“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
Those of you who have followed this series know that I have been writing on the fundamentals of the faith. In the process, we spent several months on the Gospel and on the definitions and involvement of the Church. Still, I feel the need to write a bit more about the Gospel.
Those who recognize their sinful condition and need for a Savior are given the opportunity to receive forgiveness of sins. John wrote, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) The word “confess” here is “Homologeo” and means “to acknowledge” and is in the “present subjunctive active tense.” This references a continuous present action, and speaks as a condition. “Forgive” and “cleanse” are both in the “aorist subjunctive active tense.” This references a simple undefined action as opposed to continuous or repeated action. Thus, those who acknowledge their sinful condition are promised two distinct results: forgiveness of sins and cleansing from all unrighteousness. As we live acknowledging our sinful and needy condition we live forgiven. Jesus illustrated this in the story on the Pharisee and the Publican. He said, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.’ ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)
John wrote, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation (one who makes repairs) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)
The Righteousness of God – in Him
“For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 6:21)
The Bible calls the offer of salvation “the Gospel.” It is the “good news” about all God has provided us – in Christ Jesus. Our sinfulness is replaced by His righteousness: our lives in exchange for His. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) By faith – in Christ, alone!
We are completely forgiven of all sins and made the righteousness of God – in Christ. How righteous? The righteousness of God, by faith alone, in Christ alone!
Complete in Him
“And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:10)
When Jesus suffered in our place for our sin He forever remedied the problem of sin for those who put their faith in Him. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (set apart unto Him).” (Hebrews 10:14) “…then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)
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 again:” “born from above.”
Some teach that responding to this “good news” involves making every effort to live a life pleasing to the Lord; “working” and “trying” to please God, making good choices, and refusing the impulses of the flesh. Their focus is in human energy. Their fleshly resources are used warring with the devil, battling fleshly habits and resisting the lure of the world – always with little to no success. This path always leads to discouragement. Those who engage in this fleshly effort believe their battle 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:” “peace with God.” However, it is far from freedom, provides no peace and is certainly not the true Gospel. I call it muddy water.
As born again Christians we are instructed to surrender our lives to God. As those 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.
As stated earlier, our human effort to “please the Lord” by “trying harder” is opposed to His grace and power working in us. The Christian is called to enter into the “Sabbath Rest” of a relationship with Jesus. We are called to cease all striving to please the Lord and rest in His great love. We are complete in Him. He will shape us, he will lead us. Our only response is surrender.
“For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:10)
As we mature in Christ we will be changed. We will grow in His likeness and are promised to arrive in His presence – complete in Him. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
In Christ, we are pleasing to God. We are called to a life of freedom and rest. You are the righteousness of God – in Christ. You are complete – in Him. Therefore, rest in Him, relax in His grace, and let Him change your life.
Shall We Continue in Sin?
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2)
The intentional practice of sin is the continuation of an un-surrendered life, i.e. rebellion. Surrender implies giving up our resistance to the will of the Lord.
Surrender to God! Salvation is freely offered to all through the grace of God, by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Surrender to God! Sinful man may be made clean and presented complete and holy in the presence of the Lord. “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
Surrender to God! Fellowship with God may be restored and the curse of sin and death totally removed.
Surrender to God! He has provided, by grace through faith – alone, all that man lost. We are blessed to receive eternal life in exchange for the death we deserve.
Jesus has provided Himself an offering for sin.
Surrender to God! Jesus Christ is God. He came to earth as man and suffered the penalty for sin, making it possible for you and I to escape the wrath to come and receive life and forgiveness of sin.
It’s really all about Jesus and His work. It’s not about us, and our human effort to “do good.” As we surrender to God, He lives His life in us and we are transformed from within. It is not about our zeal, not about our willpower, not about our determination. It’s all about surrender.
Our Human Effort Will Only Leave Us Frustrated
Live a life surrendered to Jesus. Live a life free from the muddy water of human effort and religious traditions. His Grace is perfect and complete. He will do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. He doesn’t need our help. He asks only for our surrender. Don’t muddy the water with rebellion and resistance. Don’t muddy the water with ritual and fleshly effort. Allow the pure water of the Holy Spirit to work in you!
Blessings to you all,