Last month we looked at the Nature of Man. We considered the Biblical explanation of man’s sinful nature, his separation from God and his responsibility for sin. We discovered that man, in and of himself has nothing to offer God in exchange for his soul, and that we will spend eternity in hell; separated from God, unless we embrace the provisions provided us in Jesus Christ – our Savior. (Salvation is freely offered to all through the grace of God, by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.)
The Bible calls the offer of salvation “the Gospel.” It is the “good news” about all God has provided for us in Jesus Christ. Sinful man, apart from any good he can provide, may be made clean and presented complete and holy in the presence of the Lord. Fellowship with God may be restored and the curse of sin and death totally removed. Jesus Christ provides, by grace through faith alone, all man lost. We are blessed to receive eternal life in exchange for the death we deserve.
The Bible explains that God’s nature is holy and that He must judge sin. We understand that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. He has therefore provided a way for sinful man to be forgiven and the penalty he deserves removed. To forgive sin without consequences would be an injustice, so He has provided Himself an offering for sin. The just for the unjust! He Himself took the penalty we deserve upon Himself and died in our place for our sin. Jesus Christ is God. He came to earth as man and suffered the penalty for sin, thus making it possible for you and I to escape the wrath to come and receive life and forgiveness of sin. (For a discussion on sin and the nature of man please see last month’s article: The Nature of Man.)
Being a “Christian” is being “born again.” Our dead and sin-laden lives are exchanged for the life of Christ by the indwelling of the Spirit of God. God transforms our very nature and changes us from within. This is the miracle of the new birth. We are, as the Bible puts it, “born from above.”
Some have taught that responding to the Gospel involves “asking Jesus into their lives” and then making every effort to live a life pleasing to the Lord. They expel great energy “working” and “trying” to please God, make good choices, and refuse the impulses of the flesh. They focus their energy warring with the devil/demons, fleshly habits and the lure of the world – always with little to no success, and always with great discouragement. However, they believe that this effort is pleasing to the Lord and He therefore “makes up the difference” for their weakness by an act of His grace. They call this “salvation,” but it is far from freedom and certainly not the truth of the Gospel.
Nowhere in Scripture are we told to “ask Jesus into our lives.” However, we are instructed to surrender ourselves to Him. As Christians (born again by the Spirit of God) we are made the righteousness of God in Christ. We don’t spend our lives “working” and “trying” to please the Lord. We surrender ourselves to His leadership and rest in His holiness. Our human effort to “please the Lord” by “trying harder” is an affront to His grace and power working in us. The Christian enters into the “Sabbath Rest” of a relationship with Jesus and ceases striving to please the Lord; thus enjoying a continual maturing by God’s Spirit within. “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:10)
God will deliver us, direct us, change us, and mature us. Let Him do the clean up. Trust Him, surrender to His leadership and give Him all the glory.
Blessings to you all,