Salvation is a free gift received by a heart that recognizes sin, takes responsibility for it through confession and repentance, and then places one’s faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, that He is Lord and the only One capable of sacrificing His life to pay the debt of sin, forgiving transgressions so that all who place their faith in Him might experience eternal life with Him.
James 2:18—But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (ESV)
The faith versus deeds debate is a wrestle that transcends generations. Even so, I believe that in the wrestle of today’s culture, these verses could be reapplied as so: “But someone will say, “You have grace and I have holiness.” Show me your grace apart from your holiness, and I will show you my grace by my holiness.”
Stephen and I finished a bike ride and run workout on the Air Force Academy. We loaded our bikes on the back of the truck and headed home. But when we got there I couldn’t find my cell phone. I quickly realized that I had placed it on the back of the truck by the license plate and drove off without securing it. A hundred “O no!” thoughts flashed through my mind. About to take off on an international trip to Africa, it would be a disaster not to have my phone. While most of the phone memory was backed up on my computer, it would still be a major setback and financial hit to lose that stellar black piece of technology.
Revelation 3:2—Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God.
Robert Lawless was born February 10, 1949 in Wheatland, Wyoming. His parents abandoned him when he was six months old along with his 18 month-old sister and 3 year-old brother. They were left in an apartment alone for two weeks and near death when Child Services found them. After spending several weeks in a hospital a Nebraska family named Lawless adopted Bob and his brother. He would never see his sister again. His new parents moved them to Salem, Oregon and then they divorced. At the age of fourteen, Bob went to live with an aunt and uncle. As a teenager his life was full of wildness, jail time and repeated failures.
Thank God we are not a heap of ashes! 1. Do you know people who believe the Old Testament God is exceedingly harsh and not the same New Testament God? 2. Have you ever done something so bad there was just no way you thought God would forgive you? 3. Do you know someone who has committed some disgusting sin and Christians will have nothing to do with that person despite his or her repentance?
1 Samuel 20:41—When the young man had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone Ezel, fell with his face to the ground, and bowed three times. Then he and Jonathan kissed each other and wept with each other, though David wept more.
In 1931, a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit took place in Rwanda. Believers in several nations prayed for God to transform Rwandan lives. Consequently, men and women became deeply convicted of their wrongdoing and in true repentance humbled themselves confessing their sins. Those who had wronged others apologized and made restitution. At the center of Rwandan revival, new believers were called Abaka, which meant “those on fire.” As A.C. Stanley Smith wrote in his book, Road to Revival, joy constantly reflected in the faces of these believers and everywhere they went they modeled powerful testimony.
Two friends drug him down. It started with watching mediocre movies and descended into pornography. Sambo felt miserable and tried to rationalize his actions against a brighter conscience. He felt trapped until one night he listened to his father, Titus, preach a message he’d heard countless times. On this evening in December of 1994, God’s Word pierced Sambo’s heart. He felt the potent pull of the Holy Spirit. Tears filled his eyes and plunged downward washing away built-up shame. Later that night he repented of his sin and honestly asked Jesus to become His Lord and Savior. Lingering guilt was replaced by enduring peace. Love came and filled a 14-year-old boy in Trivandrum, India.
When crocodiles cry, their tears are not like our tears at all. A crocodile’s glandular excretions act to expel excess salt from its eyes. When a man is remorseful but not repentant he acts like a crocodile. He sheds tears but they are not from a true sense of shame over wrongdoing, but rather to put off the one aware of the sin. Remorse is that sensation we experience when we are caught. Repentance is the revulsion we taste for the evil in our lives.
Jesus was the apotheosis of courage. Imagine being perfect yet choosing to ignore the false charges of corrupt accusers! Jesus let His character be assassinated without defending Himself. He accepted His own murder without the need to exact revenge. Instead, He entrusted Himself to His Father's hands--to be publicly humiliated by the very people He came to save. If anyone had the right to call down forces from heaven it was Christ. By thought alone He could have called out legions of angels. They didn't have to pack duffel bags or get Anthrax shots before deploying! No force on earth could have stopped them. Yet, the Son of Man submitted to God's will. The Holy Spirit would come after to vindicate Him. The pierced One rose to eternal glory.