My Faith Journey

With His Help

“Jesus didn’t carry you 80% of the way to drop you off close to the finish line and say, ‘Run–and you’d better hurry: hell’s right behind you!’ And neither did Jesus carry you 99.9% of the way to drop you off right in front of the finish line and say, ‘Jump!’ No, Jesus carried you all the way across that finish line, and He dropped you off on the other side. The work’s been done; your salvation has been accomplished 100% by Jesus, and all that you needed to do was believe.”

Isn’t that awesome? Our pastor last Sunday continued a series on Galatians we’re working through, and this was one of the points he made.

I know there’s controversy over whether “once saved, always saved” is biblical. I believe it is. Here’s one reason why it makes sense to me: Our works couldn’t save us in the first place, so how can our works un-save us once we’ve put our faith in Christ, since salvation is not by works? We agree that no amount of good works can undo the bad we’ve done; only Jesus’ blood shed as a sacrifice for our sins can do that. But once we’ve come to believe in Jesus, then we want to go back and make it all about works, saying that we must do good works in order to preserve the salvation that Christ won for us with His perfect life and unjust death!

I think we’re setting ourselves up for a lifetime of perfectionism and doubt, if we don’t believe in “once saved, always saved.”

And I’m not condoning sin. I’m simply saying that we elevate ourselves over Christ if we think that we can maintain our salvation, if our puny efforts couldn’t even accomplish our salvation to begin with.

“The gospel isn’t just a door that you walk through to get saved–the gospel is something that should permeate our whole life as believers.”

Another great quote from our pastor.

You know, this has been really hard for me, this grace thing. Most testimonies I read are about people who live horrible lives before knowing Christ, and after they “get saved” change dramatically. But what about me? I’ve always believed in Jesus, since I was a child. Then I did some bad stuff. That shouldn’t happen, right? Is grace big enough to cover the sins that I committed while already a Christian?

The Bible says,

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 

I think the last part is crucial; if we start with “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God” and leave it there, then where’s the hope for us? ALL of us are unrighteous! But, if we notice that “you were washed…sanctified…justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” then there is a sense of great relief which follows. Oh, then it’s not all up to me to try to be perfect. There’s a way to be cleansed from the bad stuff.  But here’s what I’ve struggled with: what if you do the bad stuff after you have been washed? What then?

Some people say that means you never were a true Christian to begin with. I acknowledge that can sometimes be the case. But it wasn’t mine. I can honestly say that I loved Jesus. And then, something happened. I was “overtaken in [a] trespass” (Galatians 6:1), but where did that leave me, salvation-wise?

I think we have the answer here:

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

So, “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” I associate the idea of “practicing” something with “living a lifestyle,” “establishing a pattern of conduct.” Who of us Christians have not had “selfish ambitions”  (mentioned in the list) at some point? Are there any of us who have not had “outbursts of wrath”? Do we never experience “envy”? I think the condemnation comes not because we occasionally fail in those things, but because some people make them a habit and never repent of them. And in that case, I do think they must not have been true believers in the first place.

Finally, I’ve come face-to-face with the fact that I don’t really believe God.

He says that I’m clean, and I call Him a liar; I bring up all my shortcomings and say, “What about this, what about that?” No. All my sins were forgiven at the moment I understood, as a child, what it meant to believe in Jesus for salvation–all my childish sins already committed and all my future sins that would be committed later on. It was all washed clean, and I was made righteous before God, no matter how many times I might fail to live up to what I knew to be right.

There is no burden in that!–only freedom to get over my mistakes and begin each day with a clean conscience. Yes, repentance has to happen if there has been sin. Confessions and apologies must be made, along with a determination to not repeat the sin. In all of that, God has to be relied upon to give a steady hand to our weak efforts, to stabilize us and keep us from stumbling again. However, there is no condemnation.

If a true Christian sins, her sin is already covered. That doesn’t mean she gets a free pass to sin all she wants. If she’s a true Christian, she wouldn’t want to do that anyway. It does mean she gets to rejoice in the fullness and completeness of Christ’s atonement for her sin!

God’s grace coupled with our faith in Jesus is what we needed to cross the line from “not-saved” into “saved.” Now we need to keep trusting God that what He’s done for us is lasting and permanent! Are we going to stop having faith and begin to doubt God now that we’re already saved? Are we going to say, “Thanks for saving me, now I’ll take it from here,” only to be devastated when we don’t live like we should, because we think there could be a chance God’s forgiveness might not have extended that far? Do we have to keep saying, “I’m sorry for my sins, please save me,” over and over? Or was once enough?

This has the potential to be a life changer! I’ve been dragging along, questioning the extent of God’s grace for me. No more. With God’s help, I will believe Him in what He says: He says I’m clean, so I am. Guilt, after I’ve already repented, is a dart from Satan, which only faith can quench. My debt was paid on a cross 2,000 years ago, and the faith I had beginning when I was a child completed the transaction. Now, if anybody wants to come along and make me pay something that’s already been paid, too bad! No person has the right to hold my wrongs over my head my whole life. I’m sorry for the ways I hurt them. But, that was then, and this is now. I confessed my sin, which was already forgiven at salvation, and I came back into a right relationship with God. Now, if they want to argue about it, they should take it up with God. As for me, I’m going to live my life in the fullness of joy that God always meant for me to have. With His help.

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6 thoughts on “With His Help

  1. I know two believers who had genuine faith left God by many trials.They chose to live their own lives by themselves .Once they were very faithful christian kids.Through them,their non christian family member,friends were saved. Their family and friends (who saved )stay in God until now.But it happened.
    Even we had faith one time, we may have way to run away from God.

    Several times I’ve heard about them from their family.One of them(woman) said that she feels like she’ll never be able to go heaven anymore.Other one(man) does not talk about God anymore,but keeps on supporting his missionary mother. I heard that both of them do’nt look happy.

    I think their faith-Jesus in them- is still alive.They can not be happy even they do what they like.And both of them can not deny Him truly in their mind.

    Many severe trials let them apart from God.But I believe that someday they will come back.Because God still keep them in His hand even they now resist.

    Jessica,I think that Jesus in you took you to His place again.So please be happy and strong,as He hope you to be.

    Please pray for our brother and sister.

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    1. Your concern for the people you mentioned is admirable and wonderful! All too often we tend to take the attitude of “what’s the matter with them?–why can’t they do what’s right?” We can be self-righteous and un-compassionate, not realizing that we ourselves may be a step away from the temptation to do something similar!
      In my case, after I sinned I had to be taught HOW to come back to God. I had to realize that I COULD. So, I can relate to what you shared about those people you know. And, like them, I was never happy, though I may have appeared to be so, on the outside.
      Thanks for your comment, and I am praying.
      Jessica

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  2. Thankyou Jessica! This post hit the nail right on the head for me. So many times, I’m trying to do things in my own strength instead of taking things to the Lord in prayer. I agree with both sayings from your pastor, so much wisdom there! Jesus has completed the work once and for all. Am I going to cheapen His sacrifice by thinking that I can do anything else to earn my salvation? We have friends that I don’t believe grasp this concept completely because they are the type that do not freely accept gifts without directly reciprocating. I’m not saying that it’s not good hospitality to have someone over for a meal to say thankyou for some nice thing done, but to remember for months and keep a tally of what’s been given so that they return in kind can be frustrating. We found that this is the way they view their salvation as well. Jesus wasn’t enough. Their mindset is one where they have to do something in addition to accomplish their salvation. It’s a constant striving, not resting in His promises. I believe that can be very prideful in itself. It’s very easy to go there though. When one person can’t accept a gift w/o thinking of someway to repay, it’s easy to get caught up in that.
    I can confess that I’ve been on both ends of the hurt spectrum, the one being hurt and the one hurting someone else. When you hold onto that hurt, sometimes for years, I’ve found that it damaged me more in the end. Hurt turns to anger, and from there it can lead to bitterness. It’s a seed that only God can remove so that I can have true freedom in Him. I realized that it warped my view of who I was in Christ. Above all, I am a daughter of the one true king and thru Him, I do have the power to overcome the hurt, lies, and misconceptions that other people might have. After I realized that, (and it was only last summer) I found I was able to love despite the differences. This sounds pretty prideful on my part, that it’s this pretty little package wrapped up all neatly, but it’s not. It can still be a huge mess on a personal level that needs to be dealt with probably for the rest of my life, but I know that I can have victory over the hurt because the source of victory is Jesus. 🙂 Much love to you and our other sisters in Christ, Ruthie

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    1. I loved your comment, Ruthie!
      I can relate to what you shared–so much!–and I agree that it’s better to focus on who we are in Christ than on the ways we’ve been hurt, or even the ways we’ve hurt others (though of course we regret it, and have probably already apologized). Thanks so much for your take on this, I appreciate it a lot!
      Jessica

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  3. I’ve only just found your blog but I’m enjoying it immensely. I’m a 50 year old woman who’s been a Christian for 34 years and for the first 25 I’d say I struggled with this very thing. You hit the nail on the head. My belief, although I couldn’t see it that way, was exactly that His sacrifice was needed for my salvation but I’ll take it from there, thank you! The church we attended for many years taught this and there were altar calls every service for backsliders. The implication was always that we were in constant danger and that Jesus’ blood only went so far. After that it was up to us and we’d better be sure we were “right with God” because our salvation could (and would) be revoked at any moment, over any and every sin. This lead to a life of constant fear and striving to achieve my own salvation through my own righteousness. I look back and wonder how I ever could’ve valued the precious blood of Jesus so lightly. You’re absolutely right that once we realize that HE did it ALL for us, as ONLY He could do, were free to serve Him with a whole, humble, grateful heart. That’s how it’s been since God showed me that one day when I was reading Galatians. It was as though the scales fell from my eyes and I’ve never been the same since. It not only makes me more grateful for His gift, it makes me more loving toward others rather than wondering why they don’t “tow the line”. Your blog is a blessing to me. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Carolyn! Your words mean a lot to me! I’m so glad you can relate to my feelings and experience. Those who claim that salvation is by grace alone will often at the same time insist that we must maintain that salvation with works. But, that’s so inconsistent! Yes, I believe that faith without works is dead; yet, how do those works function? Do they save? Or rather, do they provide visible evidence of the unseen change in our hearts? I think the latter viewpoint is the biblical one! And yes, when we realize that it’s not up to us to keep our own salvation safe, we’re able to experience an incredible sense of freedom and relief, which is barely beginning to unfold in my life, since I held onto my sense of guilt over my repented-of and forgiven wrongs for so long.
      Wow! I am so grateful for your comment–thank you for sharing a little of what’s happened in your own life!
      Jessica

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