Are you terrified of God, or clinging to Him for dear life?
I grew up terrified of God. Not only was He invisible, but the religious people who claimed to represent him, who I could see, scared the pants off me.
Not only were many of them stern and judgmental, but they gave me the impression they could peer into my dark little 8-year-old heart and were not the least impressed with what they found.
The real clincher was their persistent notion of a kind of provisional/conditional “salvation” that seemed to me as no salvation at all.
It was more like giving me “a shot” at salvation, qualified by a whole bunch of “maybes,” with no assurance that I’d ever “make it.” Bad deal.
I was a natural-born “stinker.” So what?
Knowing I was a natural-born sinner didn’t help. I knew that because no one ever had to teach me how to lie, steal, get angry, torture my sister, disobey my parents or sneak around — those things came naturally — I seemed to be “spring loaded” to the sin position.
Case closed. Sin was embedded in my nature.
I gave myself long odds at best, of ever reaching Heaven. But that wasn’t the worst part.
The real bummer was that I didn’t hear about what GOD HAD ALREADY DONE about my “sin problem” until decades later — and it cost me decades of unnecessary anxiety.
But that was then …
Years later, some dear friends of mine who knew their way around the Bible graciously led me away from the terror of losing my “salvation” every time I sinned and straight into the arms of my Savior Jesus.
Concurrently, I was set free from the trap of believing that my spiritual destiny hung on the flimsy thread of my own good works and strict avoidance of sin.
I had been frantically looking for rest for my weary soul in all the wrong places, when right in front of me was God’s GIFT of salvation — a gift freely and irrevocably given with no strings attached.
After all, a “gift” that can be taken back is no gift at all. It’s just a loan of something that can be repossessed.
In the case of salvation, if I fail to make daily “payments” in the form of being “religious” and behaving myself, “Poof,” it’s gone (or so I thought).
Naturally, such erroneous beliefs put all the responsibility on me, while disregarding the redeeming work that Jesus had already done for me on the cross.
Judicial Side of God’s Forgiveness
This is when we are born again. A one-time event. In his book, Salvation, theologian Lewis Sperry Chafer insightfully wrote, “There is no spiritual progress to be made until one is convinced that something final was accomplished at the cross regarding sin … Something has been done concerning every sin that ever has been committed, or that will yet be committed by man … It does not baffle our God to deal with sins before they are committed.
“Had He not done this there could now be no grounds of salvation for any sinner in this age. So complete has been the sacrificial work of the Son of God that the Spirit has testified: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world’; ‘He tasted death for every man’; ‘He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world’; ‘He died for all.’”
Parental Side of God’s Forgiveness
So, what about after I receive the gift of salvation, have been judicially forgiven, and I mess up again? Now I am a son of His, a family member.
Remember that poignant scene just before His death when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet? In John 13:10, He said, “He who has bathed (in a bath) needs only to wash his feet (in a basin); otherwise, he is completely clean.”
Bible commentator Bill MacDonald wrote in Believer’s Bible Commentary: “There is a difference between the bath and the basin. The bath speaks of the cleansing received at the time of one’s salvation. Cleansing from the penalty of sin through the blood of Christ takes place only once. The basin speaks of cleansing from the pollution of sin and must take place continually through the Word of God. There is one bath, but many foot washings … As Christians walk through this world, they contract a certain amount of defilement … he needs to be constantly cleansed …”
How About You?
Keeping yourselves spiritually clean? This daily cleansing is through immersion in God’s Word, the Bible.
Otherwise, MacDonald concludes, “the more we neglect the Bible, the more … wicked influences can remain in our minds and lives without causing us any great concern.”