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photo: Martha G. Brady

photo: Martha G. Brady

(See Part 1)

As a child who grew up hearing the gospel all of my remembered life, I often asked myself this question.  Especially as I got older and wondered, “Is this true or have I just been brainwashed?”  I remember being under deep conviction of sin as a 4 year old and receiving Christ into my life.  But as I got older, of course I questioned it.

  • Did I know what I was doing?
  • Was I aware of what was going on?
  • Did I even have a sense of what an important decision I was making at the time?

Of course the answer to all those questions was “No!”

How many other decisions are like this?

But honestly, how many other life decisions are made that way?  How many times do you sit at a wedding and watch a couple make their vows realizing they have no clue what they are promising when they say, “For better or worse, in sickness and health, til death do us part…”

They stand there with stars in their eyes and hormones flowing, looking young and handsome/beautiful and usually say those words with no idea what they will be called on to do or be in the next 20, 40 or 60 years in fulfillment of those vows.

It is a blessing they can’t see into the future as they make that promise.  They would be overwhelmed if they knew what was ahead over many years of a marriage and wouldn’t be able to enjoy the rich, enjoyable parts of it.

Jesus keeps both sides of the Covenant because

we can’t even keep up our side of the promise!

In our relationship with Christ, He keeps both sides of the covenant with His people as is most dramatically demonstrated in Genesis 15.  He knows the frailty of those with whom His covenant (promise) is made.  We can’t keep our end of it.  We can’t keep the whole Law.  No one knows it better than He!  That is why Christ came…to fulfill the demands of the Law.

My lack of awareness of the full impact of a decision doesn’t lessen its importance or effectiveness.

My ramble has a point!  Just because we may not have been fully aware of what we were doing at the time, doesn’t mean it wasn’t effective.  Why?  Because our salvation isn’t really based on us!  It is based on Christ and what He did!  At some point, we need to humble ourselves to repent of our sin, but when we do it, we may not be aware of the totally immensity of it!  We may only realize that in the presence of GOD, we fall very short!  And we need Him to do life!  Those are the most important things to believe and understand aren’t they?

So, for many of us, we may now know so much about Christianity that it is difficult to break it down to the very basics.  I have difficulty doing that about anything in the best of times!  For me, that was particularly a problem.  I attended a Christian Boarding School for High School where we had chapel almost every day with preaching.  I was overloaded with words and information!  I had times I got very lost in the weeds.  I don’t easily break things down to the bare essentials.  This happens with information AND stuff!

 That which was from the beginning, 

which we have heard,

which we have seen with our eyes, 

which we have looked at

and our hands have touched—

this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  

The life appeared; 

we have seen it and testify to it, 

and we proclaim to you the eternal life, 

which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

I John 1:1-2

This may not make as much sense by itself, but compare it with this passage, also written by John in his gospel: John 1:1-5, 14.  This indicates that the Word is Jesus.  He existed long before Bethlehem…indicating that He was more than simply a human.

This passage in I John is talking about Jesus who was here in human flesh so they were able to see Him and touch Him and hear Him.  Jesus is the center of the gospel.  Without Him, there is no gospel.  He taught truth, and most important, His death and resurrection for sin would not have happened.  Without them, we have no gospel, no grace, no forgiveness…and thus, no hope either for now or for eternity.

The objective proof for John, of Christ’s finished work on the cross (including His resurrection from the dead) was as he and the other disciples were able to hear Jesus talk to them after the Resurrection, see Him with their eyes and even touch the wounds in his hands, feet and side.  They all saw Him die.  There was no doubt that He had been dead!  That was pretty objective and had to hold them as most went to their deaths as martyrs.  That wouldn’t have happened if they knew it to be false information.  They had nothing to gain from it!

The subjective proof for John is found in the two places where he mentions “appeared” in verse 2.  The first refers to Jesus’ incarnation and the second refers to the point when John “saw His glory” or believed.

Belief in Christ is not just an intellectual exercise.  It must be wed to personal commitment to Him as well

This is making the point that our belief in Christ is not merely an intellectual event.  There must be both a belief in Him as a historical Jesus as well as a personal commitment of myself to Him.  It is not enough to simply believe that Jesus lived on this earth as a historical person and leave it at that.

A sobering verse my mom often quoted in a variety of contexts was this one:  You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.  (James 2:19 NIV) 

It often gave me pause.  Belief in one GOD is not special. Demons know that much…and they are scared to death!  A belief that is life-giving is the belief that Jesus Christ, the GOD-man came to give us life!  There was nothing we could do to earn salvation on our own.  It all had to be done for us.  For many of us, that is a hard pill to swallow.  We are more like the 2 year old who wants to do it all on his/her own.  But our ability is about the same as the 2 year old’s…it just isn’t good enough.

It isn’t easy to humble ourselves and admit to GOD that all our efforts at trying to do and be “good enough” just won’t match His holy, perfect standard.  Only the work Jesus did at the cross to pay for all our sin was good enough.  We need to humble ourselves and thank Him for His mercy and grace and ask forgiveness for our sin in all its many forms…covert and overt.  Then live lives that rely on Him for grace and enablement to live the Christian life just as we have had to rely on Him to join the family of GOD!

There’s more, but that’s all for now.  Get the book for more details.  You’ll like it.