Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Isaiah 44:22

"I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee." (ASV)

"Am I going to Hell because I..." I've heard this question from Christians who are new in the faith more times than I can count. I've even seen it here on the net. I'm pretty sure at some point when I was still learning about God, I've even asked it myself. From the world's standpoint it's a very valid question. Praise God that He doesn't look at such things from the world's standpoint!

We are blessed to serve a God who does not punish us for doubting. In His ultimate patience, He listens to our doubts, time and time again, and answers them with love. Christ Himself demonstrated this aspect of God when He returned to the disciples after His resurrection. Thomas (and this is where the phrase "doubting Thomas" came from) would not believe that He was really Jesus, returned to earth. Rather than rebuking Thomas for his doubts, Jesus patiently allowed him to examine the scars He bore from the cross. (John 20:24-29)

Some people question because of the severity of their sin. There are certain sins that many think God won't forgive. Murder, theft, extra-marital sex, and anything done inside a church building tend to fall into this category. Somehow the thought is that these things are too big to be covered by grace. In this case I think the asker is usually forgetting where that grace comes from.

We are granted grace because Christ died on the cross for us. He then conquered death so that it would have no power over us. The ultimate price has been paid so that we might receive the free gift of grace. Because of the perfection of Christ, He bore every sin, both the ones that had already been committed and the ones that had not yet come about, as He hung there on that cross. To say "My sins are too big to be forgiven" is to doubt this precious gift. There is nothing that we can do that is more powerful than what He has done for us. "But we behold him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for every man." (Hebrews 2:9 ASV)

Another common reason for doubting grace is self image. We feel that we are not worthy of God's love. This is certainly true, but that doesn't mean He doesn't love us just the same. We are God's children, grafted into His family. A good parent doesn't love their child any less because of any flaws they might have. A good parent doesn't abandon their child if the child has done wrong. God's love to us is much like the love of a good parent, perfected. No matter what we do, no matter how we lash out against Him or how badly we have behaved, He will never love us any less than He did the moment we were conceived. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, these may forget, yet will not I forget thee." (Isaiah 49:15 ASV)

Others may doubt because they somehow believe that once they've been forgiven, they can't be forgiven again. Fortunately for us, purification is a process. God will purify those He has called, but it won't be in a flash of light. It takes time for our souls to be refined, and during that process we will sin. We'll make the same silly mistakes over and over, but that's ok. That's part of learning. The good news is that it's not our job to become perfect. God will perfect us in His time, so we need not worry about it. "And the God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you." (1 Peter 5:10 ASV)

What about you? Do you have doubts about grace? Do you have questions for God? Remember, He is only a prayer away, and He is more than willing to answer.

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