Category Archives: Theology

The Label-Maker Remix

I originally posted this article not long after I began blogging. I thought it might be an appropriate follow-up (with some slight modifications from the original version)  for my last post. I hope you enjoy it. 

Being relatively new to the blogosphere, I must say that I have really enjoyed visiting various blogs. I am quickly learning that this is a huge forum where people of all schools of thought come to share insights, learn what others think, report news and take shots at one another. (Sounds kind of like Washington, D.C. doesn’t it?)

As I have visited different theological and church-related blogs, I have seen many labels used to describe various ideological and doctrinal positions. It kind of reminds me of the trends of the 1970’s and 1980’s when many churches tried to cram their entire statement of faith onto their sign. You remember what I’m talking about, “Pre-millennial, Pre-tribulational, Soul-winning, Fundamental, etc., etc.” Now I am not ridiculing the beliefs that those labels represent. I just always wondered, “Who are they trying to impress with all of those labels?” The average non-believer would look at those signs and become confused as to whether they should bring a Bible or a dictionary to that church. On the other hand, the members of the church down the road might look at that sign and see that they had better labels than their own church and might be inclined to move their membership, but I digress.

Some labels that I have seen on some of the blogs I have visited are attached to long-standing lines of theology, Calvinism and Arminianism, for example. Other labels are kind of new, such as “missional”, “emergent”, and “seeker-sensitive”. Still others such as “moderate”, “fundamentalist”, (”fundies” for short), and “legalist” are delivered so acidicly that I was concerned for the safety of my eyes after reading them on my monitor.

After seeing all of these different labels, I began to wonder, “What am I? Where do I fit in the grand scheme of label-making?” I decided more research was needed to better understand the meaning of the labels. Only then could I embark on the adventure of theological self-discovery. I began to explore.

Looking at the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, I realized that I was neither a Calvinist nor anArminian. I found out that “moderate” was, to the label-makers a nice (?) way of saying “liberal”. I don’t consider myself to be liberal. In fact, I have always been told that I am a “funadamentalist”, but I certainly try not to be as mean-spirited as the label-makers make fundamentalists out to be. I discovered that a “legalist” was basically anybody who preaches against something that you don’t, so I guess that is kind of subjective.   

I saw debates between “dispensationalists” and “covenant theologians”. Then I learned that there were even different varieties of each. I learned about the whole “continuationist” vs “cessationist” thing.
Then there were the new terms. “Seeker-sensitive” churches try to find out how people in their neighborhood want to do church and then schedule services to accomodate them. I can’t say that I have ever done that. I thought “missional” sounded exciting. I mean, we are supposed to be on mission for Christ, right? But then I found out that to be missional I had to listen to contemporary music on my i-Pod while drinking a latte at Starbucks. I don’t own an i-Pod and the nearest Starbucks is about 45 miles from here, so I guess I don’t get to be missional. “Emergent” people seem to enjoy listening to the David Crowder band on their i-Pod while quaffing Guiness ale. I have already shared with you my i-Pod status, I don’t imbibe in alcoholic beverages, and honestly, I have no idea who David Crowder is.

After much soul-searching, I think I finally came up with a label for myself: by the grace of God, I am a progressive dispensational, cessational, pre-millenial, pre-tribulational, Bible-believing, soul-winning, non-Calvinistic, non-Arminian, illegalistic, non-moderate Christian who wishes he had an i-Pod.

I don’t think that is going to fit on my sign.

The Problem With Labels

   I’m from the south. Down here, every soft drink is referred to by the label “Coke”. (Probably because Coca-Cola is headquartered in Atlanta). Every Georgian knows that when you say, “I’m thirsty, I’m going to get a coke,” you don’t necessarily mean the beverage with the red and white label. You might be referring to a grape soda, root beer, Mountain Dew, or any other of the members of the fizzy spectrum.

   In fact, even buying a Coca-Cola these days can be more frustrating than trying to crack the IRS tax code. You must decide whether you want regular or diet, both of which are available in caffeine-free versions. Then you have to decide which flavor (cherry or vanilla), color (black or ?) and number (zero?) you want that in. It’s enough to drive someone to drinking Pepsi (which I do).

   The thing about Coca-Cola however, is that the labels are neat and precise. If I go into the retail grocer of my choice and select the Decaffeinated Diet Vanilla Coke, I can be reasonably sure that I will get precisely that. I have every right to expect exactly what the label says is in the bottle. There is little danger of any spill-over of cherry syrup (that might be grounds for a law-suit if it occurred) or of it keeping me awake half the night.

   If only theological labels were as precise.

   One doesn’t have to venture far into the realm that is identified as Christendom before they are confronted with a myriad of labels. Denominational labels, theological labels and associational labels are just a few of the names that you may encounter. 99.999999% of these labels are man-made (the one exception being “disciple”). This doesn’t mean that labels are wrong, in fact they can be quite useful at times. At other times, however, they can be confusing.

    Most of those who read this blog would probably agree that the mainstream media plays a little fast and loose with the term “Christian”. It seems that anyone who at one time may have attended Sunday School or had a relative who was a deacon will be labeled as Christian by the world. That term has come a long way from its original usage to identify true disciples of Christ.

   Sometimes labels are applied with derision, hatred, misunderstanding or just downright mean-spiritedness. At other times, labels are willingly embraced by those who wish to identify with a certain group.

   Let me use myself as an example. I willingly call myself a Southern Baptist. We have a stated articles of faith. I affirm those articles of faith because I believe they are biblically correct. Am I happy about everything that goes on the Southern Baptist Convention? Absolutely not. I realize that there are some things being debated within the convention in a manner that does not always cast a positive light on our denomination. However, if I am to call myself a Southern Baptist, I must be willing to accept the bad connotations with the positive points, otherwise I am not being completely honest.

   Likewise, it would be disingenious of me to call myself a Southern Baptist but then start issuing disclaimers such as saying that I believe salvation must earned, that God is not omniscient, that my salvation can be lost, etc. If I am going to identify myself theologically and associationally with Southern Baptists, I must be willing to embrace the core beliefs as stated in our articles of faith. Otherwise, I should find another way of identifying my doctrine.

   I said all that to say this, if we are going to label ourselves by identifying with a particular group, we should not be surprised when people assume that we share common beliefs with that group. Labels produce expectations. If we don’t want to be identified with a certain doctrine, we shouldn’t adopt the name of the the group that believes it.

   Some of you will remember the fiasco in the 1980’s called “New Coke”. It was an extremely bad idea on the part of some marketing execs at Coca-Cola that cost that company very dearly. Why? Because the product didn’t match the expectations produced by the label.

   On the other hand, to quote Junior Hill, “If the bottle is empty, it really doesn’t matter what the label says.”

The Art of Christian Statesmanship–Part 1

   From time to time, I have posted on this blog about gracious speech. Christians are called upon by God to use speech that is filled with grace and ministers edification to the hearer. I would like to take that thought a little further and apply the principles of grace to methods that we sometimes see employed in theological debates, particularly on the internet.

    Let me say up front that I am exploring these ideas as a learner, not a master. I have been tempted, at times, to use every underhanded tactic that I am about to describe. I am ashamed to say that there have been times when I have stooped to using some of them in one form or another. I have been doing a lot of praying and thinking about this topic, though, and am trying to set a higher standard for myself. I want to share it with you. In this post, I want to point out some of the unsavory methods that I have seen used in theological debates. In the next in this series, I will propose some positive methods to which I am going to try to hold myself to following.

   I titled this post, “The Art of Christian Statesmanship,” because of the implications of the phrase, “Christian statesmanship”. Statesmanship is the art of diplomacy. I would like for us, for the sake of this conversation, to view debate as a diplomatic endeavor.

   Debate can be a very healthy thing. Debate can cause us to re-examine our theology, thus giving us opportunity to see where we may be wrong, or further solidifying our grasp on truth. Debate can broaden our understanding of the way others think. We can be exposed to ideas, concepts, and tenets that we previously were not aware of. Debate can clear up misconceptions that one may have about another’s position.

   Debate can be a healthy thing, it can also turn ugly. 

   What I am about to share is hardly earth-shattering news. If you have been involved with, or simply observed many theological debates in bloggyland, you have more than likely seen some of the things I am about to describe.

   In its simplest and purest form, debate should be a dialogue between opposing points of view. It should consist of one side presenting its own perspective, allowing the other side to present their perspective, and then perhaps each side responding with further information about their own position or questioning the validity of the opponent’s position (not the opponent’s intelligence, etc.). I call this “statesmanship” because it should be an exercise in diplomacy. I call it “Christian statesmanship” because above all it should be carried out in a manner that reflects the grace of Christ.

   Here are some tactics that I feel have no place in Christian debate:

  1. Allowing debates to devolve into a series of personal attacks. Name-calling and character assassination do not minister grace to the hearer.
  2. The use of “straw men.” This is a deliberate attempt to misrepresent an opponents position for the purpose of making their position look ridiculous.
  3. Attempting to align an opponent’s view with another view that is heretical without a clear line of connection. It is not unusual for various theological camps to share some common ground and even common terminology. The fact that they do so does not mean that they are in line with each other. Those who resort to this tactic should be careful, it is likely that their own position could be connected in this manner to a doctrine that they find revolting.
  4. Ridicule, sarcasm and generally rude behavior. Making fun of someone who holds a differing point of view does not minister grace. I have heard it argued that men of God (including Jesus) used sarcasm at times to make their point. I would say that there is a significant difference between Elijah using sarcasm against the prophets of Baal, Jesus using sarcasm against the Pharisees, and us using it against a brother or sister in Christ who has an opinion (or even a conviction) that differs from our own. I have yet to see any of these tactics used in a positive way in contemporary debates.
  5. Using a difference of opinion as a basis for judging.This is perhaps the most reprehensible of all tactics. When we allow our distaste for someone’s pet doctrine to cause us to question their love for God or their salvation, we should immediately step back and examine our own heart. I am not speaking about differences in religions, I am speaking about brothers and sisters in Christ who may interpret a particular Scripture text differently than we do.

   This list is not exhaustive, but it certainly covers many areas which Christians should avoid in our debates. Hopefully, in the next post we will take a look at some positive methods of discussion.

   Until then, be filled with the grace and peace of God.

  

Taking Responsibility

This weekend has flown by. I had wanted to post on two or three occasions in the last few days but just could not find the time.

I would like to speak to something that is sort of a follow-up on the joke I wrote last week about biblical ignorance in the church.

I think that one glaring weakness among Christians is a lack of knowledge where scripture is concerned. They have Bibles, they may even bring them to church, they would claim to revere the Word of God, yet they do not know it. I realize this is hardly an earth-shattering revelation, but it is the source of a lot of problems in the church.

A former pastor of mine used to tell the story of the lady who argued the Bible with him, swearing up and down that the Bible says that, “Every tub must stand on its own bottom.”

For some reason, many Christians have adopted the notion that they can get enough Bible while sitting in church or Sunday School to suffice for their spiritual growth. They place the entire responsibility for their maturity on the shoulders of a pastor, elder or teacher.

In some discussions relating to this matter, I have heard the opinions of some who have suggested that this is the pastor’s fault. I have, personally, never known a pastor who has told his people that they were to rely on him for their spiritual growth. I would say that any “pastor” who does such a thing is no pastor at all, but a cult leader. I have known, however, many pastors who tried to encourage their flocks to take personal responsibility for their growth.

I Peter 2:2 tells us that as newborn babes, we should desire the “sincere milk of the word”. That is, every believer needs to have a hunger for the word of God. We should have a desire to grow that stems from our “spiritual DNA” as children of God. As members one of another in the body of Christ, we have a responsibility to one another to grow. Above all, we should seek to glorify Christ in lives that are transformed by the power of His word.

I have nothing against books, study courses, seminars, conferences, etc. I partake of all of them at any opportunity that I have to do so, but none of these will ever replace the spiritually nutritional benefit of scripture. A Christian cannot grow apart from God’s Word.

How hungry are you?

Is Loving Christ the First Love of the Church?

I want to write a follow-up to the post I wrote last week on what I believe to be the source and solution of the problems in the church. I want to say again how much I appreciate everyone who participated in the discussion and particularly the grace with which you did.

In the discussion that followed the post, we began to look at what is involved in worship and whether or not the “first love” of the church is actually love for Jesus. Some very good ideas and arguments were presented from a variety of viewpoints.

I think we can all agree that love for God and love for the brethren are inseparably linked. I think the question that remains is, are they one and the same?

While the two are closely linked, I believe there is a distinction between loving God and loving people. I listed several reasons why I believe this in one of my comments, let me briefly reiterate some of those reasons now.

1.  It is possible for unbelievers to have a degree of love for one another, but I believe that only believers can love one another in the way that God has prescribed. Thus, a relationship with God is a pre-requisite for loving the brethren.

2.  When asked about the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:35-39), Jesus first named loving God, then listed loving the brethren. He even made a distinction between the two, calling the one the “first and great commandment” and the other “the second”.

3.  In John 15, Jesus spoke of His disciples loving Him first, then gave the commandment to love each other.

4.  In I John 1, John begins the epistle (which many think was written to the Ephesian church) by describing his close relationship with Christ, then expressing his desire to fellowship with others based upon that relationship.

Now having given those reasons, let me say that our love for Christ will not be fulfilled until we love the brethren. I would never want to discount our love for one another. Those who have read my series of posts on I John from last year will know the value that I place upon koinonia and agape. But love begins with our love for Christ.

It is only when I am walking in love with Christ that I will be able to love the brethren in the way that God wants me to love. I think we could describe this as vertical love/fellowship and horizontal love/fellowship. The vertical, of course, is our relationship with Christ while the horizontal is our relationship with others.

We could illustrate this concept by comparing it to the crosshairs of a rifle scope. Ideally, when aiming a scope, the vertical crosshairs need to be straight up and down which by default causes the horizontal crosshairs to be properly aligned. When the crosshairs are properly lined up, the target will be hit. I learned this lesson the hard way last deer season when I missed a nice buck trying to shoot it from a cock-eyed angle.

When my love for Christ (vertical) is properly aligned, it will cause my love for the brethren (horizontal) to be properly aligned as well. In this way, they are inseparably linked, yet the focus is on Christ. When both are properly aligned, we will hit the target of glorifying Christ in the church.

Getting To the Root Of the Problem

As the discussion of ecclesiomethodology has unfolded over the past few months, a number of problems have been identified and discussed. Among these problems are lack of or stunted Christian growth, “worshiptainment” (that’s a good word that Steve coined) replacing genuine praise and worship, biblical ignorance, misunderstood and misapplied roles of leadership and probably several more that I am not listing here. If you think of one that I haven’t listed, feel free to add it to the rest.

These are legitimate concerns, please do not think that I am not giving them the attention they deserve. Anyone who thinks that I am overlooking these problems need only dig through the archives of some of the blogs I mentioned yesterday (especially Steve’s) and they will find that I have already stipulated the existence of these problems. So I see no need to revisit them in their details at this point.

There are two considerations that I would like to suggest before I progress any further.

First, I would suggest that, serious though these problems may be, they are but symptoms of a larger and deeper problem within the church.

Second, while these problems are certainly present in the traditional church model, could it be that they are not inherent to that model, but are so visible in that setting only because (until recently, at least) the traditional model has been the only game in town?

Church “systems” are, I believe, a product of the evolution of the church within its culture. Look at history and you will see the impact that culture had on the way that church was “done”. Persecution of the early church caused its dispersal around the civilized world of that time. The persecution by the Roman Empire literally drove the church underground. The politicizing and corruption of the medieval church gave birth to the Reformation, etc., etc.

Even in our time, if you look around the world you will see how geography, economics, political tensions, persecution and a host of other factors impact the way that church is carried out in various cultures. Believers may meet under a tree in the Sudan, in a house in China, in a hut in the South Pacific, in ancient buildings in Europe or in modern facilities in Western settings. I believe that this suggests that ecclesiomethodology is a fluid concept, not bound by rigid mandates of scripture, but a liberty given by God to adapt to the best way of letting us demonstrate the graces of God.

In whatever form the church has appeared, there have been problems. Every “system” has had its strengths as well as its weaknesses. Like forms of government their effectiveness is largely based upon the abilities of the people who administer them (I know, the church has a spiritual source of power, I am coming to that.). Monarchy can be a good thing, if you have a good monarch. Democracy is wonderful until elected officials become corrupted (are we there yet?). Some would even argue the merits of socialism, yet history is full of examples of the abusiveness of that form of government when it is in the hands of greedy leaders.

My point is, every church “system” is a method that is developed by flawed people. The problems that each system experiences are not a result of the structure, but are a reflection of the tensions between what the church ought to be and our sinful human nature (Romans 7:14-25).

So what then? Is the church just to limp along in its humanity, limited to the abilities of its members? Not at all. It is the body of Christ. We have a spiritual head that is able to compensate for and overcome our weaknesses. We have the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to carry out the legitimate functions of the body. We have the gifts and grace of God to strengthen one another and complement the individuality of each member.

Why then do we still have problems?

I believe the source of the problems as well as the solution is identified in the warning to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:1-7. The Ephesian church was characterized by their work, their labors for others, their patience, their separation from worldliness, their doctrinal purity and their steadfastness. Sounds like a pretty good church doesn’t it? And yet we find they are chastised because they have departed from their love for Christ.

When the church, regardless of its format, is motivated by anything other than passion for Christ, its methods are doomed to failure. When we fail to obey the Great Commandment, we lose our connection to the source that guarantees our success. We become guilty of committing the most satanic of sins, pride.

Consider the difference that passion or Christ makes. If the Word of God is presented, whether in a sermon or around a table of fellowship, a heart that is in love with Christ will benefit from it. When music, drama or any other art form is presented by one who is truly performing as an act of worship, Christ will be glorified and it will cease to be entertainment. When leaders are motivated to serve others because of their love for Christ, abuses of leadership will not take place.

Christ is the foundation of the building, He is the husband of the bride, He is the head of the body. Whatever analogy you choose to use to describe Christ’s relationship with the church, it all comes down to this, the church’s first priority is to worship Christ Jesus. The church is about Him, not us. It is not about our needs, frustrations, hurts, or any other human factor. We are called to worship Him with all that we are.

I believe that the overall effectiveness of the body in fulfilling this priority is determined by the willingness of individual members to comply with God’s command to love Him. I have a personal responsibility to each of you as fellow-members to worship Christ.

For the sake of the body, let us look beyond our problems, our methods, our preferences, yes even beyond our ideals and return to our first love.

Problems In the Church

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is the opportunity to discuss theological topics with other bloggers who may have a different understanding than my own of a particular point of doctrine. It is particularly good when the varied opinions can be set forth sans name-calling, generalizations and straw men.

 Such has been the case for me for nearly a year now on the topic of church methodology. I came across Steve Sensenig’s blog several months ago and found his posts discussing simple church as an alternative to more traditional models to be a refreshing departure from the usual fare of stale debates that was being served on the blogging buffet.

While Steve and I frequently found ourselves on different sides of the ecclesiomethodological (how do you like that word? I just made it up) coin, we have benefited from the iron sharpening that has taken place through our discussions. I have been forced to re-examine my position on several points. While I may not have changed my mind on many of them, I have gained a better grip on why I believe what I believe about church, as well as a broader understanding of how God is working through methods different than those I am using.

Rayborn Johnson, David, Tony Sisk, Alan Knox and Heather (among others) have taken part in the discussion as well, posting their thoughts in articles on their own blogs (except for David, who really should start a blog 🙂 ). I want all of you to know what a blessing you each have been to me in our exchanges.

I have engaged in the discussion on their blogs, but to this point I have not written anything related on my own blog. The more I thought about it, I felt uncomfortable with the thought of debating something on someone else’s blog without being willing to address it on my own. I have been giving it a lot of thought, however, and I believe that I have some thoughts that I would like to share in a manner that is consistent with the objectives that I have for Heavenly Heartburn.

I want to say from the outset of my post(s) that it is not my intent to promote one “style” of church over another. While, in the discussions, I may have defended traditional church methods, I do not believe that they are inherently superior to other methods. I am going to try my best to keep my thoughts from degenerating into a “traditional church vs simple church” debate.

I say this because I am coming to realize through these discussions that the Bible really has very little to say on the topic of ecclesiomethodology (I really like that word). I am becoming convinced that God is less concerned with how we “do” church than He is with how we “are” church (I believe Alan said something to this effect one time). This is not to say that there are no wrong methods, there are, but I do not believe that the most glaring symptoms of problems of the church today have been produced by the methods we employ. Neither do I believe that the solution to these problems is a matter of practice. The roots of the problems as well as the solutions lie beneath the surfaces of hurt, frustration and apathy that so often characterize the modern church.

While the Scriptures may not say much on methods, I do believe the solutions are to be found there. I hope to address one of those tomorrow.

Weekend Survey

After an extended vacation, Weekend Survey has returned.

This week’s question is related to the previous post concerning the evident realities of life and the ideals of our faith.

Question: How has your perception of God changed since you first became a believer?

Since I was saved as a child, I think both my natural maturation process and my spiritual development have played a part in helping me to realize that God is more than an impersonal, “grandfather” type being. I have learned that He is a very personal, heavenly Father who, just about the time I think I have Him figured out, shows me a totally different aspect of His nature.

What Do You Think About God?

In my recent book review of Confessions Of an Amateur Believer, by Patty Kirk, I mentioned that the author dealt with some poignant questions concerning her ideals about God. Blogging friend, Danny Kaye, suggested that perhaps we could discuss some of them. Rather than spoil the book for you by revealing all of them here, I am going to present a “composite question” to you for discussion.

Mrs. Kirk expressed that she abandoned her early belief in God because the reality of her life did not match the ideals of God that she learned in her religious upbringing. The Roman Catholic church had painted a mental picture of God that she simply could not reconcile with the events of her life.

Now, I am in no way saying that God can be limited to the scope of our experience or understanding, please do not infer that I am. God is who He is, and His ways are far beyond our ways. My understanding of God has no power to shape God, but it does have the power to shape me.

Now with that in mind, here is my question for discussion.

What should we do when the evident realities of life do not reconcile with the ideals of our faith?

Forgiveness

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Recently, I have had several conversations with friends about forgiveness. What does it mean to forgive? Does God really expect me to forgive everything? Is it ever right not to forgive? Is forgiving and forgetting the same thing? Over the next few posts, I hope to examine these questions and perhaps others. Perhaps you have insights or experiences with forgiveness that you would like to share.

At some point in our life (perhaps several points), each of us will have a need to ask others for forgiveness. By the same token, we will have a need to forgive others. This need for forgiveness stems from the presence of the sin curse in us.

Our verse that I quoted above indicates that forgiveness is coupled with kindness and tenderheartedness. Kindness refers to an overflowing of grace in our hearts. Tenderheartedness describes the quality of showing pity, or goodness to others. The truth is, this is something that God produces in us. If we are going to forgive on a divine level, we must allow God to produce that forgiveness in us.

I think this begins with our fellowship with God. We know that God is willing to forgive anything that we confess to Him, (I John 1:9) and He desires for us to have that same willingness to forgive others. But if I am not willing to ask for God to forgive me for my sins, it is not likely that I will be willing to forgive others. If I do not ask God to forgive me for fear that He will not, I certainly will never find the strength to forgive others for the wrongs they commit against me. The strength to forgive is found in an understanding and receiving of God’s forgiveness.

What is forgiveness? When God forgives us, it is not that He simply “looks the other way” or winks at our wrong. It is more than Him looking at our sins and saying, “That’s okay, I know you didn’t mean to.” The word “forgive” means “to send away”. When describing divine forgiveness it actually involves three phases.

The first is remission of the punishment for sin. Let me say that God NEVER lets sin go unpunished. The fact is though, that Jesus has borne the punishment for our sins on Calvary. When we confess a sin to God, rather than pouring out His wrath upon us, He is reminded that His Son atoned for that sin and His sense of justice is satisfied. This should bring humility to us in knowing that God is not obligated to forgive us, but has chosen to do so for the sake of Jesus.

The second phase is removal of the cause of the offense. God tells us that He will remember our sins and iniquities no more. How does an infinite, all-knowing God simply “not remember”? God certainly is not forgetful, He chooses, by His grace to remove our offenses from before Him, casting them into the sea of forgetfulness. This is accomplished by the application of the blood of Christ to the offense. I will speak more of this in a future post in this series.

The third phase is removal of the stain of the offense. Sin leaves its mark upon us. It produces a vile stench in the nostrils of a holy God. It soils the garment of our self-righteousness, leaving us standing before God in nothing but filthy rags. When God forgives us, He removes not only the punishment and cause of the offense, but the residue of it as well. We all have garments that we refer to as “grubbies”. Those clothes that are so stained and soiled that they are only suitable to wear for the dirtiest of occasions. Do you realize that when God forgives you, your garments become white as snow? The Bible describes the righteousness of Christ being imputed unto us. I like to think of this as God taking my filthy rags of self-righteousness and placing them upon Christ on the cross, and taking the righteous robe of Christ and placing it upon my shoulders as I stand before Him. When we confess our sins to God, He forgives us, and there is nothing left to remind Him of our transgression.

This gives us the model of how we are to forgive. We will look into how we can apply this to forgiving others in the next few posts. In the meantime, the question for today is, “Have you received God’s forgiveness?”