Category Archives: Gazing upon the cross

Q349 “do the flesh and the spirit agree?”

Many Christians spend their entire lives uncertain of their salvation, always examining the depth of their repentance, the validity of their decision and the substance of their belief. This is a dilemma that can’t be resolved by self-examination, there will always be weaknesses in our response to God, there will always be areas of our lives that need to be worked on.

The only way we can ever put this dilemma to rest once-and-for-all, is to examine the work of Christ instead of examining ourselves ~ after all, God examines the work of Christ when He looks at our weakness and sin, and is satisfied in His examination.

If the assurance of our salvation depended on our part in the process, it would always be found lacking. We come stumbling and bumbling out of the kingdom of darkness (when viewed from the perspective of our response, conviction, and determination)… when we view this event from the viewpoint of the work of Christ it is robust, bold, and rock-solid.

God never left anything to chance when He set about the task of saving us, He didn’t provide for a 50/50 transaction, (50% His work on the cross, and 50% our belief) ~ He didn’t establish the work of salvation on such a precarious foundation (the vagaries of mankind’s response), He placed the entire task upon the shoulders of Christ ~ there was no measurement of our response or determination to change our lifestyle involved…. all that was required was that we gaze upon the sacrifice of Christ and accept it, say ‘Yes thankyou’ to it.

The flesh wants us to swing the spotlight back on to ‘the evidence of conversion’ ~ the flesh has determined that if we are saved then an obvious change of lifestyle will be visible…

The trouble is that; the flesh was not born again – the spirit was ~ it is not for the flesh to determine the evidence of a work of the Spirit, the flesh doesn’t know what to look for ~ in fact; very often changes to lifestyle wrought by the flesh are short-lived and superficial. The flesh is a doubter, the flesh measures degrees of change and always comes up short, the flesh is always cynical about the work of the Spirit.

The Spirit on the other hand speaks to us daily of the accomplishments of the blood of Christ ~ the Spirit waits for us to get to the end of our self-effort and determination, the Spirit patiently waits for us to throw our hands up in despair and declare “I can’t do it, I can’t live a life worthy of the blood of Christ, I can’t make my lifestyle reflect the life of Christ” at that point the Spirit is able to show us another way, He begins to instruct us in the ways of the Spirit… that uniquely Christian rest known as; “Christ in me“.

Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”… the Spirit says place your confidence in the sacrifice of Christ, and watch me work the works of God through you.

Graeme

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Q235 “is it possible to be a believer who doesn’t believe?”

This would be a really funny question if it wasn’t so tragic. The hallmark of a believer (Christian) is to believe in the works of Christ. Yet the institution that is broadly called ‘Christianity’ doesn’t always believe in the works of Christ ~ sometimes it just participates in the activities of the organisation known as the church.

It all comes down to our understanding of the word “believe”. We use this word a lot; I believe that children are our future,.. I believe in love,.. I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows,.. I believe that all men are created equal…. There is a difference between these expressions of belief and the Christian meaning;  these are personal values, they are an expression of our deepest opinions, an inner yearning, a firmly held ideal.

Belief, as portrayed in the above paragraph is not the belief portrayed in the bible. Belief in the Christian context is this;To align ones life so fully with the finished work of Christ that no other truth obstructs it’s reality in our lives“. In other words, I am putting all my eggs in Christ’s basket, I am staking my entire existence on Him. There is no plan B, there is no grey area, He is the primary fact that fills my entire screen.

The reality is; that many Christians don’t realize that they do not actually believe in God, they only believe in the ‘idea of God’.

That’s why Hebrews 11:1 says; “being certain of what we do not see” ~ believing is the crazy notion that if God says it, then it is true, even when our circumstances scream out ‘liar’. It is the stuff that causes believers to step forward into an arena of man eating lions, it is the raw material that says ‘I will never bow down to onother God even though you burn me alive’. Yet; we modern Christians seem to have lost the ability to live confidently in the simple statement; “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”, and so at the first sign of difficulty we blurt out ‘where are you God, I’m having such a bad week?’ … at the outset of trouble we beg, plead, make deals and try to manipulate God anyway we can.

That’s not believing in God, that’s believing in the idea of God.

We all have noble notions of how we would never deny the faith, even under torture we would hold the line for Jesus, they can saw-me-assunder and I wont recount!!! But it’s all a bit silly really,  if we don’t know how to stand strong in God when someone smears our reputation, or leaves us out of their party invitation list.

If he is God we can stand strong in Him ~ if He is just an idea we subscribe to, then we might as well put our trust in the easter bunny.

cheers, Graeme

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Q188 ” what happened at the cross ?”

If we view the cross only from the perspective of the visible, earthly suffering and death of Christ we miss the full impact of the drama that took place. It would be like going to the opera and watching only one person on stage when there are many others performing their parts.

I’m sure Christ himself was very aware of the wider drama taking place. He had a clear view of the evil powers that were arrayed against him as well as the angelic hosts looking on. He was also always intimately conscious of the Father and Spirits presence in His life, which is confirmed by His statement on the cross when He became sin for us “my God, my God, why have You forsaken me”.

Christ was true God as well as true man. We know the man part was brutally killed on the cross, but what of the God part. The God part (or eternal Spirit) cannot die, but it was subjected to punishment beyond imagination (separation from the Father). We don’t know if this separation lasted minutes or days, but we do know that when it happened Jesus was full of sin, every sin of mankind was focused into his Spirit, every vile act, every deceitful thought, every lustful intent contaminated His purity.

By choosing to become the scapegoat for mankind Jesus sentenced himself to the most appalling anguish, He knew it was coming, and He took it like a lamb to the slaughter. The nails through His hands and feet were shocking in themselves, the scourging, whipping and beating were unimaginably cruel, but the thing that was most agonizing, was bearing in His perfect Spirit all of the sin of the human race.

What happened on the cross was this, ‘ the perfect darling son of heaven was transformed into the most grotesque  of sinners to ever walk the earth’, this sinful condition attracted the full wrath of His Father God, and He was punished with the full force of the law, He was abandoned by the very one who He had been with in perfect loving union for all eternity, and subject to unimaginable shame and humiliation.

When justice had been done, punishment meted out, the expectations of the eternal legal system satisfied for me and you and every sinner to ever walk the earth, the Father said “IT IS DONE”, I am satisfied that no human being now needs to spend eternity in darkness, removed from my presence.

Now mankind will be friends of God forever, as they look upon the cross and receive for themselves the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

Such is the drama of the cross.

Graeme

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Q19 “what if I die before repenting of a sin ?”

Its a fearful thought to have walked your whole life as a Christian and then to mess up at 1 minute to midnight. This question is similar to yesterday ‘how can I be sure I am saved’. It springs from the notion that there is something I do that adds to or takes away from my salvation. One of the hardest things for mankind to accept is that God has ceased from scrutinising your life, a remnant of guilt and condemnation always seems to linger.

Rom. 8:1 says ‘there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’. That means that God’s awareness of our sin ended when we received Christ’s righteousness. From that moment on God can only see us hidden in Christ, we are lost in His virtue. We are forever imprinted with Christ’s perfect DNA, if we still feel guilty then it has got nothing to do with God… feeling guilty is agreeing with satan as opposed to God’s word.

When Christ removed our sin nature at the cross it means that all of the sins we have committed or may still commit, have already been repented of. It is not about keeping short lists anymore… its about trusting that all my sin  was nailed to the cross 2000 years ago, even the one that I don’t get time to repent of.

Stressing over failure is un-Godly living, it is fixing our eyes on ourselves instead of on Christ – Heb. 12:2. Religion is wrapped up in doing things to stay in God’s good books, relationship is resting that my name is forever written in the book of life. This kind of living is very different from the way humanity operates, it takes some effort to retrain our thinking… but the prize is worth the effort. Heb. 12:2 goes on to say ‘Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith’, it seems to me we should restfully allow Him to undertake His job description in our lives – perfecting our faith.

Perhaps the biggest transition to take place for a Christian is the one where we truly believe and trust that Christ did everything necessary, and for me to relax in His love and goodness.

Graeme

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Q3. “can I trust God’s word ?”

‘God’s Word’ is such a loaded statement in the mind of a Christian. Just the mention of it and Christians will give a passionate defense of their point of view.

Pre or post tribulation; literal 6 day creation; wearing hats in church… these and a hundred more subjects have become the theological battle ground of Christendom through the ages.

The question is not whether our doctrinal position is the correct one, but whether the whole point of the Word of God is about something far more important than doctrinal positions.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have correct theology. What I am saying is that Christ came to give us LIFE (John 10:10), and it would be an insult to the sacrifice Christ made, to reduce the very life He came to give me to a theological position.

The point I am making is this; have I sufficiently processed the 2 previous questions ‘is God good’ and ‘does God love me’, that I am ready to entrust my very existence into His words. Am I at the point where if God says ‘never will I leave you, never will I forsake you’ (Heb. 13:5), that I let go of fear and begin to rest in His goodness.

One of the mistakes we Christians make is thinking that God’s Word needs defending, as if winning a debate about a doctrinal position somehow makes it true. God’s word is proven to be true when we take the risk of believing it in our everyday lives and situations, when we take the message and by faith lose ourselves into its fidelity.

Back to the original question ‘can I trust God’s word ?’  We have to believe something – if your circumstances are saying God doesn’t care, but His word say’s I do care, just look at Christ’s sacrifice, then we have a choice to make – will we take the risk of resting in His word?

It is a big step to go from a theologically based Christianity to faith based Christianity. It  may seem reckless and perhaps even unwise to risk so much… the alternative may be an even bigger risk!

Graeme

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Filed under Gazing upon the cross, How to be a believer, No more guilt or condemnation, Renewing the mind