Can We Earn God’s Forgiveness?

6145488503_a72223f8d7_mMany religions will have us believe that we can “earn” God’s forgiveness through works – give financial aid, support those who come to us for help, and pray for those in need. And these good deeds for this purpose should stay with that religion because it is NOT a prerequisite from the Lord for forgiveness, and nowhere in the Bible will you ever read that you have to earn His forgiveness or that it’s even possible to try.

We cannot “earn” forgiveness from God because He is Holy and perfect and there is no one equal to Him. We are filled with sin from conception and were separated from God because of that sin. If we could earn forgiveness then that would make us par with God without a clean heart, and Christ’s mission to the cross would be for nothing.

Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.8125649464_d312d25326_m

What does that mean? It means that no matter how much He loves us, we will NEVER be holy enough on our own merits to come into His presence. Why? Because we are filled with sin – a sin that was inherited to us by our earthy parents that started with Adam and Eve. God will not allow sin to come into his presence and that’s why He had to evict Adam and Eve from the Garden when they sinned.

The only way to receive God’s forgiveness – aka God’s grace, God’s inheritance, God’s blessings – is through repentance. We must come to God with a heart that cries out for Him; with a heart that wants to be like His; with a heart that wants to be able to love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength (Mark 12:30).

We need to have a humble heart that repents for the sin that’s in us. But it’s not our fault we have sin, so why do we need to repent of it? Because with a humble heart comes the ability to know that we have to get the sin off of us in order to come into God’s presence. We realize that this inherited sin will keep us away from God and will eventually send us right to hell – where all sin has to go in the end.

5708023188_571740d2e4_mWe must come to the cross and accept the sacrifice that Jesus gave when He was crucified on that cross. Jesus was perfect and without sin because His father was God, not man. He went to the cross and died even though there was no sin in Him, and even though there was no legal reason for Him to be crucified. So why did He die on the cross then? So that He could take on ALL of OUR SIN, and with that sin He was sent down into the pits of hell where all sin goes. But, Jesus didn’t stay there. He dropped that sin there and once He was free of it He rose again, Holy and pure because He was once again filled with God’s spirit. And we were freed of that inherited sin.

When we accept this sacrifice that He made for us, then we will be able to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. We can ask Him to wash us and cleanse us and make us whole as our hearts desire to be with Him, and in doing this God will look at each of us and forgive us or pardon us. And we will no longer belong to the world that is yet to be judged. We will belong to Him.

When Jesus rose He went to Heaven to be with God our Father. He is our example, our leader, and if we accept what He did for2245700673_f8643977ee_m us, we too will rise to be with God our Father when we leave this world. But while we’re here, we are free of the inherited sin and Jesus gives us HIS spirit so that we can talk to God, praise God, worship God, walk with God and become His faithful child.

We have done nothing to earn His forgiveness and we can never ever do anything to even think that we could come close to earning it. The salvation that Jesus gave us is the ONLY way to get God’s forgiveness. Jesus says in John 10:9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” That pasture is Heaven and Jesus is the ONLY way to get there.

We are not perfect and we are not better than anyone else. We are forgiven through God’s grace – and that grace is His Son, Jesus. And we must never think that there is any other way to get God’s forgiveness except through the cross.

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“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”… John 3:16

Praise the Lord that through Him and the sacrifice He gave on the cross, we are forgiven. 

Free Love

There is only one thing in this world that is free and that is given without strings attached. Air is not free because of the pollution it carries that destroys the body; water is not free because it contains impurities, bacteria, chemicals, toxins – all that destroy the body. The only thing that we have that is truly free is love.

It’s impossible to put a price on love because there is no amount of money imaginable that can be applied to influence the value of love. Money can buy faux love and material possessions that mock the security of love, but it cannot buy true love.

There is no greater value that can be applied to life than the gift of love that is given through sacrifice. This world was made for people and everything in it is given to us to make us happy, but the ultimate value of existence in our life is love. When Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice on the cross for us He did it freely and without charge to us. And in doing so He showed us that there is nothing more valuable in our lives than love.

It’s a free gift to all of us and all we have to do is accept it. There is no cost or condition that comes with it. When we accept the love of Christ in our hearts that was given to us through His sacrifice, we are changed and we become eternally grateful to Him. He becomes our Lord and our Saviour and nothing this world has can separate us from the love of God because His Spirit lives in us.

Many people think that once they become a Christian they have to stop doing certain things and they have to change how they act and speak, and they have to go to church every Sunday and they have to give large amounts of money to support the church. Being a Christian for them simply means adhering to a new set of rules and making sacrifices that they really don’t want to make and having to do things that they really don’t want to do, but they feel obligated because they think that this is what Christianity is all about.

That’s what carnal Christians do because they’re trying to follow their own ideals of what a real Christian is, but that’s not how a real Christian acts or thinks. There’s a big difference between trying to be a Christian through works and accepting Jesus as Lord in our heart and truly accepting His love for us and loving HIM in return.

John 1:36 says, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, and there is nothing we can possibly do to even come close to what He did for us when He gave up His throne in Heaven to become an earthly man so He could die in our place as punishment for our sins. There is no sacrifice we can make that can even compare to what He gave and to what He accomplished on the cross.

He died for everyone regardless of their sins and all He wants from us is to accept His love. It’s free and it’s for everyone. There are no conditions or strings attached. We don’t have to give up anything for Him. Why?

Because once we accept what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are filled with a love for Him that is overwhelming. We don’t “have” to give up anything but we “will” give up everything because our hearts are filled with a love for Christ and we no longer want to be associated with the sinful lifestyle that we had and that offends what He has done for us. Our hearts change and our actions change because we no longer want to be part of anything that mocks the One who loves us so much that He’d die for us.

We have a home in Heaven waiting for us, and our life on earth will still be plagued with trials and tribulations but that’s because the devil runs this world and when we’re here we’re susceptible to the same issues as everyone else. BUT we have an advocate with our Father whereby we can ask Him for help and when we trust Him, He gives us the victory. And it’s all because He loves us.

In 1 John 4:8 we read that “God is love“. Everything He does for us, His children, is done in love. It’s free love and it’s given to us and then we become like Him. We can love others and show them that our Father in Heaven is not the uncaring, harsh, bias god that starves little children in the Third World or that pours disease upon the nations and doesn’t care about them. He does care and when our hearts are filled with the love of God then we become His vessel on this earth. Through us God will do great and mighty things and through us others will see His love and turn to Him for their salvation and for their healing. He wants to heal the sick and He wants to raise up the hungry people and give them a good life, but they are being crushed by the devil of this world and they don’t know what God has done for them. So we will tell them so that they, too, can know the love of God.

God’s love is free to all who ask for it, and what He has for us in Heaven is greater than our thoughts could ever imagine. So, when people rebuke His love and treat us unkind because they resent who we are, we go forth in our mission anyway, because nothing is more valuable to us than His free love.

“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead,  cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”  …Matthew 10:8

What is Unconditional Love?

The word “love” is one is that we use to convey a passionate feeling towards someone or something. It’s a word that we often use as an expression or a selective emotion but without the heartfelt conviction of true sentiment. It has become a popular word in our vocabulary, but do we really understand what the word “love” means? Do we know what unconditional love is?

Webster’s Dictionary defines love as:

“(1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternal love for a child> (2): warm attachment, enthusiasm or devotion <love of the sea> (3): unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another as the fatherly concern of God for humankind, or brotherly concern for others; a person’s adoration of God”.

Many of us use the word to simply express an emotion – ie: “I love this hat”, or “I love chocolate”. But in truth, there is no “emotional feeling” towards the hat or the chocolate. It may be an obsession or an excitement, something that delights us or that we have s a preference for, but we don’t have any emotional attachment to either of them.

In today’s world, love is often expressed loosely and without commitment, and comes with conditions. This is clearly noted by the number of divorces that are filed each year and it’s shocking to see that half of the marriages in 2009 in the US ended in divorce. And according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri, the divorce rate in America for first marriage vs second or third marriage is: 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages end in divorce.

So, when these marriage partners said “I do” at the altar, there were some conditions to their love that weren’t realized until afterwards because if the heartfelt meaning of the word “love” was part of their relationship, they would have overcome their differences and worked things out.

The affect of this conditional love is that there is no inner security that gives us the strength to have a happy and successful life because the attempts at love fail and are hurtful. Adults becomes angry and non-trusting and children grow up with an understanding that love has conditions that can’t always be met; that love is only temporary; and that love is something only we can have for ourselves to make our own lives successful.

However, this is not love because love overcomes everything, forgives everything and covers a multitude of sins. (1Peter 4:8) And this love is called, unconditional love.

When Jesus went to the cross, He took on all of our sins and our hatred and our sickness. If Jesus was not God, He would likely have chosen who He’d die for because there were few people who truly loved Him and so to become a sacrifice for anyone else would not have happened. Would you die for someone who was a child murderer and who would take your child if they could? I know I couldn’t do it.

But Jesus did! His love wasn’t conditional upon who we are or what sin we’ve commited. It wasn’t even conditional on whether or not we accepted His sacrifice. He became our redemption anyway so that ALL of us would be saved if we accepted it. He died for the men who scourged Him, for those who cursed Him and for those who hated Him. Jesus died for every person that ever lived and yet not one of us deserved it. His love for us was unconditional. He didn’t point a finger and say that our sin was too great or too hideous. He didn’t choose some of us over others. He died for ALL of us and allowed us all to be forgiven, regardless of what we have done in our lives. This is unconditional love!

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for His friends”

… John 15:13

Why Do We Need to Love God?

Many religious denominations teach us that obedience is the key to a successful Christian life, but obedience is only one of the contributing factors; it’s not the main issue. For a healthy Christian life we need to love God.

It’s not difficult to develop a love for God when we understand who He is and what He has done for us. The Bible says in John 3:16 that He loved us so much that He sent His Son to be a sacrifice for us so that we wouldn’t have to endure the punishment of sin. Out of love Jesus took our sin upon Himself and was separated from God so that He could take that sin to hell.

This was no easy task for Jesus. He had never been separated from His father before and now He was hanging on a cross, bleeding and broken, with all of our sin and sickness raging through His body while the demons of the devil surrounded Him and waited to drag Him to hell.

A migraine headache is horrible, but He took on everyone’s migraine headaches. And the pain and sorrow of diseases like cancer and heart disease – He took them all upon Himself. Most people have no concept of the torment that ripped through Jesus’s body.

Can you imagine the pain that Jesus suffered with all our sin and sickness thrust upon Him? And this wasn’t just for the people He grew up with, His family and friends who He loved. This sacrifice was for the millions of people around the world who never met Him. All the malicious rapists and murderers that committed hideous and disgusting crimes who we cringe at and hate – Jesus had a love for their souls and took upon Himself even their sins so that if they ever repented and accepted His sacrifice, even they would be forgiven and saved.

When Jesus went to the cross He demonstrated the epitome of love. No other person on earth could ever do what Jesus did. No one would stand in the gap of a child murderer and say, “I’ll take his punishment so that he can stand before God and be clean and forgiven”.  Most people have a hard time forgiving evil doers, let alone wanting God to forgive them and let them into Heaven, and no one in their right mind would ever take on their punishment for them.

But Jesus did because He is God’s Son, and He and our Father both love us with unconditional love. Jesus took our punishment before we even repented – before we even knew Him – and He’s taken the punishment for millions of people who refuse to repent and accept what He’s done. Jesus knew this would be the outcome and yet, He did it anyway. John 3:17 says that He wants everyone to be saved and He never excluded anyone from the blessing.

So, when we look to God we shouldn’t perceive Him as an idol to be worshipped, but as a spiritual being – that we all are – who loves us more than we could possibly know.

Obedience requires a constant chastening of the mind and a control over our actions, but love has no borders, no rules, and no conditions. The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8 that love covers a multitude of sins. It doesn’t judge and it doesn’t condemn. Love is forgiving and gives the opportunity of a second chance.

When we see God as the father of love, and we see what He has done for us and we accept Him for who He is, God gives us His spirit to help us stay in touch with Him. Romans 5:5 says that the love of God is in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. It’s not through our acts of obedience but through the committment of our hearts that unites us with God through His Spirit.

Even in our natural lives it’s easy for us to love and bless our own children, but we don’t have that same feeling towards the children of the neighborhood or of other communities. Just as our children are bonded to us through our relationship with them, so are we bonded to our Heavenly Father through our relationship with Him. And His Spirit is in us and fills us with the love that God has always had for us so that we can also love Him.

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

 

 

 

God’s promise

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”…John 12:32

As Good Friday approaches, we are reminded that Christ was lifted up from the earth as He made Himself a sacrifice for our sins. 

What can be more rewarding than knowing that because we honor what Christ has done for us on the cross, He will draw us closer to Himself and keep us safe forever?