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There are two approaches to the gospel. One is the hard line and one is the soft line.

The hard line is that obedience to the teachings of Jesus is necessary for salvation. The soft line is that all God is looking for is sincerity. Either approach should lead you closer to the other. A really sincere person will be drawn to the teachings of Jesus; and a humble approach to the teachings of Jesus will cause us to see that what he was looking for more than anything else were people who are 'pure in heart', or sincere.

AnotherCornerstoneThese two approaches are like two cornerstones. By sighting down the sides of a perfectly square cornerstone, one can make a perfectly square building. The teachings of Jesus are concrete, giving us the plan for a firm, level foundation, and two straight walls (see illustration). But sincerity is kind of a phantom cornerstone suspended in the air at the diagonal corner of the kingdom, showing us how to line up a square roof and the other two walls.

Anyone who tries to claim one cornerstone while rejecting the other is really not following either.

Some people are drawn to the message of forsaking all and living by faith because they think it is a convenient cop-out from responsibility, or because it is an airtight theory that they can argue with anyone and win the argument. But they are neither sincere (Remember that sincerity means wanting to know the whole truth, including the parts that prove ourselves to be wrong.) nor are they really submitting themselves to Jesus as their Lord and Master.

Others pretend to be sincere, raving on about love and truth and unity and peace, and how everyone is right in their own way. But when confronted with the teachings of Jesus, they turn away. All that interests them is the escape from discipline that shallow so-called sincerity suggests. But real sincerity cannot deny the superior truths of the teachings of Jesus, and the total commitment that those teachings demand.

Without sincerity we cannot properly apply the teachings of Jesus, and without the teachings of Jesus we cannot properly apply sincerity. Everyone has more of one than the other, but growth in one area should always lead to growth in the other... if we will let it.

(See also Accept Jesus!.)

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