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Tim Keller and Ike Butterworth on redemption versus religion

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New York City pastor Tim Keller says there are "three ways to go at life," according to Ike Butterworth, Wichita Falls, Texas, pastor. Those three ways are rebellion, religion or redemption.

Butterworth quoted Keller in the context of people wondering if they've done enough on this earth to satisfy God. He posed the question, "Do you ever feel like you don't measure up?"

Keller says people who go the rebellious way don't care whether or not they measure up to God's expectations. Butterworth said, "If you choose that way, you live as if you don't care what God thinks. The prodigal son in Jesus' parable might be a good example. You take all you can get. You go off and spend it any you like. You do what you want. You rebel. We know people like that."

Keller, who moved to New York City from the South, said, "The second way is the way of the religious. If you choose this way, you hope somehow, some way, to please God. You carry around a heavy burden of obligation. You do your duty. You may not like it but you do it. And what you're doing is you are trying to measure up."

Buttwerworth said that Keller asserts the third way is redemption. He said, "You may wonder what the difference is between the religious and the redeemed."

Butterworth pointed to the New Testament book of Romans, chapter 4, verses 1 through 5 and then verses 13 through 17. To decipher the difference between redeemed and religious a person needs to read this passage in Romans, according to Butterworth.

In modern language the issue is whether or not we measure up to God's expectations. Or in biblical terminology, "How can you have a right standing with God?"

Verse 13 refers to Abraham of the Old Testament when it reads, "It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith."

Butterworth explains "That's what the word 'justified' means in verse 2. It means to have a right standing...or, to be right...with God." Butterworth goes on to say that human effort is never enough alone. Being right with God is not accomplished by human effort but by divine effort.

And what was that divine effort called? And where does it come from? The divine effort is grace. Grace was paid for by the Son of God, Jesus Christ, when He sacrificed His sinless life on the cross. Because of the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made all sinners can receive that grace and be forgiven and be right with God.

What does mankind have to do to receive this gift of grace? What is required of each of us as sinners? The answer to those questions is to acknowledge that we are all sinners and to repent and turn away from our sins and follow Jesus. To believe that the sacrifice Jesus made that day when He gave His life on the cross was so we can be forgiven and be right with God.

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