|(photo by Warrick Moore)|
I love Paul's letters! He packed them so full of teaching and love that every time I read one I find something new to rejoice about! He reminds me here that it is not enough to just believe!
I have spent a lifetime believing in God and believing that Jesus came to earth and died on the cross to pay for my sins. It's what I was taught. It's what I knew. Salvation is not an "entitlement" that is received because we were sprinkled with water as a child, attended church every Sunday, gave up something for Lent or confessed our sins in a box every week. As I have so often pointed out, there comes a time when you realize that you want the gift being offered to you and when you receive it, it changes you!
Sometimes I use my Bible as a reference manual to either confirm or deny what I've been "programmed" to believe. I follow one general rule of thumb: if it's not in the Bible - it's not! I don't argue with people anymore who think they know it all and have all the answers simply because of their religion...I pray for them! I am not defined before God by the church I attend. I am not defined by the knowledge I have attained. I realized that had I died when I attempted suicide in 2006, I would have spent my eternity in hell! Not because I would have taken my own life, but because I was not saved! My life never reflected any of the changed behaviors talked about in the Bible. It reflected those sins that had been forgiven by Christ, but not the changes those sinners made after they were forgiven. To "go and sin no more" means precisely that - to get off the merry-go-round and walk the straight line. You cannot say "I'm saved" and continue to live a sinful life!
To have the "intellectual knowledge" that Christ died on the cross for one's sins does not guarantee a place in heaven. The "tingles" and "warm fuzzies" one gets when one can FEEL the Holy Spirit at work, those indescribable moments of praise and sorrow that roll into each other and the belief of being created for a higher purpose than the life lived on earth, the acceptance of that knowledge, the humbling of oneself at the feet of Jesus, the desire and willingness to live as Christ lived and to do his work is what defines a "saved" Christian. Don't talk yourself into believing you are in the will of God if something inside of you is telling you that you aren't! Chances are, if you're having those doubts, that you are not! Ask him into your life today, offer to serve him in HIS way (not yours) and you will find a life worth living and a place to go home to when it's over!