On Running to Christ

Matthew Henry once said, “It is not humility, but infidelity, to put away the offers of the gospel, as if too rich to be made to us or too good news to be true.”

When I was young, I wasn’t a perfect child, because, well…those don’t exist.  Like any other young kid, I was terrified when I did something wrong, not because I understood how much it hurt my mom or my grandparents, or whoever it may be, when I disobeyed them, but because I feared punishment.  So instead of drawing near to my leaders, I ran away.  I still have a clear memory of hiding on the playground one time just because I had said something mean to another kid and didn’t want my teacher to find me and punish me.

It is not natural for us to run toward the person we offend.  We withdraw because we are fearful.  We fear punishment, loss of reputation, loss of relationship, and a multitude of other losses.

And yet the God of the universe, the only one truly worthy of fear and trembling, commands us to run TO Him when we sin against Him.  1 John 1:9 tells us we can confess our sins in repentance before the Lord and trust Him to forgive us and help us change into the men and women God’s called us to be.

But running toward God doesn’t make a lot of sense, because, after all, God is holy, and we are sinful, and our sin merits His wrath and eternal destruction.  And of course, those things are true.  But God is also a God of grace that desires all people be saved (1 Tim. 2:4).  We know we can repent and trust God to forgive us because it is God who gives us repentance and faith (2 Tim. 2:25).  This is amazing news.  This is ridiculously good news–He whom we have most offended, He who has the right to condemn us for all eternity, welcomes us back with open arms, no matter how bad we’re struggling.  And He doesn’t just invite us back and wait on us–He runs to us, like the father in Luke 15.  He takes the initiative to seek us out and grant us repentance.  While we absolutely must repent and trust Christ, it is by God’s power and grace that we can do this.

Notice what is missing from 1 John 1:9–qualifications for forgiveness.  Jesus offers forgiveness for the “little” sins and the “big” sins.  Whether you stubbed your toe and cursed, or whether you murdered someone, Jesus is ready to be your Savior.  And while this doesn’t mean there are no consequences here on Earth for your actions (such as prison for the murderer), it does mean you don’t have to fear condemnation from God, because you know through the cross of Christ and His resurrection, your sins have been paid for and you are trusting in Christ for your salvation.

We need to run to Christ.  Let all talk of Jesus only wanting those who kinda sorta have it together end.  Jesus came for the weak, for the sick, for the sinner that cannot get it together.  And let’s be honest: do any of us truly have it all together?  Certainly not, especially not compared to a holy God!  Jesus came and died because you don’t have it together, because you are not and never will be good enough to stand righteous before the Father, because you are a sinner in need of a Savior.

If you’re a little sick, you take a little medicine.  You probably don’t even have to go to the doctor.  But if you have a terminal illness that you know can be treated, you run with abandon to the nearest hospital.  So why, when we are struggling with sin, do we run away from the Savior?  When we’re really struggling with sin, when we’re falling more than we usually do, that is a time to run to Christ, not away from Him!  The last thing God wants is for us to try and do His job–this is pride of the most deceptive kind, because it comes under the guise of humility, masquerading as godly sorrow while, in reality, it is unbelief in the promises of God.  O God, save us from this pride!

The grace of God never tells us that our sin isn’t a big deal.  The cross leaves no room for cheap grace or cheap love making little of God’s holiness and sin’s gravity.  The cross shows us costly grace that exalts God’s holiness and man’s depravity.  The cross also shows us the goodness of God, for “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus cried, “It is finished!” What does that mean?  It means the work of salvation is done.  You, believer, do not have sins to pay for.  That debt was settled 2,000 years ago.  All that’s left for us to do is trust Him to forgive us and help us follow Him in new life.  J.D. Greear, in his excellent book, “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart,” says that it would be wrong for God to hold the sins of believers against them, since Jesus has already paid for them.  We are saved because God is gracious AND just–gracious to not punish us, but just and holy to punish Jesus in our place.

So let us run to Christ and trust His grace.  His grace is sufficient.  His resurrection proves the Father accepted His sacrifice for ALL of our sin.  Trust Him.

God, may we not run away from you when we fail.  May our faith be strengthened and made more confident in Christ.  May you continue to change us and help us be holy as you are holy.  May we share your grace with the world around us.

God bless,

Neal E.

Still You Died

Today’s been one of those days.  Earlier this afternoon, I failed in just about every way imaginable.  It was one of those, “Dang…I really am a total wretch apart from Jesus” sort of days.  But, as God heals me, it’s also been one of those, “God’s grace is a real thing” sort of day, too.  The following is an attempt to sum up what’s been running through my mind the last couple of hours, in some sort of poetic/short story form (Honestly there isn’t really a structure–that’s the fun part).  I pray this enriches whoever reads it with a deeper understanding of the cross, an understanding that leads to confident repentance, a confident faith, and a deeper walk with the Lord.

In holy, selfless love you created me, just to know how great your love is, how great are your joys, how perfect are your holy ways.

In sinful, selfish idolatry I rejected your love, rejected your ways, choosing to be my own “god.”

And still you died for me.

In compassion and grace you called me to turn from my sin and my rejection of you and start trusting you.

In arrogant rebellion, I said, “No,” over and over and over and over, content to ask you to “forgive” me while I was still loving my sin.

And still you died for me.

Slowly but surely you showed me how sin not only destroyed my life here, but kept me from life with you, forever.

In joyous acceptance, I said, “Yes,” by your grace, and trusted you to forgive me, and help me follow you.

I’m so glad you died for me.

A few weeks later, I sinned again and wondered if it had all been fake.

I heard you say, “I still died for you.”

In your wisdom, you show me the ways I should go, how I should be, and call me to rest in your love.

In times of temptation, I often believe sin rather than believe you.  Even as a Christian, I continue to make a mess of my life sometimes.

And still you died for me.

You lovingly call me out in my sin, disciplining me in love, calling me back to your love and your ways, which are far greater than the ways of sin.

I come back, eager to follow you, trusting you once again to forgive me.  Then a week later I fall again.

And still you died for me.

You promise that walking with you and like you, Lord, is an abundant life.

But in the span of two hours I manage to wreak havoc, sinning in many different ways, walking back to an old path.

And still you died for me.

2,000 years ago, all my sin, every single time I rejected you, every time I chased after some false lover that only leads to hell, every single word spoken against you, every sinful thought, word and deed–paid for, in full, by the spotless Son of God.

And 2,000 years after that, I dare to call you a liar, I dare to give unbelief a foothold, to think that I’m a better Savior than you, Lord.

And still you died for me.

You died for my unbelief.  You died for my lust, my anger, my laziness, my gluttony, my pride, my idols, my harsh language, my selfishness, even my weak repentance of these sins.  With every drop of your precious blood, you paid for every sin that I would ever commit, leaving no room for the condemning voice of guilt to accuse me before the Father.

Jesus, you are truly worthy of every act of obedience, every song offered in worship, every act of love done in your name.  You are worthy of so much more than we can give.  We can never repay you.  We can never earn grace.  Our best will never be enough, but because your best will always be enough for us, let us give you our best out of love, not out of duty.

And when we stumble again later today, later this week, later this month, let us hear you say

“Still I died for you.”

Lord, may your grace amaze us once again.  May it pardon our sins, make us holy, and equip us for every good work. May your love for us produce love for you in us.

God bless,Neal E.

P.S.–I’m still technically on my social media break, so if you comment via Facebook or Twitter, I will not be responding.  And unless you accuse me of heresy, I probably won’t respond on here, either 😉