Not Ashamed!

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Will (not his real name) was in the grip of alcohol, so much so that he jeopardized the safety of his children, nearly destroyed his health, and came close to losing his marriage – then he met Jesus. He told me about his baptism in a river in which he saw a vision of dirty water flowing away from him, his old life gone. The man I know now loves God and others, is gentle, and is free of the slavery. He is one of hundreds that I have known who found new life in Christ; some with similar dramatic change, others with a more subtle shift from serving Self to loving God. That is why I am a person committed to making Christ known, to preaching the Good News of transformation.

With Paul, I make this declaration – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17, NIV)  Mock the simplicity of inviting others to ‘come to Jesus’ if you will, but I have no reluctance to share His offer of life!

I know that something powerful happens to us when we receive Him, by faith, as Lord and Savior. Beyond therapy, which can be valuable; beyond learning new patterns of life in discipleship, which is important to growth – everyone of us can have an encounter with the living Christ, acknowledging that we are lost, confessing our alienation from our Creator, and accepting the gift of transformation from death to life that comes through Him.

Paul writes about ‘salvation’ and does not intend that we think of that as a single moment of prayer, at the end of a church service or with a friend who has presented us with Christ’s truth. Conversion, that moment when we are, in Jesus’ words, “born again,” is an amazing change in direction. Salvation is a way of life, resulting from the powerful life of the Holy Spirit Who takes up residence in us, leading us to wholeness, to restoration of our relationship with God, our Father. We are both ‘saved,’ in an eternal transaction and we are ‘being saved’ as an ongoing experience.

In the transformation that comes from receiving the Gospel of Christ we become participants in God’s very nature, knowing something called ‘righteousness.’  Let’s not allow old caricatures block our understanding. To be righteous does not mean that we lose our ability to laugh, to know joy, that we must become staid, buttoned-down, uptight religious zealots. Through Christ Jesus we are declared ‘righteous’ – acceptable to God who is perfect and holy because He extends His mercy to us – and becoming whole and holy as we grow in His grace so that old ways are replaced.

Let’s not lose sight of a critical phrase that comes next – by faith, from first to last!We cannot focus on our own perfection, hoping to change ourselves. The sinful nature trips us up every time we think we are smart enough, mature enough, to please God.  The life of the Spirit is poured into us when we respond to His invitation with faith, believing and receiving, what God provides in Christ. What joy! What power! What transformation!

Are you living the Gospel? Don’t confuse the question with being religious. Just trying to be nice, going to church, and attempting basic morality may be admirable but those things cannot make you or me right with God, and to the extent that we attempt to live the ‘Christian’ life in our own strength, we will likely end up only feeling more guilt.  The Gospel (Good News!) is that Christ Jesus came to save us – offering us new life, releasing us from the old ways, inviting us to become participants with Him in the divine life.

Here is a word from the Word.
Lord, use it to inspire us to greater faith and deeper transformation. Amen.

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. …  immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! … Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it.

It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. ” (Ephesians 2:1, 4-5, 8-10, The Message)

_____

Who You Say I Am

Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

Free at last
He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me

In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

I am chosen not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me not against me
I am who You say I am

I am who You say I am

Ben Fielding | Reuben Morgan © 2017 Hillsong Music Publishing Australia (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) CCLI License # 810055

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