"Complete in Christ:"

A Tribute to Aunt Estelle Stadem-Rangen

By Nephew Ron Ginther

Take care, loved ones, lest we lose

The Christ once known, unless Him you choose.

You cannot make Him less or more.

In Him dwells Fullness evermore.

In Him alone we are complete.

He is the Head, not body or feet.

In Him we come to Perfection--

If we live Christ, we’ll hear “Well done!”

Worldly rudiments, deceit,

Philosophy, tradition-—all such defeat!

You must not let them rob you blind.

A greater Savior you won’t find!

Down the aisle there goes the Cross,

But right alongside march idols vain—-

They’re all things dear that we espouse.

In “Christ only” we see no gain.

Nothing we make can share Christ’s throne,

"A self-made saint"--in scripture unknown.

Born of Adam, conceived in sin,

No man can earn a place in heaven.

“ALL have sinned-—“—-we need to heed;

our parents too were Adam’s seed.

To trust to flesh, one should be wary-—

Man's nature is bound to be contrary.

Sacraments, with church decrees,

Tradition, incense—-the senses please.

A guiltiness in us loves

To cover sinful hands with fine white gloves.

It’s taking a bath without the soap.

As for sin’s stain—-oh, we can cope!

We go to church, confess, and kneel,

And that should do for God, we feel.

How darkened are our carnal minds—-

Unrenewed, which Satan binds.

He’s got us marching in lock-step;

We talk of heaven, but hell will get?

All this is said with Estelle in view.

She knew Christ complete, now known to few.

Let’s measure our faith and what we hold dear.

How do they compare? Do they come even near?

If anyone’s works were good--well, get the point?

Yet she based her life on New Birth to anoint.

No sprinkled water could cleanse deep down.

She knew Christ’s blood for sin will atone.

However you phrase it, polite or blunt,

However many synonyms you care to hunt,

“Complete,” is “complete,” I think you agree;

Trust Christ alone, and you'll step FREE!

Remarks about the poem: Religion saves no one. Not one soul that ever lived on this earth was ever saved by religion or good deeds. No, not one! Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ--that is, walking and talking with Him via prayer and studying and believing His Word, written and preached--saves us. Only being born-again by the Spirit and forgiven, then choosing to live a life of trusting in Him, surrendered to Him, guided by His Spirit--saves a person.

No amount of church and church attendance or participation can save anybody. Christ did not come to save in those ways, since people already could do that, without God! They had been doing it for thousands of years--all the while hoping to chalk up enough good deeds and offerings in the temples to satisfy God so that He would overlook their sins and admit them to heaven. How ignorant they were! They remained in their sin, and died in their sin. They missed heaven.

Earning entrance to heaven was just impossible. It is still impossible, though millions believe today they can earn their way to heaven by their goodness and good deeds. God is just too holy to accept the sinful works of men. One stolen paper clip--one lie--one look at a woman followed by a lustful thought--we break all the Commandments if we break just one. The Lord said so. "Works righteousness," then, was not going to work with God, so God sent His Son to pay the full penalty of sin, and also live in us the perfect Life, since we could never do it ourselves.

Beyond most other people, Aunt Estelle knew her Bible and the scriptures supporting her faith in the saving grace of Christ; but she also knew that her works would never, never, never get her to heaven, however good she was or however holy she might become with earnest effort and obedience to the commands of God. If you wish to know how she could believe that and be so joyful a Christian without the crutches many people hold to, of belief in one’s own goodness, of sacraments, tradition, church attendance, church affiliation, and ecclesiastical decrees and creeds, look into Colossians 1:13-23 and Colossians 2:6-10. These verses make it perfectly clear who Christ is and also warn us not to depart from the Christ who is the fullness of God, in Whom only we have completeness now and in eternity to come.

Are you, dear one, still trusting in something other than Christ? Only you and God know. Now, while you still can, take the opportunity to go to Christ, confess, and receive His forgiveness, and then accept a wonderful, truly personal relationship with Him, with the reward of eternal life in heaven with God which He gives free to all who surrender to Him their hearts and lives.

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