By His Spirit, We Can Trust

 photo credit:  Pixabay- cropped, words added

photo credit:  Pixabay- cropped, words added

In chapter one, I wrote about what trusting God looks like, and about the foundation of that trust, which is a faith in the gospel of what Jesus has done for us.  I talked about why even the ability and the desire to believe in the gospel is gift from the Holy Spirit.  We can’t muster that up on our own.  Once we accept those gifts and decide to live in relationship with God, trusting and loving him, he sees us as holy, as part of his family.  That’s what it means to be a Christian.  And we are changed when that happens, with new desires.

But does that mean that we always act like it?  No.  God calls us forgiven, in light of what his son did for us, and we are saved, but we’re also still in the process of being saved.  And one day we actually will be complete in that salvation.  There are some big words for that, justification and sanctification, but I’m just going to keep it simple for now. 

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I’m giving you this background, because it’s important to know.  When Christians forget these things, they can become prideful, if they think that they had anything to do with their salvation.  They can become despondent if they put aside the gospel, thinking that once they’re saved, they now have to live a try hard life on their own strength.  The story of the gospel tells us that we can’t do it.  It’s impossible.  Our continued propensity to sin should remind us of our need for the gospel every day. And our response of gratitude and love is what should motivate us to want to do what God tells us to do, in obedience, as part of a loving relationship.

 The only person who lived a perfect life was Jesus, and that’s why he needed to come and save us.  That’s why the Holy Spirit comes and strengthens us, and helps us to become more like Jesus.  And when people who haven’t yet come into a relationship with Christ don’t know this, this thing about justification and sanctification, they may look at Christians, who sometimes act very un-Christ like, and wonder why.  What’s the difference?  Sometimes it’s hard to see. 

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With that said, what’s someone like me, who already placed my trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins, who loves Jesus and wants to trust in him with everything else in my life, do, to actually move that word, trust, from something I understand in my head, to something I understand in my heart?  I ask for help from the Holy Spirit, to work on my heart.  I also continue to add knowledge, through the reading of scriptures and other good books.  And I just do it.  I act on it.  But first and most importantly, I rely on the Holy Spirit, for the heart change and for the strength, and that’s what the rest of this chapter will be about.

When we are in relationship with God, he does not promise to take care of us, to give us a hope and a future,(Jeremiah 29:11) or give us a reason to trust him because of anything we do.

“God does not slack his promises because of our sins….or hasten them because of our righteousness.  He pays no attention to either. “  Martin Luther, in his study on Galatians.

He promises these things because of what his Son did for us.  It’s called being “in Christ”.   This is grace.  It sounds crazy!  And it’s something so wonderful that I don’t think anyone can fully grasp its significance, not until the day when we get to see Jesus face to face.  I like what Bono, the lead singer from from U2 says about grace,

“Grace defies reason and logic.  Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff….”

Maybe you’ve noticed that when I talk about trusting God, I use names like God, Jesus (Christ), and Holy Spirit almost interchangeably.   They’re not really interchangeable.  They’re separate, but they’re not.  They’re called the Trinity.  I know it’s confusing, and I’ll try and explain it a little more next time.