God’s Acceptance of You — And Love

What follows is a message for Christians.  If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, I would urge you to come to Him.  He is God, the Son.  He came to Earth as a man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead on the third day.

Whoever will believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. He said, “Whoever will come to me, I will in no way cast out.”

He also said, “Whoever will, may come.” Come to Jesus Christ today.  Believe in Him as Lord and Savior. Call on Him. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”  Want to hear more about this great Lord and Savior?  Read the Gospel of John in the Bible. You might love it — and Him.

Now, for you who are a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ:

If a believer in Jesus Christ has not “appropriated” the love and acceptance of God for them, that is, if they have not grasped in their very heart the utter unconditional way that God loves them and accepts them, then they will have a hard time really grasping the love and acceptance of other people for them.

Let me say that in another way.

If a person feels unloveable, or…

If a person feels that others can’t really love or accept them, or…

If a person feels that if someone really knew them, then that someone wouldn’t love or accept them, or…

If a person feels like if they only could do such-and-such or be such-and-such, or accomplish such-and-such, or be good enough, THEN someone might be able to love and accept them…

Then I believe that person has not understood their acceptance in Christ by God.

They may be born again, saved from their sins, and biblically knowledgeable, but they haven’t grasped the basic understanding of what their relationship is to the God Who loves them unconditionally.

They may even know about God’s acceptance of them intellectually, or logically. But they haven’t “appropriated” it spiritually, in the heart.

Sometimes they just need to be taught it from the Scriptures and they blossom as the light dawns in their hearts.

But other times it seems that a person must come to some crisis in their lives, some hopelessness in their own self-righteousness, some discouragement from imperfect people, some “whatever”, before the Lord opens their heart to the glorious truth that He doesn’t have a relationship with them based on performance.

But it must be spiritually discerned, and so it must be taught over and over and over. Faith even for that, comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

Meanwhile, if you have that gnawing feeling that you just don’t measure up to the standard that would allow God to really love and accept you, if you are striving to please Him, and feel like you’re failing to do so, listen: He loves you. Yes, you.

Not just enough to die for your sins. Enough to dwell in you. Enough to “justify” you, to declare you righteous, just as if you’d never sinned. Enough to no longer have any condemnation for you. Enough to take you in His arms and comfort you with the truth that He fully, fully accepts you in the Beloved. Enough to call you His beloved — the apple of His eye.

And if you have that gnawing feeling that people can’t really love you — or they surely wouldn’t if they really knew you — understand that you feel that way because you have yet to really grasp God’s love and acceptance for you.

Those who have the Spirit of God surely can love and accept you, even if you have a hard time accepting it, because love is a fruit of the Spirit. And you will be sky-walking when you come to the knowledge of God’s love so strongly that you can say with all sincerity, “Even if no one else loved me, my Savior, my God, loves me, and that’s enough.”

And the irony is, that is when you may first be able to accept the love of other people like you never have before.

And then you can love like you never have before.

P.S. Critical: This is not Psychology, this is Theology. It falls under the heading “the Truth shall set you free.” The application is “If you really appropriate the Truth of the love and acceptance of God for you, then you will be set free to receive the love and acceptance of others (and to love and accept others).”

Happy Easter!

he_is_risenPicture a mean bunch of guys, big rocks in their hands, hate on their faces, kicking up dust in the ancient Judean sun.

“For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God!”

With these amazing words in John 10, the Jews gave their reason for trying once again to stone Jesus.

Not yet ready to die, and certainly not by stoning, Jesus escaped Judea and crossed the Jordan River to where John the Baptist had once baptized repentant Israelites, probably Perea.  He stayed there for a while, and many believed in Him there.

When word came to Jesus that his beloved friend Lazarus was deathly sick, He didn’t cross the Jordan back to Bethany near Jerusalem to visit his friend on his death bed.  No one could blame Him for staying .  After all, hadn’t the Jews repeatedly tried to seize and stone Him?  So the disciples didn’t blame Him, and they weren’t surprised that He stayed in Perea.  It only made sense.  Lazarus would have to rely on the comfort of His immediate family, Mary and Martha.

But the disciples were surprised a couple of days later, when Jesus said, “Let us go to Judea again.”  What?!

They said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are you going there again?”

And He told them He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.  Do you think they believed Him?  I don’t.  I think Thomas spoke for all the disciples when he said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”  They thought this was it.  The end.  Crazy, but hey, He’s the Lord.  We will follow Him and we will die with Him if necessary.

But they didn’t die that day.  They went to Bethany, and Jesus spoke the words that thrill our hearts, as believers in Him:

“I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.  HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME, THOUGH HE MAY DIE, HE SHALL LIVE.  AND WHOEVER LIVES AND BELIEVES IN ME SHALL NEVER DIE…”

And he raised Lazarus from the dead.

And later He died on the Cross.  They finally got Him.  They finally put an end to the One whom they said blasphemed because He said He was God.  And the brave disciples who went to Bethany with Him, willing to die, cowered behind a closed door, mourning the loss of their Rabbi, and their dreams.

We appreciate His death now.  We know that it paid for our sins.  We cringe at the horror of the Innocent One being beaten and scourged and crucified and separated from His Father as He took the fury of the Wrath of God on Himself.  We appreciate it.  But we don’t exactly celebrate it.

What we celebrate is that on the third day, He rose from the dead.  He authenticated that He is Who He said He was.  He is the Anointed One, God the Son, the Christ, the Messiah!  And He is alive!  And we say Hallelujah!  He is risen!

Even as a historical event, it’s noteworthy.  But He did it for a purpose.  He was “raised for our justification”.  He was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead, that we might live.  He said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.  And in some mysterious way, when He died on the Cross, we died with Him, and when He was raised, we were raised with Him, and seated with Him in the heavenlies, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.

We were made alive spiritually, with the promise that we will be raised physically as well, on that Great Gettin’ Up Morning!  We became New Creations!  Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new!  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

And all because He died for our sins.  He became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ!

He Is Risen!

It Is Finished

nail_scarred_handsby Michele Rayburn

We have died once to the penalty of sin, and so we have peace with God. (“I have been crucified with Christ…”)

We are able to die daily to the power of sin because we stand in grace. (“… it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…”)

And someday when we are present with the Lord, we will be free from the presence of sin. (“…and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God Who died for me and gave Himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20)

Jesus died once for our sins, and shed His blood for us, so that we can rest completely in His finished work on the cross.

Sometimes we as Christians live as if it isn’t “finished”. We live as if our sins are not forgiven, past, present and future. And we find ourselves trying to earn God’s favor each day.

But we stand in grace, in a permanent state of forgiveness, precisely because “It is finished.”

The Romans 7 Man

Romans7I’ve long thought that the “Romans 7 man” refers to a born-again Christian under the new covenant.

In fact, I believe that if one doesn’t grasp this Romans 7 dynamic of conflict which goes on in all of us believers, they will have one of two tendencies:

1. Pride, because they think they are following the law well enough to earn God’s love and favor, or

2. Despair, because they don’t understand what’s happening within themselves.

Anyway, here are some excellent persuasive reasons to understand that those Romans 7 passages refer to a new covenant believer:

http://feedingonchrist.com/john-pipers-10-reasons-romans-714-25-christians-experience/

The Object of Saving Faith

pilgrims_progressI’ve been fascinated for many years by the very simple-sounding Scripture which says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” — Acts 16:31

So simple.  So pristine. So devoid of works, sacraments, trappings of any kind.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

(This presumes, of course, that it’s the true Jesus Christ — the One who is God who came to Earth as a man, and died on the cross for our sins, and rose again from the dead. If you don’t know who this Jesus Christ is, I recommend you read the Gospel of John from the Bible.)

What’s the point?

The point is that it is Jesus Christ himself, as Lord and Savior, that is the object of saving faith.

I like this little article that makes that point through explaining some things from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2014/04/07/at-what-point-in-pilgrims-progress-does-christian-get-saved/