I am a Christian. For most of you, that comes as no surprise. For a long time I thought that meant that at one point in time I chose to acknowledge my sin to God (repent) and trust Jesus as my Lord and Savior (believe the Good News.) After that, I thought had to buckle down and be a "good Christian."
This is not what the Bible says.
Over the last seven years or so, through consistent preaching of the gospel, it's been driven home to me that repenting and believing the good news is not a one-time deal. For the Christian it's the way of life. We sin, repent, turn back to God, and believe that we are covered by the blood of Jesus. Still! This is true faith. Faith depends not on our resolve to "do better next time," but depends rather on Jesus. Him alone. His righteousness. Because no matter how well you do, it will never be enough. And no matter how bad you've been, Jesus death and resurrection the only things that are enough.
I was reminded of this at Sunday school this week. Our teacher talked about how difficult it is to accept this reality. Are repentance and belief really the only remedy for sin? Is unbelief the true underlying cause of all our sin? Couldn't I try to get more focused, follow the right 12-step plan, or read the right books to get the sin out of me? Because I really want to change. I want to be a better person. I want God to notice my efforts. I. I. I.
The Bible reminds us that "I. I. I." is our problem. And the only rescue from ourselves & death and the path to transformation & life is He. He. He. He.
He is the only one who can change me. He is the only "better person". His efforts are the only ones acceptable to God. Scripture reminds us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5:8b And the beginning of that verse tell us that's how God demonstrates His love for us. He loved us, so he went straight to the root of the problem.
Sure, there are lots of rules, admonitions, and directions in the Bible. But that is not where we begin. We MUST begin with Jesus, lest we put the cart before the horse and get nowhere, thinking that our works somehow make us more acceptable to God. But if we begin at the cross, repenting of our sin and believing that Jesus alone is the Way to the Father, then those good works flow out of thankfulness and joy, in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Christian life becomes something beautiful, not burdensome. And even here and now we enter His rest, all the while longing for the full rest that is to come! (Check out Hebrews 4.)
Will you take God at His word today and trust Jesus? There's no better way to start each day!