How can you have faith in or trust in a god whom you believe is waiting to punish you for every mistake you make? How can you live your life and enjoy it if you are constantly wondering if you are pleasing enough to God for Him to bless you? What if life with God was supposed to be more simple than this? What if the god you fear is not the real God? What if God is more loving than you think He is, and, waaaaay less critical of you than you think? What if He is not someone who is willing to let billions of people burn in hell for billions and billions and billions and billions and billions and billions of..? well you get the point.
I used to believe that the God of the bible was like this, willing to send billions of people to a never-ending punishment with no chance of escape – ever. And even though I believed in Jesus Christ as the lamb who takes away the sin of the world, there were times in my many years of Christianity that I wondered if I still would end up in hell. Isn’t belief in Christ’s finished work supposed to ensure that you won’t end up in hell?
As I was about to be baptized I was speaking with my pastor just before stepping into the pool. He asked me if I was going to heaven. I said I hope so. Then he explained to me that my trust in the finished work of Christ was the only thing that mattered, and was enough to secure my place with God in Heaven. That made me feel better and I was happy after my baptism because of this assurance. However, I was hoping to live a life from the day of my baptism that would be “good enough” to get into heaven. I guess I didn’t understand after all.
I was given a book that they give to all new believers that taught me that I now had two natures and that depending on which nature I nurtured and strengthened would determine whether or not I would live a good Christian life. It was up to me to strengthen the good nature by reading the bible, going to church, praying etc..
That was over 20 years ago. And as recently as 2 years ago I was still confused about how to live a Christian life. I was still confused about whether I would make it into heaven. I was so focused on controlling myself, my sin, and my life that I couldn’t see anything else. All I knew was that I still committed sins. The more I tried to control it all the more I failed. I wondered if I was even saved. I still feared that I might end up in hell, and I was afraid. I had no peace. I was at a point where I was having thoughts about suicide but was so unsure about where I was going after death that I became trapped in this place, afraid to die for fear of hell, and wanting to die because of the frustration and confusion and misery I was experiencing.
Finally, the Lord, the real God of the bible began to get me to see the truth about who He is and who I am in Him. I say the real God because the one I had in my head was not at all like the God of grace I have now begun to discover. I am still learning and probably will be for the rest of my life, and perhaps the following ages.
He is not waiting for us to screw up so he can smack us around. In fact, He doesn’t even see us as sinners. Jesus came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). That was the condition of man before Jesus came, in sin. It is the condition that caused us to be self-conscious, self-protecting, self-centered, self-righteous, self whatever, and, to have an irrational fear of God.
We are no longer in sin. We are in Christ. We started out in Adam who was the first corporate head of mankind. It was by his decision in the garden of Eden that all mankind ended up in a condition of sin. But when God sent His Son to earth as a man He reversed this condition. He lived the life we could not live. Then He submitted himself to death as the new corporate head of mankind. And just as Adams’ decision plunged us into a sin condition, so Jesus’ life and death and resurrection reverse that condition. We are now in Christ and that is how God sees us. (Romans 5:18-21)
Unlike Adam who took us away from God, Christ has brought us to God. Jesus is the last Adam; a new and perfected model of mankind; and in Him, we have life, His life. Jesus Christ has lifted mankind out of our condition of sin and transferred all of us into the life and blessings of God. (Colossians 1:13-14)
There is nothing we need to do, or can do to improve what God has done in Jesus Christ, and, there is nothing we can do to reverse what Jesus has done for us.
I am not saying that we can live life any way we want (in sin – according to the flesh) and not worry about consequences. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” There are consequences to living according to the flesh. What I am saying is that we can experience life and freedom from sin by believing what the scripture says about Jesus and about what it says about us as we are in Christ. The more our knowledge of the Lord increases the more His life and love will influence the way we live.
In Galatians 2:20 Paul says, “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 the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We have become one with Christ when we believed the gospel. And because He is one with His Father, so are we. (1 Corinthians 6:17) It is Christ that lives life for us. We can’t help but be influenced by Him if he lives in us.
This new condition is for all people. I am saying that God has procured salvation for everyone. It is already done. But we will not experience this life without faith. If you have heard this message and believe it then you have been given a measure of faith. If you have not your time is coming, for I believe that God intends to save all (1Timothy 2:3-4). As I stated, in the beginning, I used to think that the majority of God’s creation would end up in punishment forever. I no longer believe this and do not intend discuss it here. I believe there is much we don’t know about God and his love as is evidenced by human history.
If you are a Christian and struggle with sin or, have trouble with knowing that you are secure in his love and salvation the epistles of Paul are where you need to be. Begin to absorb and understand Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy. Then Romans.
You will find that God is in charge and you are not in charge, in any way shape or form or illusion. God gave your faith and started a work in you that He will finish. There is no need to worry. You are more secure than you know. You don’t have to worry about whether or not you are pleasing enough to God to be blessed. Jesus has made sure that you are. (2Peter 1:3-4) Learn what the phrase “in Christ” means.
God is good(PERIOD). He has shown His goodness through His Son Jesus. In His Son, He has revealed his true nature. Jesus Christ is God’s most revealing revelation of who he is and what he is like. Hebrews says that Jesus Christ is the appointed heir of all things and that the world was created through Him. And that He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of His power. (Hebrews 1:1-4)
If you are trying to live a life that will satisfy the requirement if the law you are wasting your time. You will find in the book of Romans that no one is justified by keeping the law. Instead, righteousness comes by faith in what God has done in Jesus Christ. God did in Jesus Christ what we could not do.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2Corinthians 5:17-19)
God has now made it possible for all of us to be reconciled. He has taken away any obstacle that would keep us from him. So if you have never come to God because you thought that you had to get your act together first this is the great news of the Gospel. He has already reconciled you to Himself! There is nothing stopping you. Come to Him.
Christian, the rules don’t change after you become a believer. You belonged to God before you came to Him and, you belong to Him now. Your job is still only to believe. God does the rest.
When Jesus was asked, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” he replied, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
You need not work to please God. Simply believe in Jesus Christ and He’ll work through you. Because of Jesus, you are already pleasing to God.