Lately, I have been focused on the incomprehensible grace that the Lord has shown me in my life. For many years I was a fool, attending churches here and there (eventually those which preached a liberal, “anything goes” doctrine) and basically doing whatever I wanted, thinking I wasn’t hurting anyone. I was caught up in the fleeting pleasures of this world and on the wrong road. The more I did, the emptier I felt and the further I traveled from God. Sadly, as is the case, I began to think less and less of what God wanted for me — as sin deceived me and closed my eyes to the truth of God.
20 I did not keep from declaring what was beneficial to you, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. -Acts 20:20-21 (MEV)
I thought I was saved as a young man because I asked Jesus to save me, but today I am not so sure of that, considering how little the regard I had in my heart for the things of God and how I treated others. I did not repent and ask Jesus to be the Lord of my life with [what I believe to be] any sincerity. He was there to call upon when I had my grocery lists of desires to fill and often nothing more than that. I thank Him that He has forgiven me and that I have the relationship with Him that I do today. I thank God that He did not take His Holy Spirit from me. It is only through His calling that I am able to know God today.
Realizing just a few years ago the emptiness I had in my heart, I recommitted to God and made Jesus the LORD of my life — instead of just the focal point of ‘easy-believism.’ Today, the goal is to be the best I can be for Jesus — instead of the childish kid who repeats over and over “gimme, gimme, gimme.” My Lord loved me when I was most unlovable. For that I am forever grateful.
I cannot say that everything is fixed. Like Paul, I sometimes think and do the things I hate (know are wrong). The flesh is in constant need of submission to the will of God. He forgives me and loves me, despite knowing all I did and will do. That is a tremendous source of security and comfort. Remember Paul’s words in Romans:
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner beingI delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! -Romans 7:14-25 (NIV)
I am currently studying Scriptures that Andrew Wommack taught on in his series “How To Prepare Your Heart.” There are always areas in my life where my heart needs to be fixed. The list of things to stay on top of goes on and on. His study on preparing your heart surely reminds me of this and gives me an arsenal of Scriptures to study and strengthen my commitment to the Lord with. I am reminded of what happened to King Rehoboam when he failed to prepare himself in his heart: And he acted evil because he did not set his heart to seek out the Lord. -2 Chronicles 12:14 (MEV)
It is easy to get caught up in emotional moments and convince yourself that you are saved because you have asked Jesus into your life, acknowledging what He did for you. I have been there. You may even attend a church regularly and give with generosity. Believing in His existence is not the same as believing in Him. Did you truly ask Him to be the LORD of your life? Are you actually sorry for the way you lived, the things you did and the people you’ve hurt? I pray you search your heart and can say with certainty that you have. Are you looking forward to His return or dreading it? Is there fear of how He will find you when He returns? These are questions you might want to ask yourself as you examine your heart.
There is a great deal of contention between those of a ‘Calvinist’ mindset and those of an ‘Arminian’ one. Calvinists (and most Baptists) believe that, once you are saved, you cannot become ‘unsaved.’ To believe otherwise would be to diminish the finished work of Christ on the Cross. (There are a great many other things they believe, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on that). Arminians believe it is possible to fall away after you have been saved, losing your salvation because you have not consciously continued to work for our Lord and His kingdom. This doctrine of “Lordship” salvation is something that those in the Salvation Army adhere to, if I am not mistaken. Both sides can offer biblical evidence to support their viewpoints. What both can agree on as the body of Christ is that He is the only way to achieve salvation and we are saved by faith in His blood and God’s grace alone. Nothing we can do will get us to heaven.
Jesus told the parable of the prodigal son to remind us of the incomprehensible, unwavering love that God has for us and a grace the defies complete understanding in its breadth and depth:
11 Then He said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me.’ So he divided his estate between them.
13 “Not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together, and journeyed to a distant country, and there squandered his possessions in prodigal living. 14 When he had spent everything, there came a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in want. 15 So he went and hired himself to a citizen of that county, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 He would gladly have filled his stomach with the husks that the swine were eating, but no one gave him any.
17 “When he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have an abundance of bread, and here I am perishing with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 So he arose and came to his father.
“But while he was yet far away, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and ran and embraced his neck and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him. And put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. 23 Bring here the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and be merry. 24 For this son of mine was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ So they began to be merry.
25 “Now his older son was in the field. As he came and drew near the house, he heard music and dancing.26 So he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. 27 He said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’
28 “He was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and entreated him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! These many years have I served you. Nor have I ever transgressed your commands, yet never have you given me a goat, so that I might be merry with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him.’
31 “He said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 But it was fitting to be merry and be glad, for this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ” -Luke 15:11-32 (MEV)
This has been a difficult post for me to write, as it leaves me thinking of the time I have wasted that could have been used in service to God. On the other hand, the enemy would love to keep beating me up over that in an effort to stifle any service I may do from this day forward. I choose, instead, to be thankful to God for His incredible love for me. He knows all I have done in the past — and also the things I have not yet done! Despite all that, His grace is sufficient and His love eternal! Thank you my Lord, for your unending love. I love you too.