20.6.11

What must I do?

"What must I do to be saved?" Acts 16:30b

It's great to be involved with the "Who is Jesus?" course at City Church Coventry. It's wonderful to get an open invitation to share your faith with those who want to listen. It has made me think back to time when as an eleven-year-old boy at a Scripture Union camp in Scotland, I asked the question of my tent-leader, "What do you have to do to be saved?"

Over the past few days I've tried to think again about how I would answer that question myself. In the simplest way possible. Using the fewest Bible verses.

What I came up with was R.B.S. Not the bank! But Repent. Believe. Speak.

Acts 3:19 (NIV) Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Romans 10:9 (NIV) If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

To get healed by a doctor you first have to acknowledge the fact that you are sick and you have to want to get better. In the same way to be saved you have to be in a position where you acknowledge that your life as it is has not and cannot please God and that only Jesus has the answer. This is repentance.

Belief is the other side of the coin to repentance, for it is not just a turning away from sin, but a turning to God. We take "self" out of the pilot seat and hand it over to Jesus. It is the cry of "You have control." This kind of belief is more than mental assent; we are trusting God with our life.

Belief that says internalised is not enough. Something concrete and permanent happens when we give a thought a vocal expression. Telling someone that we have become a Christian is not an optional extra but an integral part of the process.

If you have never taken this step and are ready to do so, you can pray the following prayer. Then let someone know!

Jesus I'm sorry for the things I've done wrong.
I know that I cannot live my life without you.
Thank you that you died on the cross for me
and that you rose again and now live forever.
Please forgive me for all the past.
I surrender my life to you as Lord, from this day, for all my days.
Please come into my life and lead me.
Amen.

16.6.11

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

2Samuel 19:16-40

I have been reading and meditating on the return of David to his kingdom in 2 Samuel. As well as an actual historic account it is a time period rich with prophetic significance. The king returns to unite and restore the kingdom, but at the price of the death of his own son; lifted up on a tree and pierced. David's reaction at this time is one of the few precious insights we have in the scriptures into the Father's heart as he expressed the amazing depths of his love for the world when he sent Jesus his son to die (Abraham and Jephthah are two others).

I was struck by the account just before he crossed back over the Jordan, and the three characters that came to meet him there: Barzillai the companion, Shimei the curser, and Mephibosheth the cripple. The good, the bad and the ugly. One had stayed loyal and faithful to David even in his darkest hour, one had displayed outright rebellion against him, and one despite his best intentions had felt that he had failed and let him down: The friend, the foe and the "failure".

All three present themselves to the king at his return.

Although these three characters are separate individuals in this account, I see them also as representatives of aspects of our own lives. The good, the bad and the ugly that lies within each of us. We often like to pretend that we are all "Barzillai". That's the side we like to project to the world around. We like people to see what we get right. The times when we are strong in the Lord. The exploits of faith. We are not so quick to acknowledge the times when the unruled flesh rises up in selfish rebellion to the the rule of God, or the times when despite our best efforts we fell flat on our face!

But God doesn't want us to put on a fa├žade when we come before him. He is not fooled by our "best face". He knows us warts and all. He want us to submit all to him. The great grace of our kingly Father is revealed in this account. He does not just reward the good... he forgives the bad, and restores the ugly. No sin is too bad, no failure too shameful. The king extends his grace to all who come to him and desires to bring his rule, order and peace once again.

Jesus take me as I am,
I can come no other way,
Take me deeper into you,
Make my flesh life melt away.
Make me like a precious stone,
Crystal clear and finely honed.
Love of Jesus shining through,
Giving glory back to you.
~ Dave Bryant, 1978 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music