Long Intro. Skip to paragraph 7 to get to the Blog Title
Today I had a great conversation with a brother in the field. He was on fire about sharing his testimony and about chopping (sorry for the slang) it up about the gospel. After sharing, he asked a question about “once saved always saved.” Though we found commonality in thought on the scriptures, we found ourselves on a journey in theology, which lead back to a concluding thought that I want to share with you.
He said to me, “I work hard to earn salvation! But no matter how much I do, I still don’t feel I have done enough! Do you feel the same?” Of course I answered Yes (And so should all of you). Here’s a revelation to some, and a reminder to the rest of you!
No matter how “good I am”, I am not “I am!”
I shared with him! I know that feeling, and feel is often because of the conviction that sets each time I sin. I know I am not worthy of the sacrifice Jesus made, nor am I worthy of Him being mindful of me in general. In His selection process, I am aware that I shouldn’t receive an invitation or be listed as a reserve. And in this, I am often challenge with that feeling of being unworthy and worse, GUILT!!!!!
Yep, there you have it. Guilty as charged. That guilt is often crippling, and leads down an alley of shame, and often back into the very sin that lead to that feeling of guilt. Guilt can consume, and can keep us from walking in victory. It makes those free live in bondage and distance ourselves from He who is Holy.
On the other hand, if you are able to live without breaking the law, this path leads to pride. In the event that you reach a level of righteousness, one is fooled into believing that they have earned a spot based upon their earthly work, and not the work on the cross. Just in case you too feel this way, please be informed that you will never be good enough on your own to have your name listed in the “haves!” You will, in your own efforts, always be the “have nots”. And one day, you will stand before the King and as a “have nots” you will have knots in your stomach as you are judged without the covering blood of Jesus which maketh one able to stand before the Lord as righteous.
God is holy! God is perfection! We would have to be blameless to stand before His presence according to our own works! And just so you are aware, you would fail; as would I. There would be one thought that would catch all of us. One selfish moment. One refusal to help. One denial of forgiveness. One jealous thought. One covetous moment. One embellishment of a story. People, something would prevent you from getting in!
Ok, now the reason I started this blog (sorry about the long introduction).
I thought to myself, as he drove off, “It’s Grace not Guilt!” When Jesus was on the cross, he was dying for the sins of the world. He allowed Himself to be the perfect sacrifice that paid the uncountable debt of the world. He did this, not in capitalistic fashion. His desire was not to make us indebted to Him, but rather to show us the depth of His love for us. He released us from debt! He didn’t pay off our debt to another, He paid off a debt owed to Him. He also paid of the debts that would be created by us, for us. He didn’t give us a new interest rate, nor did He issue to us new payment options. He freed us!
He knew as He died that we would never be able to repay Him for the sacrifice He made. He did not put us on a payment plan, and to send His Pastors and Prophets to collect payments. His death was done of His own free will, not out of compulsion, but from a cheerful heart. One that desired to be in relationship with mankind despite Our constant buffoonery. He could have come to judge us, but He placed down His gavel, and extended an olive branch, choosing to amend His covenant, as opposed to destroying each covenant breaker.
This is what Paul continued to highlight in His presentation of God’s activity in His life and in the life of all those He taught. Grace is undefinable, in that the type of Grace shown to us by God is undefinable and limitless. It is by grace that we have been saved, not works, he reminds us. Knowing that some of us would grow in Christ, defeat and overcome, get closer to the mark, and foolishly believe we are the mark itself. We are pressing towards the mark, meaning we are moving towards it and facing resistance from the devil, and self sabotage from our weak flesh and wavering minds. We are towards as to obtain, with the understanding that the mark is unattainable, but worth fighting to get. We press towards it, knowing that we will near, with the realization that we will never stand on the “X”, we can only stand on the Cross!
As the vehicle drove off, I sat and thought about how Christ wants us to live after His sacrifice.
Though not equal, I thought of the guilt I have heard expressed from those who have been saved by others.
The child who is guilty about life because their mother
died in child birth, choosing to die in birth, rather than
live without bringing forth life. The case of a child
whose mother died in child birth, choosing to allow
her child to live, instead of choosing her own life.
These situations exist today. We hear accounts from surviving veterans who witnessed one giving their life to save theirs. We hear the guilt in their voice, as they continue with life, challenged with being happy, because they can not forget the sacrifice.
This was not God’s plan, nor His intent. Again, It was Grace, not Guilt! His love was on display on the cross. It is this love that should compel us to accept the sacrifice. It’s His love that should lead to obedience. It’s His love that should lead to conviction. This is why our discussion about John 3:16 was so key, and why so many of us rest upon this verse. It’s not that its our guarantee that we can sin in volume, but its our understanding that He loved us before we followed Him, was patient with us while we accepted Him, and is long suffering with us while we submit to Him.