What does one year of slowing down allow you to see? You don’t have enough time to read that in one blog post. However, I want to share one area that may be helpful for many of you. Is your gospel fragile or finished? This was a question the Lord asked me last October. My background is from the Pentecostal and Charismatic persuasions. Which means we had faith in the power of God and His ability to change situations but very few were rooted in the idea of the gospel. Sure we knew about the death, burial, and resurrection but very actually experienced the benefits personally.
The majority of my walk with the Lord has been up and down, a roller coaster of sorts. There were some days when it seemed like I was soaring and other days where I thought I was going to hit rock bottom. I would read and pray, but it was not enough. If I made a mistake I lost my salvation. Salvation was more dependent upon my behavior than the finished work of Jesus. My journey with God was so fragile because my view of the gospel was so fragile.
It was easy for me to see the frailty of man, here today, gone tomorrow…there is none righteous, no not one…the heart is deceitfully wicked who could know it. And the verses keep coming. No one has to convince me of the depravity of man. The Pentecostal movement specialized in exposing sin, brow beating sinners, and we took pride in being Bible thumpers. I’m pretty sure we saw God sitting on His throne with lightning bolts in His hand ready to strike us for our next mistake.
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What I’ve had the hardest time believing is not in the evil of man but in the goodness of God. Could the gospel be this good? Did Jesus fully appease the wrath of God on my behalf? Certainly there was more than just receiving this truth, I had to do something. That thinking led me entirely into a works-based theology where I was bound by the Law like a Pharisee. My friend, Matt Pettry, speaks of religious people that have to make it hurt. We become like the prophets of Baal cutting ourselves with rocks to appease God. That was me…if it wasn’t hard and if it didn’t hurt then it probably was not God.
But honestly, that approach to God never satisfied. It only complicated scripture and never allowed me to experience the true joy of salvation. How can it be a joy if it still depends on deprived me? Something had to change. I was no longer traveling every weekend doing the work of ministry and I was spending hours with God. I was trying to convince Him I really did love Him. Not understanding that He was going to take a whole year to show me how much He loved me!
The gospel is not fragile it is finished. But between fragile and finished is faith. We have to trust in the finished work of Christ and not our emotions, feelings, and failures. This salvation is free and can only be received as a gift, not earned. We point our fingers at sinners who deny Christ, but how many of us deny accepting the finished work of Christ on our behalf? Anything apart from faith is sin. Is it not sin to deny the finished work of Christ?
The essence of accepting Christ is accepting His work on our behalf. Our rejection of Christ’s full atonement has stolen from us the wonder of the gospel. When Jesus declared it was finished in John 19:30 He meant it. It is finished is a Greek word, “teleō” meaning to bring to a close, to end, to complete or fulfill, and to pay. Christ satisfied God’s justice by paying for the sins of the world. Once we accept Christ’s work these sins cannot continue being punished over and over again, that would violate God’s justice and insult the complete work of His Son.
However, I was a person who would remember mistakes I made ten years ago and would continue bringing them before God as if He hadn’t done enough to take care of it. I carried the guilt, shame, and condemnation of my sin way passed the cross. No wonder I seldom experienced resurrection. Let’s just admit that most of us have a poor theology concerning Yahweh and the gospel. Quit saying that your just paying for your sin and poor decisions. Jesus paid a complete price.
Several years ago a woman in our ministry that is very dear to our hearts found out after discovering that she was pregnant with her first child that she had Hepatitis C. It had come back in her first round of blood work. I remember her brokenness as she told me the story. Her testimony was deliverance from drug addiction and even the sharing of needles which was likely how she got this virus. As she began to rehearse her testimony I heard in her voice the shame of her past mistakes and how she felt she was paying for those bad decisions. And before we prayed for a miracle the Spirit gave me a word for her.
“If you can believe it, you will realize that Jesus not only forgave you of your sins but He also removes the penalty of your past.” I know people say all the time, “Well you made this bed and now your going to have to sleep in it.” That’s not how the gospel works. Jesus paid for it all! I’m happy to report that just a few days later she went to the doctor by faith asking for another round of blood work and it came back completely clean! Not even a trace of the virus in her blood…totally healed!
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“And through the divine authority of His cross, He cancelled out every legal violation we had on our record and the old arrest warrant that stood to indict us. He erased it all-our sins, our stained soul, and our shameful failure to keep His laws-He deleted it all and they cannot be retrieved! Everything we once were in Adam has been placed onto His cross and nailed permanently there as a public display of cancellation.” (Col. 2:14, TPT)