Monday, January 19, 2009

Good News, Bad News

“There is none who does good. . .” ~Psalm 53:1b (AMP)

Over and over we read how not a man or woman amongst us is good – no not one. In the book of Isaiah it says that, like sheep, we have all gone astray, and even our righteousness – the best part of ourselves – is as filthy rags.

That’s the bad news. But here’s the Good News:

“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” ~ Titus 3:5 (NLT)

Yes, Jesus took our sins upon Himself when He died on the cross, so that we would be made the righteousness of God in Christ. This truly IS Good News!

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”

~Romans 5:1,2 (NLT)

When I was a little girl, I used to lie awake in bed and fret about the concept of eternity and how it went on and on and on, and never ended. (How does that saying go? Life is short, but eternity is forever.) Then I worried about whether I was good enough to get into Heaven because I definitely knew I didn’t want to spend all eternity in hell. I was so relieved to learn that not only did I not have to be “good enough” to get into Heaven, but that I could never be good enough to get into Heaven – no matter how hard I tried to do everything right.

In Galatians chapter 2 we read:

“Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. For if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

So that was one gift I was happy to receive. And receive it we must. In Revelations it says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock, whoever hears my voice I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” But we do have to answer the door – and we do that with two simple words: I believe.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

~ Romans 10:9 (NIV)

It’s like this quote I read from a man named Paul C. Brownlow

“In the most lopsided deal of all time, Jesus took our filthy rags of sin and gave us His robe of righteousness. Our righteousness is not our own, it is from Him. Dare we brag of our goodness now?”

No, we shouldn’t boast of anything in our lives, unless we’re boasting in the Lord and in His goodness. For “every good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17a)

“And beware lest you say in your [mind and] heart, My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you power to get wealth. . . “ ~ Deuteronomy 8:17,18A

Recently Charlie McClelland, the pastor of Mill Creek Baptist Church in McFarland, had an interesting article about this subject. He titled it, “No Good People.” With his permission, I would like to share his thoughts:

“We tend to divide the world into good guys and bad guys. The good guys are members of our group – our friends, our school, our church, our family, our nation – and everyone else are the bad guys. Unfortunately the Bible clearly states there are no good guys, there are only bad guys. While Jesus admitted we would have enemies, when He told us to love our enemies, He did not imply that we were the good guys. When we accept the fact that we are saved not because we are now, nor ever will be good, our attitude becomes one of gratitude toward God and humility toward other people. Instead of dividing the world into good guys and bad guys, we divide the world into those who have experienced God's grace and those who have yet to experience it. Realizing that our enemy today may in fact be our Christian brother tomorrow, fundamentally shifts our behavior. It is difficult to look down our nose at someone who is on the same level as we are. My mom always told me that there was so much bad in the best of us, and so much good in the worst of us, it behooves none of us, to talk about the rest of us. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we are simply sinners saved by grace. Because God has extended grace to us, we need to extend grace to those around us.”

Well said.

In closing, I'd like to share a poem I recently wrote:

Who Am I?
By Eileen Umbehr

You have forgiven
Me so much
Who am I
To hold a grudge?

I should not look
At others’ sin,
Before looking first
At what lies within

As Jesus said
Don’t cast a stone
Lest the spotlight on
Your life be shone

For picking the speck
Is hard to do
When there’s a plank
Obstructing your view

We’d all do well
To walk in love
Following the example
Of our Father above

For He has forgiven
Us so much
Who are we
To hold a grudge?

“For if you forgive people their trespasses – that is, their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go and giving up resentment – your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses – their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go and giving up resentment – neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.”

~ Matthew 6: 14,15 (Amplified)