Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
I worked with a man in the shop of Bennett Lumber in Elk City for many years. He was ready for retirement when I started, but he hung around because he loved his work and was more than capable. I learned a lot from him, and grew to love him. I witnessed to him as often as the Holy Spirit prompted, and when it was not inappropriate. He mostly tolerated my ramblings because he liked my company, but when he looked at me like a calf looking at a new gate, I could tell he didn't understand the bulk of what I was trying to convey.
After about a year and a half of eating lunches - just the two of us, he began to fall under conviction. I looked up from my sandwich one day to find tears running out of his big blue sparkly eyes, and he said to me: "Dan it's just too late for me. You haven't done the terrible things I have. You don't know all the things I am ashamed of. You couldn't understand. God could never forgive me". Then he left the break room in a state that caused more than concern for him. I have often thought about that conversation. The sense of hopelessness he lived with; the lie he had bought into that there was no forgiveness available to him; that somehow, he was only eligible to be a spectator and not a guest at the table for the redeemed.
Let's turn the Spiritual Switch: First of all, I have done things I am very ashamed of, but fortunately that's not the point. Secondly, when Jesus told us to "forgive others as we have been (or desire to be) forgiven", was He telling us we couldn't forgive others if we cannot forgive ourselves? Or was He telling us that since we have the ability to forgive others, we should likewise for give ourselves?
In Hebrews 4 there are two verses that will either comfort you or scare you to death. Your response to them is the sign of your view not only of God, but of yourself. They are vs 12 and 13. "For the word of God is quick (living), and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest (exposed) in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do(give an account)." Many look at these verses and in their heart of hearts, say: "Oh no, I am undone. God could never love me. This is too much". We live under this self imposed cloak of suppression and if we haven't surrendered to Christ's Lordship, we disqualify ourselves, and If we are a Christian, we live under the burden of trying to earn salvation, all the while living a defeated, undesirable life.
This isn't of God. In Eph. 2:4, God says He chose you (in Him) before the foundation of the world. Jesus' death was not a knee jerk reaction to anything you did or will do. Romans 8 tells us: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," - Romans 8:1. And in vs 31 Paul asks victoriously, almost celebratorily: "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" From God's perspective, it's laughable.
A. W. Tozer said it this way: "No tale-barer can inform on us; No informant can make an accusation stick. No forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some forgotten closet to abash us and expose our past. No unexpected weakness in our character can come to light and turn God away from us since He knew us utterly before we knew Him, and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us." Wow. Here's another way to look at it. If you were to stand before Jesus, the Righteous Judge, and explain to Him how your sins were too bad or they were too many, you may as well square your shoulders and say to God: "My standards are higher than yours".
I didn't think so. Mercy is a great plan, Thank you Jesus.