When I have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with readers, to me it’s an opportunity to ferret out some specific thoughts or feelings they may have regarding the characters or storylines in my stories. This helps me as a writer, but also adds a measure of satisfaction if their thoughts as they read the stories actually mirrored the intentions I had while writing them.
More importantly, though—In fact, most importantly—I get to engage my readers in conversations about God. I want to find out about their personal relationships with Him. It’s great getting to just sit with a brother or sister in Christ (or a non-believer) to talk about the One who created us.
The young lady that I met with on this day was a new believer. Back at the beginning of summer, she asked Jesus to become her Savior. She expressed that the changes in her heart and actions were immediate. She felt the Lord penetrate her being and renew her. Reading between the lines, I could sense that her salvation had been an emotional experience, but not just that, it had been a confirmation of God’s existence—His realness.
One of the specific topics that I love to bring up with people is God’s unfathomable grace. As we began to talk about this characteristic of God, she began struggling not to cry. I stopped talking and allowed her to recover. She apologized and said something that I hear quite often from believers: She felt as though she was now failing God, that He might now be turning His face from her because of some recent bad decisions she had made.
I smiled. Situations like these are always opportunities to minister to people’s hearts about the truth of God’s heart toward them—toward us all.
For the sake of what I’m about to write (what I discussed with her), imagine a timeline that stretches from the death and resurrection of Jesus, all the way through the life of the last person who will ever be born. You may already know that the work of the cross—the spilled blood of Jesus—was performed so that ANYONE who calls on Jesus will be saved, completely forgiven—made righteous, but there is much more that is REALLY important about that dreadfully-wonderful day when Jesus died for us.
Now for the truths that I was blessed to share with this young woman (based on the truth of Scripture—the Bible), which apply to every single one of us:
First, understand that you were intentioned by God. Irrespective of what your parents may have said about you about being “an accident” … that’s simply not true. The moment that sperm and egg combined to start physically forming you, the Lord God—the Creator—put a very specific spirit and soul into that newly developing embryo: YOU.
It doesn’t matter if you were made as a deliberate attempt by your biological parents, if you were the product of IVF, a sperm bank, rape, or unprotected sex. God, in that moment, wanted a very specific YOU to be born—and viola!—you now existed, pre-planned by God Himself!
Second, you were specifically made by God SO THAT He may have a personal relationship with you … forever. But there was only one way that could happen…
Third, 2,000+ years ago, Jesus died ON PURPOSE so that the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) could rescue you from eternal separation from Him in a very real place called hell. Doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what has been done to you, God wants you to be His son or daughter forever. Why? Because God is love. Because God loves you.
When Jesus died on the cross, He pulled all of the future sins of everyone who would ever be born back to Him on the cross. (See timeline) This includes the sins of the very last person who will ever be born. Do you see how pulling that person’s sins back to the cross includes yours as well? Notice, also, that this means that ALL of your sins—including those you are still GOING to commit—were pulled back. There isn’t a single sin, past or present in anyone’s life, that didn’t get put on Jesus while hanging on that cross.
This is good news! Because…
Fourth, if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior & Lord, you are IN Christ Jesus as much as Christ Jesus is in you! The Holy Spirit lives in you and you have been positioned by God to be in the being of Jesus Christ. A paradox? Yes, but true, nonetheless.
Being “in Christ” comes with some AMAZING promises from God in Scripture. Two of which I will iterate here:
You are no longer condemned by God AND never will be. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
This passage deserves a close look:
Watch how the writer, the apostle Paul, works hard to make a point:
“Therefore, there is (present tense) now (present tense) no condemnation (present tense) for those who are (present tense) IN Christ Jesus.”
The way Paul words this makes it very clear that you are not going to somehow walk out of God’s grace. The fact that you are “in Christ Jesus” because the Holy Spirit is in you, makes it impossible for you to out-sin what God did for you by His grace. (Now, don’t think this gives you license to sin, because it does not. Paul made that clear, too (Romans 6:1-2).
God’s grace stays with you through your future actions—and thoughts of the heart—for the rest of your life. God’s grace is perfect, without flaw, just as He is.
What does that mean when it comes to who you are in Christ? It means that God has given you a new station in life—a new status: Righteous.
While a certain large religion tells its followers that saints come into existence after they’ve died and then come back to Earth to perform some sort of documentable miraculous sign, Scripture makes it clear that anyone who is in Christ is a saint. You are sanctified, made righteous by the blood of Jesus.
Remember the parable of the Prodigal Son in the Bible? Everything in that parable means something. It’s not just a story about God’s forgiveness and redemption. It’s a story about “station.” Let’s take a look.
In the story, a young man has demanded from his father his share of the inheritance that the two sons would receive when the father dies. The father divides up the wealth and gives one half to that son. The son goes off and lives a life of waste: sin and self-destruction. After the money is gone and his “friends” have abandoned him, he finds work performing the absolute lowest of form of labor, feeding pigs. The Jews listening to this story would have cringed, because pigs were considered an animal that would contaminate a person both physically and spiritually. So, the son had sunk even lower in his status (in his station) and in his own self-worth.
The son finally has a rational thought: “At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.’” (Luke 15:17-19)
The son heads home and is noticed by his father a long distance off. But the son doesn’t run to the father. Instead, the father runs to his son! What does the father do then? He hugs and kisses him! The father doesn’t give even a THOUGHT to what his son’s actions and intents of the heart had been. He … just … loves … his son.
The son confesses his sin, but the father dismisses them and says: “‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’” (Luke 15:22-24)
The father’s grace is showered on the son. But here are two things that most who read this don’t realize:
1. The father gives his son back his family identity. His desire is to place on his son’s hand—immediately—the family ring. This symbolism would not have been missed by the Jews hearing this story, but today, here in the West, we don’t have family rings passed onto us that identify us as a family member (of a high house) in good standing.
2. The father covers—clothes—his son in the “finest robe.” This is not a sign of belonging to the family. This is a sign of his son’s station—his status. No longer is anything that has been done to, or with, the body seen. He has been clothed in righteousness. No one is to see him as ANYTHING other than perfect and accepted by the father. All the bad that has been done before is forgotten. To emphasize this, using Scripture to back the point, the apostle John who was imprisoned on the Island of Patmos toward the end of his life, had a vision that he recorded that became what we know as the Book of Revelation. In the sixth chapter, John records what he saw given to those who died for the cause of Jesus: “Then each of them was given a white robe…” (Revelation 6:11)
According to Romans 3:22, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Given. Not earned.
You live “in righteousness” because of the station given to you by God. Your status does not change when you fall flat on your face by sinning. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, penned something through inspiration of the Holy Spirit that backs this up: “… for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” (Proverb 24:16)
The number seven is used here with purpose. The fuller meaning of this verse is this: Even when those who are righteous fall to sin over and over (“seven times”—the number of completion/perfection), they do not lose their righteousness.
The truth of God’s love and protection over us should be a CONSTANT source of encouragement. We’re not going to out-sin God’s grace. We can’t. Before we were born, he already knew every sin that we were ever going to commit and already paid for them through His Son on the cross. “Paid in Full!”
Those who have a relationship with God through Jesus need NEVER come to Him begging for forgiveness. The forgiveness already exists. Instead, we express our sorrow, but praise Him that He’s already forgiven us. We intention with our hearts to never commit that sin(s) again (this is repentance, to turn around), but if we do … we express that we are sorry, but we thank Him for having already forgiven us.
See? This is grace, the knowledge that we do not have to live in guilt. All guilt is either self-applied or whispered into our hearts by the Enemy. Tell the Enemy to shut up and get away, in the name of Jesus!
Sharing these truths with this young woman, I saw the fear and the tears become a radiant smile. She lit up, because she had just heard that she was NEVER looked at by her Father—her Daddy—as anything other than a beloved daughter that He takes joy in having created.
God doesn’t regret that He created you. He wants you to fold yourself into His love and grace so that the two of you will have an everlasting relationship, despite any and all trips, stumbles, and falls along the way.