Thank you for coming to Part II for both previous articles, The Giving of Grace and The Gift that Heals.
This article, Heaven’s Hope, Grace Unmeasured, as the other two, are written from the desire to heal wounds and help relationships. Having said that, there is one relationship that is paramount to all relationships and that is the relationship that God wants to have with us. To some this is common knowledge; to others this may be the first time hearing this and, undoubtedly, it raises questions. I will seek to answer those questions throughout the context of writing this. However, I have a question for you. Do you know God, and if you answer yes, by what means? On what truth rests your confidence, or what evidence gives you the assurance that you know the LORD? Now before I am misunderstood, I want to give some clarification. I am not challenging or trying to be confrontational. My goal is that by the end of this writing, there will be a clear Biblical answer to this question, so that there is no doubt that you know the LORD, and if you don’t know Him, that you clearly know the steps to take. That is my direction; that is my goal. Now to achieve that goal, I will step on some toes, lovingly so, but I will. Part of the reason for “stepping on some toes” is the truth of God and how to know Him is so misrepresented in our culture, that what I say may contradict a personal belief. So with that as an introduction, let’s start.
Christianity is viewed by many as divisive. That the “one way” message excludes many people, and if God was truly a God of Love, why would He set up a system of faith that was so narrow-minded? Right, is that not what people think, or maybe you think that? So do you want to know the answer? It depends on your perspective. Let me explain. It is just like looking through binoculars. If you look through them correctly, everything looks closer, more in focus. However, if you turn the binoculars around, everything looks extremely far, but it’s the same instrument being used. So why is that? Well it is a matter of your perspective, or understanding, on how to correctly use the binoculars. There is one way to correctly view through them, and the correct way even supersedes our natural vision’s capabilities. Christianity is identical. The “heart” of Christianity is not about doing good, or following a set of rules, but it is all about a relationship, and to understand that requires a specific “focus” or view. Here’s another example. We all have had, or have young children, or remember when we were one, although it might seem decades ago. When our girls were very young, we lived in a townhome with a very small front yard. The back was always shady, so much of the play occurred out front. However, the front was so small, that it took no time before the girls were out in the street playing. Problem with that is our street was busy. So Lisa or myself, or both, were always pulling the girls back unto the lawn, much to their frustration and the disappointment of their little friends. They had not the maturity or foresight to perceive the danger of playing in the street. To them, we were being “one way” in our determination of where they could play. So these are two simple analogies of a much more complex truth. However, they support my earlier statement: it depends on your perspective.
So clearly, we have two perspectives, or two roads, to introduce another analogy: God’s and ours. The first is the road God invites us to travel. The second is the road we choose for ourselves. Even for the best of us, the most moral of us, the two roads go in opposite directions. God’s road is one that includes Him in your life. He is driving the car of your soul and you are the passenger, verses you driving the car of your soul, making your own decisions, facing your fears alone, etc. The big problem with driving our own car, and I am bypassing a lot of theology to make this point, is that no matter how well we drive and which roads we select, we can never drive or always choose the right roads. We will take wrong turns, speed, get into accidents, cut people off, etc. In other words, spiritually speaking now, we fall short. To drive perfectly is to “live perfectly” and none of us meet that criterion. Yet the LORD is perfect (Holy) and hence our lives can never be in “agreement” with His.
Holiness is a hard concept to grasp; there are no examples, but internally I think we understand. The only word picture I know for Holiness is the red hot coals of a fire. If you have camped, had a fire in the fireplace, or even better yet, had a fire insert, you are able to see the very center of the fire—the fire that comes off the coals, which is pure and extremely hot and has no smoke associated with it. The coals are so hot that the impurities have already been consumed: utterly pure and utterly untouchable. If I were to ask you to pick up a red hot coal with your bare hands and bring it to me, you would say I am crazy! Who would do that? Yet God is like those red hot coals and more so. His Holiness is beyond comprehension. If we will not grab a red hot coal, something of this earth, what makes us think we can stand justified before a Holy God with nothing but our own efforts representing us? We are blinded by our ways, our perspective of God is off because we are unable to comprehend the Holiness of God.
I do not believe I will be challenged if I say that we are not perfect. Even with our limited understanding and definition of the word perfect, none of us would stand and say, “Look at me; I am an example of perfection.” We are not perfect. We all have faults, shortcomings, and regrets for past actions. To be human is to be faulty, but GOD is not. He is without fault, for He is HOLY. Now I know some of you may not believe in GOD, and I am not going to try to prove His existence to you. But I will say this. When you see a painting, you acknowledge a painter; when you see a nice landscape, you acknowledge a landscaper. But what do you acknowledge when you see all of creation, something so vast and much greater than what the hand of man can do, from the beautiful diversity of fish and coral in the oceans, to the mountain tops with beautiful flora so delicate and yet living in such a harsh environment? Creation speaks of a Creator.
The LORD says of Himself in Isaiah 55, verses 8 and 9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Just as we have a generational gap between age groups, we have a spiritual gap between us and a Holy God. What is the solution? Is there one? And here begins the main point of Heaven’s Hope, Grace Unmeasured. As mentioned earlier, Christianity is seen as divisive with its “one way” doctrine. Again, it depends from which side of heaven you are looking. In Isaiah 1, verse 18, God says, “Come now, let us reason together says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.” And in John 3, verses 16 and 17, it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever would believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” So how is it that Christianity has become a religion viewed as divisive, when from God’s perspective He is reaching out through Christ to save us?
So, is Jesus Christ the bridge between a Holy God and sinful man? Is it He who “fills” the spiritual gap of our imperfection so that we can be one with God, granting us a presence before a Holy God? Is it possible? In 2 Corinthians 5, verses 14-21, we find very enlightening scriptures. I will share versus 17-19 but encourage you to go back and read all the scriptures, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” And in verse 21, “God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Did you catch that, “that in him we might become the righteousness of God”? That is amazing! It is not about me, my works, or my faulty life and attempts to be good. I do not have to fear the Holy Fire of Righteousness. I do not stand alone before a Holy and Righteous God. I have an Advocate, a “Holy Buffer.” Because of what He did for me on the Cross and because I came to agreement with Him about my sins, receiving His forgiveness, I have standing before God. It is important to understand that Holiness demands righteousness by the very definition of Holiness. That cannot be changed. But God also is loving and is seeking a relationship with us, so He has provided an atonement, a provision for man to be forgiven. Christ is that provision of righteousness for me. I become a new creation! I am united back to God to live in peace. The Greek definition of peace (the original language of the New Testament) means “to set at one again,” as something broken, or broken off, that has been set back in place. Divisive may be the name that those of us who are seeking our own way would call Christianity, but for those who come under its shelter and are restored back into relationship with a loving Father, sins forgiven and peace within, UNITY would be a far better word.
I would like to end with a poem of sorts, which I wrote the other day as I was contemplating this article. The poem is simply entitled Adoption:
We are orphans, raised on the streets
We steal for a living, fight to survive
Adoption became a road, an offering by a King, something I didn’t understand
But it represented food, shelter, and a permanent home
The King paid my debts, made right my wrongs,
He gave me a new name, nice clothes to wear, and freedom from hunger and fear.
One day I was a street orphan, next day I was heir to a Throne
How is that possible? How can such a transformation occur?
It is the King’s doing, nothing of my own
Just my willingness to accept His offer, come to agreement, and acknowledge my need
Inside me, I sense a light, something not of me—a quiet peace and encourager
Yet, I still sense much of me: bad habits, self-willed thoughts, consistent wrong actions
These all still lie present within me. How do I change?
I must spend time with the King, hear His words and allow them to settle inside me
I must read His writings, store them up in me, and watch how He acts
By abiding in Him, slowly change will occur,
By His Grace, Forgiveness, and Kindness, I will change
I have hope of a better me and a better life.
The Hope of Heaven is that we come to know the LORD through Jesus Christ, and in relationship with Him, there is Grace Unmeasured for the journey we will travel. So let’s do it, not by our strength, not by good works, but by learning of our Savior through reading the Bible, praying, and attending a church that teaches the scriptures, worships, and models prayer for us. As I like to say, the Teacher is always teaching; just show up for class with a humble heart and a readied mind, and Truth will enter your soul and change will occur. It is His doing and your willingness to participate. Amen.
If this has touched you, I would like to know. Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know of your decision. I will contact you.
Wishing God’s Blessings to all of you.