Put all faith in Christ’s hands

As I exited the visitor’s entrance to Marietta High School during class hours, a lone student entered at the same time. Hoping to get a laugh, and knowing that pressing a green button is required for entrance, I held the door and said, are you allowed in here?

With a startled look, he nodded a yes. I laughed OK then, and we went our separate ways.

Driving away, I thought of the old jokes about St. Peter standing at the pearly gates asking sinners, are you allowed in here? Would we become mute as we nod yes, or would we fall to our knees and beg forgiveness to enter the kingdom of heaven?

All sin is serious; but with humble confession and repentence, sin can be dealt with. God, in His sovereignty and grace, can forgive sins if we ask Him. The one and only unpardonable sin is to reject Christ.

Recognizing and confessing sin is a prerequisite to everything else that follows (2 Cor. 5:21). At His crucifixion, our sin was poured into Christ.

In return for our trust in Him, the moment we receive the Holy Spirit at our conversion, His righteousness is poured into us. This is Christ’s atonement, or restitution, for sin. God offers to trade His righteousness, something of immeasurable worth, for our sins that are completely worthless.

When we take time for introspection about our actions and their outcomes, and humbly ask our merciful God’s forgiveness, Christians begin to know our deluded selves. And scripture tells us that a repentant soul is never allowed to remain long without being held by the love of God.

Oswald Chambers said it this way: the only way I can get at reality is by dumping myself outside myself on to Someone else, namely, God. As soon as I do I am brought in touch with reality.

We are taught that when we accept Christ, the Holy Spirit holds us secure in our relationship with God. He is called the guarantee (Eph. 1:14). The Holy Spirit keeps us until the day we enter heaven to claim our inheritance.

God wants to help us from the traps of this world, including bad habits that can keep us from from growing into whom He created us to be.

As we humbly admit our shortcomings, we open the way for His power to work in our lives. The Bible gives clear, practical advice for exchanging our sinful habits for godly behavior in Eph. 4:22-32.

We do not deserve God’s forgiveness, and there is nothing we can do on our own to earn it. Yet God freely offers a way to be forgiven, through faith in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.

Even while suffering the excruciating pain and humiliation of dying on the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do (Luke 23:34).

Christians can look very different from one another and have varying beliefs about politics, lifestyles, and even theology. But one central belief unites and inspires all true Christians: Jesus Christ died on the cross and was buried. On the third day, He arose from the dead, ascended into heaven, where He sits at the right hand of God The Father, and He will rule His church forever.

I’ve often thought about the day when Christ descends from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire (2Thess.1:6-10) to complete the process of salvation He has begun in us. I imagine there will be many who will fall to their knees weeping, and say oh My God, You are real! It’s all been true, why didn’t I listen? Please forgive me!

This is why we must take every opportunity to share the gospel with others and encourage one another on the hope of Christ’s return. We can experience God’s peace regardless of our circumstances, and we can endure the sufferings of this temporary world. We can offer the message of hope.

On that day, many things will become clear that we do not understand. The only way we can be ready for Christ’s return is to trust in Him alone by faith for our salvation, and live a life that pleases Him.

Bonnie Donnelly is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Claire Heiby at 740-373-2121, ext. 537, or cheiby@mariettatimes.com. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer’s convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.

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