Masquerades #1: Formalism

busy_signTim Lane and Paul Tripp, in their book How People Change, have a chapter in the beginning called The Gospel Gap in which they identify Christian externalism as a false replacement for gospel-shaped, Christ-confident, and change-committed Christianity.  There are 7 things that surface which deceptively replace authentic Christianity that the next few blog posts will share as I quote from them:

 

1. Formalism

If you want to know the church calendar, just look at Jim’s schedule. Whatever the meeting or ministry, Jim is there, Bible in hand. He’s done his stint as a Sunday school teacher and regularly volunteers for short term missions trips. He is faithful in giving and a willing volunteer when work needs to be done around the church. But Jim’s world and God’s world never meet. All of his church activities have little impact on his heart and how he lives his life.

God railed against the formalism of Israelites (see Isa. 1), and Christ condemned the formalism of the Pharisees (see Matt. 23:23 -28). Why? Because formalism allows me to retain control of my life, my time, and my agenda. Formalism is blind to the seriousness of my spiritual condition and my constant need of God’s grace to rescue me. Jim sees his church participation simply as one healthy aspect of a good life. He has no noticeable hunger for God’s help in any other area. For him, the gospel is reduced to participation in the meetings and ministries of the church.

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