Friday, October 19, 2007
Over the course of my life so far, I've done many things that I now regret and am ashamed of. They profited me nothing. Those things lead to death. (Rom. 6:21) All during that time, though, I had had enough upbringing around a church to know what sin was, in some respect. I also had enough instruction from Sunday school to know that the Bible's message is forgiveness, so in my unregenerate, narcissistic, and cynical way, I concluded that I could "go ahead and sin just this one time" and I would be forgiven because "Hey, nobody's perfect." I had very little regard for the truth of God's justice or His holiness so why would I possibly care about the true definition of His mercy? Since I didn't have a true definition of His wrath, holiness, and judgment, I regarded forgiveness to be just as trivial as I regarded God Himself regardless of my profession, church attendance, or what others believed was true of me.
...Then after much chastening and rebuking from the Lord...
I came across this verse: "...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin." (Heb. 9:22) Take a second and ponder what that is saying. Without the shedding of blood, apart from the shedding of blood, there is no pardon of sin for anyone. I grew up thinking that all I had to do was rely on my own ability to ask God to forgive me every time I fell into sin, and, because of my ability to pray and the quality of my prayers, I could say, "Hey, all I have to do is 'say the prayer' and everything is back to normal." Since I "prayed the prayer", I deemed myself justified whether I believed in the One who shed His blood or not. It occurred to me after learning this, however, that there is a price for forgiveness far more precious than the offering of a nonchalant prayer offered by a self-righteous, sinful self.
Many people say that they believe Jesus Christ died on a cross to pay for their sins, but I don't believe many people actually have faith that He came in the flesh and did just that. I don't have faith that many people who profess to be Christians really have been forgiven much for sins because "he who is forgiven much will love much." (Luke 7:47) To him that is forgiven little, though, he will only love little. When one realizes that it is not our own righteousness which is of the law that we are to be putting our trust in, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Php 3:9), it makes forgiveness and the entire Gospel message not only clear but also relevant to every culture that has ever existed since 2007 years ago and before.
By the shedding of blood is the remission of sins. I know that I didn't shed my own blood for my sins. I know that my Mom, Dad, or my younger brother hasn't. I know that yours haven't either. I know that Charles Spurgeon didn't. I know that Paul the Apostle didn't. I know that people who are saying they evangelize but are hell-bent on "being conformed to this world instead of being transformed by the renewing of their minds"... ahem... "relevant" haven't and won't shed theirs either, but even if these people would have or would, their blood is or was not sinless, spotless, and perfect as is required by God. No, "Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow." Jesus paid it all. It's only by the shedding of Christ's blood is there a remission of sins.
During Christ's ministry, Peter came to Jesus and tried to "encourage him to think positive about his situation". "No, Lord, you don't have to die. Stay with us. Don't die!" Jesus said, "Get behind me, Satan. You savor, you relish, you esteem very highly, the things that are of men; not the things that are of God." (Matt 16:23) Does that verse make any more sense now? It should because "without the shedding of Christ's blood, there is no forgiveness of sins." That is what God savors. That is why anyone that has the same mentality as Peter had is not working for God, but actually working against Him. That is why God sent Jesus Christ in the flesh. When people try to make the Gospel into anything other than this, it must be proclaimed loudly that they "savor the things of men and not the things of God." Maybe they've never heard the Gospel themselves. It wouldn't hurt to preach it to everyone, even to those who we believe may already have faith in it. If they do believe already, all they would do is agree. If not, well, we know where their heart is. It's where their treasure lies, and our Lord Jesus Christ assures us that it's not in the things that God savors. Use discernment. When we go before the judgment seat, I assure you that God will not be basing His judgment on how well we did in a temporal popularity contest or how many material things we accumulated during this time on earth. It will be based on belief in the only begotten Son of God who came in the flesh, shed His blood for the forgiveness of sin, and who was raised from the dead 2007 years ago. The cost of forgiveness is precious. Don't treat it as trivial. If you do, don't count on my approval. I'm not forsaking the gift or frustrating the grace of God to come along for a temporal ride. A true believer doesn't want this for any of God's children, and God certainly doesn't want the sheep He shed His blood for lead astray.