Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lost and Found

"We love because He first loved us" ~ 1 John 4:19

"For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost" ~ Luke 19:10

The greatest truth about Christianity is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That a Holy God would love such wretched sinners to the point that He poured out His wrath on His Son rather than on those who rightly deserved it is beyond human understanding. When we speak of the love of God, the Cross is the perfect picture of love. What makes Christianity unique amongst all the world religions is the great exchange; Forgiveness of sins, imputed righteousness and eternal life all freely offered without any effort or good works required on our part. We come as we are.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

What makes the Gospel so incredible is that even in our sinful, fallen state, God loved us first. Contrary to what many feel-good churches teach today, it is not us who accepts Jesus Christ nor is it us who seeks Him. Both of those would essentially be acts of works that go against what grace truly is. No, it is Christ who does the seeking and the accepting. We simply receive it through repentance and faith. If it were not for the grace of God, we would not even see our need for a savior let alone recognize that we needed forgiveness. What some call a "God shaped hole" or a life long search for purpose is actually the work of the Holy Spirit drawing us to Him. Some respond while others continue (hopelessly) looking for fulfilment in the things of the world. Those who do respond come with broken hearts, humbled by the Gospel, wretched sinners in need of salvation. They come just as they are but they don't stay that way.

If for a moment we could see all of history in a glimpse, the thing that would stand out the most would be the greatest love story one could ever imagine. God the Creator pursuing mankind despite his rebellious, adulterous, self-centered ways. Never giving up on us. Never losing His patience with us. Always looking out for us. Jesus told several parables as a way to illustrate this love God has for us. The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) demonstrated a fathers love for a wayward son. In the below video, Paul Washer tells the story of a mothers love for her daughter and how far she went to find her. The message at the end describes what unconditional love is; similar to how God desires us to come to Him...

The Gospel invitation is to all people regardless of where you are or what you've done. The only requirement for Salvation is a contrite, humbled, repentant heart. Those who come as they are, repentant and trusting in Jesus Christ alone will be received with love by the Father.

Don't waste your life trying to be good enough (none of us are... Luke 18:19). Don't live burdened by the weight of religion that puts works as part of "The Way" to Jesus Christ. Eternal life is not found in what we do or how we live. It's not found in methods or quick prayers to ask Jesus into your heart.
When we reach the point of seeking Him, we can be sure that this too is a result of God first softening our hearts to His seeking of us through the Gospel. Likewise, Jesus should not be presented as a "quick fix" to life's problems nor should we offer Him up as a sort of "trial offer".

"Much of contemporary evangelism is woefully deficient when it comes to confronting people with the reality of their sin. Preachers offer people happiness, joy, fulfillment and everything positive. Present-day Christians are taught that all they have to do is find a person's psychological needs then offer Jesus as a panacea for whatever the problem is. It is very easy to get a response, because people are looking for quick solutions to their felt needs. But if that is all we do, it is not legitimate evangelism." ~ John MacArthur (The Gospel According to Jesus)