Friday, May 23, 2008

I think I was born a "Christian"

My church’s salvation message was, “You must ask forgiveness each time you sin, or you will go to hell. This didn't sound like "Good News" to me.

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I think I might have been born a “Christian”.

Well, almost, I was saved at around 8 yrs old. That’s just my guess, because I really can’t remember a time that I wasn’t saved. I had all the experiences that you think of when thinking about, speaking in tongues, interpretations, prophesies, being baptized in the Holy Ghost, and seeing people “slain in the spirit”, as it was called in my church.

I sought God every time I went to church, which was every time the doors were opened....It was a rule at our house. I would go to church camp and “feel” the “presence” of God, and come home hungry for a “move” in my local church. But then the high of His “presence” went away, and I felt the same as any other day. So I would go back to seeking God. My feelings at times were that God was not there. If I could not feel Him then maybe I had lost favor with Him. Maybe I had forgotten to ask forgiveness for a sin. The rapture was probably going to take place any second, and I probably did something bad today I forgot to ask forgiveness for, so I would be going to hell. This was my daily struggle. IN and OUT of salvation.

My church’s salvation message was, “You must ask forgiveness each time you sin, or you will go to hell, for even one sin.(NO, I was not Catholic, though it seems very similar now that I think about it)

There was no “Good News”...only condemnation.There was no mercy...only the realization that I WAS NOT PERFECT, and knew I could never stop sinning completely.

The first of my life I served a mean God that waited around for you to sin, then let you get hit by a truck so you would recieve your just reward.
This was not a merciful God.

Then as I got older I heard of a God that loves you so much that He could never send you to that bad place called hell. No matter what you did, He saw your heart, and that was all that mattered.
This is not a God of justice OR wrath.

It wasn’t until I came to realize that He is Just and He is Merciful that I came to know the True God, The God of the Holy Scriptures.

God is Merciful, Gracious,Loving,Just, Wrathful, Holy,Jealous, Patient,and much more.

I came to a place (through the Word of God)where I realized that I had never known this God.
I had chased after a God of my own making, and understanding.If this was the God of the Bible,
not only was I not born a Christian, I wasn’t a Christian at all!
I was actually the enemy of this God.
I was a sinner!

All my experiences in Church didn't save me.
I also came to see that they did not determine the state of my soul.
All they did was blind me to think I knew God,
because I thought my experiences were proof of my relationship with God.

When I was small and felt bad for my sins, my guilt never lead me to repent of my sins, it just made me sorry that I could never be perfect enough to go to heaven. I knew Jesus, He was the Son of God that died for me, and He was the One that I needed to confess my sins to daily, sometimes hourly, and then He would take them to God for my forgiveness. And my confessions would save me.
I was still trying to be good enough for MY God

but...I never realized that I needed to put my faith ONLY in Christ and His FINISHED work.

When I was older I knew that God loved me. And I found myself hoping He would just look at my heart and see that I truly loved Him back, and that would get me by.I guess I was just hoping that He loved me enough to let me slip past those pearly gates.

but...I never realized that I had sinned against a Holy God, and that He was a Just God that would punish all sin, no matter how much I thougt I “loved” Him, and that my heart was wicked, and I deserved His wrath.

In both of these beliefs I had only a part of the truth of salvation. Neither one will save me.
Christ alone is my salvation. I rest in Him knowing that He has done it all. I am nothing.
I deserve only the wrath of God for all my sins. He would not be a Just God if he did not pronounce me guilty. But He is a Just God.

In the scripture I finally found some “Good News”

It is AMAZING what happens when we actually take His Word and read it.
Not just listen to the preacher, and assume he is telling you the truth.
Not just hear a sermon, and take it as from the scriptures. But really study what God has said.
The One True God.
Not the God I was told about when I was 8, or the one I was introduced to as a teen.
But the God who is revealed in all of scripture.

Not just the scriptures about love for His children, but also about wrath on His enemies.
I came to see that His wrath was poured out on Jesus Christ in my place.He already took my punishment.
My deeds are nothing. My good intentions are nothing. He is everything.

We are not saved because we do not sin. We are saved because we rest in the fact that He (Jesus) was the Perfect, sinless sacrifice, that brought us into relationship with God.
Any christian that says they don't sin, lies. We are not made perfect by our sinless life, but by His.
When Jesus said, “It is finished” He was telling us that there is no longer any work that needed to be done for salvation. He was the only One who could have satisfied what God required for us to come to Him, which was a sinless sacrifice.

Paul Washer’s sermon in the blog,"How do you KNOW that you are saved?" doesn’t say, if you (christian) sin you are a sinner bound for eternity without God. He says that if you are a Christian the proof of it will be that you will not CONTINUE in you sin.

That means to live there, dwell there, practice it, and make it your lifestyle.
Your heart WILL BE (not might be, or should be) one of repentance toward God.

We are not saved by our deeds.Not by even by our lack of sinning. Because that would be a deed.
We are saved only by Christ and the shedding of His blood to remove all the sins of those who will have faith in Him alone for salvation.

But when I come to Him knowing I am not and never can be perfect on my own merit. He grants to us His righteousness, and His perfection. I daily see my sins as He sees them, and I hate them because He hates them, and I repent from them. I stop living in sin. It is no longer my dwelling place. It is not what I practice.

This does not mean I will never sin again, It means I will not stay there and rejoice in it, I will weep over it and turn from it.

I stop!
I repent!

This is not asking for forgiveness, He already forgave us when sin was nailed to the cross, and Christ’s work was done. This is stopping , and turning toward Him, broken by the mercy of God that would take an undeserving person like me, and give me eternal life through His Perfect Holy Son. If you are not broken over your sin, you do not hate it as God hates it.

Here is a quote I love

•If you can sin and not weep over it,you are an heir of hell! If you can go into sin,and afterwards feel satisfied to have done so,you are on the road to destruction.If there are no prickings of conscience, no inwardtorments, no bleeding wounds; if you have no throbs and heavings of a bosom that cannot rest; if your soul never feels filled with wormwood and gall when youknow you have done evil, you are no child of God!
--Charles H. Spurgeon

These feelings are there to tell us we have done wrong in God’s sight, and let us see that we could never be perfect enough to DESERVE His love and forgiveness, and this is why we cling ever so much more to the cross of Christ, because it is in Him and through Him alone that we find peace.

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
Acts 17:30 -31

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Eph 2:13-18

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Philippians 3:7-12

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
Rom 6:6 -14

I know I was born a "Christian"(sinner) but by the grace of God, now I am born again!

In Christ,

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Raffi Shahinian said...

Thank you for this soul-searching post. If you're interested, I've also been talking about repentance today, but from a slightly different perspective. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Grace and Peace,
Raffi Shahinian
Parables of a Prodigal Son

FishHawk said...

You included Romans 8:1-4; but what about the beginning of the passage??? For it is truly is as it is written: For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I {would} like to {do,} but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want {to do,} I agree with the Law, {confessing} that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good {is} not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? {Romans 7:14-25 NAS}

FishHawk said...

Sorry about that. I left-off the last verse of that passage. For it truly is as it is also written: Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. {Romans 7:25}

KDS said...

Yes, those verses are great, (well ALL of scripture is great) but I just ran out of room, I tend to write long articles, but oh well.

Also one thing that I love about the scripture you added, is the very last verse and thereafter.

Rom 7:24-25

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

(We shouldn't stop at the chapter break, but should read it as a full letter as intended.)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Only in CHRIST!

Thank you for your post, God bless you as you read His Word!

In Christ,