Many people have heard the statement, “God doesn’t want religion, He wants a relationship”. Some doubt it is feasible to have companionship with “the” transcendent and invisible life-giving Spirit; and, seriously question or doubt those who claim to hear from God. Others do not strike it from the realm of possible, but have no desire to pursue it (ascribing little value or need to the concept). Some people have argued that the presence of evil in this world either means that there is no God; or, that if He exists, He doesn’t interact with people or answer prayer. Others are more comfortable thinking of God as a force and refer to Him as the universe.
It seems as though it has become unpopular to believe in the God the Bible describes; and, it has become even more disfavored to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to have eternal peace. For those who believe there is a God, many now believe that He is the Father of all.
Audio version of the full-length blog/podcast (45 min).
Here are 2 very important questions for everyone who claims to have Christian beliefs.
- Can someone be a Christian and disagree with Christ?
- Can you believe what Christ taught but disagree with Scripture?
In the end, you’ll have either confirmed your belief, or you will be in a better position to articulate whatever your belief is with clarity. We may disagree with each other, but we should be able to explain why and be able to support it. What is the basis of truth for you?
You see, I believe words matter. Do you? Jesus said.
- “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28 to 30)
Scripture has consistently made it clear that interacting with God comes with a coupling to Him that steers the direction of one’s life. Joining Him is an offer to submit oneself to share the load with the All-powerful One in a comfortable framework that belongs to God and has His defined boundaries.
God’s gentle character will never overrule an individual’s will, and He will keep His Word even if that means allowing people to continue their hell-bent direction. He has consistently warned humanity that sin leads to death, judgment, and hell; and He offers to cover our sin and guide us to heaven.
We simply do not like being held accountable for things that seem so natural to us, and we individually want what is intrinsically desirable based on our perception. We would prefer a god that acts by our definitions of good, aligned with our wishes. This way, our contrived god could still perform miracles to our liking but would have evolving, popular cultural standards (if any). This is idolatry; a god that we have designed. Scripture states:
- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
- Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? (Hebrews 12:9).
I recall past times when I would stare into the night’s sky and ask the Creator of the universe to change me; to make me choose virtuously so that I could be guiltless in His sight.
My desire at that time wasn’t for a relationship with God; I simply didn’t like certain aspects of my life, and I certainly wanted to avoid the consequences of ungodly desires and actions.
I inaccurately viewed myself as a decent person, but I knew there were thought patterns and behaviours that didn’t line up with what I innately believed God would want.
Perhaps I thought that if I could just clean up a few things, everything would be okay. I wanted to know that at the end of this mortal existence, there was rest. Something within me knew that if I didn’t change, there was a looming dreadful outcome. I couldn’t just take my chances; forever was too long if there was something more. It was about self-preservation.
I was entirely helpless to change what I wanted and the way I thought. I can tell you now that God answered my prayers but He did not do it by taking away my volition. The Holy Spirit reveals to us in Scripture that:
- … since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:20 to 21).
As I think about this now, I realize how ingratitude and the devaluing of God are the beginning of failure. Contempt is lack of respect or reverence for someone or something and it has its rewards.
Consider that originally both angels and humanity were created perfect, and enjoyed an interactive relationship with God in an ideal environment. When the fallen angels and humanity thought of moving beyond the privileges and limitations of God-given assignments, they denied God’s sovereignty, holiness, and goodness.
Both creations failed to be thankful for all that God had apportioned, and then evil desires produced a prideful grasping for more. As a result, one-third of the angelic left their first estate (Jude 1:6 and Revelation 12:4 to 10) and humans disregarded God’s instruction to avoid the knowledge of evil. Scripture states:
- But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:14 to 17)
The unrepentant fallen angels continue to fight God’s plan to this day. Humanity’s thoughts now automatically conceive evil inwardly and are receptive to dark suggestions from spiritual forces of wickedness.
Genesis 2:15 to 17 teaches us that when the Godhead placed man in the garden of Eden, it was the LORD (Jehovah, the “I AM” or eternally immutable self-existing One) who warned humankind that defying His command would result in death. He promised Adam and Eve that Eve’s offspring would trample the head of the deceiver (Genesis 3:15) after they disobeyed God. And from that point in history, humanity has had a conscience that is aware of the difference between good and evil without even being taught by another person. Just take a look at an infant’s negative reactions when something displeases them or when they want something they don’t have; those actions are instinctive.
The LORD, Jesus Christ also told us that He was the same LORD who appeared to Moses and existed before Abraham. He said:
- “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:56 to 58)
When I think of the LORD’s interaction with humanity in the garden of Eden in Genesis 3:21 and 22, I am reminded of two acts of mercy and grace. This LORD’s compassion was demonstrated in that He did not want humanity to feel ashamed so He clothed them. It was only the knowledge of evil that caused this reaction to their nakedness. Originally, human beings did not require clothing and it was a beautiful thing. In addition, we see our merciful Redeemer’s goodness in that He did not want us to physically live forever in a fallen state. The fallen state is one where our physical senses lead us in a direction that descends deeper and deeper into depravity.
Although I had known the Biblical accounts of creation and Christ’s crucifixion, I didn’t truly comprehend the significance of what the LORD had done for me as an individual. What I needed was a stirring in my heart to awaken to God’s love and a humble heart that could receive it.
Have you ever known that someone loved you, but you did not care? When I look back, I regret treating my Saviour so callously. And then I am so thankful that He was patient with me.
My story (like yours) started long before I was conceived in my mother’s womb. Now, to many, that statement seems absurd to many people. So let me explain what I have learned from Scripture.
Before time began, before there was even a planet earth, Deity discussed humanity’s redemption through the provision of a righteous pathway out of slavery to sin.
God foresaw that humanity would err if given the right to choose, yet God did not want to have a forced relationship with individuals.
God doesn’t need our love, He wants it. You have to remember that God was never alone because the Divine consists of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are completely united and share the purest of all loves.
Now, with God desiring to fill the earth with more of His goodness and in relationship with His creation, He considered what freewill love meant for humanity. He saw that prideful and rebellious Satan would pervert the truth to tempt humanity to reach beyond the boundaries that God had assigned them. The Godhead knew that the serpent would tempt humans with the pride of being “like God”. Refer to Genesis 3:4 to 5, Isaiah 14:12 to 15, and Ezekiel 28:13 to 17). We were already created in the image of God! We should have realized that no one outside of the Divine could ever be omniscient (or all-knowing); and, no one could be part of the Divine if they were created. Remember, each member of the Godhead shares the same character, although the Son of God took on a subordinate role in Their redemptive work. It is entirely possible to be equal in character and still submit to another, especially out of love and respect (marriage is a good example of this).
The Godhead created humanity knowing some people would doubt God’s Word, desire more than what was given, and disobey His command.
The Godhead made a covenant between Themselves before They created the earth which would result in restoring a people who would willingly give God His due glory. In doing this, humanity would have their hearts desires (to either sin or repent); and, God would demonstrate His goodness, love, and wisdom to all of creation while righteously saving sinful people by paying the penalty for sin Himself.
You see, humanity was created to reflect God’s glory by being and doing what He had predetermined as partakers; nothing more, nothing less. The Godhead planned to provide us with the “gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16) which gives God all the glory for His eternal holiness and goodness. Upon believing that God fulfilled His Scriptural promises of the Messiah’s redemption of mankind through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a person becomes just by God’s grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)
- … “The just shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:17 to 19)
- God who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, (2nd Timothy 1:8b to 9)
Believing this gospel of Christ is more than agreeing with the facts because the fallen angels and demons that believe the facts are not redeemed. Scripture states:
- You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble! (James 2:19)
This belief or faith humbles the human will to acknowledge God’s plan is the only right and good way which results in a change of the heart’s desires and therefore direction.
By willingly placing all of our hope and confidence in the death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God for salvation, you acknowledge you could not be your own God because you are powerless to do what God did in the Gospel of Christ. There is only One who is worthy of all adoration.
This redemption plan proves to that neighter angels and humans could never outthink God. They are forced to acknowledge that God’s character (especially His holiness, goodness, and wisdom) is why He selflessly gives of Himself. This is a direct contrast to the nature of Satan. Evil doesn’t like it, but all of creation would begin to see that the mystery
- … from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He ACCOMPLISHED in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. (Ephesians 3:9 to 12).
It all comes down to this.
There is one Divinity, one Godhead (in three Persons) who is alone worthy of all praise, honour, and glory. He is holy. He is good. Without Him, there is nothing; and, because of Him, there is hope.
If I wanted to have rest, I would need to give God glory on His terms (not mine). This meant I would need to humble myself to accept what most people believe to be an impossibility or a myth. I would have to believe that God the Father, sent God the Son through the incarnation of Jesus Christ (which was prophesied by Isaiah 7 and 9):
- “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Immanuel is Hebrew and means God with us) “Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. “For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. (Isaiah 7:14 to 16);
- Nevertheless, the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, As when at first He lightly esteemed The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, And afterward more heavily oppressed her, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined. … For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (This is a portion of Scripture from Isaiah 9:1 through 7)
Isaiah continued to prophecy in chapter 9 saying that the people will see a great light in the physical location of Galilee populated by Gentiles (which is precisely where Jesus began preaching the fulfillment of the prophesied redemptive plan. Refer to Matthew 4:12 to 17. The Holy Spirit was giving Isaiah the distinction between the Holy Child’s birth and the giving of God’s Son as the final sacrifice for sin. This Child, the Messiah, would be called Mighty God and Everlasting Father which means the Child would need to be naturally born into the world and grow into an adult Human while being the eternal God who is without beginning. It means that this God-Child would be the Divine sinless Son of God, the God-Man, given to save humans. Only God could fulfill this prophecy!
To fulfill other prophetic Scriptures (Daniel 9: 25 to 26) about the timing of the LORD’s final Passover Self-sacrifice, this Child needed to be born at a specific time; and, God had predestined Mary from the line of David through Nathan (Luke 3:31) to bring forth His Son. Jesus’ step-father Joseph was also from the line of David through Solomon, refer to Matthew 1:6.
Luke’s account of Christ’s birth includes the foretelling of John the Baptist’s birth and the announcement to Mary by Gabriel saying:
- “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:31 to 35).
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph left Bethlehem where Christ was born, returning to Nazareth where He was raised. This was also prophesied. Later Jesus goes to the Jordan where John baptized people.
- When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16 to 17)
How remarkable! All three persons of the Divine Trinity relationally manifested for humanity, fulfilling all righteousness in Christ’s baptism. Luke 3:22 says the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove, the Father’s voice was heard.
Shortly after that, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the same lying devil that tempted Adam and Eve. After defeating the enemy’s lies by quoting Holy Scripture from Deuteronomy, Jesus began to preach about repentance as stated in Matthew 4.
The power of Scripture spoken with Christ’s authority breaks every attack of the enemy. Any believer can resist the enemy (as Christ did) and as a result, Satan must flee. The authority is in the believer’s agreement with the Almighty by speaking the Word of God by the Holy Spirit.
It is written:
- … He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:6 to 8)
- “… Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35)
Praise God! Again, Scripture cannot be broken! Not the Old Testament prophecies, and not the ones yet to be fulfilled. That should concern anyone who has not humbled themselves under Christ, but excite anyone who is looking for Christ’s return! You see, Biblical prophecies are not threats; they are promises!
Before I even understood the prophetic words from Isaiah or even had any ability to resist the evil one, God had made the way.
- God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:1 to 4)
Although many now say ‘Jesus’ because of the English translation, the original in Greek is “Iiēsous” and is from Hebrew origin “Yᵊhôšûaʿ” meaning Jehovah-saved. How perfect! Old Testiment Scriptures revealed the pre-incarnate Jehovah, and because God is immutable, we know we can stand on the Old Testiment Scriptures that reveal His nature by some of His work in creation.
The Son of God (the LORD) made a covenant with God the Father to redeem humanity. His sacrifice made it possible for us to have peace with God. They promise to take up residence in our hearts so that we could have intimate communion. Jesus said:
- “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, “that all should honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. (John 5:22 to 24)
- “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” … “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:21, 23 and 24)
This was part of my problem. How can anyone believe what they do not receive as true? How can anyone love Jesus whom they have not seen? How can anyone obey the Word if they do not love Jesus more than they love their desires?
- “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. (John 6:44 to 45)
Some would say if this is true, then God is to blame for their unbelief but that is simply not right. Let us digest what Scripture states about this.
- Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Romans 8:27 to 30)
Yes, God foresaw every individual human being’s choices and outcomes before their birth.
He allows humanity to pursue their heart’s desires, even the wickedness that often hurts others and causes Him suffering because He hates the evil His creation chooses. Remember, the Father could not even look at His Son when He bore our sin on the cross.
He calls all who will receive His gift to repentance. He knows the timing of our salvation and what will have occurred before we humble ourselves to show Him due reverence. This means He knows our worst and still forgives. He takes full responsibility for calling us, and for preparing us for eternity with Him. He gives us His Holy Spirit and His Word to ensure we fulfill our destiny. He paid for the entirety of humanity’s sin so that any willing person could be saved.
Because He is love, He will not force anyone who does not want to humble themselves under His Lordship and follow His way of salvation.
As a species, we were not content with God’s design and wanted to have the knowledge that Satan said would be like God’s. In gaining the knowledge of evil in addition to good, we became ignorant and a slave to our flesh.
It seems utterly ridiculous to the vast majority of people that God would make one narrow way and provide it to us through Scripture and preaching. It is written:
- For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. … For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. … Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” (1st Corinthians 1 starting at verse 18)
For the Father to righteously forgive humans and give them access to Him, the price of humanity’s sin would need to be paid by someone who could pay the price; and the person would need to choose to obey Him. The price was the sacrifice of a sinless human which was an impossilbity until God’s intervention (Romans 3:23).
The Son of God understood the cost before the world was created, and He still agreed to lay down His life as the payment for sin. What great love!
- He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:26 to 28)
Christ did not regard His Deity as a priority above His obedience to His Father. You see, Christ permitted His crucifixion to accomplish the Father’s plan. Scripture states that if Jesus wanted to stop, He only needed to ask; the Father would have prevented it. Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion were needed to fulfill prophecy. (Matthew 26 verses 51 to 56 and 1st Corinthians 2:7 to 9)
This not only testifies to great sacrificial love for us, but it is also an incredible expression of love for the Father. It demonstrates the Son entirely trusted and agreed with the Godhead, and that the humility of Christ was extremely valued by the Father. Let us read Philippians 2, verses 5 to 11 from the New Living Translation:
- You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His Divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honour and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Because He was God-Man, He was legally righteous to purchase mankind away from the slave master of darkness because He became Kin to us.
- He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:15 to 20).
- For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” … Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. … Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Portions of Scripture from Hebrews 2 starting at verse 10)
I have been reflecting on how marvellously merciful, patient, and humble the LORD is. Jesus Christ is the only guiltless Person who maintained complete self-control, was selfless, and exercised goodwill for all regardless of our actions.
There is no being that compares to Jesus Christ. The almighty Son of God, the perfect Creator, humbled Himself to become human (with its weaknesses), pay the fine for all of our future crimes to represent our case before the Godhead, and defeat our accuser so that we could spend eternity with Him.
Imagine having the foreknowledge of all of humanity’s disgusting and malevolent thoughts and deeds. Deliberate the cruelty Christ was willing to endure physically and emotionally while knowing many would reject His sacrifice. Next, visualize that moment of total anguish and obedience on the cross when Christ felt forsaken by the Father (who agreed for Christ to pay the price to defend guilty people). And now, consider that with this foreknowledge of our wickedness, Christ agreed within the Godhead to create us, take on human form, live a submissive sinless life, physically die, rise again, and then wait patiently watching His creation exercise their choices.
- “…My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.“ (John 10:17 to 18)
- “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
Why do we hold unforgiveness and pride as though we have the right? God had the right to allow us to reap our consequences, but instead He wanted a relationship with those who would want Him. They said that reconciling us, pleased them.
- …God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Ephesians 2:4 to 5)
- But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:4 to 5)
- “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:17 to 21).
For months leading up to my day of surrender, the LORD sent people across my path; they mentioned convicting Scriptures such as: “Choose you this day whom you will serve”. I knew spiritually that this was some sort of supernatural message to me; but frankly, I was a little annoyed at these people. I had professed Christ to be my Saviour as a child, but as an adult, I did not possess Him in a surrendered relationship. I had drifted away having tasted the enticements of the world.
In my heart, I knew I wasn’t right with God and I feared the afterlife. I never responded to those statements those other Christians were making to me. I thought about them briefly, and then let the distractions of life sweep those thoughts away. Then when I was alone, I would ask God to change me. I didn’t understand that I had to abide in Christ. To me it was more about the religious do’s and don’ts; not about abiding relationally.
Later one evening, I was watching a movie about the life of Jesus Christ at a local theater. When Satan was taunting Christ in the temptation of Christ, something registered. It was as though I was being offered the choice to be anything and do anything I could imagine, but at the cost of my worship and allegiance.
I remember the character who played the Devil asked the character who played Jesus, “who’s your daddy?” I have no clue what happened, but I remember saying out loud, “I choose God”. My spirit understood I needed to decide who had authority over me, and who would I obey even if my brain wasn’t processing what was happening.
I watched the entire movie without much emotion. When it ended, I returned to my vehicle where I paused briefly. I looked at the full package of cigarettes in my hand and then threw them on the ground and drove away. The power of darkness that kept me bound in destructive patterns had been broken and this was the first evidence.
Smoking wasn’t the sin that was going to send me to hell, but my desire to do whatever I pleased regardless of what God said about it was going to.
I remember trying to quit the habit for many years. I would throw those cigarettes out, and a few hours later go rummaging through the garbage to retrieve them. At first, I enjoyed cigarettes; but then when I wanted free of them, I hated its power over me. Before Christ changed me, my mind would not let go of the mental addiction and patterns that were associated with it even though the physical addiction could be broken after just a few days.
People do not want to become addicts; the reason a person unconsciously allows an addiction to form is symptomatic of spiritual issues that need to be addressed. There are all sorts of addictions ranging from substances, food, work, achievement, technology, relationships, or otherwise. The LORD breaks the power of slavery and makes us free to live without bondage.
I believed a lie that had formed in my head. I was convinced I didn’t need any authority and cigarettes had become a symbol of my rebellion. I would do whatever I wanted and I just hoped I would escape the consequences. In fact, I had believed I was to smart too get trapped in addiction.
In that theater, when I said I wanted God to be my Father, I was watching an account of Jesus Christ’s life and I was agreeing that He was the Son of God who came in the flesh to die for my sin. Later the LORD matured my faith and my understanding of who He is. Although I was watching a screen, the heart of my understanding was spiritually beholding the truth. (John 1:14)
Not everyone is a child of God, only those who have been adopted. We are now all children of fallen Adam (humanity), but we can have a filial relationship with God by becoming His new creation. Consider what Scripture teaches on this:
- He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:11 to 13)
- For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:15 to 17)
- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. … For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2nd Corinthians 5:17 and 21)
To call God your Father means that He has given you a new creation life and the old way of life is gone; that you submit to His authority to set your boundaries (and to discipline you when you are wrong). It means that you are willing to be hated by the world for your distinctive obedience because you KNOW that He loves you, that He is right, and that He is good.
Being in this Father-child relationship through adoption means you yield to His leadership by His terms and He is responsible for you. As such, you accept what the Father said about Jesus, His only begotten Son. You accept what Jesus said about Himself and the Father. This means that Scripture informs your knowledge about God; natural revelation testifies to that which God has revealed.
Who is this Jesus Christ? Scripture states:
- … it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:42 to 43)
- Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)
- For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, (1st Timothy 2:5 to 6)
Denying Christ’s Lordship was the sin that was keeping me out of relationship and heaven. Until I surrendered, I was like the invited guest who refused to wear appropriate attire at the Son’s wedding feast (thinking that I could attend without showing respect to both the Father and the Son). If you have time, please dig into Matthew 22:1 to 14. Praise God, He humbled me!
And as for harming my body? It wasn’t the only sin the LORD was going to deliver me from, but it was a good place to demonstrate my newfound freedom. I know that encountering the LORD is different for everyone because relationships are individually formed. BUT…
If you are in a relationship with God, you know it and you do hear from Him. Everything He says to you will be in accord with His written Word.
When I think of all the things I could say to try to convince someone why they should believe, I feel overwhelmed knowing that such a personal faith only comes from the stirring of the Holy Spirit. Saving faith is not a head knowledge of facts. Saving faith is a deep conviction of your need for God’s grace and it relies solely on His grace to save you. This faith causes you to surrender to Him and recognizes you could never be good enough.
If you feel an internal tugging or a stirring, the best thing you could ever do is take His guiding yoke. You might ask how? Every relationship starts with a conversation.
- Why not say aloud (as a sign of faith) that you believe that Jesus Christ is the risen Son of God and that you want Him to be your LORD? Acknowledge that you need Him, and ask Him to change your desires and help you live in a right relationship with Him.
- After that, I encourage you to read His Supernatural Word which is how you find out about the Divine; and, the Holy Spirit will use Scripture to speak to your spirit. When I drifted, I was not in the Word.
- Talk to the LORD because He is a real person and He will speak to you in your heart.
I close with this. In this time when humanity is misguided with the belief that there are many paths to God, I pray that Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit reveals more to each of us. As it is written:
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3 to 6)
All Scripture used in this blog is from the New King James Version, unless otherwise specified.