Saturday, September 10, 2016

Trust in God

I join millions of people who have gone before in the following convictions:

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.  I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our LORD, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.

On the third day He rose again!  He ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic (universal) church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Amen.”  

(These words are from the Apostle's Creed.  I believe they are true because I find evidence of their truth in the Bible.  I appreciate the effort made by the many believers who worked to summarize "what we believe" centuries ago so it could be more easily taught to others.) 

I believe that because God is our maker, redeemer and sustainer, we owe Him worship, loyalty, respect and the most perfect obedience we can accomplish.  We owe him our trust.

And, I believe in …

Grace

What a concept!  It is by Grace that we are saved.  If we got what we deserved, we would be condemned.  But God looks at us with Love and Mercy and has designed a "Plan of Salvation."  Through the sacrifice of his only Son, Jesus Christ we have hope, yea even Assurance, of our sins being forgiven.

Monroe Hawley wrote this in 1976 in his book Redigging the Wells:

"A reexamination of the subject of divine grace will help us to be less judgmental.  Most of us appreciate the fact that God will forgive repeated moral sins, providing genuine repentance accompanies confession of wrong.  We know that God will forgive His child who repeatedly loses his temper but consistently tries to overcome his weakness.  ... However, many do not realize that God extends His grace to doctrinal matters."  page 211

Moral mistakes are erased by the power of the blood of Christ.  Horrible and ugly sins such as murder, dishonesty, adultery, slander, gossip and such like, can be forgiven because of Jesus' sacrifice.  But if that is true, what about the errors of judgment we make about religion?  There are many who surrender their life to Jesus Christ and serve Him all their lives to the very best of their understanding and ability.  Yet, many follow very different specific practices and rules because they are members of different denominations, or choose to follow different teachers and leaders.  Well intentioned leaders make rules which never should be made and exclude or include folks they should not.  If they knew better they would do better, but they neither know or do.  

It is puzzling and depressing to see the small number of humans who think they are destined for salvation on the basis of being in the "right" group, and in agreement with the "right" leaders.  I find great comfort and hope in the fact that God will be just as merciful and forgiving in dealing with our doctrinal mistakes as with our moral ones.  I hope this is the case, because we are all wrong about something.  If it is not true is there really any hope for any of us?  We are all wrong about something.  If we knew what we are wrong about we would surely correct it.

"Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand."  Romans 14:4

I really believe that all of us will be pleasantly surprised when we find folks in heaven that we never expected to see again.  If this is true, we need to give serious thought to how we treat the people with whom we disagree today.

The thing I really do not want to be wrong about is my condemnation or criticism of a brother or sister in Christ who is no more mistaken about religion than I am myself.

So, do we just keep on sinning and be unconcerned about moral and doctrinal matters?  As Paul said in Romans 6 – “God forbid…”  How can we not be even more concerned about what God wants of us, knowing what He has done and what He has planned for us?!  I pray that more and more we can surrender our will to His.  I pray that we will view those who are “less fortunate” with compassion and empathy instead of fear and repulsion. Trust Jesus.  Imitate Him.  Be a brother or sister with no reservation to all others who are trying to do the same.

Just thinking.

Be good to yourself.  - Carlin