Thoughts to Ponder

Responses to my review of the book Search for Significance

Below are messages I received about my review of the book Search for Significance. The messages I received are in blue and my responses are in green.

Sir:

I applaud your website devoted to honoring Christ. However, I believe your review of Search for Significance misses the mark and does not capture the essence of McGee's message: Our value as human beings is not dependent upon our own abilities but is only understood in the context of our relationship with God through Christ.

Man searches to find significance using the World's standards because he has rejected God. McGee clearly states that God supplies the essentials for discovering our true significance and worth in the Scripture. However, we have rebelled against God and attempt to find security and purpose apart from Him. We deserve God's wrath because of our rebellion.

Fundamental to McGee's analysis is an understanding that man has rebelled against God and suffers the consequence for his actions. He no longer is accepted by God. Only by grace through Christ's payment for sin are we made righteous and again acceptable to God. We cannot bridge the gap by self-effort yet we try.

Satan deceives us into believing that the basis of self-worth is our performance and ability to please others. Fallen man is robbed of his true self-worth based upon his acceptance by God. As a result, he pursues a continual, but fruitless, search for significance through striving for success and the approval from others.

McGee argues that neither success nor failure is the proper basis of our self-worth. Our worth as created beings has freely been given to us by God. Failure or the disapproval of others cannot take it away. He points out that Romans 5:1 makes clear we are justified by faith: if we have trusted in Christ for our salvation, we can say with certainty, we are completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. Consequently, Christ is the source of our security and the basis for our worth.

The main point of the book is that we have a choice in defining our signficance by the World's standard of performance and other's opinion or by God's grace and acceptance in Christ. When Christ died on the cross, He was our substitute. He took upon Himself the wrath of God that we deserved. We have a true understanding of self when we know that we have great worth apart from performance because Christ gave his life for us, and therefore, imparted great value to us. Indeed, one is emotionally healthy when he can honestly say "I am deeply loved, fully pleasing, totally forgiven, accepted, and complete in Christ."

I fear that your excessive emphasis on crucifying self daily reveals you may have fallen prey to one of Satan's greatest lies: that the BELIEVER is unworthy of God's grace. Romans 5:6 makes clear that Christ died for us while we were in rebellion. Propitiation means that Christ has completely satisfied the holy wrath of God by His death and payment for sin. Because of Christ and His redemption, I am completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. McGee answers the question of how are we to overcome Satan, the accuser, and experience our acceptance in Christ, by concluding we must have absolute faith in Christ's forgiveness. This requires that we must also give up on the idea of using our guilt as a form of penance. We must be careful that we don't use religious phrases like crucifying self to cover our own effort to establish significance apart from God.

I hope my words give you another perspective to consider when considering the concepts in Search for Significance.

Thank you for writing me. I disagree with your view of the book. In my review I quoted from the book many times and explained what my problems were with what the author said. You did not explain where I was mistaken about any of those quotes. You told me what the author meant to say, but did not defend what he did say.

I agree that many people try to get self-worth through the world and that is wrong, but I disagree with McGee's view also. Since you did not address what my review said about what the author said, I am not going to answer all your points, however, there is one I do want to address. You said you feared that I have fallen for the lie by Satan that the believer is unworthy of God's grace. I was very surprised by the verse you used to buttress that statement, since it shows that Christ indeed died for us while we were still unworthy, although those are not the words it uses.

I do believe we are all unworthy of God's grace. That is the whole point of grace. If we were worthy of God's love and grace then we would have earned it. The Bible is clear that we have not earned anything it is a gift freely given to us by a loving, merciful God. We see this idea in many places in the Bible but I want to quote a couple. (Romans 6:23 NIV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We have all sinned and therefore are worthy only of death, but God gives us the gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus. What about the father of faith, Abraham? (Romans 4:1-5 NIV) What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? {2} If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about--but not before God. {3} What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." {4} Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. {5} However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

Paul says that if Abraham had earned his righteousness then it would not be a gift. Are any of us more worthy then Abraham? No, all humans are in the same boat. Look at how Jesus answered the Disciples when they asked Him to increase their faith: (Luke 17:5-10 NIV) The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" {6} He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you. {7} "Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? {8} Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? {9} Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? {10} So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'"

He did not seem to have a problem with them thinking they were unworthy. You say that we have to be very careful about using our guilt as penance and I would agree with you. Once forgiven we should not feel guilt, but if we never feel guilt we won't come to repentance either. One of my major problems with McGee's book is that he keeps talking about the lies we all believed from the past. What lies, like we are not good enough to get to heaven? Like we have all sinned and need a savior? Those are not lies they are true. That is why Jesus Christ came to earth to die in our place!!

You also mentioned that we have to be careful about religious words like crucifying self daily. Well where did that phrase come from? (Luke 9:23 NIV) Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Does Jesus mention crucifying self? I say He does. We today tend to glorify the cross but to the people He was speaking to it would have meant only one thing; death. Our cross is not the burdens we bare it is an instrument of death. I understand what you are trying to say, but I disagree. We should not do anything to try to make our self more significant to God, but we should still crucify ourselves daily so that we can be the servants He wants us to be. More significant, no, more pleasing and closer to God, yes I believe so.

So I guess we disagree on the fundamental teachings of the book. I am not trying to say that we need to find significance in the world, I am trying to say we should not be trying to find significance at all, we should strive to serve God and in doing so we will obtain whatever He has for us.

Ralph

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