Exploring spiritual questions such as "Is there a God?”, “Am I sinful?” and “Who is Jesus?” is of limited value until we take the next step and ask questions that relate these questions to our own lives.
What is Faith?
Trust and faith are strange things to describe. In my experience, people quickly start describing the faith we have in a chair to hold us up or some other example. Understanding what trust and faith mean to you is an important part of exploring spiritual things. Trust is the firm belief in something’s reliability and faith is complete trust or confidence in something. The words are often used synonymously.
Imagine people walking across a frozen lake who don’t know how thick the ice is. Someone could be confident walking across thin ice and another may lack courage and be afraid to walk across very thick ice! The most important factor is the strength of the ice to hold them up, not the amount of confidence a person may have in the ice. In the same way, the amount of trust we have is not as important as what we’re trusting in. We can have trust and faith in God because He’s already shown His love for us. Though our faith may be shaky at times, who we’re trusting in is reliable and trustworthy.
What is Grace?
Imagine your best friend stole your laptop and smashed it with a hammer. Instead of getting angry (and perhaps calling the police) you decide to forgive them and take them out to lunch. Grace is just like that, an undeserved, free gift. We do not deserve God’s free gift of forgiveness and eternal life, but he offers it to us anyway out of his love. It is an act of grace, because there is nothing that we can do to earn this gift of forgiveness.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Christians can’t pat themselves on the back and exclaim that they’re just so good, because it is all God!
What Do I Choose?
John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Being a child of God means that when you start a relationship with God, your identity is changed and you are accepted and loved.
Becoming a Christian happens when we each individually respond to Christ. This response involves agreeing that we are sinful and deciding to turn from our sin, trusting God to forgive us completely because Jesus died for our sins, and choosing to follow Jesus: putting him first in our lives. No one can be ‘born a Christian’, because it’s a choice that no one else can make for you.
These circles describe two types of people:
The Self-Directed Person
Self is in control and Jesus has no influence in their life. People like this have never received Jesus into their lives. They remain guilty and cut off from God by their sin.
The Jesus-Directed Person
Jesus is in control and Self is following Jesus as Lord. People like this have received Jesus into their lives. They have been forgiven and experience God’s love.
Is the circle you want to describe you different from the circle that currently describes you?
You can’t go back and forth between the two like jumping through hula-hoops. Choosing to follow Jesus is the start of a life-long relationship with God.
To start this relationship, all you need to do is tell God! Prayer is simply talking to God; he is not so concerned with your words as he is with the attitude of your heart. He won’t force his way into your life. He may be knocking on the door, but it’s up to you to open it and invite him in.
Here’s a sample prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. I’m sorry for going my own way. Please forgive me for all my sin. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my sin. I agree to turn from my old ways and follow you as my Saviour and Lord. Please come and take first place in my life. Amen.”
If this prayer is something you could pray and mean now with nothing stopping you, then in your own time, tell God your heart.
Read Luke 5: 1-11 on following Jesus, Luke 9:18-27 on Jesus as God, Luke 11:1-13 on prayer, and Luke 15 on God’s love and acceptance.
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