Archive for the ‘God’ Category

It is finished or to be continued…

April 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Easter is the day in which Christians around the world celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of their Lord and Savior. They look to Jesus as their final Passover Lamb, ultimately fulfilling the requirements of the law and making a permanent sacrifice for sin.

Surprisingly, there is a segment of people claiming to be part of the Christian community who don’t believe this, or at least their past leaders have taught that this is not the case. Here are some quotes from former Mormon prophets and apostles on the subject of needing to bring back or restore the Old Testament law of animal sacrifice.

it is generally supposed that sacrifice was entirely done away when the Great Sacrifice [i.e.,] the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was offered up, and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of sacrifice in future; but those who assert this are certainly not acquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the Priesthood, or with the Prophets.The offering of sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the Priesthood. It began with the Priesthood and will be continued until after the coming of Christ, from generation to generation…These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the Holy Prophets be brought to pass. It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses’ day, namely sacrifice will be continued. ~ Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. founder of the LDS church

“The sacramental ordinance replaced sacrifices except that as part of the restitution of all things–and then on a limited basis only–blood sacrifices will be offered again. It was of these future sacrificial ordinances that Malachi prophesied, in a setting descriptive to the Second Coming of the Son of Man, that the returning Lord would “purify the sons Levi,…that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness…” It was to these sacrifices that Ezekiel alluded when he set forth the nature and use of the temple yet to be built in Jerusalem. And so that they might be performed by Levites who once again were legal administrators, John the Baptist, a Levite whose right it was to offer sacrifices anciently, and who was in fact the last Levitical priest to hold the keys of the ministry, brought back the ancient order of Aaron, saying to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, as he did so, that “this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.” ~Apostle Bruce R. McConkie

“We are living in the dispensation of the fulness of times into which all things are to be gathered, and all things are to be restored since the beginning. Even this earth is to be restored to the condition which prevailed before Adam’s transgression. Now in the nature of things, the law of sacrifice will have to be restored, or all things which were decreed by the Lord would not be restored. It will be necessary, therefore, for the sons of Levi, who offered the blood sacrifices anciently in Israel, to offer such a sacrifice again to round out and complete this ordinance in this dispensation. Sacrifice by the shedding of blood was instituted in the days of Adam and of necessity will have to be restored.
The sacrifice of animals will be done to complete the restoration when the temple spoken of is built; at the beginning of the millennium, or in the restoration, blood sacrifices will performed long enough to complete the fulness of the restoration in this dispensation.
Afterwards sacrifice will be of some other character.” ~Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith

I would like to point out that it is possible that many (or even most) LDS have never read, heard or even considered these teachings. This however does not remove their importance or relevancy. These ideas come from the highest level of leadership and from some of the most revered LDS “theologians”. They remain forever cemented in LDS history and to my knowledge have never been repudiated.

When we look at the Bible, it paints a very different picture.

Luke 24:44-48
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,
47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 You are witnesses of these things.

Hebrews 10 gives us a deeper look into the law of sacrifice and how Jesus brought it to an end.

1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
10 …we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin

While Christians today echo Jesus’ words when they proclaim “It is finished!”, it is almost as if the LDS church says “to be continued…”

It is always my hope and prayer that all LDS (and Christians for that matter) come to a deeper understanding of this truth. That Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets and in doing so canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14)

The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is the gospel. (1 Cor 15:2-5)
With it comes complete victory over both death and sin. If we truly believe this, we will accept what Christ did, walk in forgiveness and have faith that he meant what he said while hanging on the cross for us…”It is finished.”


Nebuchadnezzar’s Testimony

February 4, 2012 3 comments

I recently share the story about how I became a Christian. If you have not read it yet…click here.

Earlier this week I had the privilege of meeting for a few minutes with a pastor that I have immense respect for. We talked about different things going on in my life and what I wanted to focus on this year to take my walk with God to a deeper level. As we conversed and prayed they would stop to speak life and encouragement to places that have been longing for hope. It can’t remember ever having a conversation like it and I feel extremely blessed to have someone like this pastor to walk beside me.

One of the things that came out of this meeting was the conclusion that it would be helpful if I did a 21 day “Daniel Fast” to seek God’s will concerning a decision I need to make. If you have never heard of a “Daniel Fast” or are not sure what it is let me take a minute to explain. In chapters 1 and 10 of the book of Daniel, it speaks of two separate occasions where he chose not to eat meats and other things, each for a different reason and a different amount of time. In Christian circles it traditionally means to abstain from meats and sweets for three weeks but liberty is given to each person to fast from different things depending on how God directs them.

I started a traditional, no meats or sweets, fast the other day and began reading through the book of Daniel at the same time. I read through Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter two and then the well known story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (which were actually their slave names not their real names). Each of those stories ends with Nebuchadnezzar giving praise to the One True God that Daniel, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach) and Azariah (Abednego) believed in because of the miracles he witnessed on their behalf.

It took a few times for King Nebuchadnezzar to understand that “no other god can save in this way” (3:29) but it finally sunk in. Chapter 4 made me smile as I read it because in it he is telling the world about his conversion story.

King Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful man and not a very nice one either. Think back to the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He wanted to be worshiped as a god and became furious when those three men refused to do so and threw them into a fire to burn alive. And that is just one of the stories about him. I think upon further study, one could find some similarities in the conversion stories of Nebuchadnezzar and Paul.

Chapter four starts by his addressing all the people in the world and he says:
“It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.”

He then goes on to tell a story…

“I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me.”

Only Daniel was able to interpret those dreams which were not all favorable toward Nebuchadnezzar and prophesied that he would be separated from his kingdom but ultimately restored to it once he renounced his sin and acknowledged loyalty to God.
It turns out that about 1 year later the separation Daniel told him about happened. After he was sufficiently humbled, he explains, “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.”

My favorite part of the story comes in the last few verses.

“At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

What an amazing testimony of the power of God’s love for us. Nebuchadnezzar had no real desire for God but He desired a relationship with Nebuchadnezzar. After trying to get his attention in other ways, He took from him what seemed to be the most important thing, his power and kingdom. This was not done out of spite or hate but out of love. Once relationship had been established, He restored all that was removed from Nebuchadnezzar and more.

I know I can relate to this story. In the months leading up to my surrender to God I too lost many things I looked to as my source of significance, identity, provision and security. I did not think I needed God but I have come to understand otherwise.

I echo Nebuchadnezzar’s praise and exaltation of the King of heaven because not only has God saved me from my sins, He has restored to me things I lost, or perhaps never really had, because I now know that He is really the source of my significance, identity, provision and security.

As a side note to the story, I think this is a great example of how Christians should share their testimony. It is a simple story format that explains how they were before they knew Jesus, what happened to bring them to a relationship with Him and then how that relationship has changed their life. Such a story would give glory and honor to God while helping those who hear it see and understand the merits of living life as a Christian that is submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If you have never shared your conversion story with someone, give this a try. Everyone loves a good story.

This is My Story, This is My Song

January 18, 2012 11 comments

While sitting at my desk this morning I looked at my calendar and realized that today is my 3rd Birthday. January 18, 2009 was the day I became a Christian and more specifically, the day I stopped running from God and gave Him control of my life.

In a previous post, I wrote about the need to have a definitive salvation experience. I don’t believe it is necessary to remember the date, time and where you where when it happened but I do think everyone should be able to say without a doubt that they have received the gift of grace Jesus offers you and be able to articulate the ways in which it has changed your life. Sharing such a story is what Christians call a testimony. A testimony is not so much a statement of beliefs but rather a declaration of God’s faithfulness, how we came to accept Jesus as Lord and the tangible results exhibited in our lives as a result of forgiveness and grace given by Him. This is my testimony.

I was born and raised in an LDS home and Mormonism was the only religious system I would really experience for the first nineteen years of my life when I would spend 2 years on a LDS mission in Spain which is predominantly Catholic. As a result of this, I grew up really only knowing what Mormonism teaches, and even then I only knew what LDS leaders wanted me to know. The works-based aspect of the religion makes life as a Mormon not easy by any stretch of the imagination. To some, this is a badge of honor but to others like me, it is more like wearing weights around our ankles…it makes it hard to run the good race and fight the good fight. When you are leaden down with a littanany of “to-do’s” it is hard to find time and energy to work on a true relationship of Jesus.

There is so much I could say about my 30 years as a Mormon but let me fast-forward to 2007. It was in this year that my exhaustion got to the point where I basically gave up on the Mormon system. No matter what I did, it was never good enough and at no point did I feel close to God. In fact, it was just the opposite, God felt more distant every day. It was not until just a few months ago that I realized this was due to pride. Every work performed as a Latter-day Saint was done in an attempt to earn my own salvation, which is presumptuous to say the least. James 4:6 says “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” I was distancing myself from God because of this attitude of pride that had been imbedded in me from birth. I perceived the space between Him and me to be so big that I began to doubt His very existence.

Needless to say, I was tired, distant, lost and miserable. It was in that state of mind that my LDS Bishop approached me. In no uncertain terms, he made it very clear that unless I got my act together and started to tow the company line, I would not be able to baptize my daughter that following year when she turned 8. This got me to look back at my life as a Mormon and ask the serious question of, “if I had to do it all over again, would I?” The answer was a resounding “NO!” If that was the case for me, why on earth would I put my daughter into that same position?

In December of 2007 I walked out of the local LDS church building and never went back.

I would be lying if I said that decision made things better. In truth, it made things worse. I became Agnostic in my beliefs on God and I searched in just about every place I could think of for peace and truth. It was a very hard year. I must say here that if it were not for some outspoken Christian friends, neighbors and acquaintances that God put in my life, I would have continued down that path.

One of these people sent me a video called The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon which opened my eyes to not only the validity and trustworthiness of the Bible but also a side of Mormonism I had not seen before or at least did not dare question. It was pivotal in both my desire to read and learn more about the Bible and Christianity as well as my quest to learn everything I could about Mormonism, good and bad.

For the next 6 months I ate, slept and breathed Mormonism. I read everything I could get my hands on supporting and disagreeing with doctrine and history. My mind was blown away. I could not believe so many teachings and historical facts were withheld from me. I felt hurt, angry, sad and vengeful. I had come to understand that for 30 years I had been lied to directly and indirectly. I had not been entrusted with facts that were questionable because no one respected me enough to present information and let me make my own informed decision. As a result of the hurt, I lashed out. I’m not proud of that but none the less, it happened. I created a blog (not this one) where I posted all of the disparaging or “non faith promoting” things I found. I was abrasive and at times purposefully antagonistic which in turn hurt a lot of people and burned some bridges I would love to re-build today.

Why do I bother writing about this? Because I firmly believe that it is an integral part of my story. I look back at some of those old blog posts and at my heart in this period of time and can see how spiteful I was.

Let me move on to January 18, 2009. By this time I had been going to church with Amy who was amazingly supportive in this difficult stage. After visiting a few churches for a number of months, we had settled in at Gateway Church where we are still to this day. I woke up that Sunday morning with this pulling in my heart. I don’t know how else to say it but I felt compelled to go to church even though we had already gone Saturday. I woke Amy and told her I needed to go to church and went alone. I arrived just before the 10:45 service and sat in the back row. Worship started and God stated to work on my heart as well. I had been running from Him for a few months now but He met me right where I was. The second song that day was “Beautiful” sung by Kari Jobe. The words could not have been more perfect for my situation. Having spent years in pride and self-reliance I broke as I sang and confessed these words to God.

Here, before Your altar, I am letting go of all I am
Of every motive, every burden
Everything that’s of myself
And I just wanna wait on You, my God
I just wanna dwell on who You are

Beautiful, beautiful, O, I am lost for more to say
Beautiful, beautiful, O, Lord, You’re beautiful to me

Here, in Your presence
I am not afraid of brokenness
To wash Your feet with humble tears
O, I would be poured out ‘til nothing’s left
And I just wanna wait on You, my God
I just wanna dwell on who You are

Holy, holy, holy, You are

I remember this day so vividly that even as I write this I can see, feel and sense it all over again. While singing, it was as if God stood right before me, put His hands on my shoulders and spoke clearly into my heart. “If you will lay down your life, your pride and your reliance on your own works, I will take care of you. I want to be your source. I want to be who you come to first. I know all the junk in your past and I still love you and want you to be my son. I have great plans for you if you will follow Me.” Without hesitation, I said YES! Who could resist such a promise from such a great God. I did just what the song said and laid all my baggage at the altar and in brokenness cried till I had nothing left. I gave my life to Jesus.

To this day I am still surprised at how much joy I felt. What a weight lifted off my shoulders when I realized that Jesus took everything I gave him and in return gave me peace and assurance of my right standing before God. Because of that moment, I no longer have to question my eternal destiny. I know that I will be with God because when He looks at me, He sees that I have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus.

It has been 3 years and the Christian journey is a wild one. I have had trials and I have had great successes. Through it all, I have had peace and joy. No matter the circumstance I know that God is for me. That He is faithful to fulfill His promise to me despite my failures.

As I have walked in this new life filled with grace and the Holy Spirit, the Bible has come alive. I have new eyes and ears to hear His voice more clearly. What a difference that has made.

My heart used to be calloused and hard as a rock. Now I am filled with compassion, forgiveness and empathy toward others. I see this manifested as I read through my old blog about Mormonism in comparison to this one. I no longer feel bitter or angry toward the LDS church or those who follow that religious system. Instead, my heart breaks for them. Many are in the same situation I found myself in with no real hope.

God has redeemed my time in the LDS church and I now spend as much of my time as possible educating others about the teachings of Mormonism from a Christian point of view. It is my hope that other Christians will feel equipped enough to reach out to their LDS friends and family around them just as someone did for me.

“You are from beneath; I am from above”

September 27, 2011 3 comments

The LDS “Plan of Salvation” is the core of all of its major and distinctive doctrines. One of the reasons for this is that it helps us understand what they believe about God and why, as well as their view of man.

According to Mormonism, we all existed as spirit beings with God before we came to earth in physical bodies. This is commonly referred to as the pre-existence. Simply stated, we were not created, but rather begotten in the spirit and therefore of the same type or species of being as God but at a different level of progression.

It is taught that at one point in time, God was once a man just like we are and was able to progress to the level of godhood that he enjoys now. This too can be our future if we follow the LDS system for salvation or “exaltation” as they say. In this post I don’t want to address the issue of the nature or progression of God, rather I want to speak of the idea that we all existed with God in the pre-existence before coming to earth.

Following LDS teaching, I lived with God as one of his spirit children and I was faced with a decision during the war in heaven to either follow Lucifer or Jesus. Anyone here on earth with a physical body chose to follow Jesus. Those who did not were cast out of heaven along with Satan now roam the earth as spirits.
To state the doctrine in a simple way…we all came from heaven and if we do what we are supposed to do here on earth, we will return there when we die.

In the course of my usual Bible study I have come across a couple of verses that to me teach something all together different.

We will start with 1 Corinthians 15:46-49.

46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

Notice that just as Adam was from the earth, so are we. The Man that is from heaven is spoken of in the singular form and is the Lord.

John 3:31
He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

John 8:23

And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

These passages in John point us to the fact that Jesus himself declares that He alone is from above and consequently above all. Our place of origin is this world, while His is not.

Why is this significant? Why take time to write about this? The answer is simple.
When we believe in doctrines that elevate or exalt us to the same divine origin as God it devalues Him and sets us up on a pedestal we don’t deserve to be on. The Bible is clear that we are created beings while Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. That means that naturally, only Jesus is of the same nature as God the Father. It is only through the principle of adoption that we become children of God and that is only possible when we see and accept our true state as sinners before a perfect and holy God and ask him to apply the blood of Jesus in our lives to wash away our sin.

A few days after posting this, a friend pointed out to me that John 6: 38-46 is another demonstration of this idea that Jesus claimed to be the only Man who came from heaven. Note also that it appears that the Jews of the time had no comprehension or teaching of a pre-existence. This is demonstrated by their confusion in verse 41-42.

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.

Categories: God, Grace, Jesus, Mormonism, Salvation

Leaves or Leather

September 22, 2011 2 comments

God’s method of salvation never changes. It has always been about His way and not ours. Take Adam and Eve for example. After Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil their eyes were opened to their sin and nakedness. Their attempt to cover their sin came in the form of fig-leaf aprons. While we don’t know how they managed to sew them together, my assumption is that they were relatively frail, full of holes and only thinly veiled the reality of their situation. God saw straight through their façade.

After they were called on the floor for not only what they did but how they tried to cover it, God demonstrated His solution to the problem. Every sin carries with it a consequence. For Adam and Eve it was expulsion from Eden and a heritage of sin and death passed down from generation to generation. He then did something that acted as a type and shadow of how He would deal with the issue of sin entering the world and specifically their sin. “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” (Gen 3:21)

This is significant for a few reasons. First, in order to make these clothes, the blood of an animal had to be spilt and a life had to be taken. This marks the first time death was used as propitiation for sin and it was a prophetic act pointing to the time when the Lamb of God, without blemish or defect, would die as a perfect sacrifice covering all sin.

These garments of skin are also significant because it shows us that the only way sin can be properly dealt with and covered is God’s way. He rejected Adam’s attempt to do so by declaring that those fig leaves were insufficient and totally inadequate to deal with their sin. The great thing about it though is that he did not just leave them there naked and shamed. He provided covering for them.

The same is true today. Our attempts to deal with and cover our sin to 100% useless. It is full of holes and always leaves us exposed. The great news though is that God has once again prepared robes for us but this time from a material so strong and eternal that it will never wear-out, shrink or come undone.

Isa 61:10 – I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness

Just as with Adam and Eve, they did nothing to make those robes. In actuality, God gave them to them despite their own efforts to not need them. Truth is, they did need them and we do as well. There is nothing we can do to cover our own sin, only relying on the blood of Jesus that was spilt will accomplish this.

God loved Adam and Eve so much that He made the first garment of salvation for them and if you receive and rely exclusively on His grace, He will clothe you with them as well.

The choice is yours. Do you want your sin to be covered with leaves or leather?

Categories: God, Grace, Jesus, Mormonism, Salvation

You Are God’s Temple

July 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Every Thursday morning a group of men meet at 5:30 in the morning to spend an hour in deep prayer for our church. It is a powerful hour where God never fails to demonstrate his goodness and power. Last week He gave me a word that I feel I need to write about.

While blessing the LORD for who he is a passage of scripture came to mind. It was Exodus 34:5-7

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

This is God’s self declaration so this is something we should pay attention to. These are not just attributes associated with God but they are who he is. Each one is co-existing with the others in unison and never at a point of contradiction.

So here is the point. If we believe that we are now the temple of God and his Spirit lives in us (1 Corinthians 3:16) than the declaration God gave about himself should now reflect who we are. These attributes should manifest themselves through us in our homes, church, workplace and community.

If God dwells in us and from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, we should be overflowing with compassion and grace.

Our anger should be righteous but as slow in coming as flowing molasses.

Loyalty and faithfulness should be at the core of who we are. We should stand firm in God and with family and fiends when times are good or bad. We should be dependable and trustworthy.

Love for others should never be lacking but we should have such a wealth of love that giving it away is more a pleasure than a burden.

And when wickedness, rebellion and sin come against us, Forgiveness should reign.
Forgive because you have been forgiven.

The idea of being the temple, the very place in which Heaven and Earth meet, is an amazing truth. It puts us as believers in The Way in a position to partner with God so that his glory, power and love can be shown to the world…one person at a time.

You are God’s temple. He lives in you but He wants you to open the windows so everyone else can see Him through you.

Categories: God, Grace, Testimony

The “Fire Escape” Approach to Salvation

May 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Having grown up in the suburbs of Fort Worth for most of my life, I cannot say that I have ever actually had any experience with a fire escape…I won’t let that stop me from using it to illustrate a point.

When I think of a fire escape I picture a New York alley with a zigzagging network of steel stairs winding its way past windows till it reaches the roof. Consider it a “stairway to heaven” if you will (queue Led Zeppelin).

Earth is the ground and heaven is the roof.

As we stand at the foot of this stairway looking up, we take notice of a few obstacles of getting to the top. First, the amount of steps seems almost un-climbable and all the twists and turns are dizzying. Second, the ladder does not reach all the way to the ground.

It is with this perspective that I want to approach the topic of salvation. Every human on earth is in the same position, standing at the bottom of this stairway and looking for the way to the top. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

There are two ways of approaching the predicament that we find ourselves in. One is trying to move our way up the stairs by our works. The other is having faith that Jesus will get us all the way to the top by what He has done.

I will use Mormonism as my example of the works-based solution because I am familiar with it. To them, the sacrifice of Jesus has limited importance. He stands next to us with his hands clasped and cupped waist high, ready to give us a boost so we can reach the bottom rung of the ladder that hovers over our heads, giving us access to the very bottom of the stairway. Once He gets us to that first rung, it is up to us to work our way to the top.

I spent the first 30 years of my life trying to climb my way up that ladder and it was exhausting. Each step was a rule that had to be kept or some action I had to take. Forget or fail to do something and back down you went. It felt like I would take one step up then 2 steps down. I never got any closer and there was never any hope of doing so.

Contrast that with the other method, relying on the finished work of Jesus on the cross and trusting in his grace to get you to the top. While the “works-based” Jesus can only push us up from the bottom, the “faith/grace based” Jesus is reaching down from the very top and effortlessly hoisting us up with his powerful, right arm. All we have to do is reach up and receive His unbreakable grasp…He does the rest.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is “cheap grace”. The cost of this grace was my no means cheap. In fact, it cost a price so high that only God could pay.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” 1 Peter 1:18-20

At this very moment, God’s hand is reaching out to you. He is stretching it toward you from heaven. Trust God, take hold of it, acknowledge the hopelessness of trying to climb your way up that “stairway to heaven” and receive the hope of salvation only found in Jesus Christ.

Categories: God, Grace, Jesus, Mormonism, Salvation