Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Who do you trust?

Which theme shall we go with for this February devotional article? Primary elections and the future of America? Valentines Day and true love? Black History month? Heart-health awareness? Groundhog Day marks six more weeks until equinox? The evils of Carnival and the “redemptive” works of Lent? No, let’s go big — and controversial.

A friend at church said that his 85 year-old mother was declining in health and did not have hope of salvation after years of church membership and countless agonized prayers that she has not yet attained perfection.

Another friend says his mother is bitterly angry with her family when they talk to her of God’s grace, because she believes they offer “cheap” grace. Her name is on the wall and she’s found wanting, she says.

A friend in my Bible study group describes his “Romans 7 life” of struggling against his sinful nature instead of moving into the “Romans 8 life” of trust that God can and will give us the divine nature.

Who or what do you trust the most when it comes to spiritual matters? Take this list slowly and one at a time:

  • Dr. Phil, Oprah, Joel Osteen, media preachers (even “ours”)
  • Inspired religious authors
  • Your parents or your spouse
  • The person who brought you into “the Church”
  • The people of your congregation
  • Your pastor
  • The denominational officers
  • The church guide book or its list of fundamental beliefs
  • Church pioneers
  • The “way we’ve always done it” in a religious system set up by minds greater than your own
  • Your ability to obey the 10 Commandments
  • Your theological understanding of Bible truths

Or do you place your whole, entire trust in the Word of God, namely, Jesus Christ, our Savior?

If you answered YES to the last question, then you should have no dispute with what follows; only an affirmation of hope. If you answered YES or YES-BUT to any of the previous list, you are living in the dark and cold of spiritual winter, because none of those people, things, or behaviors has the power to save you.

The Revelation 14 messages given by the three angels are to worship Creator-God and give Him glory, to leave the false worship system and its death penalty, to obey God’s voice and have enduring faith in Jesus, and to rest in Jesus.

What does it mean to have “faith” in Jesus? That you believe He exists? (Even the demons believe that way.) That you demonstrate you are a follower by keeping the Law of Moses?

NO (Romans 3:21-22). You must have faith in Jesus’ ability to save you, even when you know — you remember all too well — that you are not worthy of saving.

I’ll be blunt here: Who are you to say that Jesus’ gift is not sufficient to save you? “How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:29 NIV.

When we confess our sins (not when we’re perfect or “cured” of them), God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse from ALL unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9.) When we confess, sins are instantly:

  • Finished
  • Done
  • Forgiven
  • Thrown away to the abyss

We remember our sins, but God has chosen — decided — to forget them eternally. He will not bring them up ever again, as Satan would have you believe. They’re not sitting on a sagging shelf in readiness to add back into your sin-bank when you fall, as you undoubtedly will.

Once your sin is forgiven and forgotten forever, God declares you “righteous.” Here is the part to remember: When Jesus created this world, He pronounced His creation GOOD, and when He creates in you a new heart, the divine nature, he also pronounces His new creation GOOD, “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:14 NIV.

Notice that God’s Word says that in the past, by one perfect sacrifice, Jesus “made perfect forever.” That’s where the Father chooses to see your bare-naked, deformed and sickly self as clothed in Jesus’ robe of righteousness. You are invisible because Jesus stands there. Then the Word says, “those who are being made holy.” That’s where God does the reparative work to develop you into that new creature with His holy character.

But you do NOT attain perfection in order to be saved. Before He created this world, God resolved to love and save us to His uttermost ability. Jesus bought you at His cross. You, nearly dead from the vicious torture of slavery to sin, He redeemed and declared perfect, which actually means healthy, whole, complete, and mature.

The same God who was satisfied with the perfection of His created world and all features and creatures within it, says the same about you: GOOD. RIGHTEOUS. PERFECT.

“By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God. Christ has also introduced us to God's undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2 CEV.

“I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep.” John 10:10-11 CEV.

The entire Bible is packed with words of hope and restoration. Therefore, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Love sent His Son to save and not condemn (John 3:16-17).

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19 NIV.

So is there any reason for bitterness? Is there any reason to hold back from shouting with all confidence that Jesus, for the joy set before Him, and for the sake of His own delight, saved you and you expect to either be caught up in the clouds or be awakened by your Creator's voice — with radiant joy!

7 comments:

  1. Bob Grant
    Nicely put, Christy. You do have an ability to inspire with words!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Doreen Nimmo Lobock
    Excellent job, Christy!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Robert Johnston
    This is my favorite of all your articles. Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Christy, well said.
    Peace, Skip.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Karen Ludrick Bice said:
    Christy...most excellent article. Have you ever written for CT Women's blog? Grace is a hard concept for many people to understand, in & outside the church. I would say more but I'm on a BB. Anyway, I'm glad I chose to click on your blog link. I've learned to be hesitant on going to blogs as some of them are so SLOW to load their pages on a BB :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Susie Engebretson Sutherland said:
    THANK YOU for that article!!! My daugther called me last weekend in tears because her father (my ex) told her she was not a Christian because she didn't pay tithe and because of things she had done in her past! I will pass this on to her! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Susan Hicks Arbogast said:
    Wow, Christy. Thank you. I literally felt a weight lift from my shoulders when I read that post. You put perfectly into words things I have come to believe over the last years (decades!). Thank you for sharing your gift of writing, and for saying it so well.

    ReplyDelete

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