DO WE REALLY HAVE TO BELIEVE THE BIBLE?

You and I don’t have to believe in the Bible as the ‘strictly exact’ words of God. Some people call that ‘inerrancy’ or ‘without error’. Humans, who are not perfect, have written the Bible. Nothing in the Bible claims that it is inerrant. The Bible itself claims to be ‘inspired’ or ‘God breathed’. Some of the sermons I have preached over the years are inspired but God knows they weren’t perfect. They were conveyed by the Spirit of God.

I don’t believe the Bible is 100% factually correct and the moment I realized that was the moment I felt freer to read the Bible as it was written. I didn’t have to be insecure, anxious or defensive about each word and every story. The only reason people want to defend inerrancy is that they believe if one error is found then the whole Bible will be proven wrong. NOT.

The Bible is a revelation of God’s plan for his creation, particularly humanity. It’s not a science book. It’s a love story written in narrative, symbol, poetry with the complete revelation found in the person and work of Jesus Christ who is ‘every’ word, thought or expression of God. It’s why Jesus is called THE WORD OF GOD.

Some Christians are more hung up on a ‘historical Jonah being swallowed by a whale’ than the real story of Jonah, which is about the grace, and forgiveness of God. Read it sometime.

Some people spend too much time fighting over the seven days of creation and the issue of evolution and the Big Bang and they miss the Big Picture that there is a God who out of love brought this creation into being so God could share His love with you and me, so that we could know why we are here and what God’s plan is for now and eternity, so that we could join with God in this great project.

I will tell you this. There is not a cell within me that doesn’t believe that the Bible is God’s Word as a story of redemption and reconciliation, an account of people who broke God’s will and God’s heart, people who are not puppets but creations given free will to live with or without God. This book, the Bible is a magnificent library of 66 different books written over thousands of years with a single most important theme: God from all eternity has been relentless in his search and rescue mission for his creation. It’s is layer upon layer of truth concerning restoration. And it includes love and violence, much gone wrong and much more being made right.

It IS God breathed. You can read it and just ‘feel’ the breath of God blowing through the pages of history and into each of our lives. It’s a beautiful story, IF we as believers don’t get caught in a trap of defensiveness. And IF we as skeptics just let it breathe it’s life into us we will know, without a policy or doctrine, that God is in this place and that Jesus is the centerpiece that brings it all together though his teachings, his death and resurrection.

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THE GRACE OF AMBIGUITY

Ambiguity is defined as uncertainty. It is the nature of humans to dislike uncertainty. It’s risky and even fear producing not to know the answer to life’s deeper questions such as ‘is there a God?’, ‘why is there so much suffering?’, ‘why am I here and where am I going and who cares? Is the Bible true, and why don’t the Jehovah witnesses have the same Bible as I do? ‘Am I going to be judged? And what about all those different religions?’ And then, ‘what’s for dinner?’ And did I make the right decision? And on and on and on?

An ethicist once asked Mother Teresa if she would pray for him for clarity in his life. Her response was, ‘I have never had clarity. I have had trust. I pray that you will have trust.’

I once saw a cartoon where the pastor of a church was sitting behind his desk and behind him on the wall was a poster showing the steady decline of attendance in the church. His assistant pastor was standing in front of him and said, ‘Maybe it would be better if you didn’t end every sermon with ‘but the again what do I know?’

Why do we need certainty? Trust implies a degree of uncertainty. The apostle Paul once wrote in Romans 8 that in the midst of the suffering and groaning in the world, we ‘hope’. But he says that hope isn’t something we have. It is something we long for with perseverance. And in Hebrews 11:1 we find these words: ‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.’ This is true trusting. And many of those whom Paul writes about never received what they hoped for, at least to the point of their deaths. They share in those things with us now.

Ambiguity involves trust and hope more than absolute certainty. Recall what Jesus said to the disciple Thomas after Thomas saw the wounds on Jesus’ body. ‘You believe because you see. How much more blessed are those who believe without seeing.’ That is the nature of ambiguity and trust.

Now some Christians and religious groups feel they need to be certain that they know the way to God. But Jesus is the only one who knows that way for he IS the way the truth and the life; he invites us to trust him to bring us into the Kingdom of the Father right here and for all eternity.

We would be more relaxed in our Christianity if we just allowed the ambiguity to exist and instead trusted God, say, the way Dietrich Bonhoeffer did in the times of Nazi Germany. Here’ is the way he describes his faith and life not long before he was executed by the Gestapo.

Who Am I?

Who am I? They often tell me;
I come out of my cell
Calmly, cheerfully, resolutely,
Like a lord from his palace.

Who am I? They often tell me,
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me,
I carried the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one who is used to winning.

Am I really then what others say of me?
Or am I only what I know of myself?
Restless, melancholic, and ill, like a caged bird,
Struggling for breath, as if hands clasped my throat,
Hungry for colors, for flowers, for the songs of birds,
Thirsty for friendly words and human kindness,
Shaking with anger at fate and at the smallest sickness,
Trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Tired and empty at praying, at thinking, at doing,
Drained and ready to say goodbye to it all.

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and another tomorrow?
Am I both at once? In front of others, a hypocrite,
And to myself a contemptible, fretting weakling?
Or is something still in me like a battered army,
running in disorder from a victory already achieved?
Who am I? These lonely questions mock me.
Whoever I am, You know me; I am yours, O God.

 

The last line sets the tone for our life. Though we don’t often understand much. What we do trust more than anything is that God knows we are HIS.

And the Bible. The Bible is not a rulebook. It is a relationship book. It is more like a book on the languages of love than Robert’s Rules of Order. And being a book of relationship it is filled with grey areas that are left up to the individual or group to discern what God’s will is for any given moment. The Bible is a history of God’s love for his creation and creatures and his longing for us. Love is never black and white and to want it to be so is to live by the knowledge of good and evil rather than in communion with God. And we know how that played out back in the Garden.

John Polkinghorne, a Christian and a scientist, writes these words:

The tapestry of life is not colored in simple black and white, representing an unambiguous choice between the unequivocally bad and the unequivocally good. The ambiguity of human deeds and desires means that life includes many shades of grey. What is true of life in general is true also of the Bible in particular. An honest reading of Scripture will acknowledge the presence in its pages of various kinds of ambiguity.

Regard Abraham and his uncertainty about his role as the Father of many nations. Jacob wrestled with God. Moses never really knew what he had gotten himself into. David’s ambiguities pervade the Psalms not knowing at times whether God would save him or leave him to die.

Perhaps we can learn from Jesus’ own ambiguity in Gethsemane when he asked his Father to relieve him of this dreaded death but conclude, ‘Thy will be done.’

Let me conclude by saying that ambiguity is a gift from God, an opportunity for trust and yes, even impulse at time. It is an occasion for prayer, prayer to trust, a prayer to seek God, a prayer to never grow complacent in the boring black and white of law but rather in relationship to Jesus Christ.

By the way, I love the words of U:

 

I have climbed the highest mountains

I have run through the fields

Only to be with you
Only to be with you.

I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her finger tips
It burned like fire
A burning desire.

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one.
But yes, I’m still running.

You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For lyrics©Universal Music Publishing Group

 

 

 

 

 

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TOO HEAVY

We Christians place too much weight on our own response to God’s grace. For example, we place too much emphasis on our own faith. Is it mustard seed faith? Or should it be as a child’s trust? Is it the kind of faith to deny oneself and take up a cross or the kind that gives up everything to follow Jesus?

It is like an applause meter. The faith meter. Some days that needle hardly moves and some days it goes way up. Are all these things the measure of our salvation? I think not. I really believe that it is the faithfulness of Jesus that really matters. His meter is off the charts. He has secured salvation for humanity by his sacrifice on the cross. All these other things are ways given to us, sometimes called the means of grace, to help us interact with the Christ we know. Scripture tells us that God who began a good work in us will bring it to completion as Christ returns. (Philippians 1:6)

Sometimes I think we get hung up on our own goodness and achievements that we miss the goodness of God, the grace of God given to us as a gift. I am pretty certain that in Ephesians 2:8,9 Paul is writing that ‘grace’ is the gift. Faith is the avenue, one of the means by which we are open to what God is doing.

Some are fortunate enough to experience this transformation that Christ brings here on earth. Some may experience it at the end of life and even post mortem. Christ’s faithfulness will never fail to accomplish the ultimate transformation and restoration of all creation.

Abraham, who was chosen and blessed by God and with whom God made the covenant to bless all people failed, as did the people to keep God’s ways, but Christ kept them for all the creation.

Cheap grace, in a different context from what Bonhoeffer wrote about, can mean that we make too much of our response to God and not enough about the love and goodness of God who is able to do more than we even ask of God.

There is a fun illustration that is instructive here.

A man dies and goes to heaven. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates. St. Peter says, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”
“Okay,” the man says, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.”

“That’s wonderful,” says St. Peter, “that’s worth three points!”

“Three points?” he says. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service.”

“Terrific!” says St. Peter, “that’s certainly worth a point.”

“One point? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”

“Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,” he says.

“TWO POINTS!!” the man cries, “At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!”

“Come on in.”

I love my children. I love them whether or not they love me. Their response of love will certainly help the relationship, the interaction we have, as well as their growth. But I will love them no matter and if I who am just a human will love and will work all things to their good as I am able, will not God do even more for his children, his whole creation.

Sometimes I think that Evangelical Christianity is safer with its doctrines, rules and decisions about who’s in and who is out. It’s almost like we, our egos not our spirits, want justice the way we see it. Universalism is a bit too wild for this traditional faith, this understanding of how God’s grace is so vast and restorative.

From Ephesians 1 we read Paul’s words:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b]predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (ESV)

Perhaps and maybe hopefully the whole creation is like the Gentiles were before they were ‘brought into the fold’ as it were. Maybe we ‘believers’ are just the beginning to God’s bringing to unity all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

I like the way the MESSAGE has it:

7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

And if we are now privileged to enjoy this ‘summation’, the ‘bringing to unity’ then it behooves us to thank God and to praise his glorious plan for all ages in Christ Jesus. Amen (for now).

 

 

 

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THE GRACE OF EVANGELICAL UNIVERSALISM

So I have begun to seriously consider the position of being a Christ-centered Universalist. My wife thinks I am a borderline heretic but I might suggest to her that Jesus was called a blasphemer for opening wide the gates of God’s Kingdom that all might come in. And among other things the leaders called him a glutton and drunk for hanging out and accepting into the Kingdom people like tax collectors and prostitutes.

I am beginning to understand the wild, crazy, and all inclusive love of the Father to be such that God will one day, as Paul wrote, ‘reconcile all things in heaven and on earth.’ This includes to Paul’s thinking, rulers, authorities and everyone else, all through the blood, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. (See Colossians 1:18-20)

God’s relentless pursuit of his creation, his children (in the way Paul speaks of God’s children in Acts 17), does not end in vain. God’s love has and will grace the life of everyone. It did at the creation of everyone according to John 1 where we are told that every life on earth came THROUGH Jesus Christ. So writes Paul in Colossians 1.

I am not the first to think of this kind of universalism. You can read Gregory Macdonald or Robin Parry (who is Gregory Macdonald- his nom de plume) or Thomas Talbot and many others who have made the case for universalism explicitly or implicitly. For me, I am just now trying to be open to this hope, this possibility even with all proof texting opposed to it.

I had a wonderful experience the other day. I went to my neighbor who professes to be an atheist. She is a loving mom and expecting a second child any day. I decided to talk to her and she was ‘conveniently’ sitting on her front stoop. I told her that God loved her, has forgiven any of her sins and that she is right now part of God’s family and Kingdom. She said, ‘Thank you’, and we moved on to other conversation. And I must say I felt such peace in talking with her in such a manner. I have been up to this time the type of evangelist who needed to hear some kind of change of heart or decision to accept Christ but now I am okay with simply sharing the good news of God’s love. I have always liked the passage in Luke 1:77 where John’s dad, Zechariah, announces through the Holy Spirit that John will help people understand salvation with God by announcing the forgiveness of sins. There might just be something to that order since John tells us later that Jesus is the ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’ (John 1:29)

There is in this evangelical universalism something of the Arminians and Calvinists in the sense that according to the Arminian thinking God’s grace opens every heart to be able to respond to God’s grace. In the Calvinist way of thinking God’s grace is irresistible. So both come together for everyone’s salvation with God.

I do not think that anything or anyone can stop the plan that God initiated, not only at creation but also with the blessing of Abraham in which God promises that through Abraham, all people would be blessed. When God made that covenant with Abraham he sealed the deal with the promise of giving up his own life. (See Genesis 12 and 15)

Jesus subsequently fulfilled this covenant with his own blood and thus satisfied the promise of God.

Even the evil people in the world will be able to be redeemed through what Christ has done. It’s hard to wrap my mind around all of this but it might just be that I need to more fully understand the vastness of God’s love. Isn’t that why Jesus spoke as he did, making limitless the love of his Father?

So here’s a great story in line with all of that.

It is said that during the Second World War some soldiers serving in France wanted to bury a friend and fellow soldier who had been killed. Being in a foreign country they wanted to ensure their fallen comrade had a proper burial. They found a well-kept cemetery with a low fence around it, a picturesque little Catholic church and a peaceful outlook. This was just the place to bury their friend. But when they approached the priest he answered that unless their friend was a baptized Catholic he could not be buried in the cemetery. He wasn’t.

Sensing the soldiers’ disappointment the priest showed them a spot outside the fence where they could bury their friend. Reluctantly they did so.

The next day the soldiers returned to pay their final respects to their fallen friend but could not find the grave. “Surely we can’t be mistaken. It was right here!” they said. Confused, they approached the priest who took them to a spot inside the cemetery walls. “Last night I couldn’t sleep,” said the priest. “I was troubled that your friend had to be buried outside the cemetery walls, so I got up and moved the fence.”

Ah, perhaps we are as astounded to hear about universalism as the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were stunned to hear that the love of God could be so inclusive.

Now I realize that there are many scriptural passages that are read and understood in opposition to what I am sharing. But I also know there are enigmatic verses such as 1Cor. 15:22 “As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

Christ must be the center of any new mathematical equation that includes the whole creation. There is no salvation outside of Jesus Christ and his atonement for our sin. Historic and Biblical witness has always attested to this truth. This has been the church’s position since the days of the apostles. But there must be room within this confession for an even larger view of God’s inclusiveness in Christ.

I read in Philippians 2 that one day EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. I want to trust God to work that out in God’s own way and time. I can’t say enough of the joy of even contemplating such a loving forgiving heavenly Father.

To conclude for now, I want to add that we Christians make too much of our response to God’s grace. The emphasis is on what God has done for us. And finally I am not worried that people will ‘slack off’ in their living for Christ right here and now. When we grasp the love of God in deeper ways we respond even more thankfully.

It is an astonishing thought, possibility and even hope that God will RESTORE this whole creation, the good, the bad and even the evil into the good that God had originally intended. And that restoration will include everything that was lost. There are many scriptures on both and all sides of this theological conversation and I want to listen to them all.

And I might add; that restoration is now underway from the Resurrection of Christ until he comes again.

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Grace in Imperfection

 

No one who is born of God continues to sin (1 John 3:18).

Matthew 5:48 ‘Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.’

We don’t strive for imperfection. It is a natural occurrence. Imperfection is our failure to succeed in our goals or it may be the undesirable qualities in our character such as flaws or inadequacies or such.

When I buy reading material online I sometimes look for Christian books or bibles that are ‘slightly imperfect’ meaning there is something wrong somehow but whatever is flawed doesn’t change the content. It might alter the cover or something about the book that is not essential.

We tend to think of our imperfections as failings or even sin but in truth they are part of the maturation process that God is working in our lives. We made be made righteous in God’s judgment when we are in Christ but for the rest of our lives remains the process of sanctification or becoming more like the God in whose image we are made.

The image of God is not completely erased in humanity though it has been defaced even sometimes to the point of being unrecognizable. It is under the shadow of sin whereby we see dimly as in a dirty mirror. Yet in Christ, by placing our confidence in Christ, we are ‘new creations.’ (2 Cor. 5:17) Accordingly the letter to the Hebrews reminds us that God remembers our sin no more under the new covenant. (Hebrews 8:12)

Creation in the Fall of humankind has distanced itself from the creator but through Christ we are finding our way back. And the way back is sustained by the Grace of God in Christ.

I think of Christians as slightly imperfect in their walk, in that sin is still a part of our lives though God doesn’t see us as our sin but through the work, the sacrifice of his Son Jesus. Slightly imperfect means we don’t have it all together, we are not as mature as we could be. We are a work, God’s work, in progress, ever moving forward. In some respects our lives might even be a mess but we are God’s mess delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s son. (Colossians 1)

While some people might even not find value in us, God does. He loves us immensely even to the point where the hairs on our head are numbered indicating his intimate value and knowledge of us.

But here’s the think. Our flesh, our ego, that natural part of us still sometimes affects deeply our relationship with God. We say we trust God but we worry. We are greedy. We are fearful and rebellious. But by God’s grace we are ever more steadily making our way into the rightful Kingdom. Luther once wrote that we are sinners and saints at the same time. Jesus tells us to be perfect and our life’s work is in understanding that perfection and living into it.

Let’s take a modern example to illustrate what this all means. If we have an addiction problem we go to the ‘rooms’ where others are dealing with the same struggle. And the only requirement to be there is the desire to stop the addiction, the behavior that is ruining us. One can actually go to an A.A. meeting intoxicated if he or she really wants to stop drinking.

Now I figure it is not less meaningful for the sinner who goes before God, most especially at worship to be able to say, ‘I want to stop sinning and follow Jesus more closely. That’s my greatest wish. I desire forgiveness and new life’. That is an imperfect Christian on the right path to perfection. Much as Paul meant when he wrote ‘work out your salvation in fear and trembling because God is at work in you to bring about the best according to God’s will.’ (Philippians 2:12,13)

The imperfect Christian is allowed by GRACE to struggle without shame and doubt but is transparent about these issues before other trustworthy brothers and sisters. They believe their sins are forgiven but their memory of their sins is better than God’s memory of their sins.

The imperfect Christian is willing to engage in the disciplines of the Christ life. Prayer, reading scripture, worship, helping others and more are exercises that will help the follower f Jesus strengthen his or her faith, trust and confidence. The imperfect Christian will seek knowledge not for its own sake but so that such wisdom will help them grow.

Christ’s gracious call is to take his yoke upon ourselves for the purpose of training us to live our lives with him, by him and through him.

There is a bumper sticker, which proclaims ‘Not perfect just forgiven’. That is a loophole for not trying our best. It is a statement that we are forgiven and going to heaven; but there is a lot of life to be lived in the meantime.

Recall Jesus words in Matthew 5:48. ‘Be perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ Jesus spoke those words with regards to loving our enemies; those who annoy irritate or even abuse us. Being perfect means being the best we can be. For example if you are a carpenter just starting out you want to frame a house as best you can. Taking shortcuts is not an option. And while you may not be as good as a 30 veteran you still do your best. That is if you are going to stay in business. The same would go for a teacher, a mom or a dad or anyone with any integrity. And as Christians we strive for our best but do not feel shame when our best might not on par with say, wait for it, ‘Jesus’.

We are on a path of following the Son of God who has called us to place our confidence in him. It was late Christian songwriter, Keith Green, who sang the words, ‘you give God your best and he’ll take care of the rest’. The Christian is called to strive for the prize. (Philippians 3:14) We are urged to press on. And when we fall we pick ourselves up and get back in the race. (Thank you Frank Sinatra)

But we don’t beat ourselves up. We don’t live in guilt and wallow in shame. And if our fall is, in our own mind, a sin- then we confess that to God and know, really know that we are forgiven and thus freed to live for Christ.

I want you to imagine a relationship between two people in love where neither has expectations for the other, where neither keeps score of any wrongs that occur. This is the state of the person who is ‘in Christ’ and thereby in union with God. And this position of salvation and life is sustained and maintained by the grace of the Father. The bible says that we are already seated with Christ in the heavenly place. (Ephesians 2:6) which I take to mean, ‘out of harms way’ in terms of any kind of judgment and so we are truly freed from having to ‘feel’ like we should be better than we are trying our best to be.

Or let’s consider the analogy of an electrician who is mentoring an apprentice. The mentor states that all that is needed is the apprentices’ trust and best effort. At their first meeting it is agreed that the degree and job are guaranteed. Of course there will be direction and even correction and warnings here and there but the covenant has been established and will not be broken. So too God is not breaking his covenant with us because it is Jesus who has sealed that covenant in his own blood.

All this gives us the freedom to live for Christ because at the heart of it all is the truth that it is not we who are living this life as Paul writes but it is Christ who is living it in us. (Galatians 2:20)

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BAD HAIR DAYS

Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)

Some days my so-called spirituality doesn’t measure up to what I and I suspect others think it should be.

Some days I just feel spiritually unconnected to God, don’t really waNt to worship, pray or study. And I am not real desirous of hearing people talk about the warm fuzzy feeling of faith.

And then I feel guilty that I feel that way. But then I remember that while my spiritual life is like a roller coaster, the life and love of Christ is so consistent and constant. Then I recall that while we were, and I might add, ARE, sinners, Christ died for us. His sacrifice is a present reality. That is the wonderful news of Grace. It is all Christ’s doing not ours and some days we do well to understand that we contribute nothing to that grace. Bad hair days teach me that, and so I will rejoice, as Paul on wrote, even in my weakness.

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Already Forgiven

John 1:29

 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. (MEV)

So one day a friend told me he was going to visit his dying sister. He would tell her to ask God’s forgiveness for her sins. And then she could be assured she was going to heaven.

It got me to thinking that it would be better for her to simply say YES to God’s love for her. That love was revealed in Jesus Christ who has already forgiven her sins through his death. That’s what I take from John’s statement. She then would simply be trusting what has already been done for her.

Sure it would be wise for her to acknowledge ways she had disobeyed God and put up a wall between Him and her. Maybe she has misdeeds or missed deeds in her life that have been an enormous burden to her conscience. But I don’t think God needs a litany of offenses any more than did the father of the Prodigal Son.

Saying yes to God’s embrace and our desire to think differently about our future together is reason enough for much joy in heaven.

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