Friends, I am at Petersburg this weekend visiting my son for Thanksgiving. I wanted to share with you a personal reason for my joy and thankfulness. If you would ever have told me that I could have a son in prison and still be joyful, I would have said you were crazy! But I do have a son in prison and I am still joyful! He came to know Jesus just before he went in, a little more than two years ago. That blesses my heart daily! But through his experience it has caused me to evaluate my own faith and I realized I was not living as one who really believed in faith righteousness. I was instead living as one who had failed God and felt as if I could never do enough good to make up for it. I had lost my joy.
(I will give you a few seconds to process what you just read here. YES, I do have a son in prison. Yes, he did some bad things, but God has saved him and forgiven him just the same as he has me.)
BUT…here is the truth of the gospel in a nutshell.
We serve the Risen King! The God of this universe saw us struggling in our sin and loved us, in spite of it. Jesus then bore our punishment on the cross and rose again to life after 3 days in the tomb. By doing this he offered us not just an escape from judgement but an inheritance too! It is ours when we believe through faith! We don’t have to do anything more to achieve it and nothing more to keep it! The good works that we do now are simply a byproduct of our love for him and a natural outpouring of our gratitude and thankfulness to the one who bore our suffering and shame so we could have a life of joy and peace. They are not an attempt to earn his love or keep his love. We don’t need to do that.
Romans 8:38-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God! It says:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen and Hallelujah!! That means if we screw up (as we all do), God doesn’t withdraw his love from us.
Therefore everyone who hears these words of wisdom and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rise and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell with a great crash.”
I love this analogy.
Jesus is our rock. Our righteousness comes from him. When we put our faith in Jesus as our righteousness, our foundation is sure, stable, concrete!
Now What happens when I fail? If I trust in faith righteousness, my foundation will stand firm even when I fail or fall short of the mark. It is not shaken even a little.
When we try to create our own foundation using pieces of God’s promises stuck together with a good work or two to connect them, we are building a very rickety house- one that will never stand.
If I trust in works righteousness and I fail, suddenly my house begins to wobble and sway. When I fail again or when Satan breathes down my neck that I am a failure and don’t measure up, my house crumbles and falls with a loud crash.
Trust only in Jesus for your salvation.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by GRACE you are saved THROUGH FAITH, and NOT of YOURSELVES- it is a GIFT from God, NOT OF WORKS lest anyone should boast.
When is the last time you have to work for a gift?
Be blessed and be a blessing to those around you that they may see God living in you!