Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Amazing Grace versus Amazing Unbelief

The argument could be made that the song ‘Amazing Grace’ is the most well known song of this age. It is likely the most loved hymn in the recorded history of Christians. Everyone knows the history of the song. It was written by a man with a dreadful past. While some may struggle with admitting the sins in their own life, this man was a sinner of the most evil sort. You see, he worked in the slave trade.

Whatever the origin of the song, it tells a most amazing story.

Verse one tell us salvation received. (Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.)

Verse two tells us that it was the grace of God that led him to understand he was separated from God by his sins; but was reconciled to God through God’s grace. (Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.)

Verse three tells how he gave God the credit for bringing him through deadly perils, and trusted God to take him through whatever happened the rest of his life. (Through many dangers toils and snares I have already come. Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.)

Verse four tells of how he believed the words of the Bible, and trusted God to do all that He promised. (The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope assures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.)

Verse five tells of faith that God will take those who die in Him to heaven. (Yeah, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace.)

Verse six tells of eternity with Jesus. (When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.)

There is some controversy regarding whether all verses were actually written by John Newton, or added or revised at a later date. Regardless, the song tells the story of the salvation of a lost man, his progress through life, and his future when he died.

And, the song connects with Christian believers because the story of every individual believer is the same.
They come to understand that they are separated from God by their sins.
They are afraid, but God’s grace relieves them of fear of hell through salvation in Jesus Christ.
They know the Lord gives good things to His children.
They face trials and tribulations throughout their lives, but Jesus is with them through it all. They know that when their flesh and heart shall fail, or when they die, they will go to the better life of joy and peace.
They know that life is eternal, and will never end.

There is no doubt that the salvation offered by Jesus Christ is amazing.
God’s children trust Him to save them, be with them through this life, take them to heaven when they die, and provide an eternal home for them in a place of righteousness called heaven.

Now isn’t that amazing? I mean really amazing.

Which takes us to the next amazing item. It is simply amazing unbelief.

Let’s face it. Christians in general are firm in their belief that God will do all He has promised to them when they die. There may be a lot of nervousness regarding what rewards may or may not be received, but the promise of salvation is firmly believed.

Another marvelous thing about the amazing grace of God is that His love is unconditional. We don’t earn it, and we get to keep it eternally. A Christian may fall into terrible sin, but God’s love never wavers. God is not pleased with us when we sin, but His love is always the same. Good parents are the same. They love their child consistently, but they may hate some of the things their child does.

So, isn’t it amazing that Christians can trust God with their souls, but not with provisions and care for their daily needs? The most amazing thing in all time, creation, and eternity is the amazing grace of God Almighty. Probably the second most amazing thing in all time, creation and eternity is the amazing unbelief of people in general and of Christians specifically. Why do Christians trust God with something as big and important as our eternal destination, but have trouble trusting Him with the problems and trials that we face?

Amazing unbelief is caused, at least in part, by an incorrect image of God. It is easy to see Him working outside time and space because we don’t have any visual contact with where God lives. We do have the things of this earth staring us in the face all the time. Fighting amazing unbelief requires that we go beyond the concept of ‘Jesus loves me and will never leave me’. That is absolutely true. However, it does not end there. God is powerful. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all creation. Christians need to keep that in mind as well. God not only goes with us through trials, He has the power to change circumstances, give strength, and surprise us with unbelievable deliverance. Does anyone think the children of Israel thought God was going to part the Red Sea and let them walk through on dry land? If you don’t see a way out of a difficult or impossible situation, don’t tax your brain trying to figure out how God is going to resolve it. Just trust God to come up with a way out or a way through.

But, you may be asking, where does one get that kind of faith? The Christian who puts God’s words in his or her heart is going to have a better understanding of who God is and how He operates. The better picture you have of God, the more you will be able to trust Him. You may not know how, when, where, or what God is going to do, but you trust Him to do the right thing at the right time. Faith and trust in God are not based on thin air or psyching one’s self up to ‘believe’. It is based on the character and trustworthiness of God. It is based on what God has already done. It is based on what He has done that is recorded in the Bible, which is absolutely true without error. It can also be based on what God has done in the past for believers. And, it can be based on what God has done for you specifically. Obviously, if you are a Christian, God has saved you and guaranteed you a place in heaven with Him. However, the longer you are a Christian, the more things you will have to remember that God has done specifically for you.

It is pretty simple that the more you know about God the easier it is to believe Him during your daily life and during trials or sudden peril in your life. Set the focus of your life to know God and His glory better every single day.

We, as children of God, are important to Him! He will not ignore us. He is not required to answer our prayers on our time frame, or in a manner specifically dictated by us. However, He will not ignore us. He will help us!

When we go to God in prayer, we are going to our refuge, a very present help in trouble!
‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;’ Psalm 46:1-2

Our God does not dwell in an intangible abstract place in the mind or imagined corner of the universe. He dwells right here with us, and especially when we are in trouble.

You may be asking yourself, ‘As God is a real help, what can we expect from God? What will He do for me in my situation?’ You are looking for a resolution to a difficult situation, and you want to know what God is going to do and how He is going to do it. Well, the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the situation may be as great a surprise as when God parted the Red Sea so the children of Israel could walk to the other side without getting their feet wet.

We do know that God will provide you with a refuge. He will comfort you with the Bible truths you already know, and He will lead you to learn more of what He has to say in the Bible. I find that when I am personally going through something difficult, I will jump into reading the Bible, and God will distract me from my problem by just leading me through scriptures that have nothing specific to do with my problem. The Bible is filled with interesting things. I am amazed at how I can get so caught up in a story from the Bible that I am able to forget my problem for the moment. I usually find some application to the current dilemma in the end. But, as I was reading and studying, my mind was not on my problem.

In some cases, there may be a physical refuge that is also provided. Elijah took refuge in a cave, and God even fed him while he was there.

We do know that God’s strength will be with you. That’s a relief! I sure don’t have the strength to face a trial on my own!

We do know that God will help you! He is a very present help in trouble.

Even knowing these things, there is a danger that the weight of the trial will cause us to grow weary and faint. ‘Amazing Unbelief’, like a character from ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, is always staring us in the face, nipping at our heels, staring back at us from the mirror, and in every way imaginable, trying to distract us and cause us to despair and faint. This evil character can be defeated by following the instruction to always pray and not to faint. (Luke 18:1) Actually, that verse gives us two options. We can pray; and by always praying we can avoid fainting. OR, we can skip praying and spend our time fainting, doubting, being fearful and altogether miserable and double minded.

To ‘always pray’ means there is a way of praying as we go through our daily tasks. While we physically do what is required our minds tend to stray from our tasks. We will find ourselves fretting and worrying. When we are ‘always praying’ we reject worry and continually turn to thanking God for His goodness and restating our request for help.

Amazing Unbelief can be defeated by doing the things Christ says to do. Jesus said. ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ Matthew 11:28-30 …

Amazing Unbelief weighs down the soul with burdens and worry. If you would exchange the burdens and work of worry and unbelief for rest for your soul and a burden that is light, take up the yoke of learning about Jesus. You will find yourself pulling or carrying a much lighter load.
Although this article began with the song ‘Amazing Grace’, I am going to end it with ‘Come Unto Me’. The song reminds that part of the amazing grace of God is that we can exchange the heavy burdens of this world for the easy yoke and light burden offered by Jesus. Jesus saves those who come to Him, which removes the eternal burden of hell. Then he offers us a light burden and easy yoke as we go through life. Don’t fail to take Him up on His offer. Don’t let ‘Amazing Unbelief’ torment you.

Come Unto Me

Hear the bless├Ęd Savior calling the oppressed,
“O ye heavy laden, come to Me and rest.
Come, no longer tarry, I your load will bear,
Bring Me every burden, bring Me every care.”
Come unto Me, I will give you rest;
Take My yoke upon you, hear Me and be blessed.
I am meek and lowly, come and trust My might.
Come, My yoke is easy, and My burden’s light.
Are you disappointed, wandering here and there,
Dragging chains of doubt and loaded down with care?
Do unholy feelings struggle in your breast?
Bring your case to Jesus—He will give you rest.
Stumbling on the mountains dark with sin and shame,
Stumbling toward the pit of hell’s consuming flame.
By the powers of sin deluded and oppressed,
Hear the tender Shepherd, “Come to Me and rest.”
Have you by temptation often conquered been,
Has a sense of weakness brought distress within?
Christ will sanctify you, if you’ll claim His best.
In the Holy Spirit, He will give you rest.