Tuesday, March 10, 2015

i've been trying to reach You

Burning Inquiry: If tonight, right after sharing this blog post to my Facebook page, I was to make a conscious decision to never pray, to never again pick up my Bible and leaf through its pages, and if this very night, I were to cease going to church all together, and if I never wrote a single song more praising God, would I incur lightning bolts upon myself and lose the favor of the Lord that I love?

Well....would I?

Let's back up a little. This week at my college, we are reading through the book of Galatians. If you've never read it, I would encourage you to do so; it's only six short chapters, but boy, that book is a fighter. #packsapunch #jabcross The book of Galatians is actually a letter from a pretty cool guy named Paul to churches who have started to become unsure about what they believe. They are being thrown into confusion about what it takes to truly please God.

There is quite a lot of debate about this issue in our culture today. Some people believe that all paths lead to God; others believe that man can become like Him. Others still believe that they can please God by living pretty good lives. Some people figure that, having never done anything super horrible, God will let them into heaven based on the amount of good works they did while on Earth. Then there are those who depend on religion. They believe they will get to heaven because they attend church faithfully, pray frequently and read their Bibles every day. They may assume that this puts them on good standing with God.

We all know people like these. We may even be them. And although all of these lifestyles sound vastly different, they actually have something massive in common: all of these ways of approaching God rely on what we can do for Him. It's called works-based salvation. Works-based salvation is when we think that we can do or be or achieve something that will make us "right with God". It's believing that salvation is based on our own efforts. But our own efforts (and I'm sure you have found this to be true) ultimately fail us.

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." ~ Isaiah 64:6a

So, the bad news is that we can't reach God (or heaven) on our own merit.
But! The good news is that God chose to reach us. 

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." ~ Romans 5:8

If I am in Christ, believing and trusting in the fact that He died and rose again to pay for my sins, relying only on His effort to make me right with God and get me to heaven, than I am seen as blameless before Him, no matter what I've done. God sees me as Jesus, if I have put my faith in Him. I am covered. I am cleaned. (1st Corinthians 6:11) It's never about what I do for Him, but what He does for me.

"Don't base the success of your salvation on your performance." ~ Dr. Matthew Vander Wiele

God's gift of grace is never works-based. That means that the good things I do for Christ now don't change how He sees me. I have no more favor with Him if I sin today, than if I do good things. He never looks at me based on my actions, because my identity is now in Jesus (Ephesians 1-3). Since I am saved, He simply sees me as His Son. So whether I lead a Bible study or instead decide to gossip about my sister behind her back, I am still dressed in His righteousness. This is the beauty of grace.

Disclaimer: God's grace is not a license to sin, but rather provides me with the glorious freedom to love and serve and dance before my God with all joy and excitement. It's a delightful, colorful, passionate, freeing grace. We who were once mere corpses before the Lord can now sing before the Creator of skies!

So, no lightning bolts. Just love.

To learn more about you can have a relationship with Jesus Christ, click here.

-- Super rad photo (sadly) not my own. Found online.

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Go with grace.