Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Raise Your Hand if You're Sure

I'm "borrowing" (with permission) these words from the author of another blog I've been reading recently. Rick Lawrenson is the pastor of Nags Head Church in North Carolina.

Following a recent memorial service the following observation was made (not to me directly, but it was relayed to me):
"One thing about you guys - you really seem confident in what you believe and that you can know for sure about heaven. I belong to the ________________ Church, and you don't get that kind of confidence there."

He's right. I had no problem telling the crowd assembled that day that the one we were saying goodbye to was in heaven.

Here's what I said, "And it would be real easy for someone to think that [she] is in heaven today because she was such an incredibly good wife, mother, friend. But we can’t do that, either, because although she was all that and more, that’s not why she’s in heaven today. She was a saint, but not because she was so good. She was a saint because was given the goodness of Christ."

There's the catch. Most religious people and frankly, many, if not most churches teach that heaven is a place where good people go. If that were true, no one would be there but Jesus. It's not goodness that God's looking for, it's perfection. And Jesus was the only one qualified.

The Good News is that He provided a means for us - and none of us are that good - to receive eternal life. But it's not by being religious or even obeying the Big Ten or keeping some list of "holy" acts. We can be religious, but we can't perfectly keep those ten, can we? And the means God provided was His Son Jesus, who lived a perfect life, then was put to death by people who didn't understand who He was or what He came to do. Then 3 days later He rose from the dead to prove He was qualified.

The simplicity of it is its beauty. All that is required of us to get in on His gift of eternal life is for us to believe that Jesus was who He said He was and that His sacrifice did everything necessary for us to acquire His life.

Amazingly simple. That's why it is so roundly rejected. We want to think that there must be something we can do. But we can't. Think about it, why do you think "Fat Tuesday" precedes "Ash Wednesday"? It's the idea that today I can live like hell, but over the next 40 days I can somehow fix it. It doesn't work that way.

However, if we believe - that means to trust completely - in Jesus and Him alone, we can be confident in our eternal status. It's not self-confidence. It's confidence in a promise God made.

Here's what the Bible says - These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life... (1 Jn. 5:13) That word "know" is huge, isn't it.

God doesn't want us guessing; wondering; worried that maybe we are and maybe we aren't. He wants us to know.

"By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life." Proverbs 22:4


Mookie said...

Hi! I am new at this blogging thing- I came across your blog from my Pastor's blog- (Rick) And his blog was so on.. If you have been reading Rick's blog- I am Dylan's mom- Dylan just had some surgery and God was so merciful. Dylan's 6 weeks out of school turned out to be just 2 and he is up running around.(can't keep a 8 year old down) - My husband and I lived in Cedar Rapids for a bit a few years ago- went to a wonderful church there and lefted many dear friends- Then we moved to Charlotte and began to adopt our children- such a hugh joy- anyway I wanted to say Hi. Pamela Dawn

Mookie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shannon & Jodi said...

Nice to meet you, Pamela! I said a prayer for Dylan on his surgery day--so happy to hear he is doing well. We're about an hour from CR. My brother-in-law is an asst manager at one of the Hy-vee's there. He and my sister live in Coralville.

How many children have you adopted? We have friends returning from China today with their fourth adoption. What a ministry!

I'm enjoying Rick's blog. I came across his through Nathan's, and also read Andy's. Blogging has become my new hobby. It gives me a chance to "snoop" at other people's lives. Isn't it crazy the connections that can be made, though?

My husband and I would love to plan a trip to NC or SC. Shannon's brother lives in Virgina Beach, and we haven't been to visit him is several years. I'm ready for a vacation! We'll stop by if we're in the neighborhood!

Mookie said...

WE are living on the Outer Banks in Southern Shores- (Have a hugh house and would LOVE for new friends to come by(stay awhile) . We are about l and 1/2 hours south of VB- (I go there to shop and Dylan's hospital- etc.) We have 9 kids- the last 4 are adopted.Dylan a wonderful little guy from China. (he came to us 5 years ago and he is 8) He prayed for a little brother for soooo long(his words!) We brought our beautiful silbing group home from Ethiopia 1 and 1/2 years ago- (sept 07) A little guy Jaden, he is 6 and his 2 older sisters- Leah, 15 and Annalyse 13. They did not speak a word of English as we brought them home!! It was really alot of fun... in a weird way- Dylan went to Africa with us- :)
Trish and Nate are good freinds, and Andy is the youth minister and Rick- Any way- we really do have a big house and all of our friends and relatives come all of the time(hazard of living on the ocean- swimming out the back door. WE have 2 kids in college- home on some vacations, 1 son in the Marines stationed in Charleotte- a blessing that he is so close- and 2 grown daughtors with kids! How many children do you have? and you homeschool? how do you like that? do you like Iowa? tell me about your self a bit- (my email is johnson29708@yahoo.com) if you would like it- but on here is great too! :) Pam