I accepted Jesus as a young child and can't remember a time when I didn't know Him, though I did toy with the idea of walking away at one point--wish I had told you about that. Maybe that will be another post. :-)
I remember sitting in the backseat of my family's car--I couldn't have been older than ten--tormented by the possibility that I might commit a sin, then die suddenly (car wreck, etc.) and find myself in hell after all. I would cover my ears with my hands, trying to shut out thoughts of making fun of God's Holy Spirit, afraid I'd committed the unforgivable sin, even without wanting to. Sometimes I would end up in tears.
I lived in fear.
My mom took an Evangelism Explosion class at my church around the time I was sixteen or seventeen, and one night, she asked me to help her drill the points of the Gospel. While listening to her, I was struck with revelation. A revelation that changed my life, and freed me torment.
If Jesus was indeed the Lamb of God, the perfect atonement for the sin of mankind, wouldn't His sacrifice cover every sin made by every human--from Adam and Eve, to those living in the days of Armageddon? Did He not take all sin upon His Person? Past, present and future sins? My past, present and future sins?
The Scripture is clear that a person must accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in order for that provision to be applied to their life as an individual, but the concept that His Blood only covers our sin "to a point", e.g., the moment of salvation, last confession? (I don't buy 1 John 1:9, Romans 3:25, and 2 Peter 1:9 as a good argument.) To me, its equating the Blood of the Lamb of God, with the blood of sheep and bulls. It's making His sacrifice less than perfect. Less than, "it is finished". And why would God tear the temple curtain in half if sin after salvation could put you back to square one?
Okay, before you start hissing at the computer and moving your screen arrow up to the red "X", I don't believe that we can live like a heathen after reciting the sinner's prayer, because Kumbaya, we're going to heaven regardless. I agree that salvation is dependent upon placing one's trust in Jesus, confessing Him as Lord, and repenting (turning away) from sin. That's Biblical.
And here's the thing: Christians can still fall off the wagon. And they do. I do.
You wanna know the difference between an unbeliever and a sinning believer?
When I read those Scriptures regarding apostasy and throwing branches into the fire, (Hebrews 6, Matthew 7, John 15, etc), I see hearts hardened toward God, blind and steeped in deception. People who've brushed aside conviction and embraced their will for so long, they're unresponsive to Truth, and deaf to His Voice (if they ever heard it).
That's a recognizable difference between an honest-to-goodness child of God who struggles with a particular sin, falling into the same traps over and over and over again, and a reprobate who lives in an unrepentant state. It can feel like the same case to us, because we look in horror at the amount of times we've dropped the ball with that one thing, and can't imagine God being willing to forgive us again.
I love the idea that God transcends time. Omnipresent in the realm of time, and outside of it. He sees us living out our days, hour by hour, moment by moment, and He also sees our entire lives, all at once. God sees us in our struggle with sin--the times we slide into the old, familiar sin patterns, and the moment we overcome and win the battle, simultaneously.
So with that in mind, that God sees us as we will be, that He knows the end before we do--isn't it safe to accept the knowledge that He forgave us at the cross, once and for all time? (I'm implying a given, that we truly have the Holy Spirit on the inside of us, and won't one day embrace sin and reject steps toward repentance so many times we end up hardening our hearts and falling into dangerous deception. And while we're hanging out in parenthesis, I'm not saying that confessing one's sins isn't necessary.)
I have a hard time imagining God sitting on His throne in heaven, seeing all He does, knowing all He does... How would limited forgiveness work anyway? Is God constantly erasing and rewriting names in the Book of Life? Does the Holy Spirit constantly leave and return to a believer, depending upon confession? I just can't see it that way.
I love you, my friend, and I hope this blessed you. :-)
Scriptures to ponder...
"For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice." (Hebrews 9:24-26 NLT)
"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him 'Abba, Father'. For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children." (Romans 8:1,15-16 NLT)
"You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross." Colossians 2: 13-15 NLT)