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Showing posts with label Salvation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Salvation. Show all posts

Monday, September 12, 2022

The Year of Jubilee - Nothing to Prove

Introduction
Today’s message is for anyone who ever felt they didn’t measure up or prove themselves.  If you’ve ever felt criticized, misunderstood, underappreciated, or devalued, Jesus has Good News for you today.  Jesus also has Good News for people who are puffed up with pride—thinking they are better than other people.  It may be a hard word—one that takes you down a notch—but it’s a good word because it can help you stop measuring yourself according to the false standards of the world and see yourself the way Jesus sees you—the way you really are. 

To help us hear God’s Word today, we continue our study of the Year of Jubilee.  In ancient Israel in the Bible, every 50 years the priest would blow a sacrificial ram’s horn on the day of atonement and proclaim a Year of Jubilee.  The Year of Jubilee was an incredibly special year.  There was no agricultural work during the Jubilee year.  Everyone was given a year off to celebrate and worship the Lord.  Slaves were also set free.  Listen to Leviticus 25:39-41. 

Leviticus 25:39-41
39 “If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and is forced to sell himself to you, do not treat him as a slave. 40 Treat him instead as a hired worker or as a temporary resident who lives with you, and he will serve you only until the Year of Jubilee. 41 At that time he and his children will no longer be obligated to you, and they will return to their clans and go back to the land originally allotted to their ancestors. 

Slavery and Freedom
Life was precarious in ancient Israel.  If you had a bad year or made some bad decisions, if a drought or a swarm of locusts or some other pest destroyed your crop, or maybe foreign invaders raided your land and stole your harvest, you could lose it all. There were so many ways to fall on hard times and there were no government run welfare programs, disability checks, social security, or unemployment benefits.  If you found yourself destitute, one of the few ways to survive might be to sell your land.  Then you had no way to grow food to eat.  So you probably had to sell a family member (or even yourself) into slavery to survive.  It was degrading, but it could happen to anyone and at least slavery was a way to survive because you would be fed and sheltered and protected by your master. 

Slavery is not God’s will for His people.  We only have one Master—the Lord God.  He is a good Master who is fair and truly cares about our wellbeing.  Our Master in Heaven never uses or abuses us, but always makes sure we have what we need when we are faithful. 

Unfortunately, slavery is a fact life.  It was a literal fact of life in ancient Israel.  However, lest we think too highly of ourselves in our modern times, recognize that a kind of slavery is alive and well in America.  The average American adult today is over $58,000 in debt. 

Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.  By this standard, the average American is deeply enslaved to debt.

Debt and slavery were stark and literal realities in ancient Israel, but  everyone’s debts were forgiven and every slave was released on the Year of Jubilee.  People returned to their own family’s land.  All of life was reset to normal and everything was made right again.  Everyone could make a fresh start.

This was wonderful, but also required some adjustments to people’s attitudes toward each other.  You might have grown accustomed to having and thinking of your neighbor as your slave.  Maybe they'd been your slave for decades.  Then after the ram’s horn announced the Year of Jubilee, your neighbor was set free.  They moved back to their family land and were free and equal to you in every way—both in status and in possessions.  Can you imagine how awkward that could be--especially if you’d been misused or degraded or abused you slave unfairly.  

Or perhaps you had been a slave to your neighbor for many years—always dependent on them, always having to serve their wants and needs, always accustomed to treating and seeing them as your superior.  Now the year of Jubilee comes and you are free.  You have spent years in humiliation and shame, but now you are your neighbor’s equal again.  You need to look each other in the eyes with no pride or humiliation. I’m sure it was quite an adjustment.

No one likes to be humbled.  No one wants to be thought of as “less than”.  We want to have pride about our life and our family.  We want others to be proud of us and maybe we even admire us.  It feels good. 

Two Great Lies
There are two great lies the world tells.  The first lie is “You measure up!”  We like to hear that lie.  It feels good.  We want to be cool, popular, liked, admired.  When people affirm us, we feel valued and appreciated.  We feel like we matter.  It’s a good feeling.  It's a lie because the world's measurements are based on a faulty ruler.  Tey measure us by worldly criteria.

The second lie the world tells is “You don’t measure up.”  This lie is the other side of the coin from the first lie.  If you don’t meet the world’s false criteria, you are unimportant, unwanted, unvalued, and dismissed.  Many people spend a lot of their time trying to establish and maintain the image that they measure up to society's standards.  In fact, much of the debt we see in our society—debt that enslaves us—is acquired as we try to measure up to the world’s arbitrary standards of who does and does not matter.

Do you wear the right clothes?  Do you have a nice car?  Do you live in a proper house? Do you have the right education?  If not, there is always a credit card company, a lender, a mortgage company, or a student loan available to “help” you acquire the “things” the world says you need in order to be important and respected in our society.  And so people trade their freedom for debt (and slavery) so that they can feel like they matter. 

Jesus’ disciples were certainly ambitious for greatness.  They wanted to measure up.  They jockeyed for power and position, even as they walked with their humble master because they each wanted to be the greatest disciple.  

Mark 9:33-35
33 After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” 34 But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

Measured by the Cross
Jesus’ truth is that greatness is not measured by the world’s standards.  We are measured by the cross.  Jesus says, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  And then he proved this truth by His own actions.  He washed His stubborn, prideful disciples feet.  This is the is the true measure of a person's greatness.

We are not measured by the world’s false standards, which change with the whims of fashion and people’s fickle imaginations.  We are measured by God’s eternal standard of Jesus Christ--who left the glory of Heaven, took the humble position of a slave, and even died a criminal's death on the cross (not for His own sins but for ours). 

That means two important things for us.  First, it means we don’t measure up. Romans’ 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glorious standard of God.”  We all fall short.  We’ve failed.  No matter how much the world tells us or we tell ourselves, “We are good.  We measure up,” the truth is we don’t.  That may sound depressing, but there is more to the story.  This bad news makes God's Good News so good. 

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  That means, Christ makes up the difference for us when we put our faith in Him.

An Invitation
In the Year of Jubilee in ancient Israel, everyone who was a slave was set free.  And everyone who was a slave master was also set free—set free from the burden of thinking themselves better than anyone else.  The Jubilee restored everyone to a right relationship with each other and with God, the true Lord. 

Jesus is the Great Jubilee.  He is the Lamb of God and the ram's horn that came to proclaim the time of the Lord’s favor has come.  Jesus proclaims that everyone is free from all kinds of enslavement—whether it be enslavement to sin or debt or to chasing the world’s fantasy about what it means to be important.

When we are blind, Jesus helps us see that we are not better than we think we are nor are we worse than we think are.  Jesus helps us see who we really are.  We are God’s precious children.  He loved us so much that Jesus died on the cross so we could be set free.

Jesus sets us free from the feeling that we’ve got to prove ourselves to anyone.  Jesus has already proven us.  He made you the way you are.  He loves you as you are.  He invites you to repent of you sin and trust in Him to save you and give you eternal value.  Jesus invites you to follow Him and to serve as He served.

Won’t you accept His call to repent and be set free today?  I hope you will.  You can.  Pray something like this and then find a group of Christians to help mentor you as you walk with Christ daily.  Pray:

Lord come in and take control of my life.  Fill me up full of your wonderful grace.  Cleanse my heart and my wretched old soul.  I choose You as Lord today.  Save me and help me to walk with You and be a servant like you, every day. Amen.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

America's Only Hope

Introduction
Preaching these sermons is not easy.  And today is more challenging than most.  Somehow, I need to tie together several important elements. Monday is the 4th of July.  So there’s a patriotic element.  And we just finished VBS, so I need to touch on that.  Plus, my dad died this week. And in addition to all that, my church's youth director challenged me to work a risqué joke into my sermon.  So in honor of my dad, who was the king of telling inappropriate jokes, here ya go:  “If you drink laxative with holy water, you’ll start a religious movement.”  (That one’s for you, Dad!)

What can I say on this eve of our nation’s Independence Day? I love America.  This is my country.  We enjoy blessings in this nation that people elsewhere dream about.  There is the freedom to pursue the happy life you wish to live.  There is the feeling of security that no nation can invade us the way Russia has brutally invaded Ukraine.  There is the pride that comes from being a nation the whole world looks up to as an example and for leadership.  I believe God has a Word for America today.  And He has a Word for you today.

Psalm 33:12-22
12 
What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord,
    whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

13 The Lord looks down from heaven
    and sees the whole human race.
14 From his throne he observes
    all who live on the earth.
15 He made their hearts,
    so he understands everything they do.
16 The best-equipped army cannot save a king,
    nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
17 Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—
    for all its strength, it cannot save you.

18 But the Lord watches over those who fear him,
    those who rely on his unfailing love.
19 He rescues them from death
    and keeps them alive in times of famine.

20 We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone.


Empires Rise and Fall
I heard a cool quote this week:  “Empires rise and fall like the abdomen of God.
There have been many great nations and kingdoms over the millennia.  Egypt, Assyria, The Persian Empire, Greece, Rome.   At its height, the British Empire was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913 the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23 per cent of the world population at the time, and by 1920 it covered 24 per cent of the Earth's total land area.[i] And that was just 100 years ago.  My, how things have changed!  When I think of Great Brittain today, I don't think of a vast empire or a major world power.

Today, we would say America is the most powerful and influential nation on earth.  The US has the largest GDP in the world (with 24% of the World).[ii]  We have the world’s largest, best trained and equipped military.[iii] 

Yet God’s Word reminds us today in Psalm 33:16-17 – The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.  Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—for all its strength, it cannot save you.”

 

Of course, you have to put this in modern terms, right?  We don’t have a king.  And we don’t use warhorses anymore.  We have a president and congress and a supreme court.  We are a democracy and we have tanks and jets and satellites and missiles.  But the principles are the same.  It’s not your mighty military that makes you great.  It’s not all your wealth or privileges either.  These things can evaporate in an instant.

Our Hope is The Lord
Psalm 33:18 says, “But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.”
In whom or what do you put your hope? 
I’m proud of our military, but I know that’s not where our hope comes from.
I’m glad we live in a wealthy nation full of resources, but that’s no where our hope come from.
And thank goodness, our hope does not come from our presidents because the last 2 have been awful.  If you are a true Christian, I pray you realize your hope does not come from either Joe Biden or Donald Trump.  (Thank God!)

Psalm 33:20 says, “We put our hope in the Lord.  He is our help and our shield.”
Christians put our hope in the Lord.
Don’t idolize your favorite president.  Don’t demonize your least favorite president. 
Christians should pray for our leaders—whether we like them or not. 
And we should always look to God as our hope, not a president.

Time To Be Responsible
Don’t verbally assault people with whom you disagree.
Pray for them.  Treat them the way Jesus would treat them.

Christians are called to be the light of the world.  In dark times, it’s even more important that Christians shine bright and refuse to act like the darkness around us.

Do not worry.  Worrying doesn’t make anything better.  It only makes it worse.
When you worry, you don’t think clearly.  You get overwhelmed by anger, anxiety, and frustration. 
You say things you shouldn’t say and don’t treat people like Jesus would.

So, instead of worrying, take all you anxieties to the Lord in prayer. 
Remember, your hope is in the Lord.  He’s the One who can fix it. 
Or, He’s the One who chooses not to fix it.
Either way, you trust Him, right?  Don’t you? 
(If not then that’s the real problem you need to work on.)

Jesus said His followers are the salt of the earth.
Salt adds flavor.  It makes things better.
Are you making things better in our country or are you just adding to the bitterness and distress?
Are you building people up or tearing people down?
Are you bringing peace and hope or division and despair?

Salt helps preserve food so it doesn’t spoil.  You are to be the slat of the earth. 
Yes, there are some nasty, ugly things happening, things that threaten to spoil our nation.
But Christians who live righteous, holy loves help to cure and preserve society.
And don’t misunderstand me:  I’m not necessarily talking about fighting for better laws, etc.
The most important thing is Christians who personally do the right thing.
You can’t stop heathens from being heathens. You can't stop evil people from being evil.  Only God can do that.
But Christians who personally live for Christ are a salt that keeps the world from going bad.
Are you doing that?  Are you being salt? 
You can’t do much about what happens in Washington DC,
but you can do A LOT about your own actions.
Are you going to waste your precious time and energy and resources arguing and fussing and fighting about sensational stuff you can’t do anything about or are you going to take responsibility for your own personal actions and make sure you are living the way Jesus wants you to live?
Choose today to follow Jesus and help save America and the world. 



[i]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Empire#:~:text=At%20its%20height%20it%20was,the%20Earth's%20total%20land%20area.

[ii] https://www.worldometers.info/gdp/gdp-by-country/

[iii] https://www.visualcapitalist.com/mapped-all-the-worlds-military-personnel/


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Ask Pastor Chris - Do You Have to Believe Jesus is God's Son?

Can someone go to heaven if they believe God exists but not believe Jesus is the Son of God?

In this series, I try to answer your questions. So post a question in the comments section so I can try to answer it in a future blog. 


According to orthodox Christian teaching, Jesus is the Son of God. The word orthodox just means the right view. So, according to the right Christian view,

Jesus is the Son of God. This is what the Bible teaches and what all true 

Christian Churches have followed for 2,000 years. But what happens if a person believes that God exists but they don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God? Can they still go to heaven?


I’m going to make a disclaimer here, right up front:

Thankfully, I’m not the one who decides who does and does not go to heaven.

That is God’s decision and He is far wiser than me. He knows every person’s situation and what’s truly in their heart. I do not. So, I want you to know, I’m only approaching this question from a hypothetical point of view because it is an important lesson in the nature of true saving faith.


First of all, let’s understand what it takes to “go to Heaven” (which means to have eternal life). John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” You have to “believe in Jesus” in order to go to heaven.  But what does it mean to “believe in Jesus”?


We find the answer in the example of a man in the Old Testament named Abram (who’s name was later changed to Abraham). You can read about Abram/Abraham in Genesis chapters 11-25. Abraham is also mentioned numerous times in the New Testament because he is the poster child for what the Bible means whenever it says, “Believe in” or “have faith in God.”


For example, Romans 4:3 says, “For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

So let’s look at how Abraham “believed God”.


Genesis 12:1-3 says, “The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”


Now even though Abraham was already 75 years old and his wife was really old too, Abram believed in God’s promise and did what God asked him to do. And this is the definition of saving faith or belief. It is believing God’s promise and doing His will.


So now, let’s look back at the famous John 3:16.“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” So we see that word again–believe. Those who believe in Jesus will not perish but have eternal life.


Based on the definition of faith we know from Abraham’s example, what does it mean to believe in Jesus? It means we trust what he says enough to follow Him. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. 

No one can come to the Father [that’s in heaven] except through me.”


So, I hope you’re seeing that the kind of belief or faith that saves a person for eternal life is not merely an intellectual thing where you express your approval or agreement with an idea about God or Jesus. The kind of faith that saves you must be the kind of faith that moves you to action.


It’s kind of like a person who is trapped on the 7th floor of a burning building and the firefighters are on the ground outside shouting, “You have to jump!  We have a safety net that will catch you! Jump!” Well, you can believe what they say is true, you can believe the safety net exists, you can even believe it will save you, but unless you jump, you’re going to be burned to death.


Jesus’ brother, James, put it this way in James 2:17 - “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” James then goes on to use Abraham from the Old Testament as an illustration to prove his point. James 2:22 - “[Abraham’s] faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.”


So back to the original question: Can someone go to heaven if they believe God exists but don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you see the problem with the way this question is stated? It assumes that people go to heaven merely because they agree with a certain set of ideas about God. In other words, if they agree that God exists and that Jesus is His son, then they will go to heaven. But we’ve just seen from Abraham’s example that faith is not just agreeing something is true.  It’s about acting upon your belief.


So then, we should understand a person can believe God exists and that Jesus is His Son and still not go to heaven if their faith does not compel them to action because they trust Jesus. James said as much in James 2:19, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God.  Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”


What happens to a person who believes God exists but doesn’t believe Jesus is His Son? Well, I need to know more about the situation.  Is this person’s faith only an intellectual agreement or is their belief in God something that truly moves them to act differently because they believe in God? And how does their belief in the existence of God compel them to act?


There have been many in history who believed in gods and their beliefs compelled them to take horrific actions. The ancient Egyptians believed in gods who justified drowning Hebrew babies in the Nile River. I don’t think that is saving faith that will get you to heaven.


The thing about Jesus is His words and His actions show the clearest representation of God we have ever seen. Jesus revealed who God really is.

I suppose a person could, hypothetically, believe in Jesus’ Father, God, 

and trust God enough to obey Him without ever agreeing “intellectually” 

that Jesus is the Son of God.


That was sort of the case for Abraham in the Old Testament. The Good News about God’s Son had not yet been revealed on earth in Abraham’s day.  Therefore, Abraham did not yet know about Jesus or that Jesus was the Son of God. Abraham’s faith (which the New Testament says made him righteous) was purely in God (the Father) and based on what He did know at the time. Abraham knew and trusted God and and Abraham's faith compelled him to obey. Part of the reason  Abraham’s faith was so amazing is that he acted upon it without having all the details.


Now that we have the Good News about Jesus in the New Testament, we have a much better understanding of God and His plan than Abraham ever did. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, tell us that God said Jesus was His beloved Son (see Matthew 3:17, Mark 9:7, and Luke 9:35). In the Gospel of John , Jesus calls God His Father, and God affirms it (see John 12:28).


People may struggle to accept that Jesus is God’s Son. Perhaps they struggle to understand how God could have a Son or the whole complex trinitarian,

three-in-one nature of God. Regardless, you don’t have to understand something to have faith in it.  (I’m using a computer right now and I don’t really understand how it works, but I trust it to get the job done and even trust my computer enough to keep some of my most important files safe and secure.)


It could be that a person doesn’t yet have enough information to know that Jesus is God’s Son. Maybe they haven’t yet worked it all out or understood how that works or even that God actually called Jesus His son. Maybe they are still like Abraham in the Old Testament, walking by faith with the limited understanding they have right now.  Hopefully, one day, they will come to know the whole story of how John 3:16 tells us, “God so loved the world 

that he gave his one and only Sonthat whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”


God is gracious and patient.  God also wants to be known by His people. That’s why God’s Son said in Matthew 7:7 - “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” So someone who truly believes in God doesn’t have to go on long without discovering Jesus is God’s Son. The resources are there and God wants His people to know about Him and His Son. But if they refuse to accept it because they can’t understand it, then isn’t that the definition of disbelief? Isn’t that the exact opposite of walking by faith?


And if someone refuses to accept that Jesus is God's Son because they don’t like it or they don’t want to accept it, then isn’t that open rejection of God?God doesn’t justify those who reject Him.


Thankfully, God is willing to save those who come to their senses, repent of their sin, and put their faith in the God who sent His Son to save us. 1 John 4:10, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”


My invitation to everyone is this: Turn away from your own selfish ambitions and turn to God. God sent Jesus to save you. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)


Well, that’s my thoughts.  What are yours? Leave a comment and let me know. If you have a question, post that in a comment too and I’ll try to answer it in a future article.


Remember, God loves you and so do I!

Pastor Chris Mullis

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Are There Any BIG, BAD, SINS That Keep You Out Of Heaven?

 Are there any particular sins that are so bad they will without a doubt keep you out of heaven?

This blog is part of a series where I try to answer your questions about the Christian faith. I’m Pastor Chris Mullis.  I’ve been a pastor for 2 decades--thinking about the mysteries of God, the Bible, and the Christian faith.

So in this series, I’ll do my best to answer your questions and share something that will help you grow and be fruitful.

Post your questions in the comments and I’ll try to answer them in an upcoming blog.

You can also click this link to my YouTube channel if you want to watch a video about this.

In this blog, I want to answer the question:  Are there any particular sins that are so bad they will definitely keep you out of heaven?  So let’s get into it.

I get asked questions like this a lot. And recently, I was asked:  “Do you think practicing homosexuals are going to Heaven?”  It’s a sincere question from a person I know to be very caring.  But the real question is much broader. Why limited the sin to gays and lesbians?

What about people who sin in other ways? What about: Murders? People who commit suicide? Blasphemers? Is there any sin that is so bad it will exclude you from Heaven forever? 

The truth is, all sins exclude you from the Kingdom of Heaven. Even seemingly small sins.  Have you ever lied?  Have you ever said to your wife or girlfriend, “No, honey!  Those pants do not make your butt look big.” when they actually do?  Have you ever taken a pen or paperclip that didn’t really belong to you? That’s stealing. And even tiny infractions like these are sins big enough compared to God’s gloriously perfect standard to disqualify you from the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Word of God tells us in Romans 3:23, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  And James 2:10 says, “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.” And Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So what we find in the Bible is that absolutely no one is able to go to heaven unless God somehow graciously overlooks their sin through Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, 9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Any sin can keep you out of Heaven. But God can cleanse you of any sin and make you holy.  We are made right with God when we repent of our sin and seek to live a new life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 6:15 says, “Since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.”  

We shouldn’t keep living in sin after we repent and start  following Jesus. God’s Holy Spirit empowers us to live a new and holy life. We need to respond to the Spirit’s power and choose to live in ways that honor God. We need to repent of our sin and live right the best we can according to the Holy Spirit’s enabling power. 

But wait! Doesn’t the Bible say there’s an unforgivable sin?

There is no unforgivable sin except this: Rejecting Jesus Christ.  That is the only sin that cannot be forgiven. And even if you rejected Christ last year, but this year realize it was a mistake, you can put your faith in Jesus today and be saved.

And so, no mater what you’ve done, even if no one else can forgive, God can and He will if you trust Jesus and follow Him as Lord.

But wait a minute! What about people who persist in sinning even after Jesus saves them?  What about the gay person who contiues to practice homosexuality? What about the alcoholic that keeps drinking? What about the adulterer who keeps cheating? What about....

Ok.  Here’s my advice. It is very dangerous to continue to sin after you repent and follow Jesus as Lord doing stuff you know you shouldn’t. It abuses the mercy and grace of God. It damages the reputation of God and His people and can even keep others from following Jesus. Willful sin destroys our world, hurts people, damages your community, and sometimes abuses the people you care about most. Furthermore,  continuing to sin when you know better keeps you enslaved when God wants you to be free. 

As to whether and to what degree a person’s willful sin may keep them out of the Kingdom of Heaven: Only God can be the final judge. God knows and understands things in a sinner's heart we can’t imagine. So who am I to say what will be the final destination of a person’s soul? I don’t know and neither does anyone else. I do know that the power of some sins can be notoriously difficult to break. Alcoholics and addicts sometimes struggle their whole lives with very limited success staying sober, but that doesn’t disqualify them from heaven. God knows their struggles in ways I will never understand. And God is a righteous Judge Who always knows when to dispense justice and when to show mercy.

I do know this.  There’s no better place for a sinner to be than in a church where people come to encounter Jesus, the Savior who came to save sinners. So I’ll leave you with this  inspirational post I found on Facebook last week:

 You got hammered at the bar on Saturday but came to church on Sunday…. You can sit with me, you’re right where you need to be.

You’re a drug addict but came to church on Sunday…. You can sit with me, you’re right where you need to be. 

You’re divorced and the last church you attended condemned you for it…. You can sit me, you’re right where you need to be.

You’ve had an abortion and it’s slowly eating away at your heart but you came to church on Sunday…. You can sit with me, you’re right where you need to be. 

You’ve been unfaithful to your spouse but came to church on Sunday…. You can sit with me, you’re right where you need to be.

 So you gay and your struggling and wonder if God still loves you… He does.  And so do I. Come to church and sit with me.

People don’t come to church for you to judge them because you feel you’re better than them. People come to church because in their deepest, darkest, most painful moments, they heard a man named Jesus could save their soul and they’d like to know him.

 The man who snorted cocaine off his kitchen table  isn’t a bigger sinner than you who told your boss a lie on Monday so you could leave work early.

 The woman that had an abortion 10 years ago isn’t a bigger sinner than you when you flipped a man off in traffic last week. 

The drunk who slept in bar isn’t a bigger sinner than you who occasionally has too much to drink at home in private.

The woman who got caught cheating on her husband isn’t a bigger sinner than you who had sex with your now husband before you were married.

The lesbian who’s been rejected by her family for her choices isn’t a bigger sinner than you who indulged in a bit of gossip at church yesterday.  

There isn’t a person in this world too bad, too broken, too mean, or too damaged for Jesus to save. Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

That’s what I believe.  How about you?

Post your thoughts in the comments. And ask any other questions you have about the Christian faith.