Why I Don’t Talk Much About Repentance

Why I Don't Talk Much About Repentance

This week, I’ve really had something on my heart.

 

After reading a blog post on the importance of repentance, and realizing I tend to avoid the topic on my blog, I decided it best for me to explain my reasons behind not talking about it much.

 

I am not anti-repentance. For us to let go of our pride and accept what we know we could not earn – salvation – is a truly powerful thing.

 

However, I believe that we Christians often overemphasize the teaching of repentance where it really does not belong.

 

For starters, Hebrews 6:1 refers to repentance as an elementary doctrine. Elementary means simple. Baseline. Something that’s a building block.

 

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God[.]”

 

This verse in Hebrews tells us to leave the elementary doctrine of repentance. I believe this is such an important point, and I’ll elaborate in order to explain what I mean, though it seems confusing at first.

 

When we get saved, we’re usually told to repent of our sins (though I believe it’s more accurate to tell people to acknowledge the fact that they’re sinners, not to repent of every sin they’ve ever committed). We’re told to repent and receive forgiveness. But that’s not all.

 

We’re then told that when we sin, we must confess it to God in order to stay right with Him.

 

But wait a minute. I don’t see how that’s actually accurate.

 

We believe that Jesus died to pay for our sins, right? And we believe that He was the perfect sacrifice, covering every single one of our wrongdoings: past, present, and future, correct?

 

When we put such an emphasis on repenting for every one of our sins, we underscore ourselves. Going with the idea that we must apologize to God for every sin we commit after we’re saved, does that mean that if we die without confessing our last sin, we’ll go to Hell?

 

I know we don’t mean this, or I surely hope we don’t. What about what Jesus said, in John 10:28?

 

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

 

No one will snatch them out of my hand. That, my friends, is assurance of salvation. That when we put our trust in Jesus for salvation, we cannot lose that.

 

When we put such an emphasis on ourselves, and on making sure we don’t sin without confessing it, we forget about God’s grace.

 

Do we remember what Galatians 2:20-21 says?

 

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

 

Paul points out a few imperative things here.

 

1) Sin’s controlling power does not live any longer, for it is Christ’s righteousness that lives in us.

2) We live by faith, not by ‘trying harder.’

3) Our right-standing with God is not through us obeying the law; it is by grace. For if it were, Christ died pointlessly.

 

What’s the central message of this? Living under grace. God knows we’re not perfect, and that’s why Jesus came! For what other reason would He have come to earth? To be a ‘good moral teacher?’ No!

 

If we put such an emphasis on post-salvation repentance, we disregard God’s grace. We disregard the fact that when we received salvation, the righteousness of JESUS HIMSELF was poured out on us. Our sins have been removed from us completely.

 

See, the Bible even explicitly states it in Psalm 103:12.

 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

 

Colossians 2:13-14

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

 

Have you ever forgiven someone for something they’ve done to hurt you, but they still apologize profusely, even after you have assured them that it’s all good? When that happens with me, I just want to say, “Chill out! I forgive you, and we don’t need to keep revisiting what you did. I don’t hold it against you; can we move on?”

 

I think we forget that it’s a bit like that with God.

 

Jesus has forgiven all of our sins. God has pardoned every last one of them. By forcing people to repent of every sin (the ones that Jesus’ blood has already covered), we minimize the power of the cross.

 

We make it about us, instead of making it about Him.

 

And while I definitely have more to say on this, I’ll leave you with this thought in closing:

 

We are forgiven already. Let us move on from stressing repentance, and let’s stress His grace instead and see how important it is to live filled with the Spirit.

 

Come back on Saturday for part 2, where I’ll be digging deeper into what repentance should mean for us, and how to live in grace in a biblical sense.

 

*aj

The Bible Is Not A Burden: 3 Truths About God’s Word

The Bible is Not a Burden- 3 Truths About God’s Word

One thing I’ve found quite odd in the Christian community is the mindset that reading the Bible is a chore.

 

Think about it. When was the last time most of us thought about reading the Bible – maybe the first thing that pops into our heads is Old Testament law – and thought, “Wow, this is such a great thing to read!”?

 

As hard as it is to admit it, I often have thought that way.

 

It took me until I was twelve or thirteen to really grasp the significance of the Bible, and practically only this year have I found such comfort, peace, and joy in studying it.

 

But we Christians so often treat God’s Holy Word like it’s a burden to read.

 

Because I’m an avid reader, I often have a book on hand that I’m into and want to read. Many times, I’ll read the Bible on my Kindle, where I have a lot of other books. While knowing full-well that I am here to read the Bible, to spend time with God and study His word, I get distracted and start thinking about what happened in the last chapter of that new novel, or how it’s going to end, or how the characters are going to make it out alive. It’s sad for me to admit it, but so many times, I’m so engaged in a fictional world that I forget how life-changing the Bible truly is.

 

I think our attitudes towards the Bible come from the misconceptions we harbor toward the Word of God. The misconception that the Bible is just life’s rulebook, one we must obey or else face the wrath of our iron-fisted God. The misconception that the Bible is just another classic book – dusty, hard to read, and irrelevant.

 

They’re not true.

 

And here, I would like to share with you three truths about the Bible to help us avoid the “duty” mindset.

 

  1. The Bible is Powerful.

The Bible is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It’s not just a book written by people who lived thousands of years ago and thought they were important. It was written by God, through humans just like us, whom God decided to use. Not because they were special, but because they were willing.

 

This means that the principles in the Bible are timeless. The Gospel does not change. Jesus, the Savior of Paul, is the same Savior that we place our faith in today. We pray to the same God that Martin Luther prayed to, and Moses prayed to, and George Washington prayed to, and Mother Theresa prayed to. We see all these people as amazing; and yet they were just vessels that were used by God through their relationship with Him.

 

  1. The Bible Encourages Us.

When I’m depressed and discouraged, I can find no distraction big enough to fix me. I can find no motivational quote inspiring enough to get me through. But the Scripture can. Scriptures that remind me that I can have peace, no matter what. Scriptures that remind me that I am never forgotten or forsaken. Scriptures that remind me that I am lavished in love, and it has nothing to do with me.

 

Now listen, I’m not trying to say that simply reading the Bible is the end-all-be-all of depression, anxiety, or any other struggles. Simply reading does nothing, for truly knowing God is the key.

 

By reading the Bible, we get to know God. We get to understand the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We get to know that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside us (Romans 8:11). We get to be acquainted with the fact that no matter how we perform, no matter what happens to us in this life, no matter the depths of despair, we can have hope.

 

The rest of the world cannot have this hope because it is supernatural. Only in the Bible can we truly know the hope of Christ – His love, His grace, and His joy regardless of our circumstances (Romans 5:2-5).

 

  1. The Bible Leads Us To Maturity.

Let me be straight-up here – there is no greater book pertaining to our faith than the Bible. No other book that is the standard of absolute truth. There is no other book with concepts that stand out in different ways to us every time we read them. To forsake the Bible as absolute truth is to reject maturity.

 

What do I mean by that?

 

I simply mean that if we want to grow in our faith, we must move past the elementary doctrine of Christ (Hebrews 6:1) and get over the emotions. Faith is more than a feeling; it is a choice and it is assurance of our hope (Hebrews 11:1).

 

When we read the Bible, our faith is strengthened. The Holy Spirit works in our hearts and reveals things to us that we haven’t seen before.

 

As for growing, we grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18). By studying the Bible, we can begin to comprehend what grace looks like and why it is incredible. We see that in our darkness when we did not deserve forgiveness whatsoever, our sins were paid for.

 

The more we read, the more we understand. The more we understand, the more we want to get to know God better. And the more we will.

 

Let’s stop looking at the Bible like it’s a burden, a chore, or a hassle.

 

Instead, let us see it for the blessing that it is – the offering of hope in the midst of our crazy lives.

 

*aj

 

 

See Also:

 

Why Should I Read The Bible?

 

How to Read the Bible {effectively spending time with our Heavenly Father}

4 Truths About Doubts and Questions (and why they’re not as bad as you think)

4 Truths About Doubts and Questions

 

I’ve been wrestling with some tough questions these past few months. In this post, I’m not going to try to answer them, because I know I don’t have all the answers. However, I’d like to present some truths regarding what doubts are and how we can deal with them.

 

  1. You are not alone in your questioning.

If you were to ask everyone about whether they believed everything they were expected to, you’d be surprised at their answers. I promise, as much as we can know the answers, it’s not always easy to believe them. So before we try to hide that we can question aspects of our faith – for example, “Is God really for me? Is He really good? Am I really never alone?” – we should know that there are, in fact, other people in the world like us that question the same things.

 

However, that doesn’t necessarily make the doubts right – it just means that other people wonder the same things as us. If two people speculate that the grass is red and the sky is yellow, does that make them right? Absolutely not. They’re just confused together.

 

Similarly, when we doubt and realize that other people think the same way we do, that’s a good thing because we can relate to others. But when we doubt and conclude that because someone else agrees with us, the voices of doubt must be right, we’re looking at it from the wrong perspective. Questioning with others lets us breathe in the fact that others are like us, and not that we’re automatically correct. This leads into my next point.

 

  1. Doubting is not a sin.

Doubt isn’t wrong, and questioning isn’t sinful. What doubts can do is lead us to discover what really is right. Finding support in others with similar doubts is a good thing because it allows us to look for answers alongside like-minded people. Doubting isn’t wrong in and of itself. However, if we stay in a point of skepticism, we can stunt out spiritual growth. This, however, can be resolved through the following point:

 

  1. Times of questioning should be utilized to help us find answers.

Instead of shoving down those voices in your head, address them. If I’m doubting whether God loves me because something terrible has happened to me, I shouldn’t try to deny that. Instead, I should go to the Bible and find the truth for myself.

For instance, look at Romans 8:37-39.

 

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

While I love this passage, and it tells me about the love of God, I want to be shown.

 

So let’s look at John 3:16.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

In this, my (hypothetical) doubt of God’s love slowly diminishes. When I can look to the Bible and see clear proof that I am loved, as much as doubts can still stay, it’s a little easier to believe that I really am loved. I don’t mean that the Bible is the end-all-be-all of doubt. I know that we can read the Bible for years and still not fully believe it. Trust me, the Bible doesn’t make all our doubts go away, but our doubts do not undermine the truth of God.

 

  1. God does not expect us to live in blind faith.

Christianity isn’t about believing crazy “facts” that we pretend make sense. It’s about believing a rather reasonable truth – that God created the world, gave us free will, and we chose sin; because of our sin, He sent His Son to forgive us of our sin by dying and rising from the dead, and by believing that He was the perfect sacrifice for us, the only One who could pay the price for our sin, we are saved.

 

But He gives us the Bible and He gives us the Holy Spirit. He will reveal Himself to us when we seek Him, and gives us the proof of Jesus on earth for us. He doesn’t leave us to wander in the dark; He wants us to know Him. He wants us to trust Him.

 

It’s normal for us to encounter questions in our faith. It’s healthy to question in order to find out what truth is. However, we cannot live in a state of unbelief. Belief is the center of our faith, and faith is not possible if we stay cynical or skeptical.

 

In Mark 9, we read about a boy with an unclean spirit who is brought to Jesus to be healed. Let’s read a little bit of that passage.

 

Mark 9:21-24

And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!

 

When we doubt, instead of giving into skepticism, let us dig for truth and exclaim, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

 

Instead of letting go of our faith, let us find the answers to our questions, and seek God to help us believe them.

 

*aj

Dear Reader: You Are Loved No Matter What

Dear Reader- You Are Loved No Matter What

Dear Reader,

 

I want you to know that you are loved.

 

I want you to see that not only are you not your past, but you are not loved because of anything you could ever do.

 

While some see that as depressing, I see that as relieving. That no matter what I do, I cannot “lose” God’s love. Neither can you.

 

We cannot sin so many times to retract God’s love from us. We cannot make so many mistakes or bad decisions, or be such a disappointment that God says, “Sorry kid, I don’t love you anymore.”

 

The reality is that His love has nothing to do with our performance, but everything to do with His mercy and grace.

 

The conditions on which He loves us have nothing do do with who we are but who He is.

 

We make mistakes, and we sin. Our inherent nature is not to be perfect, but to live for ourselves. Yet God is different. God doesn’t say, “I love you because you’re perfect,” He says, “I love you because I am perfect.”

 

“I love you because I created you.”

“I love you because even though you do not deserve it, I choose to love you.”

 

That’s powerful.

 

You are cherished, no matter what your life looks like.

 

I’m not trying to say, “Hey, everyone! Because God loves you regardless of your lifestyle, go live however you want!” My point is to the contrary.

 

In knowing that we are loved in spite of the fact that we’re utterly imperfect, we find freedom. Not to live as slaves to our sinful desires, for when we grasp the love of God, the love of sin won’t seem so lovely anymore.

 

See, the love of God didn’t stop with the simple phrase, “I love you.” It only started there. It was an “I love you; let me prove it to you.”

 

Sending Jesus to die to pay the price of the forgiveness of our sins (whew, that was a mouthful) brought that love from just a word to an action. God didn’t sit back and say to us, “I love you, but you’re gonna have to figure it out on your own, because that whole sin mess you got yourselves into is ugly and tough to deal with, so good luck.”

 

No, He said, “I love you, and I don’t want to see any of you spend eternity apart from me. Here is my Son, to die and rise from the dead, that in believing in Him you may have life and be my child.”

 

John 20:31

“But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

 

John 1:12-13

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

 

So Dear Reader, no matter what you do, you are loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). You are loved by a God who desperately wants to have a relationship with you. You are loved because of who He is and because of His amazing grace, and not because of your performance.

 

Let us not forget that that we are NEVER out of the reach of His mercy and love.

 

*aj

Dear Reader: You Are Not Your Past

Dear Reader- You Are Not Your Past.png

I’m opening a new category on my blog called “Dear Reader.” This will be a lot like “Dear Christian Teens,” but it’ll hopefully have a more expanded demographic than just 13-19. I love to write in letter format rather than lecture. I want to share my heart as I would with a friend, not just tell you all what you should and shouldn’t do.

 

I’d like to do an occasional post where I can look you in the eyes and say “listen. I know you’re not perfect, and I’m definitely not either. Let’s figure out life together.” instead of writing a speech.

 

I want my posts, particularly my “Dear Reader” posts, to be freeing.

 

Without further adieu, let me bring you the first installment of “Dear Reader.”

 

Dear Reader,

 

You are not your past.

 

You are not what you have done or where you have been.

 

You are not the choices you’ve made.

 

You are not your image or accomplishments.

 

You are not defined by all the sins you’ve committed.

 

You are not your addictions.

 

And I mean it.

 

You are covered by grace.

 

You became covered by grace the moment you said “Jesus, I believe you can and will forgive my sins.”

 

You are covered by grace because you are loved by your Creator. Because He said, “I don’t want to see my child eternally separated from me.”

 

Grace is such that we cannot outrun it. We cannot out-sin it. We cannot get to a point where it does not apply to us anymore. We cannot earn it. Why?

 

Grace is a gift.

 

You do not deserve to be forgiven, and neither do I.

 

But Dear Reader, that’s why grace is amazing. We do not deserve grace of any kind, we do not deserve mercy, we do not deserve forgiveness. Grace is undeserved, and it is beautiful.

 

Grace says, “I have seen your sin and yet I love you. Yet I forgive you. I have seen your filth and yet I call you clean.”

 

God sees us as NEW.

 

He does not see our failures; He sees His Son’s perfection in us.

 

He does not call us on our screw-ups, on our deliberate sins, or on our flaws. He says, “I love you, and what you have done cannot change that.”

 

Dear Reader, you are not your past because God has washed it away.

 

You are called holy and blameless.

 

Titus 3:4-7

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

 

You are justified by His grace. God sees you the same as if you’d lived the perfect life and never did anything wrong.

 

You are not your past – you are a new creation because you are in Christ.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 

Instead of beating ourselves up over and over about our sin, why don’t we see at as God sees it? FORGIVEN.

 

Psalm 103:12

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

 

So Dear Reader,

 

It’s alright that we’re not perfect, it’s alright that we’re messed up, it’s all right that we’re sinners, because grace covers us. We are held in the hands of a loving God, not an angry one.

 

You do not have to let what you’ve done define how you see yourself. See yourself as God sees you, and let JESUS define you.

 

You are new.

 

*aj

Why Rules Can’t Change Hearts

Why Rules Can’t Change Hearts

I stood in the middle of the park, taking in the fresh air and glancing at the bench that was calling for me to take a rest on it. I was tired. I had just been walking around and the sun was beating down on me.

 

And then I saw it.

 

That ugly, menacing, obnoxious sign that warned, “WET PAINT. DO NOT TOUCH BENCH.” What was I, an obedient dog? That sign couldn’t tell me what to do. So I took it as a challenge. “I’ll show it who’s in charge,” I thought to myself. And so, I decided to touch it.

 

Of course I did.

 

I don’t remember whether the paint on the bench had dried or not, but as soon as I touched it, I was immediately made aware of the fact that I had disobeyed the sign. Of course I didn’t commit a criminal offense, but I knew I hadn’t done what the “rule” had ordered me to. And thinking back on that experience has given me a new perspective on some things.

 

Rules don’t change hearts.

 

Mom says don’t eat the cookie, and what do I do? Eat the cookie.

 

So-and-so says don’t go here, do this, say that, and what do I do? I go there. I do that. I say whatever it is I’m not supposed to say. Because you know what? Having a list of do’s and don’ts doesn’t change my heart, it makes whatever I’m not supposed to do seem so much more appealing.

 

Now, this may seem messed up. And it is. We’re obviously not supposed to sin, it’s wrong and all that, but it just-so-happens to be in our nature.

 

Romans 5:12-13

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.”

 

Adam sinned and passed that sinful nature onto us. From the day we’re born, we’re doomed to have the instinct to do that thing, the selfish thing, the disobedient thing, the thing that puts us first, that thing that elevates us to think we can conquer life on our own.

 

And even if we feel that pang of guilt when we do what we know isn’t right or good, we tend to ignore it and do it anyway. Even the “good people” do, because it’s not something we can control by ourselves.

 

We are dead in our sins on our own.

 

Ephesians 2:1-8

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

 

I know that’s a very long and dense passage, but it’s so important.

 

We were dead in our sins, chained to a life of immorality and evil. But because of God’s grace for us, He gave us life.

 

The difference between death and life isn’t just the difference between going to either Heaven or Hell someday. As much as that’s definitely part of it, it’s not all.

 

The difference between death and life is the difference between being controlled by the sin nature or being controlled by the Holy Spirit.

 

People have a misconception that when you’re a Christian, you try to live a decent life, be a good person, and be kind to everyone. That it’s all about trying harder. That if we mess up it’s because we did something really wrong, so we just brush ourselves off and try “harder” next time.

 

But that can be just as futile as is trying to live a perfect life while we’re still entrenched in sin. Trying to impose rules does one thing: shows us that we cannot be perfect.

 

Look at this verse.

 

Romans 3:20

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

 

The Ten Commandments were given to us to show us that we needed a Savior, not to force us to be moral people in order to earn salvation. We’ve already established in Ephesians 2 that grace is a gift, and has nothing to do with our trying to earn it.

 

In our recognizing our need for a Savior, in accepting that amazing and undeserved grace of God that FORGIVES US and removes our sin for us, we are made blameless in His sight. We are given the Holy Spirit inside of us to overcome our sinful nature and make us new.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 

Romans 5:17

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

 

The law showed us our sin and revealed to us that we needed someone to keep the law for us – namely, Jesus. He didn’t just keep it, but He gave up His life as a sacrifice.

 

Hebrews 9:22

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

 

I’m not advocating disobedience to the law here. I’m really not. I’m not saying we can do whatever we want and it doesn’t matter because we’re forgiven.

 

Galatians 5:1

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

 

We’re free, and by knowing this, we should not want to waltz back into what we’ve been saved from. We don’t need to “just work harder” at being a “good person,” we need to submit to the Holy Spirit working in our lives. In this way, we throw away slavery and embrace our amazing freedom.

 

Making rules doesn’t change hearts. The Holy Spirit does. Live in your freedom!

 

*aj

“Is That a Sin?” How to Live in Freedom

 

Is That a Sin

Being a Christian, I’ve stumbled across oh-so-many blog posts, websites, questions, etc. asking, “Is such-and-such a sin?” or “Is it okay for Christians to __?” and “Should I do xyz?”

 

And honestly, I’ve wondered quite a few of these questions myself.

 

But I’m not here to tell you what’s right and wrong. I want to address what we’re really asking.

 

When we ask, “Is consuming secular media wrong for a Christian?” we are focusing on the bondage of legalism, not freedom.

 

When we try to contemplate, “Is depression a sin?” we focus on our own struggles as opposed to what’s already been done for us.

 

When we tell people, “You’re a Christian, you shouldn’t get tattoos,” we bind people to a law that they do not have to follow anymore.

 

And that’s not right.

 

I’ve heard arguments for all sides of controversial topics. And I’ve come to this conclusion:

 

We have freedom in Christ.

 

There is no commandment in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not listen to pop music.” There is no verse that says, “You are unforgivable if you are ever depressed.” There is no passage that warns us, “Marking up your body with permanent ink-art will make you forfeit your salvation.”

 

Because you know what? We’re free from the bondage of the law. We’re free from condemnation. We have a new nature inside of us. Asking questions about the specifics of what sin is or is not really do not profit us.

 

Our sins have been totally, 100% forgiven. There is no way that we can will ourselves out of sinning enough to attain perfection. Heck no. Salvation is forgiveness by believing, and then an internal transformation – our desires change, our attitudes change, and our actions will change.

 

No longer will we want to know how much we can get away with (though I know that does creep up on us at times), but we will ask the question, “how much can we live for God?” And I don’t mean out of compulsion, I mean out of joy.

 

We shouldn’t spend hours puzzling over what is a sin and what’s okay to do. If it’s not a sin, cool. But if it is, well, it’s forgiven. That might seem like a terrible way to put it, but read these verses.

 

Galatians 5:1 says this:

 

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

 

So the point isn’t for us to say, “Hey! We’re free! We can do whatever we want!” but to live according to our new nature.

 

Romans 8:1-4

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

 

Our sin nature doesn’t have to control us anymore. This is what it’s saying. We were slaves to sin, but now we are free from falling into those traps of condemnation. Now we can live life fully – not go back to that slavery of sinful patterns that we were rescued from, but living lives pleasing to God.

 

Galatians 5:13 says later,

 

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

 

We have been called to freedom. This means that God does not punish us for our deeds that we do now. We’re all going to struggle with something here on earth, because we’re undeniably human. But we can’t let our struggles take advantage of us, because God is greater than those struggles.

 

Going back to the string of questions we all ask, every Christian wants to know what’s okay to do and what’s not okay. I totally understand that, because the Bible’s not totally clear on those gray areas. But that’s why they are called gray areas.

 

We can’t focus on the what’s-a-sin-am-I-doing-this-wrong aspect of the Christian life. Like my Dad says, “If you’re looking for dirt in the ground, just dig deep and you will definitely find it.” If you’re trying to convict yourself of sin and you look hard enough, you will find it. And dirt ain’t pretty.

 

So you know what we do? We don’t abide by a list of “Christian Rules” in order to try to be perfect. Jesus is our holiness. And so we pursue the understanding of His incredible grace, and out of that flows grateful love and a life pleasing to God.

 

I’m not saying we can’t use common sense to try to figure out what we should and should not do for our own benefit. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look to the Bible for wisdom. But what I am saying is that we shouldn’t stress so much over trying not to sin, because we are free in Christ. And if we seek God in our freedom, wanting to live out His will for us, He will reveal it to us and empower us to carry it out.

 

*aj

How Simple is The Gospel?

How Simple is The Gospel?.jpg

 

The older I get, the more I realize how complicated the world is. In areas of worldviews, politics, education, and religion, there is such a diverse spectrum.

 

A few nights ago, while watching the news, I was informed of a religion that holds the view that spaghetti created the universe and therefore spaghetti is the center. A lady’s driver’s license picture was taken with a strainer on her head, because apparently, if she was prohibited from doing so, it would be considered discrimination. All due respect to these people, but that’s slightly crazy.

 

Anyway, that’s not really my point here. My point is that the world is complicated. Things are diverse. And we tend to listen to the craziness at times.

 

What I’m trying to do here is to direct our attention to all the different sects of Christianity, and those that complicate the Gospel.

 

A lot of people claim that all “true Christians” look alike – we all can perform miracles, be excellent leaders, be really good people, and so on. Therefore, it is concluded that if you can’t or don’t do any of these things, you’re not really a Christian.

 

While I do believe that some can do these things and show themselves to be good people, salvation can’t come from these things. Rather, these things are examples of what can pour out of a Christian’s life.

 

This is where simplicity comes in.

 

The Gospel is beautiful because it isn’t dependent on us. Because we are sinful, we do not deserve heaven or any kind of forgiveness. Nevertheless, salvation is a free gift to all who would accept it.

 

I heard a story a few weeks ago that really made me think. Oftentimes, skeptics ask the question, “If God truly is good, why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?” But the speaker came back with the question, “If we truly are sinful, why does God allow good things to happen to [us] bad people?”

 

Implied in this story is what we all know deep inside – we aren’t perfect. As much as we can strive to be good people, we can never measure up to God’s standard of perfection. (Romans 3:23.) God knows this, and that is why He made the Gospel so simple.

 

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

Eternal life is life to the full now and life for eternity in heaven. But how do we get it? Believing in Jesus.

 

John 14:6

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

 

By believing, we accept that our goodness can never measure up to God’s standard, but that Jesus’ can and did. That He is the only way to Heaven, the only atonement for our sins, and by accepting Him and Him alone will we find eternal life.

 

Romans 10:9-10

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

 

Salvation is so easy. We believe and we confess to that belief. Even though we do not deserve it whatsoever, it is freely given to us.

 

Acts 4:12

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

 

I know that people claim that Christianity is intolerant because we say that Jesus is the ONLY way to God. I’m not intolerant of others at all. In fact, I respect all people because they were all made and are loved by God. But I can not go against what I believe to say that there is more than one way to be saved, for that would be contradicting what I believe. And if you’re tolerant of what I believe, why are you intolerant to my so-called intolerance? Wouldn’t that be discriminating against me?

 

I know, it sounds ridiculous if I argue it that way. Simply put, though, there is no other way to Heaven but by Jesus. If you want to argue…don’t argue with me, but the One who wants to save your soul.

 

Or maybe…just accept it.

 

I’m not trying to step on toes here. I know that Christianity can seem complicated, just like so much of the world is. What I’m here to say is that it’s not that complicated. God loves everyone and wants to save every one of us; if He didn’t, why would Jesus have come?

 

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31, paraphrased).

 

*aj