A new era

In the previous post I spoke about how hearing the true message of our salvation over and over again will change us from the inside out. A message that goes hand in hand with our true salvation is the message of grace. Jesus came to change a whole lot of things – one of which is the complete fulfillment of the law’s demands.

“For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgement and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this salvation is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.] Eph 2:8

How can anyone possible argue with this verse? How can any church still preach a message of striving or effort in order to please God? Before Jesus came to change everything, only the Jews who were part of God’s covenant could approach Him (and then only through keeping up with the law’s demands). After Jesus, all of the world (called ‘Gentiles’) previous excluded from this covenant could now approach God through faith.

“[Remember] that you were at that time separated (living apart) from Christ [excluded from all part in Him], utterly estranged and outlawed from the rights of Israel as a nation, and strangers with no share in the sacred compacts of the [Messianic] promise [with no knowledge of or right in God’s agreements, His covenants]. And you had no hope (no promise); you were in the world without God. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were [so] far away, through (by, in) the blood of Christ you have been brought near…By abolishing in His [own crucified] flesh the enmity [caused by] the Law and its decrees and ordinances [which He annulled];” Eph 2:12-13, 15

It is very clear that in this new era no preference is given to any person, nation or church who upholds the law. The only deciding factor when it comes to salvation and a clear conscience before God is whether you have faith in His Son.

The goodness of God

I’ve referred to it a few times, but today I want to dedicate an entire post to the goodness of God.  Before I came into contact with the true God, I was overshadowed by the perception that He was a very angry God,  waiting for any opportunity to chastise me.  I had no joy, and I lived under constant condemnation.  The moment I came to understand His character and His heart towards mankind, I was set free.  There are numerous verses that speak of God’s goodness and character:

“And this is the message [the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [ no, not in any way].” 1 John 1:5

“If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!” Matt 7:11

“He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:7

We are blessed to know and love a good God. He made it so easy to love Him, how can anyone resist?

“But let him who glories glory in this: that he understands and knows Me [personally and practically, directly discerning and recognizing My character], that I am the Lord, Who practices loving-kindness, judgement, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.” Jer 9:24

Only one sacrifice was needed

Jesus offered a complete sacrifice.  When His blood flowed it was enough to deal with our sin – once and for all.  When He said: “It is finished”, He meant it.  Nothing can be added to His sacrifice – all judgement has been lifted off us if we believe in what He did.  Therefore God is not angry at us! When He sees us He looks into the wonderful, complete sacrifice Jesus became.

“But as it now is, He has once for all at the consummation and close of the ages appeared to put away and abolish sin by His sacrifice [of Himself]…Even so it is that Christ, having been offered to take upon Himself and bear as a burden the sins of many once and once for all…” Heb 9:26, 28

“Whereas this One [Christ], after He had offered a single sacrifice for our sins [that shall avail] for all time, sat down at the right hand of God…For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.” Heb 10:12, 14

Look at those words – “put away”, “abolish”, “once for all”, “a single sacrifice”, “for all time”, “forever”, “completely”, “perfected”, “made holy” – why do we try to appease God by striving to live holy?  If we live in a relationship with Jesus this will come naturally – like bearing fruit, but it should never come from a fearful, condemned mindset.  One sacrifice was enough forever, we cannot add to it or improve it.

Judgement or kindness?

The image of God as an angry judge is incorrect.  His heart towards mankind has always been salvation and reconciliation – a plan to bring us back to Him.

“For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.” John 3:17

It is not His damnation, but His goodness, that will draw people to Him.  The world won’t turn to an angry God, but their hearts will be touched by His love.  That is the real moving power of the Gospel – the love God has for us and the salvation He gave to us.

“Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forebearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change you mind and inner man to accept God’s will)? Rom 2:4

In other words – trying to scare non-believers by threatening them with God’s wrath will only do damage.  Testifying about God’s goodness and love for the world will lead to salvation.