Unmerited Mercy…

You’ve probably heard the following statement, “God reaches down to man through His great Love; and, man reaches up to God through religion.” I totally agree with the first half. And must sadly say for many people, I think the second half of the statement is also correct—but, dead wrong. (Pun intended). FLASH! No religion can save you from your sins, …or secure your place in Heaven!

Man has taken something that should be pure and simple—our belief in, trust in, and love for, God (who loved us first); and perverted it through ignorance, arrogance, greed, and pride—then called it, …Religion.

Let’s look at the basics.

1. Through God’s Grace,* Christianity is available to the world.

All people are God’s creation. God intended that all mankind would have a perfect relationship with Him—for eternity. But then, Adam and Eve, with encouragement from Satan used their free-will, and introduced sin into the world. This immediately drove a wedge between mankind and God. And mankind would suffer for thousands of years in sin, and rebellion.

Then God, through His Grace, began a plan that would provide mankind a pathway of hope. The cost to God was all but unthinkable. Never-the-less, God began phase one of the plan. He sent His Son Jesus to earth. Where, over approximately 35 years, Jesus lived a sin-free life and became the only possible blood sacrifice that could cover mankind’s sin and restore our relationship with God. Then, after His death, He arose, proving without a doubt that He was indeed the Son of God and was truthful in His offer of forgiveness for sin, and restoration with God; and the promise of eternal life. The pathway is open!

Oh, did I mention that God’s plan has two distinct parts? Well, it does. And God sending His son to Earth as a sacrifice was a critical part. But the next part is equally critical, …and, it is your part! (Which I will explain soon).

But for the moment, imagine yourself at your worst. You are covered in sin and standing at the foot of a cross. Above you, a stripped and dying man is hanging on that cross by nails hammered through His hands and feet, with a crown of thorns pushed deeply into His head. Blood is flowing freely from those wounds—and from where the skin was ripped off of his back; when he was lashed with a whip embedded with bits of metal and glass. Around you the soldiers are mocking this man while others are hurling insults and cursing Him.

And now, this man turns His eyes on you, and speaks directly to you; “I’m doing this for you—that you might enter into my Father’s presence and live with us forever in Heaven.”

That dear friend, if you are not “saved” is you. And you have now stepped onto the stage to assume your part in God’s great plan.

2. Jesus is the only way to the Father and eternal life.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. [Romans 3:23, 24] Notice, everyone has sinned!

For God loved the world so much that he gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:16, NLT] Notice God’s plan is open to, “…everyone who believes in Him.”

“…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6] Jesus was speaking. Redemption comes only through Jesus Christ!

That is exactly how you become saved. I suspect you are now beginning to understand your roll in God’s plan. You have a choice to make. And if you understand that, then the Holy Spirit is calling you to make that choice now. You can say, “No. I’m not interested.” Or, you can say, “Not right now, I’m kind’a interested; but, I’m just not ready to make a decision.” Well you just made that decision. You said, “No.” And hopefully you may have time to decide for Christ. But, there are no guarantees. We do not know our allotted time on Earth.

Or, you can say, “Yes” to Jesus by… praying directly to Him. It’s easy. (Note: Please read this prayer first, and then if you truly want to become a follower of Christ, go back and repeat it.) You can do this silently, or out-loud. Jesus will hear you either way.

Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God; that You died on the cross; and that You arose from the grave three days later. Jesus, I know I cannot live a sinless life through my own efforts. I want to accept Your free gift of salvation, purchased for me by Your blood, shed as You died on the cross. Jesus, I want to repent of my sins; and I desire to follow Your plans for my life. Jesus, I also thank the Holy Spirit for convicting me of my need for God’s Plan of Salvation and Redemption. Thank you for loving me and giving me a new life.

That was a, Yes! And, if you prayed it, there is a celebration going on in Heaven, right now.

Through God’s mercy we will receive forgiveness for our sins (Acts 10:43); the Holy Spirit will come to live within us (see John 16:7-15); and our faith is established. Thus begins our relationship, our walk, with God.

3. First I assure you, If you prayed the above prayer from your heart—in other words, you really meant ityou are a Christian and the Holy Spirit has entered your heart! It would be VERY difficult to lose your Christianity/Salvation because God is always with you; so don’t worry about that.

Jesus tells us that when the Holy Spirit enters our hearts, He will be our advocate, and our counselor. (The Holy Spirit performs other functions, but these two titles are key, at least to me). As my Advocate, the Holy Spirit interprets my prayers and petitions to God. As my Counselor, He interprets scripture and leads me into all truth. Wow! Now those are two things I really need when struggling to live a Christian life in modern American society. And note, all this is just between us, and our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Becoming a Christian doesn’t make you perfect. You will be perfected through Death, when you receive your new body and enter into Heaven. In the meantime you are forgiven and moving towards perfection. But that is not a “get out of jail free card.” You will still sin. Yes, God knows your sin, and He has already forgiven you; never-the-less, ask for forgiveness. And ask God to increase your faith and strength to abolish that particular sin from your life. Why? Because your sins have consequences. Consequences you will have to deal with. God can help you through the stress and strain, but He will not remove those consequences. Learn to think of them as “lessons.”

He returns or calls you home, continue your walk with Christ. Your faith will grow, your love for others will grow; and in general, your walk will get stronger. Some temptations will disappear, others will grow weaker. Some will not. (Satan does not give up easily, and he knows your weaknesses.) But God is ever near, and He will not allow you to fall as long as your faith endures.

And remember, …you’ve just got started in a new life. And, God has only good plans for you. What do you think God could accomplish through your work with Him as your guide?

Abba Father,

…You know I haven’t posted in more than a month. And you know I started this post headed in a very different direction; But somehow it got hi-jacked. And, I know better than to resist, so this is our outcome.

It is now the middle of the Christmas season. And while it should be ALL about You, we tend to get caught up in parties and finding just the right gift for our friends and family members. We have to get cards out. School programs to attend. And we can’t forget visiting relatives, travel, and that all important big feast. We often spend way more than we should—and then worry about the bills. Forgive us, Lord. That is no way to celebrate Your birth.

Draw us back to you Lord. Show us the way to honor You by giving You the glory during this miraculous time. Show us that we can have fun while expressing our love for one another, and You. Having a feast is fine. Visiting those we have not seen for a long time can be wonderful. Just help us to remember that You are truly the reason and the focus of our celebration. Help us to not get carried away with “our” plans; but to constantly include You in this new life You have given us. Actually, our best gift, …EVER!

Lord, how I need you, and love you…

Larry

* I think every language has many individual words that have multiple meanings. And English is certainly one of them. (Check out “fast” for example!) And so, different characteristics and qualities of God often have multiple definitions and nuances. The word “grace” is no exception. For this post I am speaking of God’s Grace as: …”unmerited mercy or favor.” God’s Grace far surpasses His kindness and provision for us. Think of his infinite compassion and mercy; that he sent His Son to Earth, to the Cross, and to Hell, …for sinners, …like us. And in return? He asks only that we believe, and trust in Him. The reward will certainly be worth it.