Thursday, August 14, 2014

Have I gone too far to be forgiven?

In my inbox the other day was an email from a woman who shared a very emotional story regarding her very difficult past and her current struggles regarding her fears and worries about her salvation.  I won't go into any of the details that she shared.  I'll only say that in general she has dealt with a lot of hurt and pain that she's received from others, as well as a deep sense of guilt and shame due to her own failures and sins.  She also shared with me that she'd recently heard some teachings on "falling away," and it's led to much more fear.

I responded to her, and I'd like to share my response here in the hopes that it will be of comfort and encouragement to others as well.


I do want to share the good news with you in regards to your standing with God.  As you probably know, the word "gospel" means "good news," and that's what God has declared to mankind through Jesus Christ.  When Jesus was born, the angels were declaring "good tidings of great joy" and saying "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2:14).  The "goodwill toward men" is from God to humans.  It's God's goodwill towards people.  That's why Jesus came.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him."  Rom 5:8-9

"God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their sins against them."  2 Cor 5:19

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17

So, no matter what you've ever done, no matter what you've ever been through, no matter what sins you've ever committed, no matter how big or bad your failures have been, Christ has not come to condemn you or to put you to shame, but He has come to save you.  God has not come into your life to point out your sins, but to show you how He has saved you from your sins.  He's come into your life to give you LIFE - and not to put guilt, shame or condemnation upon you.  Christ's sacrifice has delivered you from guilt, shame and condemnation.

The great Enemy likes to skew God's good news message, by portraying God and Christ as being angry and vengeful with us for our sins.  But that's not what happened in Christ.  It's actually exactly the opposite!

God has shown great love and kindness towards us.  He has offered all of His goodwill to us freely, without cost to us.  Our good works cannot earn it, and our bad works cannot take it away.  We receive all of it, not through our efforts but by God's grace, through faith.  We simply believe Him, and trust Him in what He has done on our behalf.

There is a mention in Hebrews 6 of those who "fall away."  It's a hypothetical situation, but the main point about it that I'd like to make is, what is it that they would "fall away" from and what is it that they would fall away to?  Many in the church would teach you that to "fall away" is to fall away from God by sinning, or by living in constant sin.  But that's not what the passage in Hebrews 6 is talking about - at all.  This epistle to the Hebrews was written to people who had been under the law all their lives.  (It was written to Jews - Hebrews - who had been under the law).  After having been under the law for so long, in which they would sacrifice bulls, goats and other animals for their sins, day after day and year after year, they found out that Christ's ONE sacrifice actually took away all sin, once and for all!  The blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin, but Christ's sacrifice did!  So through faith, that's what they had originally turned TO.  They had turned away from their own efforts and sacrifices, and they had turned TO trusting in Christ's sacrifice.  However... many of them were questioning if Christ's sacrifice was really enough, and they were turning back to sacrificing animals.  They had turned FROM faith in Christ, back TO trusting in the sacrifices of animals.  This is the "falling away" in Hebrews 6.

Falling away from God isn't about sinning.  It's about turning away from Christ's sacrifice, and turning back to animal sacrifices (or keeping God's law in general).  Salvation is found only in ONE name, Jesus Christ, and it can't be found in any other name or in any other way.

So that's the good news!  You are saved, sanctified, justified and made righteous all through the ONE sacrifice of Jesus.  It's through nothing you've ever done, and it's not taken away through anything you've ever done.  God simply asks us to trust what He has done over what we have done.

I hope this helps you to understand and realize that your salvation isn't dependent upon YOU. :)  It's solely dependent upon HIM... and He has not fallen short in any way in saving you or keeping you saved. :)  It's all by His grace, and we can't add to or take away from what He's done.

Our relationships with other people are different, of course.  There's nobody who has ever loved like God loves or who has given us mercy and grace like God has given us.  And we've not done the same for others, either.  We all still fall very short in our actions towards each other, and towards God.  And because of that, we will indeed have varying degrees of strife and situations that we will have to deal with in life.  That's just the reality.  But with GOD, we never, ever, ever have to deal with Him being contentious towards us.  He will never condemn us or make us feel guilty.  When we are in Christ, by grace through faith, feelings of guilt and condemnation do not come from God!

I wish you all of God's grace and peace.  May you truly know and experience the love, mercy, grace and peace of God.


  1. Thank you Joel. You are sharing the truth and reality of what it means to have Christ in us, the mystery of His glory. Our ONLY Hope! My heart saddens when I see the body of Christ abused through mis-interpetation of scripture. Jesus said feed my sheep, not beat my sheep. The Law will do that well enough, if someone so chooses to be under it. But God being Rich in mercy saved us while we were yet sinners; enemies!!!! His mercies are new every morning. I pray we learn to Rest in His finished work. Rest is for those who have worked and worked and worked to be found justified in Gods sight. Oh how the law of religious behavior will kill. Jesus makes a promise for all, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ (Mat 11:28). You cannot have Rest without Faith, and you cannot have Faith without Rest. It you have both then you will experience the grace of God in Christ.

    Thank you Lord Jesus what you are doing in and through this ministry. Thank you for your never unfailing love. He Is FAITHFUL even when we are not. Thank you thank you thank you Lord Jesus.

    Michael H.

  2. Indeed, He is faithful and it is to Him that we give overflowing thanks! Rest and faith... amen!

  3. Joel, thank you. Thank you. I am the one who wrote. I must have missed your email. I just assumed that you must have thought I had went to far down the back roads. You are a blessing that God has sent my way. I am eager to learn..I will be reading your writings, and listening to the podcasts. Could you recomend a grace based bible commentary that would help me.

  4. I will go ahead and resend the email to you, just so you've got a personal copy of it.

    Unfortunately I don't know of any good grace-based Bible commentaries. However, I would like to recommend the books of Andrew Farley to you. He's written several books (which you can find on his site), and I'd like to highlight a couple of them that might be helpful to you.

    Andrew's first book is called "The Naked Gospel." It's a very clear cut book, using a lot of scripture, to show what the gospel (good news) really is, and what life in Christ really is. So many people have gotten a really good foundation for life in Christ out of this book.

    And then one of his more recent books is called "The Hurt and the Healer," which he co-wrote with the lead singer of the Christian band Mercy Me, Bart Millard. This is a really great book for those struggling with the hurts and wounds of life. I think this book would be a real blessing to you.

    Again, those book are available on his site that I linked to, or on Amazon and other such sites.

    Much grace and peace to you!