I love cooking, but I am incapable of following a recipe to the letter – I think it is genetic. My Mum cooked the same way – for her a recipe was simply a guideline, something to be improved on. I’m always swapping out ingredients for something I actually have or something I think will taste better. Usually I have success with this – there have only been a few flops. Once I made the most delicious smelling carrot cake – the smells coming from the kitchen were so enticing – but when I went to peak in the oven I realised there was a problem. Instead of a cake there was a lovely smelling pile of carroty gulp – I had forgotten to add the flour!
My Mum was always tweaking her own recipes too – her cheesy scones were the cheesiest you will have ever tasted, but the true recipe was only in her head. Her Christmas puddings were a hit and always raised lots of money for her charity of choice. It was when selling them that I noticed that the recipe she said she followed was adaptable. If you wanted ones without alcohol in them I noticed that she always had some available – funny how I never saw her actually make that batch! J
But some things in life cannot be tweaked. This weekend I was working on the notes for my next class on the book of Acts and came across these people who wanted to add extra ingredients:
Acts 15:1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”
These folk wanted to add to the Gospel – they were saying Grace is not enough, we need something else. But the Apostles disagreed with them and said that Salvation and the Gospel was one recipe that we don’t tweak:
Acts 15:10-11 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
Why do we try to add to the gospel? It seems like the simplicity of the recipe is unimaginable for us – it is too easy:
Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
We want to add a few hoops to jump through, a through things that give us control, perhaps a few things that distinguish us from others – making the gospel a bit more exclusive. We may not do this as openly as these men from Judea, but by our actions towards others and the pressure we put ourselves under, we do. We add rules for acceptable behaviour, for church attendance, for baptism, for who we can mix with. Do we not believe that Grace is simply enough?
2 Timothy 1:8-10 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Lord, thank you for your Grace, it is sufficient for me – help me stop adding unnecessary ingredients to you gracious gift of salvation.