Not Automatic for the People

(Originally posted on MySpace Blog, August 16, 2007, Thursday)

Back again!!

F.A.I.T.H.

F is for Forgiveness.

A is for Available.

God’s forgiveness is available. And it’s available for all.

Probably the most well known verse in the bible is John 3:16.

For God so loved the world, He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

If you watch sports, this is the verse that rainbow head has on his sign in the end zone or behind the goal. You know, that funny guy with the multi-colored wig? And for good reason. It say’s it all. Well, mostly. God loves us. He loves the world. Not just us Christians, but those who don’t believe as well. He loves us all so much he was willing to part with his son . He freely gave his most precious for us. This verse also gives a means unto which we come to him, ” that whoever believes in Him.” I want to focus on the word, “whoever.”

Whoever means just that, whoever. You, me, Billy Graham, Brad Pitt, the Pope, Martha Stewart, Jeffery Dahmer, Hillary Clinton, the terrorist in Iraq, the thug in Compton, the businessman on Wall street, the Klansman in Alabama, the student at Baylor, the housewife in Atlanta, the athlete, the rock star, the homeless woman, the orphan, the multi-millionaire, the pastor, the priest, the rabbi, the monk, the ima, the construction worker, the scientist, the atheist, the wiccan, the cultist, the Satanist, the right winger, the leftist, the republican, the democrat, the homosexual, the bisexual, the hermaphroditic, the transsexual, the criminal, the drug junkie, the alcoholic, the dying on the deathbed, the convict on death row, and the wally-world employee. Whoever means whoever. There are no exceptions to who is included in the invitation. Whoever can come to Jesus to believe in Him. The invitation to forgiveness is available to all.

Having said that, this forgiveness that is Available to all is not Automatic. It doesn’t just happen. You don’t just live your life and forgiveness is a given. A Sunday School teacher of 6 year olds asked them, “Class, how does somebody go to heaven?” and a little boy answers, “That’s easy, you have to die first!”

Well, nice try, sounds good, but unfortunately, not true. It seems to me that a lot of folk are going through life just assuming that heaven will be the natural result after dying. Yes, this forgiveness, which results in eternal life, is available, just like all the goods in a grocery store. Yet just like the goods in a grocery store, they’re just not ours to claim without some kind of transaction.

Now, Jesus paid the price for the transaction. But there’s a part you are responsible for. We’ll get to that next week.

Some folks think that they are just so good that they don’t really need this forgiveness. Their beast within has been tamed, or caged, or only lets out little whimpers rather than roars. Or there are some religious folks out there that think that they’ve done enough good things or religious deeds that God might be impressed with them. Nope. Sorry. Wrong answer. Thank you for playing. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.00 dollars. Jesus says something quite different.

21“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.‘” Matthew 7:21-23

This verse is kind of tricky, because it sounds like Jesus is saying that you got to do a lot of good stuff to make it into heaven. But Jesus is telling certain folks who are doing a lot of showy stuff to impress Him that he doesn’t see in them the transformed heart that is the result of forgiveness. This transformed heart will cherish God’s will and make every effort to follow God’s ways. This transformed heart is the result of that transaction that we’ll talk about next week.

So, if this forgiveness is available for all, why isn’t it automatic?

This portion of the blog is brought to you by the letter I.

I is for Impossible. It is Impossible for God to allow sin into heaven. That’s why we need forgiveness. But before we talk about the transaction next week, we need to get a better picture of God.

God is Love. I think I have talked about that quite a lot. We all like to talk about God’s love. I am eternally thankful that our God is a God of love. Remember John 3:16, For God so loved the world… but…

God is Holy.

Holy. That’s a word we don’t really know a lot about. We say “Holy crap!” a lot , or worse, and don’t really think about what we’re really saying. I could spend blog after blog trying to define the word holy, and theologians have wrote volumes on the idea. In relation to us and certain things, the term holy means “set apart, for God’s use.” In relation to God, it means pure. Well, even that is not a worthy description or definition. Transcendent. Otherness. Good. God is Holy. He is transcendent in his purity, goodness, and otherness. Perfection in moral character. Without fault. Without sin. In fact, God’s holy nature can’t tolerate sin. God allows no sin where he is fully present, in heaven. Heaven is totally holy, without any hint of sin

And man is sinful. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” There’s that word all. And all means all. You, me Billy Graham, Brad Pitt, the Pope, Martha Stewart, Jeffery Dahmer, Hillary Clinton, the terrorist in Iraq, the thug in Compton, the businessman on Wall street, the Klansman in Alabama, the student at Baylor, the housewife in Atlanta, the athlete, the rock star, the homeless woman, the orphan, the multi-millionaire, the pastor, the priest, the rabbi, the monk, the imam, the construction worker, the scientist, the atheist, the wiccan, the cultist, the Satanist, the right winger, the leftist, the republican, the democrat, the homosexual, the bisexual, the hermaphroditic, the transsexual, the criminal, the drug junkie, the alcoholic, the dying on the deathbed, the convict on death row, and the wally-world employee. I’m not leaving anybody out in the definition of all. We’ve all got that beast within, that sin nature. God hates sin. Yes, he loves the sinner, I don’t want to belittle God’s love. In the same breath, I don’t want to belittle God’s holiness, either. In some mysterious way beyond our finite minds to comprehend, his love and holiness coexists.

So, how can a sinful person enter heaven, where God allows no sin?

He must enter a faith transaction, which we will talk about next week…

So, to sum it up thus far, we have an available forgiveness over a sin that is impossible for God to allow into heaven. It’s not automatic, because a transaction must take place.

Sneak peak: if you were driving down the road, and I were in the passenger seat, and I had the directions to where we were going, and I told you to turn, what would I be telling you to do?

Tune in next week….

1There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

3Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

4″What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

5Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.7So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

9″How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.

10Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? 11I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. 12But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. 14And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.

16″For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18″There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John 3:1-21

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