We have never lived in an age with so much information readily accessible. At the same time, we remain so ignorant and misinformed of much. Despite this wealth of information, so easily accessed on a myriad of devices, we still run with presuppositions and conclusions based on half truths and emotions. Along those lines, I have asked several people to describe to me what they think the Gospel message means, or what a Christian is. Most answers were not even close. I want to take a moment to clarify both, as succinctly as possible.
The Bible makes it clear that we have all sinned. At some point, we have all lied, cheated, and stole. Jesus pushes the claims further by pointing out that the thoughts and desires in a man’s hearts, not just his outword actions, condemn him. Therefore, a person who swears at his brother with his lips commits murder in his heart. The Bible goes through great lengths to show that none are truly good. Remember, if you break a serious law, no number of good deeds will keep the judge from throwing the book at you. As perfectly just, God has to hold us accountable regardless of how many good deeds we think we have done. This message holds great relevance today where most think they are ‘good people.’
As the embodiment of perfect justice, God has to hold us accountable for our willful disobedience (sin). Yet, God also loves us perfectly. He longs to reconcile with us. God addressed this challenge head on with a perfect solution. The Bible says that God so loves us, that He sent his only Son to die in our place so that whoever puts their faith in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life at His side.
While God gives this gift freely to us who have done nothing to earn such grace, it is not universally applied to all. Many choose to continue through life following their own ambitions, ignoring or even outright hating God in the process. God does not force reconciliation. If people choose to walk away from their creator in life, they will exist separately from Him after life. The Bible speaks more about Hell than Heaven, constantly warning us to consider the consequences of constant rebellion against the rightful King of Kings.
When one truly repents (regret, walk away) of sin, turns towards God, and recognizes their need for reconciliation, God will pour His Spirit on them. They then become ‘born again.’ As a new creature (spiritually), the person’s heart and spirit change. For some that involves immediate changes in desires, habits and even personality. For others, the transformation happens more slowly, over time. The person does not become perfect or sinless. However, they take a significant first step towards holiness as God changes their old heart, centered on themselves, to one focused on Himself and fellow man.
Christians are simply this… those born again who have chosen to repent and walk away from their sins and seek out Christ. Like all of humanity, they will continue to stumble and fall. But, as one of my favorite songs put it, the saint is just a sinner who falls and get up over and over again.
Ironically, I find that most people struggle with the idea that God would forgive a Christian who has sinned horribly (such as murder) or repeatedly. Note that one must truly repent to become born again. God knows the heart. If someone purposely sets in his heart to continue to live a selfish, sinful life as he tries to pray for forgiveness, God will not honor that. Yet, for those who truly want repentance and forgiveness, God offers both without limit. His grace and mercy flows freely for those who seek His face.
Because Christians continue to sin, and many counterfeits exist (those who call themselves Christians, but never truly turned their life over to Christ), many feel confused about God’s character. Add to that many ‘pastors’ who preach the Bible even as they ‘fleece the flock,’ and it becomes easy to see why many denounce Christianity and walk their own path. Again, the Bible warned all of this would take place. It clearly says that many would fall astray, and end in hell, because of false prophets, hypocrites, and more.
For those truly following God, this certainly motivates us to step up. The Bible commands us to live holy lights that shine a light into the lives of others so they may thank the Lord and come to Him. Yet, we struggle and fall at times as any man. That is why we do our best to push others to look the person of Jesus Christ as the true example of love and holiness. Christians are an imperfect reflection through stained glass.
I hope this helps a few people understand these topics a bit better. Please let me know if it does, in the comments below. If you ever have questions about the Bible, faith or anything along these lines, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Aside from the comment section, you can also email me at jcservant at cyberlightcomics dot com. May God bless you.