Take a fresh look at tithing. Rather than giving a 10 percent tithe to your church out of religious compulsion because the Old Testament sets that amount as a standard, give the amount that truly expresses your love for God and helps you grow to become the generous person He wants you to become.

Take a fresh look at predestination. Don’t get caught up in religious snobbery about which people may or may not be part of the “elect” whom God has chosen to be saved. God can see into the future and already knows every single human being who will freely choose salvation, as well as every person who will tragically reject His offer. Simply celebrate that it’s possible for anyone to be saved through a relationship with Jesus.

Take a fresh look at Baptism. It isn’t the external act of getting baptized in water that saves you; it’s the internal work of the Holy Spirit in your soul. So while Baptism is a great way to celebrate your salvation, you don’t need to worry that you won’t make it into heaven if you haven’t been baptized in a religious ceremony.

Take a fresh look at Communion. While confessing your sins to God and other people is a healthy habit, you don’t need to qualify to take Communion by confessing your sins, because you’re already qualified thanks to Jesus’ one-time atoning sacrifice for your sins. Celebrate God’s gift of forgiveness when you take Communion rather than hesitating to take Communion because you feel unworthy. Consider the context of Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians about not taking Communion in an unworthy manner to realize that he was referring to believers who were indulging in the sins of gluttony and drunkenness when taking Communion in the early church. Let your gratitude for God’s gift to you motivate you to regularly confess and repent of sin so you can keep growing into the person He wants you to become. But don’t worry that you have to be qualified for Communion in any way other than simply having a relationship with Jesus.

Take a fresh look at eternal life. Your salvation isn’t just a ticket to heaven; it’s also the freedom to live fully right now, empowered by the Holy Spirit living within your soul. You can be absolutely certain that you have eternal life if you’re in a saving relationship with Jesus, and you don’t have to worry about losing that eternal life (even when religion tries to tell you that you can). When you sin after salvation, you’ll experience the natural negative consequences of your wrong behavior, but Jesus won’t leave you. Even when you are faithless, God remains faithful.

Adapted from God Without Religion: Can It Really Be This Simple?, copyright 2011 by Andrew Farley. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com
Andrew Farley (PhD, University of Illinois) is lead pastor of Ecclesia, a growing evangelical church located on the high plains of west Texas. He was formerly a professor at University of Notre Dame and is now a tenured professor at Texas Tech University. Andrew is the bestselling author of The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church and coauthor with Nobel Prize-winning geoscientist Katharine Hayhoe of A Climate for Change. His writings are quietly reaching untold numbers with the life-changing message of "Jesus plus nothing." You can visit his website at: www.andrewfarley.org.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.com to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience.  

Publication date: June 21, 2011