I know I have touched on this topic before, but for some reason God keeps bringing me back to it when I am doing my morning reading. I think it is because I have a tendency to make a decision based on whether or not God will be mad at me or that I will have to do something to make it up to HIM if I mess it up. I also believe that HE has given me a mission to share the joy that is in the gospel and not the fear that some would have you believe is there. There is also someone in my life that I am struggling with how to approach. I feel that they are living and leading by fear of God’s wrath rather than living and leading in God’s joy. I pray about how to handle it daily and I would ask you to do the same. I won’t go in to too much detail, but just know that it is someone who is affecting people who are very close to me.
I have been reading through the book of Acts lately. So far, I have learned a lot but not much has “spoken” to me until this morning. I read chapter 15. I don’t mean for this to be a bible study, but I feel some background is needed. It is about the Jerusalem council. After the resurrection the church is in its early stages. The gospel of Jesus is being spread throughout the region. As expected, there are groups such as the Circumcision party that have issues with the message of the gospel. They continue to push the Mosaic law on the Gentiles. They believe things like someone must be circumcised to be saved. The Jewish rituals and ceremonies are still considered by them to be required for salvation. The apostles were being challenged some of these people. James ends up speaking and suggesting that they not trouble the Gentiles who turn to God but instead write them a letter suggesting a few things to abstain from.
I can only imagine the long discussion the apostles had during their gathering to address those who were challenging the message they were sharing. What I do know is that we have the full word of God in our times. When we read the Gospel, we can clearly see that salvation comes from God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Telling someone that they must follow certain laws and rituals to be saved would imply that somehow, we, as human beings, have the power to save ourselves. It would mean that we have control over whether or not God does what it is He chooses to do. It would mean that Jesus died on the cross for nothing! The entire message of the Gospel would be meaningless.
I am not saying that we don’t need to live a “Christian” life. But, living a Christian life comes when we receive God’s grace and put our faith in Jesus Christ. It is because of what Jesus did on the cross that we are able to live a Christian life. It is because of our faith in HIM that we can do what is right and obey that which was set out in God’s word. Before Jesus we were slaves to sin. We were slaves to a law that we could not keep. Spreading a message that we must live by laws to be saved simply keeps us as slaves. We would end up living in a constant state of fear because we simply cannot keep that law on our own accord. We would be miserable and missing out on the JOY that comes with the FREE gift of God’s grace! A gift that is given by God alone. Not a gift that we can sneak through the house at night to snatch from under the Christmas tree. There is no set of laws or rituals or ceremonies that will give us that grace. It is God and God alone that will give it to us.
Knowing that God has given me that grace is something that sets me on fire. It encourages me daily. It gives me the peace of knowing that my name is written in the Book of Life! It is the reason that I don’t struggle as much as I used to try to make decisions that will be pleasing to God. It just comes naturally now. Perhaps you are reading this, and you have felt like a slave to “laws” that someone told you must be followed. Know that the message of the gospel will break those chains of slavery on your life. It will bring joy to you and your family. Perhaps you know someone who is delivering a message to others to follow “laws” to “get right with God.” I hope that is not the case, but if it is then share the message of joy with them. Pray for them. Pray that God would give them the wisdom to realize that they are minimalizing the significance of what Jesus really did. They are making HIS sacrifice meaningless.
I am not sure if this message will resonate with anyone but I believe that we all contribute to this as much for ourselves as we do for others. This message is a powerful one to my heart and a powerful reminder of what God actually did when HE sent Jesus as the ultimate and final sacrifice!
Also see Galatians 3:1-13 but the whole chapter is best.