The Zero Percenters

A new friend of mine mentioned that our identity in Christ is something that can’t be taught to people – they need a crisis and then the Holy Spirit can open their eyes.

With the term identity, he means grace, free grace, or the reality that it’s all about Christ.

I don’t know if I agree 100% with my friend, but I see his point. Sometimes it seems this message could be broadcast 24/7 in the churches and those who came for moralism, friendship, networking, community, charismatic gifts, et al – will stare off into deep space with glassy eyes.  They walk away disappointed that they weren’t told how to be more positive like Zig Ziglar, how to do better next time they fail, how to try harder, how to depend on their friends for support, and how to impact the world.

Crisis or not, when a believer sees it finally, then it POPS. He feels “born again – again“. He wonders if someone gave him a new bible – one with verses in it that weren’t in it before. He reads, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20a) and no longer sees the pain of death, but union with Christ. He wakes up to the fact that, as Christ died ONCE, he in the same way has died once to the world in his union with Christ. We are united with Christ in His death, but not for no reason. We are united with Him in His death so that we may be united with Him in His life.

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20b).

It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about Jesus, the Christ.

I wonder if that only has value to us when we truly acknowledge in our own hearts exactly how far we’ve missed the mark with God. It’s easy to think of ourselves as good people, when we are, in fact, not.

What makes a person good? 100% purity in deed and thought. Not 98%. Not 99%. Not 99.9999999%. Nope. Holiness is purity. And purity works like this:

100% = kosher
99.99% = 0%

All in or all out. No ‘tweeners’ allowed. Two options:     Yes / No.     Circle one.

Jesus said, ““You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment.” (Matt 5:21)

and then he kicked it up a notch to show how things really work:

“But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” (Matt 5:22)

Why did Jesus say this? To make it absolutely clear that you, friend – (yes, YOU) can’t do it.

100% Obedience to God’s way of doing things – in both actions and thoughts. No excuses allowed. No I was born this way, I was raised this way, and no My mama took me off the booby too early.

and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20c).

When we go about our day, it’s not about our ability to keep the rules. This is beautiful news – to the Zero Percenters. The ‘LIFE-ing‘ that I do is not my LIFE-ing. It’s Christ’s. I no longer live. GOOD NEWS: It’s not up to you, friend. You don’t live. You don’t do the LIFE-ing. The Son of God does it in you!

Dead people can’t do a bad job keeping the rules. Why? Because they can’t do a good job either. They’re incapable of living.

You, dear believer, if you really are in Christ… you are dead to you and alive to Christ.

who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20d).

It’s not about rule-keeping. Jesus didn’t die for you because He was keeping the rules, and He didn’t die for you so that you could be religious. He died for you because “he loved you”.

It’s about LOVE. Religion sucks, so

Don’t keep the rules to love, just let God’s love rule – His love, in Christ, for you.

Now go find Galatians 2:21 to see whether or not the Son died for you so that you could become acceptable to God by keeping the rules.

* (Remember, “righteousness” = “absence of wrong-doing from God’s perspective”, as defined in Romans 4).

** (Galatians was written to Christians about their walk after having been united with Christ.  In other words, we live with Christ the same way that we came to know him – there is no “one way for salvation but another way for walking in Him”)

Everlasting Righteousness lasts forever

Everlasting righteousness is just that – it’s righteousness that lasts forever.

Our heavenly Father doesn’t give it only to take it away again. Righteousness, which is a state of being sin-free before God and being found blameless before God, is a gift from God to you – you don’t earn it. (Romans 4; Romans 5; Philippians 3)

Repeat: you don’t earn it.  If you could stop sinning in order to be found righteous, it wouldn’t be a gift.

Those who receive this gift in Christ don’t need to keep begging for it and acting like they might lose it. Brutha, sista – it ain’t dependent on you. It’s a GIFT.

Why is this important? Because God will judge every individual by their deeds . Those who persevere and do good go to eternal life and those who do the law will be justified (Romans 2:10, 13) – BUT,

… and this is a really big “but” that people often miss:

there is none righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10)

Yet, judgment is coming.

So the short of it is this:
Perfectly good people could enter into a relationship with their Creator,
but you aint it,
and neither am I, and neither is your wife, your mom, your dad, your brother, your neighbor, your mayor, your president, your pastor… BUT,

and this is a really big “but” that people often miss:

Jesus is perfect – and it’s His righteousness that is exchanged for your sin (2 Cor 5:21)

You can’t be righteous to get righteous to have heaven here on earth and in the afterlife. You can only receive it, in humility, admitting to God that “you ain’t all that and then some”. You receive and God does that work. BUT,

and this is a really big “but”:

This message ain’t for everyone. If you’re on top of your game and if you’re too strong to be weak and too great to be humbled, this message is designed by God to go into one ear and straight out the other. He opposes the proud, yet gives grace to the humble. If you find yourself in need, an imperfect person at the end of your own ability to be “the good one”, then this is your message and your time to receive it. Today. Right now. “Lord make it real for me – I want Christ”s gift of righteousness”.

And …

This is a really big “and”:

And we never leave this gospel (Message of Good News). This gospel of the gift of Christ’s righteousness to you, and unearned by you, received in faith (trusting dependence) is what defines Christianity.

Anything less or different is just a crowd of people playing religion.

Everlasting Righteousness lasts forever.

Hurry Up and Stop!

I love this play on words in Hebrews 4:11, where it says, “be diligent to enter that rest”.

The word for ‘diligent’ means ‘hurry, hasten’.
The word for ‘rest’ is ‘to stop’.

So in effect it says,

“hurry up and stop”.

THIS IS MY KIND OF HUMOR. 

In context the writer is saying, since there’s some scary stuff under the old covenant, God wants works-based people to hurry up and stop working for their righteousness with God. Trust in the finished work of Jesus!
And this ain’t no “baby-steps-to-Jesus-I-took-30-years-ago”…

This is present day, moment by moment, right-now dependence on Christ for our access to the Father.

Quickbits – (not) Pursuing God

Zeal is defined, “great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective“.

But according to the Apostle Paul, trying to follow God and/or being a good person is not what spiritual life is about.
Knowing the righteousness of God, in place of your own, and depending on that is where it’s at.

This is dependence on Jesus as The Good Person.

It’s not about self-righteousness;
it’s about Christ-Righteousness.

Romans 10:1-4
NCV (New Century Version)
Brothers and sisters, the thing I want most is for all [of them] to be saved. That is my prayer to God. I can say this about them: They really try to follow God, but they do not know the right way. Because they did not know the way that God makes people right with him, they tried to make themselves right in their own way. So they did not accept God’s way of making people right. Christ ended the law so that everyone who believes in him may be right with God.

(NRSV)
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.