I do apologize for such a long absence to those who read my blog. I have been busy, with a lot of good things, but busy nonetheless. But I’m ready to start blogging more regularly, so let’s get started.
I wish it was Christmas time. It still feels like July in Alabama, and I’m ready for colder weather. But more than that, I’m ready for the season…because at this time of the year, if only at this time, we seem to understand the nature of gifts and grace and love. We see it, we show it…why? Because it’s Christmas..cheer up! No one’s sad on Christmas. At this time, we remember God’s “gift” to us–His Son Jesus.
But I have to wonder…do we understand this gift from 8-5 in the middle of June? Does it mean as much when we get trapped in the day-to-day struggles of life? Do we enjoy God’s gift in the middle of October when we’re stressed out with school? I know it’s easy for me to forget.
I’ve been thinking more and more lately about the gospel (never a bad thing to have on the mind) and it finally hit me as I was going through some material for evangelism training at our Baptist Campus Ministries–salvation is a gift.
Now I’ve known this for several years, but I think, for the first time, I’m seeing the beauty and the majesty in that truth.
Gifts are received and enjoyed. They are not worked for, paid back for, or left to sit on the counter. I’ll briefly discuss all three of these misunderstandings about gifts as it relates to God’s gift to us in Christ.
When my mom buys me a gift, whether it be the latest Madden game, a new pair of jeans or a cell phone, she never once asks me to earn it. If I earned it, it’s not a gift! If I earn it, it is the result of my work, not a gift.
“Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.”–Romans 4:4
So if we work for our salvation, it is not a gift, but what is due us. The problem with this is that we can’t earn salvation. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We read God’s law and hear Jesus say that whoever has broken one law is guilty of trespass against the entire law. We are guilty before God, with no way to justify ourselves by our work.
Yet, God has given us a gift:
“And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”–Romans 4:5
So..we don’t earn it. We believe and we receive. All we’re asked to do with a gift is to receive it with joy, thank the giver and enjoy the gift. That’s it. We don’t earn it.
And we don’t pay it back. How dare we think we have something to add to the righteousness of Christ? How dare we think we can make a better sacrifice than the death of the King of Kings? We cannot. We must not. If we do, we do so at our own eternal risk.
So we trust in Christ.
We also don’t leave the gift sitting on the counter. We don’t let our salvation become numb to us.
So how do we enjoy our salvation? We walk in it. If we have stopped trusting in our own righteousness and trusted in the righteousness of Christ for our salvation, we have been given righteousness (Romans 10:4–“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for everyone who believes.”).
Therefore, walk in righteousness! Don’t sin! Enjoy being righteous in Christ, and walk that out in this life. We will fail, and we’ll repent and turn back to Christ for forgiveness and rest in His perfection in the midst of our imperfections.
However, for those who trust and rest in Christ, we can confidently face temptation and sin and say, “I am righteous in Christ. I don’t have to do this. I enjoy following Christ and walking in His ways.” And we should grow in confidence in Him and walking in His righteousness throughout our lives.
We’ve been forgiven by trusting Christ to cover our sin and take them away through His cross. We’ve trusted Christ to apply His finished work to our lives so that we are no longer under the wrath of God, but under His grace. Our hearts have been changed in repentance and faith, to hate our sin and love God and to trust in Christ’s work.
Therefore, worship God! Therefore, forgive others! Therefore, pursue Christ to be more like Him and to have joy, not to earn acceptance! You already have it–in Him!
If you don’t have this gift, let me paint a picture of what Christ has done and what He offers.
Jesus is the Son of God, King of Kings, and eternally reigns on the throne. He needs nothing. He is completely satisfied and happy because He is holy, worshiped, adored and in a relationship with God the Father. We are dirty sinners, dead in our sins, not desiring God and choosing other things. But Jesus came, becoming a man, just like us. He lived a perfect life, completely obeying God, completely having joy in Him and Him alone, and then went to the cross having done nothing wrong. The King of Kings became the least of these so that He could take all of our sin, every single one, on Himself. He took the wrath of God and the death we deserved for our sin. He died. Then He rose again to show that for everyone who trusts in Him as the sacrifice for their sin, as their Savior, God no longer condemns them, but forgives them by covering their sin through the cross. So the offer is: Confess your need for Jesus. Turn against your sin to call Jesus Lord, trusting Him to take away the sin you now hate. Give Jesus your sin, trusting Him to cover it and take it away through the cross. Trust in Him to give you His righteousness. Walk now under the Lordship of Jesus Christ as you learn how to walk in the salvation you’ve been given.
The perfect King of Kings, Lord of all the universe, died to take all my sin, and gave this wretched dead man life and, more than that, righteousness before God. He led me to repent and trust in Him to give me new life and forgiveness. Now I’m accepted and seen as perfect in Christ! I don’t deserve this! And it’s still hard to believe. Sometimes I don’t feel that way. But my forgiveness and righteousness and salvation isn’t dependent on my feelings, but on Him in whom I put my faith. The object, not the strength, of our faith is what matters.
O Lord, may our repentance flow from a hatred of sin and a love for you. May we trust in your cross to cover every single one of our sins. That’s the only sacrifice we need. May we rest in your perfection to cover us before God. May we worship you and give you the highest praise. May we have confidence and assurance of our salvation because we are confident and assured of you and your resurrection. May we enjoy the great gift you give us. May we look forward to the day where we see you face to face, where the enemies of sin and Satan are no longer and our joy will be complete in you. May we love you more, Lord Jesus. Amen.