need him in the Eucharist. Jesus' body, blood, soul, and divinity is promised to us in Holy Communion. See John Chapter 6. Yea, it takes faith to believe this. Isn't that what we are called to? To believe beyond what we can see, feel, and hear?
Do we partake in Holy Communion at the beach, on the golf course, in our bedrooms? No. We partake within the community of believers at church. It is the highest form of prayer, the Mass. Why wouldn't I want that?
Truth: whoever calls upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved. But I offer, that is only the first step.
Our path is marked, and we follow the map, which is a journey within the geography of the Church.
As far as the Bible being the only authority...we don't need to go to church concept...scripture doesn't say that. All of scripture is authoritative, we know that from 2 Timothy 3:16.
Scripture also says that that the church is the foundation and the pillar of truth. You can't have the Bible without the Church, and you can't have Jesus without religion.
It says so in 1Timothy 3:15 : You may know how one ought to behave in the household of God , which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of truth.