Do you know what finally gave me rest in God? The one thing that allowed me to abide in Him fully and gave me the courage to stand up for what I believe?
Fully understanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I have been a Christian for most of my life. It's been about 25 years now since God found me. And I didn't fully understand the Gospel until last year. 2011 was my biggest year for growth in my walk with the Lord. I publicly turned my back on a promising writing career and jumped in with both feet into the Gospel.
And the funny thing is -- I had no idea what God was teaching me. I was on a journey to get to know the God I only thought I knew. Scripture I'd read a thousand times before suddenly jumped out at me. A picture of what God intended for me to know began to coalesce. I asked the Holy Spirit to teach me. I asked Him to teach me how to love Him more. And after reading the book of Acts on my deck last summer, I closed the book in awe.
Acts has got to be one of my favorite books in the Bible. It shows timid men from Galilee, who fled from Christ's crucifixion in terror, becoming bold and fearless after the Spirit came down on Pentecost. After I read Acts with "new" eyes (because I'd read it before years earlier), I understood something new about the Apostles.
They were nothing like modern-day Christians.
There was a disconnect there. What was the deal? Well, they loved God more than ANYTHING in the world, and they weren't afraid to literally shout it from the rooftops. They were sure and bold in God. They knew their identity in Christ. They fully understood the Gospel.
After that, I asked God to help me love Him like the APOSTLES loved Him. Be careful what you wish for! God showed up in my life last summer like never before. And you know what? God Himself was teaching me all about the Gospel and I had no idea.
For decades I'd heard about the life and death of Jesus and His resurrection. I had the head-knowledge, but not the heart-knowledge.
God was showing me that He loved ME so much that Jesus came into the world to LIVE for me. His life was a gift, to give me the perfect record of a sinless life I could never accomplish on my own. He then died for me, separating me from my sins as far as the east is from the west. At the cross is where He became my sin and I became His righteousness. The Bible says I've been crucified with Christ, it's no longer I who live, but Christ who lives through me. What does that mean? My old life is now dead and buried, and I am a new creation in Jesus.
But what really brought me to my knees throughout my entire journey to re-aquaint myself with God was the fact that I have God's approval, come what may. In realizing that Christ gave me His perfect record, I understood I have it NOW, not at some distant point in the future when I'm "good enough". I am covered by the blood of Jesus right now, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit as a promise of my future resurrection into my glorified body. That means the book in Heaven that has all my sins recorded was nailed to the cross. It no longer exists. Now, when God looks at the record of my life, He sees CHRIST'S record.
That's amazing!! Why? Because no matter where I came from, no matter what I've endured, no matter how many sins I've committed, there is NOTHING I can add or subtract from the work of Christ. He did it ALL for me. Not only did He live and die for me, but He gave me His righteousness. Right NOW!! Even if I stumble in my sins, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. The sin that made me stumble is never recorded in my book. Christ's record is MINE. ALWAYS. Not just for past sins, but for future ones as well.
What freed me to rest in my Divine acceptance was the knowledge that when God looks at me, He sees CHRIST. That means I not only have God's acceptance, but He smiles upon me.
THERE IS NO HIGHER STANDING WITH GOD THAN CHRIST!
And this means my salvation is absolutely, 100% SECURE. I do not have to repent-repent-repent in order to keep my ticket to Heaven. No, that's slavery, that's not living in the freedom of Christ! Repenting keeps us close to God since sin is rebellion against God, but once you're a Christian, NOTHING and NO ONE can pluck you out of God's hand, not even yourself. Therefore we, as believers, do not repent in order to clutch onto the slippery slope of our salvation, but rather to repair our relationship with Almighty God. ALL your sins were paid for by Christ, past, present, and future! That's why Christ lived a perfect life - in order to give you that perfect record before God.
If you're hearing a voice today that tells you God can't possibly love you, that you're such a sinful Christian - how can you get right with God when you have such ugliness in your past? If you're ashamed to come into His presence, if you don't think you're a "worthy" Christian, I want to tell you right now that's a LIE straight from the enemy. Rebuke it in Jesus' name!
If you're a TRUE Christian, blood-bought by Christ through His sacrifice on the cross, then you are ABSOLUTELY worthy because HE is worthy! You are loved because HE is loved! You are accepted because HE is accepted! Why? Because He gave us HIS RECORD!!
Our life is hidden in Christ. If God sees CHRIST'S life and HIS righteousness when He looks at us, if He remembers our sins no more because Christ paid our penalty in full, then we have the absolute acceptance of God Almighty, and we can rest in the knowledge that HIS acceptance is ALL WE NEED.
What worldly, vain acceptance could possibly compare...to that?