LIFE LOVE AND FREEDOM

THE GIFT OF LIFE: JESUS OFFERS THE GIFT OF LIFE - JESUS OFFERS HIMSELF


The Journey to Life Love and Freedom Part 7

"Now the day of salvation is here" (2 Corinthians 6: 2)


If a person is "saved" he is saved from something or from someone for something or for someone. God has a plan for you before you were even born:

'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you' (Jeremiah 29:5)

The person who comes to Christ is saved from eternal death for eternal life because Christ is Life..

"I am the Way; I am Truth and Life". (John 14: 6)

Both the state of eternal death and eternal life start now here and now on earth. The Christian is not only someone who believes in life after death but also life before death, here and now. Each person is now either in the state of death or of life. Where do you stand?

By accepting the Lord into your life and following his ways you will enable him to accomplish that plan that he has for you. God can do nothing until you allow him to. That plan is nothing less than perfect self fulfillment now for for all eternity. The first step in this process of self fulfillment is bridging the gap that lies between you and God. The cause of that gap is sin. Sin may be considered as anything that hinders the development of that plan that God has for you, anything that hinders your true self fulfillment The first step on the journey towards self fulfillment, the first step to freedom is now, the first step to life can be taken now, the first step that will enable you to become transformed by love can be taken by you right now. The first step to salvation from everything that hinders the plan that God has for you can be taken now.

The moment of decision has now come. Every man is free to decide what he wants. In any offer, there are three options: 1) decide to accept it 2) decide not to accept it (reject it) 3) procrastinate and not decide. God will accept your decision because he did not create machines but human beings capable of deciding on their own fate. If love is to be reciprocated it must be done in complete freedom. Each man is free to accept God and the offer of his life and love or not to. The gift is inseparable from the Giver. By accepting God you accept Love for "God is love" (1 John: 4:8), by accepting Jesus you are accepting Life "I am the Way; I am Truth and Life". (John 14: 6), by saying yes to Jesus you are saying yes to Freedom: "you will come to know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8: 32) In this decision you are not alone. If you have reached this stage it is because you have felt drawn by Christ himself: "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself." (John 12:32). If you have got this far it means that your search was sincere, otherwise you would have given up a long time ago. You would not have gone beyond page 1. But your search is not over yet. You must still make up your mind. Now is the day of salvation. Will you let it go by or will you start a new life, a life in love and freedom?

Salvation is a free gift

Eternal life is not something we deserve, it is not a "right" but something that Jesus Christ has earned for us through his death and that he now offers to us free of charge. The best things in life are truly free. Some think they can merit heaven and eternal life by putting their trust in their own works. The only thing that we deserve is death:

For the wage paid by sin is death; the gift freely given by God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6: 23).

A salary is something we earn and therefore deserve, but a gift is free. This of course does not mean that our works do not matter, they are the sign and guarantee that that our faith is genuine and are an integral part of our journey once we have accepted Jesus in faith. So also faith in itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith. You believe in the one God -- that is creditable enough, but even the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear. Fool! Would you not like to know that faith without deeds is useless? You see now that it is by deeds, and not only by believing, that someone is justified. (James 2:17-20, 24).

Eternal life is a free gift that is obtained only through the mercy of the Father, through the merits of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Eternal life is a Trinitarian experience. We cannot earn it, we can only humbly receive it.


Man is a sinner

 

No distinction is made: all have sinned and lack God's glory. (Romans 3, 23).

All men, except Christ, have sinned and therefore deserve death. Some are convinced that they are not sinners. However, they do not see themselves as God sees them and therefore cannot know the forgiveness of God. Christ did not come for those who already feel self sufficient and sinless but for those who know they need his forgiveness and his mercy.

The greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbour

'Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?' Jesus said to him, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets too.' (Matthew 22, 36-40).

Only by not loving God and our neighbour we are guilty of transgressing the most important laws of God. (Who knows how many times we have transgressed this law!) Jesus said that anyone who has even the mere thought of doing evil is as though he had already committed it (Matthew 5, 21-48). How many times have we neglected to love our neighbour? How often did we have the chance to help others and have not done so? How many times have I thought badly of someone? Shall we make a quick count? Shall we say three times a day? Then in a year I have transgressed the most important law of God a thousand times. Even if we were to live till the age of sixty I will have accumulated over 60,000 sins or transgressions and we have taken into account only one law or commandment of God: to love one's neighbour

And what about all the times I neglected to love God? All the times that I have not even thought of him? All the times I would have preferred he did not even exist so as not to be held responsible to anyone for my actions? And all those times that I almost convinced myself that he did not exist? And, finally, every time I have completely ignored him? Is this the kind of behaviour that I have for those I love or or for those I hate? How many thousands of sins will I have accumulated at the age of sixty? At the end of my life can I truly say that I deserve heaven and eternal life? This would be the most terrible illusion of my life! There is only one verdict that any jury can come to: guilty and the sentence, eternal death. Thank God for he has promised us the gift of eternal life.

In civil society the transgression of only one law is enough to be branded a criminal, to be brought to justice and to be condemned. So also for the law of God:

You see, anyone who keeps the whole of the Law but trips up on a single point, is still guilty of breaking it all. (James 2: 10)

There is no escaping the fact: we are all transgressors of the law (sinners) in the eyes of God and we are all in the same boat.

From a human point of view some people are better than others, have more human kindness, more human patience etc. yet we all are in the same situation as far as God is concerned. We have all experienced separation from him because we have all sinned. There is nothing we can do to overcome this barrier. It would be like trying to jump from one bank of the River Thames to the other. God is on one side and we on the other. Those who are good at jumping will manage to jump further that those who are less able. However, no one can ever jump to the other side so all will eventually be overwhelmed by the current of the river and perish.

It is said that man forgets 90% of his misdeeds. If man were to remember everything he would be psychologically overwhelmed by a sense of guilt. Man does not like to think badly of himself, he does not want to confess his sin, his pride prevents him from doing this. This is why we need all the power of the Holy Spirit to convince us of sin (John 16: 8). Man cannot save himself because God demands perfection in order to be in his presence (Galatians 3: 10). Despite our pride no one would dare to think himself perfect.

A thousand good acts of a person could never compensate one single sin against God and man. How can a single sin be forgiven unless by God and how can you even ask for forgiveness from God if you do not accept the only means possible, Jesus Christ?


God is love and mercy: the solution

Man cannot save himself. Jesus said that a Christian must love his enemies (Matthew 5: 44). Christ practiced to perfection this teaching because he is love (1 John 4, 8). When we were enemies in the sense that we were separated from God and from everything God wanted for our own well being and happiness. We read in Romans 5: 10:

For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more can we be sure that, being now reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5: 10)

It is important to know that God wants all to be saved:

The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as some people think he is; rather is he being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance. (2 Peter 3: 9).

If all men are not saved it is certainly not God's fault but is the responsibility of the individual who does not accept this free gift of life that God is offering.

 

God is just

God is love and mercy, he wants all to be saved but he is also a holy and just God and must punish every transgression:

Your eyes are too pure to rest on evil, you cannot look on at oppression. Why do you look on at those who play the traitor, why say nothing while the wicked swallows someone more upright than himself? (Habakkuk 1: 13)

and again:

I am going to punish the world for its wickedness and the wicked for their guilt, and put an end to the pride of the arrogant and humble the haughtiness of despots. (Isaiah 13: 11).

Each of us must die and after death stand before the court of God:

human beings die only once, after which comes judgment (Hebrews 9: 27).

Do you know who will be the judge? Jesus Christ himself:

for the Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgment to the Son (John 5: 22).

Don't forget that man is guilty, and has already been condemned (John 3: 18). Man is in a dilemma, in a situation with no way out, a dead end. He cannot save himself because his sin keeps him separated from God (see the analogy of jumping across a wide river above).

But God is also in a dilemma: he is just and must punish sin, but he is also love and mercy and wants everyone to be saved. For man there is no way out, but God has found a way to satisfy his will to manifest his mercy and love without compromising his justice.

For God nothing is impossible:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'In truth I tell you, it is hard for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven.' When the disciples heard this they were astonished. 'Who can be saved, then?' they said. Jesus gazed at them. 'By human resources', he told them, 'this is impossible; for God everything is possible.' (Matthew 19: 23-26).

 


 

The justice of God + love and mercy of God = Jesus Christ

I steal something and I am arrested, I appear before the magistrate and admit my guilt. The magistrate applies justice and gives me a fine of 500 pounds. If, at this point I apologise and promise not to do it again would I get off without paying the fine? Would it be fair, would that be justice? Of course not.

Neither can God, whose justice is more than human, let man go scot free. But suppose I said I was unemployed and found it impossible to pay the fine? I would have to go to prison. If the judge has compassion and makes out a cheque for the amount required and hands it to the authorities as payment on my behalf, he would be applying the law, exercising justice, and at the same time, show mercy because I was in an impossible situation. The mercy of the magistrate saved me from jail without compromising justice.

God did this for us in the person of Jesus who died while we were yet sinners, and has canceled the debt that we had to pay. He paid it for us:

We had all gone astray like sheep, each taking his own way, and Yahweh brought the acts of rebellion of all of us to bear on him. (Isaiah 53: 6, read the previous verses 4, 5).

In so doing Jesus became the bridge needed to pass from one bank of the river, where man is, to the other bank where God is. If we agree to use this bridge we will not be overwhelmed by the power of our sin, but will be purified:

You were once estranged and of hostile intent through your evil behaviour; now he has reconciled you, by his death and in that mortal body, to bring you before himself holy, faultless and irreproachable (Colossians 1: 21, 22).

Through the death of Jesus we are reconciled with the Father and we are no longer accused of anything

" Thus, condemnation will never come to those who are in Christ Jesus. " (Romans 8: 1). How can we not accept Christ and confess our sin to have full access to the forgiveness and mercy of God given us through the death of Christ? This forgiveness and mercy that leads to a completely new life, that opens us up to a depth of love and to a quality of freedom that goes beyond our wildest imagination.


The faith that saves

The faith that we should have is not intellectual, neither is it emotional. I can believe that Jesus existed as a historical figure, this is not the faith that saves. I can believe that God exists and so does the devil "You believe in the one God - that is creditable enough, but even the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear. " (James 2: 19).

The faith that saves is the faith that leads you to put all your trust in Christ, confident that he will forgive you and give you eternal life. The faith that saves is the faith that leads you to put Christ first in your life, one that leads you to join other Christians, that leads you to surrender your will to the Father in every situation of your life. It is the faith that leads you to want to imitate Christ and that leads you to have compassion for those who do not yet know Christ and to want to help them.

We understand Paul when he said: "For I see no reason to be ashamed of the gospel; it is God's power for the salvation of everyone who has faith" (Romans 1: 16). The faith that saves is that which places you in Christ who will take you where he is now and forever:

I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand. The Father, for what he has given me, is greater than anyone, and no one can steal anything from the Father's hand. The Father and I are one. (John 10: 28-30).


Active Faith

We are at New Street railway station in Birmingham. We are waiting on platform 1 for the train to London. The train arrives. I ask you a question: "do you think this train will take you to London? You say yes because we have the tickets, according to the timetables the train that leaves from platform 1 at this time goes to London and the announcements tell you it is the train to London. But suppose I get on the train but you remain on the platform and the train leaves. Will that train take you to London? Obviously not because if you do not move from the platform and step on the train, the train will take you nowhere. Only if you accept Jesus, and only if you are placed in him and let him carry you, only then can you reach your destination. Do you want to board the train with the other passengers on the journey to Life, Love and Freedom?

Are you ready to place yourself in the arms of the Father? Are you ready to put your trust in Jesus who died for you to cancel your sin? Are you ready to repent and confess your sin and recognise the need for healing? Are you ready to accept Jesus as the Lord of your life to control it and guide it so that he can empower you to be what you were meant to be, to fulfill the plan that God has for you, to achieve real self fulfillment? Are you willing to accept now the gift of eternal life? If your answer is "yes" the Holy Spirit will give you right now the faith to believe, the ability to obey and to know the joy of belonging to the family of God that has a loving Father who will always be near you. If you want we can go to the Father in prayer right now.

THE LORD SAYS:

Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person's side. (Revelation 3: 20).

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are mine. Should you pass through the waters, I shall be with you; or through rivers, they will not swallow you up. Should you walk through fire, you will not suffer, and the flame will not burn you. For I am Yahweh, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. ... Since I regard you as precious, since you are honoured and I love you ... Do not be afraid, for I am with you. (Isaiah 43:1-4)


Now is the moment of decision. Before Christ no man can remain indifferent; each person must take his decision in full freedom.

You can make one of the following decisions.

Let a week go by between completing this session and continuing to the next. Reflect and meditate on those biblical texts that you have seen in this session and in previous sessions.

If your decision is one of the last two remember that the Father will always be waiting and it will never be too late until the day of your death when you will meet with him who you have accepted or rejected. Continue to reflect and interiorise what you have experienced in these pages and perhaps one day you will accept the gift.

The gift of salvation is now set before you. The next step is up to you; you can either reject the gift or pick up the gift of life, love and freedom that is offered. If you have completed these sessions with the help of a mature Christian go back to him when you feel the need and he will certainly be at your disposal.

If you have become aware that Christ has been drawing you to himself and you want to trust yourself to him to start a new life in Christ read the prayer that is on the next page reflecting on every word. If you prefer, use your own words instead. Recite it with the mature Christian who has made this journey with you or alone if you have completed these sessions online by yourself. The important thing is that somehow you seal your decision with a clear concrete commitment. If you have not already done so join a Christian community where you'll find solidarity and support and will eventually be baptised. If you let the priest or pastor of your new community know the journey you have now completed he will continue that journey with you and help you strengthen the new life you have.

If this is not possible you can always contact us and we might be able to help you.

If you have decided to accept Jesus Christ into your life go to the next page.



Robert Walsh

 

If you are undertaking this journey with us please let us know and we can be with you spiritually and sustain you with our thoughts and prayers. Our email: life.love.freedom@know-britain.com.

 

 

 

 

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