Latimer Hall

School of Divinity

An educational arm of the Worldwide Anglican Orthodox Church

AOCCoatofArmsMedium

Latimer Hall Home Becoming The Thirty Nine Articles John Donne

Becoming a Christian - To be or not to be? That really is the question

By The Reverend Lewis H. How

Welcome to all readers of this essay who are not Christian, everyone who does not know Jesus Christ to be the Redeemer of the world and your own personal Saviour.

If you can say that you are not a Christian then you must have a reason. This discussion is offered to anyone who is willing to consider at least some of these reasons from a Christian perspective. I have explored seven in an attempt to scan the breadth and height of the possibilities.

Seven Reasons

WHY SOME PEOPLE SAYI AM NOT A CHRISTIAN

[1] HAVE NOT HEARD THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

[2] AGNOSTICISM

[3] ATHEISM

[4] RESENTMENT TOWARD GOD [DUE TO PERSONAL SUFFERING OR TRAGEDY]

[5] DISENGAGEMENT WITH GOD

[6] REJECTION BY ASSOCIATION [DUE TO HYPOCRISY AMONGST CHRISTIANS]

[7] PERSONAL UNWORTHINESS [THINKING GOD WILL NOT FORGIVE YOU]

 

I HAVE NOT HEARD THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Romans 10:13-14]

Paul said that those who do not know the Law of Moses yet keep it in spirit without knowledge are “a law unto themselves.” [Romans 2:14] Perhaps you have never before heard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If this is the case I ask you to consider that part of your life that may be empty, hurting, or questioning. Christians believe from the teaching of the Bible that there is a special place in everyone’s heart that only God can occupy and which is central to our being.

The Gospel, Greek for Good News, tells the story of how the one eternal, all powerful all loving God created the universe for good; how man, His highest earthly creature turned his heart from a perfect relationship with God, causing a separation to exist between himself and his creator, [referred to as The Fall] resulting in mankind becoming mortal [having to die].

It goes on to tell the beautiful story of Salvation for this ‘Fallen’ world, accomplished by God Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ through His sinless life and reconciling death upon the Cross. And finally it proclaims to all, how forgiveness of SIN, [that is to say those of our actions, which are contrary to God’s perfect will] is now available to whomsoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus for the same. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16]

The Bible [God’s Word], says that we come to eternal life in Jesus Christ by REPENTANCE of our sin; that is to say by having a genuine sorrow for our wrong doing, rejecting sinful living in the future and then by turning in Faith to JESUS CHRIST to ask of Him, forgiveness for our sins and a new relationship with God through Him who is both God and man.

He will fill that emptiness, heal that hurt and fulfil that need in your life. I do not speak here of a philosophy but of a living relationship with God. If you recognize your need for a Saviour from your sins and repent of those sins, turning in faith to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and new life, you will experience this relationship personally. Jesus said that He is knocking at the door of our hearts, [Revelation 3:20] and will enter in and abide with us when we invite Him to do so. What better opportunity for knowing God could you hope to have? If the Gospel is false then you will quickly know it to be so; if not then you will have your proof through the experience, which comes by faith. [Hebrews 11:6]

I encourage you to take this step of faith. There are several link sites included on this page that explain in a variety of ways under the same principle, how to take this step in faith. I hope you will consider them.

Right now, If you will confess your sin in prayer to God, that is to say, if you will in honest sorrow for them, offer them personally to the Lord Jesus, renounce them from having any future part in your life, and ask Jesus to forgive you and make you one with God in Himself; then the Bible promises: “you shall be saved.” [Isaiah 45:22] [John 3:16] [John 3:17] [Acts 2:21] [Romans 10:13] [1Timothy 2:4]

This is one form the sinner’s prayer, and it will start you on a new and wonderful adventure with God. We may say it together if you like:

Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. The Bible says [Matthew 9:13, Romans 5:8, John 3:16, 1Timothy 1:15, 1John 2:1-2] that you are the Saviour of sinners. I need and want to be forgiven. I desire a personal relationship with you so that I may have new purpose in my life and hope for eternal life in heaven with you when I leave this world. Please come into my life and set me free, be the Saviour of my soul and the Lord of my life, for I ask it in your Name. Amen. [Amen is a Hebrew word of affirmation which means So be it or Yes I agree]

If you have said this prayer for the first time, and sincerely meant it from your heart, then you have just become a new creation in Jesus Christ, a child of God and an inheritor of eternal life in God’s Kingdom! Welcome, welcome my brother, my sister! Now the Bible says that you must tell someone what you have done: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [Romans 10:10] Christians are not ashamed of the Gospel of their Saviour Jesus Christ. [Romans 1:16] Tell someone, any one you wish, write to us if you like so that we may welcome you personally and pray for you. And find a good Church where the Bible is believed and the Lord Jesus Christ is loved. You are now part of Christ’s Body the Church: come; partake in the great fellowship of believers! [Hebrews 10:25] [Matthew 18:20]

Perhaps you remain unconvinced, or have heard the Gospel before but for one reason or another have not given your life to Christ. Will you explore with me some of the reasons people give for not coming to Jesus? I have described some below.

Do you [2] have difficulty in seeing the logic for God in general or [3] do you simply think belief in the super natural to be false? [4] Perhaps you believe in God but harbour resentment or anger towards Him because of your personal hardships or due to tragedy in your life? [5] Are you by chance one of many who simply have not given the idea of God much thought? [6] Perhaps you have dismissed God principally because of the sinful actions of many who profess to be Christian? [7] Do you perhaps long for a relationship with God, but feel unworthy and unacceptable as a person so that you think you cannot have a relationship with Him?

Should [2] generally describe your position then perhaps we might agree that you are uncertain about the claims of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and hold what is called an agnostic position, meaning ‘without knowledge’, as one unconvinced. If [3] is where you stand then you may generally be described as one holding an atheistic position, which is to say your world view wittingly excludes God. Number [4] suggests that belief has been rejected out of a profound sense of alienation caused through suffering. You may feel let down of God or think Him unloving or impotent. The [5th] reason defines disengagement with the topic. Number [6] describes a rejection by association of Christianity based upon the poor behaviour of others professing to be followers of Jesus Christ. [7] Maybe your reason for not being a Christian stems from a sense of personal unworthiness: you think that you can’t live up to God’s expectations or you believe that your sins are too great or too numerous for God to accept you.

All right, so I have described some reasons why people haven’t come to Jesus Christ: perhaps one of them is your reason. Will you explore your choice for a moment? Below are some arguments for seeing your decision from a different perspective, grounded in the Bible. Won’t you please take a step of faith and give God a chance?

AGNOSTICISM

“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:24

This was said by a man who thought his belief was insufficient to bring about healing from Jesus for his son: but he didn’t want his need to be defeated, so he asked for more faith from the Lord. Trust or faith is something that grows in a good relationship. Every relationship must begin with a certain risk factor that requires a step of faith at the outset. Such faith it could be said is quantitatively small. Jesus had the following to say about it: “… I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Matthew 17:20

God does not expect great faith from those first answering His call, however great may be their need in asking. Faith is in essence a quality, the fourth type of noun after person, place or thing. But you may say I simply don’t have this quality. In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul revealed a precious insight into the nature of faith. “Now faith” he said “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1 FAITH THEREFORE IS THE CHILD OF HOPE, THE END OF OUR LONGING, THE PROOF OF THE INTANGIBLE.

Perhaps this is why you have not been able to come to God: in that as an agnostic you have not given Jesus Christ the chance to be the answer to your deepest needs, those spiritual longings that you cannot humanly secure.

When you cross a standard ‘run of the mill’ bridge, do you first doubt whether it will support your weight? Probably not, because you have sufficient knowledge to understand that certain structures perform this task. Strictly speaking though, until you actually venture out onto the bridge you really don’t KNOW that it will support you. Rather your experience tells you that it is likely to do so: but bridges HAVE collapsed. Perhaps we can agree then, that in crossing bridges you are exercising FAITH in those who designed and built them, as well as in its current state of repair. Certainly, if you have any doubts you HOPE they will support you, and you go forward on that basis. Is not life full of such examples?

When you begin a new relationship with another person you do not KNOW that it will turn out well. Rather you HOPE it will and on this bases take a risk and go forward one step at a time.

So perhaps you exercise more faith in your life than you have admitted to yourself. Because you have not yet come to God He remains an entirely untested reality [possibility]. The Gospel has been described as a bridging of the gulf [caused by sin] between God and mankind through the Cross of Jesus Christ. It indeed takes faith to cross it, but if your DESIRE is to find God, because that inner need and longing that nothing else has ever been able to fill, drives you to HOPE that Jesus might be the answer, as He claims to be; then all you need do is exercise your hope by asking Jesus to reveal Himself as the answer to your longing. You will need to do it with a sincere heart. Won’t you consider crossing the bridge that leads to a future of potential freedom?

Seeds properly planted grow into that reality for which they were truly designed. Great faith comes as the gift of much experience, but even a little faith can ask for more from Providence: [Remember the father's plea] and when FAITH is not yet present, HOPE lies ready to give it birth. Recognizing that knowledge and experience are two sides of the same coin, it is reasonable to expect that KNOWLEDGE of God will come from EXPERIENCING Him.  And because FAITH is, as Paul said, the manifestation of HOPE, it follows logically to say that FAITH is KNOWLEDGE born of placing one’s HOPE in Jesus Christ. Give your deepest longing to God and you will EXPERIENCE and KNOW Him. Jesus says: “Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Perhaps you like to call yourself a sceptic: but how do you define scepticism? Historically, scepticism is a philosophical position named after its proponents the Greek Sceptics. It holds the opinion that “real knowledge of any kind is unobtainable.” [OED] Popular usage however would appear to view scepticism by the attitude of ‘caution’, which is an entirely different meaning from history.

If those who consider themselves to be sceptics are essentially cautious about arriving at the truth, then their methodology might well be laudable. BUT IF THEY ARE, AS THE FORMAL DEFINITION INDICATES, DISMISSIVE OF KNOWLEDGE, THEN IN ORDER TO BE NUMBERED AMONGST THEM, ONE MUST REJECT THE VERY IDEA OF ALL ABSOLUTES. This is the philosophy of relativism, which does not admit to there being any truth. Such a position is illogical because dismissal itself is an absolute.

Should your position be one of caution, with regard to learning, then there is nothing to stop you from exploring the Gospel of Jesus Christ as presented by the Bible. If however you are a philosophical sceptic, then I suggest that your basis for rejecting the Gospel is adversarial. Dismissal of a position prior to any intellectual engagement of its claims is not really a basis for knowledge and is logically inconsistent with the position of agnosticism whose reason for non-partisanship is based upon a failure to comprehend not an unwillingness to do so. Obscurantism is the refusal to be enlightened.

Most agnostics are generally interested and willing to engage in an honest discussion about the claims of the Gospel and are not therefore true sceptics at all. Does this describe you? Are you looking for knowledge of God’s existence that measures up to the standard of reality, as you know it? Then won’t you come to the Lord in Hope! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

ATHEISM

 “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." [2 Timothy 3:7]

I submit that the logical purpose of knowledge is to come to the truth. “Truth is conformity with fact; agreement with reality.” [OED] Knowledge is an experience with fact and therefore an encounter with truth. It would seem that those who deny the existence of absolutes fail to recognize any benchmarks of science or morality. Survey plans are always based upon a benchmark: an established point of reference whose coordinates are secure and above question. The universal nature of the moral principle is established through its ubiquitous application in human relationships: C.S. Lewis argued that the knowledge of right and wrong can be demonstrated by observing how people react to having been personally wronged. We recognize wrong done against us even when we are too hypocritical to admit that we do the same to others or too insensitive, to acknowledge man’s inhumanity to man.

Paul’s warning to Timothy[2 Timothy 3:7] concerning the false value of a learning process unwilling to recognize the reality of truth is particularly apt for our age. The Western world has largely replaced virtues with values for the basis of its cultural ethos. The former represents the whole weight of human experience born of Divine Revelation, while the latter systematizes individual gratification. In order to consign virtue to the dustbin we must be willing to embrace the illogical denial of PRUDENCE, JUSTICE, TEMPERANCE, and fortitude [the four cardinal virtues] as well as faith, hope and charity [the three THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES ].

The Philosopher G.W.F. Hegel proposed a worldview of perpetual change, which now lies at the heart of modern liberalism. He claimed that when two differing viewpoints [theses] come into conflict or [antithesis], a single new thesis is created by a synthesis of the two former theses. This process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis is advanced as the natural order of evolution. It does not allow for any absolute save the absolute of perpetual and random change.

The freedom from moral responsibility presented by the Hegelian worldview is attractive to proponents of social and physical evolution. As a professed atheist you may be drawn to this model and think it a good code by which to live. But if you look closely, I think you may come to admit that the argument lacks integrity, because as a thesis itself, it can, by its own definition last only as long as it remains free from contact with a differing thesis, for at that moment of antithesis when the conflicting theses synthesize into something different, the Hegelian model, according to its own insistence, ceases to exist. It is illogical to present a fleeting thesis as a model of immutable truth. Hegel manages only to prove the necessity for absolutes in defining reality: But he does so by self-contradiction.

A belief in God inhibits atheism by imposing absolutes of truth that differentiate between the validity of conflicting theses, admitting right versus wrong and good in contrast to evil. Perhaps you may imagine these absolutes to be spoilers to a world of potential. Is your ATHEISM a reaction to the perception of God as a spoiler?  The Bible reveals God as the Almighty and all loving Creator and Redeemer of mankind who pursues His lost creatures even unto death upon the Cross in order to make a way home to Himself through Him who is at once both God and man, even Jesus Christ. Satan is the spoiler, deceiving [Revelation 12:9] and accusing man before God [Job 2:3-4] and tempting him into committing sin, [Genesis 3:4 Revelation 12:9] [which is the sum of all thoughts and actions contrary to the good will of God], that, in the doing, separates people from their rightful relationship with God.

The Bible promises reward for the intellectual pursuit of God, [Job 42:5I] [Hebrews 11:6] [Matthew 7:7] and Christianity is found to be a golden thread of logic [Hebrews 4:12] [John 1:1-3]to all who will explore it with genuine endeavour. 

It has also been said that there are no atheists in foxholes. The comment is not without merit: many a soul has plea-bargained with God when in serious trouble. Perhaps it is easiest to deny the existence of God in time of plenty, when we can vainly imagine self-achievement to be at the heart of our success and human endeavour the centre of our universe.

In her discussion of the deadly sins, Dorothy L. Sayers called Pride, “the head and origin” of all sin. Here she warns, in what I think may fairly be called a pre-composed epilogue to her dissertation on the intellectual assent to God, against “the devilish strategy of pride…the pre-eminent sin of the noble mind…We cannot make ourselves happy by serving ourselves-not even when we call self service the service of the community, for the community in that context is only an extension of our own ego. Human happiness is a by-product, thrown off in our service to God.” (p. 178 The Whimsical Christian)

In his poem The Hound of Heaven Francis Thompson wrote of the intellectual flight from Jesus Christ:  “I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind… From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase, and unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, They beat -- and a voice beat More instant than the Feet –“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

Have you really concluded in your mind, beyond all further pursuit, that God does not exist? Are you settled in you intellectual state against all the storms of life that assault you? Can you honestly say that you have answered, without the possibility of God, those perennial questions: Who am I? From where did I come? What is my purpose in being here? Where am I going after death?

Lest you think believers in God have any cause to present themselves in a superior manner against your position, I must point to another form of atheism, perfidy [Deuteronomy 8:11-18] practised all too often by professed believers. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. I put it out for your consideration that there isn’t any other medicine for the world’s ills but through the Saviour Jesus Christ whose life and witness are a matter of public record. Those who claim man’s ability to cure the world of man’s inhumanity to man haven’t any evidence for hope. The logic of the Gospel of Salvation is infinitely more than worthy of our consideration. The Hound of Heaven is pursuing you, have you sensed His footfall? [Revelation 3:20]

RESENTMENT TOWARD GOD

“O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.”

Jeremiah 20:7

Here is an amazing outburst of anguish from the mouth of a great prophet. It was Jeremiah who had sounded the last warning for repentance to theKingdomofIsraelon the eve of her exile intoBabylon, for which he received the wrath of powerful countrymen. His outcry indicates a temporary failure to trust in God’s Grace for the task. He was embittered by his persecution and in a rash burst of frustration and pain, blamed God for what he deemed a fruitless end to his ministry.

We see a similar breakdown in the life of Job, who argued with God Job 23:1-4 about the terrible anguish he suffered at the hand of Satan; yet who, at the end of his dispute confessed that it was only his own sinful weakness that had brought him to a false sense of righteousness. “I have heard of thee with the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor [myself], and repent in dust and ashes.”   Job 42:5

You may have decided to read this essay about resentment towards God because of your own circumstances. Perhaps you are angry and blame God for your suffering? If so, you can see from the above quotation in Jeremiah that you are in company with the prophets. Consider also the Psalmist David, who cried: “O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.” Psalm 38:1-2  

And lest you miss the climax of the human complaint to God, consider who quoted the twenty second Psalm and from where. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [Why art thou so] far from helping me, [and from] the words of my roaring?” Psalm 22:1 THE SAME WAS CITED BY JESUS ON THE CROSS. Matthew 27:46 Mark 15:34

By this we know that God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, suffered our deepest sense of abandonment. Such separation from God is of course the result of sin, whose wages is death. In this we are able to receive the Grace of God’s own comfort, for we learn that He understands our anger poured out upon him, and that although He does not deserve it, yet He is willing and able to forgive us this transgression and heal us of all our deepest resentments and anguish, because Jesus endured the abandonment of His father while on the Cross: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.”   Hebrews 4:15

In the Lord Jesus Christ our very sorrows draw us unto God, for He is the “man of sorrows” Isaiah 53:3 and “by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 1Peter 2:24.

 

DISENGAGEMENT WITH GOD 

 ”The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good.”

Psalm 14:1

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him];” Hebrews 2:3

Can you recall the last time you experienced summary dismissal from an individual? It can be a very unpleasant experience to be treated as though one does not exist or that one’s opinion is not worth the slightest consideration. The unpleasantness of such an experience is magnified when the dismissal comes from someone we know personally or with whom we share some common life: The snub by a neighbour or colleague, the verbal interruption that rudely pushes aside our contribution to a conversation. Such ill treatment by another person is hurtful and alienating. Yet we see it all the time along with the detrimental effect it has on self-esteem and interpersonal relationships, not to mention the waste of human endeavour and potential and the degrading effects the sin of superiority brings upon the perpetrator thereof.

Solomon said “Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom [is] despised, and his words are not heard.” Ecclesiastes 9:16 Do you not think that the summary dismissal of God is just this interpersonal disaster on an eternal scale? If you have truly dismissed God without consideration, then unlike the Agnostic and Atheist you have forfeited a relationship with God without benefit of your own mind. You are that soul, who lost the Word of God to the fowls of the air, the one from whom Satan stole the Word of life immediately as you heard it. Luke 8: 5 and 12 within [8:4-15]

This is why the Bible calls such an action, foolishness. The act of dismissal may also suggest an arrogance of self centredness or carelessness engendered by some distraction. In the Lord’s parable of the Sower, the last folly mentioned in robbing a person of the Word of God is worldly pleasure and distraction, the cares of the world. [Luke 8:14]  We can be robbed of our eternal heritage by mere distraction when we close our hearts and minds to the possibility of God before serious consideration.

Won’t you give God a chance by allowing Him a little of your time for the reading of His Word, in offering the SINNER’S PRAYER and in seeking the fellowship of the Christian community.

REJECTION BY ASSOCIATION - DUE TO HYPOCRICY AMONG CHRISTIAN

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”

2 Peter 2:1-2

Have you ever been accused of something you did not do? If so you will how know how unpleasant it is to be misrepresented by another. Now hearsay is trespass: but the disloyalty of an ambassador amounts to treason. Jesus had strong words for those who would falsely represent Him: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 In another place, citing the Prophet Isaiah, the Lord said: “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me.” Mark 7:6 [Isaiah 29:13]“

The remedy for false prophecy is not the rejection of truth but rather a turning to it. Those who would dismiss Christianity on the sole basis of a contradiction in living by some, who call themselves Christian, are only compounding the first sin: For every wrong there is a right, for any lacking, a supply. Paul spoke of the problem in a letter to Timothy, offering the Bible as a counter for the deception of religious hypocrisy. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” [2 Timothy 3:13-17]

If all one cares to do is attack Christianity on the basis of its ill practice, then the first fault must lie at your own doorstep. Honest inquiry, however demanding or emotionally laden does not give up on its goal simply because infidelity is found amongst those professing ownership of the same goal: the inquirer as well as the representative must practise Integrity.

Furthermore, a distinction can be drawn between those who deliberately seek to undermine the faith and those who fail it through weakness. “Beware of false prophets,” Jesus said “which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15

The Prophet Jeremiah wrote: “the LORD said unto me, the prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.” Jeremiah 14:14

God said to the prophet Ezekiel concerning the leaders of Israel: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe [be] to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” Ezekiel 34:2

These are examples of deliberate action against God through His people: but as Paul said to the Romans, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23 Clearly therefore all believers fail to glorify God through their witness. But the honest inquirer is not striving to emulate the creature but the Creator. You must look therefore to God Himself as He is revealed in the perfection of the one who is both God and man, even Jesus Christ. He is the Word of God incarnate who may be known though God’s Word written, the Holy Bible Acts 10:43 Luke 24:44 Luke 4:17-21 and through the Holy Ghost John 16:13 to those who have accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour.

We must understand wilful contempt of Christian behaviour and teaching to be non-Christian altogether and therefore not the hypocrisy of those who really are Christian in faith. And we must look beyond the poor witness of true believers to their Master. Taking a full measure of Christian witness from amongst those who hold to the authority of Holy Scripture and have been born again in Christ, you will find amongst the shameful failures, examples of a good witness to Jesus. The contradictory behaviour was described thus by the Lord Jesus: “the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.” Matthew 26:41

Jesus said “they that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Mark 2:17 Will you not consider looking beyond the failings of Christians, to the Lord Jesus Christ who is both “the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

 

 PERSONAL UNWORTHINESS - THINKING GOD WILL NOT FORGIVE YOU

“But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

Isaiah 64:6

It was once asked of a monk who lived inEnglandduring the middle Ages, why he whom others observed to be a holy man, thought so little of himself? The closer one draws to God, replied the man, the more aware one becomes of one’s sin.

The first response to any who would keep themselves from God because of their unworthiness is to point out that the great figures of the Bible were unworthy and yet enjoyed relationship with God: John the Baptist, “I am not worthy” Matthew 3:11; the Centurion of great faith, “I am not worthy” Matthew 8:8 and Moses, “Who am I that I should go unto Pharaoh?” Exodus 3:11 to name but three. Yet in the midst of their protest of unworthiness towers the great I AM, God’s self disclosed title of omniscience, love and power. I will be with you when you go before Pharaoh, I will empower you. Exodus 3:14 

Standing in the presence of God, Isaiah exclaimed “I [am] a man of unclean lips…” Isaiah 6:5 where upon the angel of the Lord “having a live coal in his hand, [which] he had taken with the tongs from off the altar… laid [it] upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” [Isaiah 6:7] And then followed: “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here [am] I, send me.” Isaiah 6:8

The claim, I am unworthy, is always met by the cleansing and empowerment of the great I AM. So it is with each of us.

Behind this Grace is the sacrifice and cleansing Blood of Jesus, who said to Saint Paul: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore ”Paul concluded, “will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 “If we confess our sins, Saint John says, he” Jesus “is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9

Unworthiness is not a reason to remain aloof from God but much rather the principal need for drawing nigh to him! The issue is not overcoming our unworthiness in order that we may approach God, but that God in Jesus Christ has approached us with an urgent offer of forgiveness and new life in Him. “We love him, because he first loved us.”  1John 4:19 He is not standing aloof from us, but rather announces in His Word: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

I believe people often feel unworthy out of a profound sense of rejection: rejection by family, by fellows; unwanted, unloved, passed by, without value; dismissed, discarded, ground under foot: and because of this unwarranted rejection have concluded that God too does not love them. To those of you who may walk this painful road I want to say: God’s love for you is from everlasting and world without end!!! Jeremiah 31:3, “if the world hates you, know” Jesus said, “that it hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18

What we need is healing and relationship with God. I pray you will seek this in the one who “is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:” Isaiah 53:3 who “[was] wounded for our transgressions…bruised for our iniquities…” and with whose “stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

“The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” Matthew 8:8

The Lord Jesus Christ, who is worthy, is calling us all into relationship with Him so that all creation might praise and magnify Him: Won’t you please give the Lord a chance to heal you by calling upon Him in your need! “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11