Like most people that I know I have tried on many occasions to please God by being good, praying more, reading the bible more and when that didn't work I just tried to con him with my scams. For a time I was a church person who spent most of my free time in church, again trying to please God or trying to find favor so I could be blessed more often and maybe think myself a man of God. After the church thing played out and which I grew tired of, I spent years studying the bible to see where I had missed it. From there I jumped to reading spiritual books and faith books including many Jewish mystical books and books like Dark Night of The Soul by Saint John of the Cross. This along with, Song of the Bride by Madame Guyon became my favorite spiritual books
But there was always something missing in my relationship with Jesus Christ and for over twenty years I could not put my hand on it. After reading Dark Night of the Soul I thought I had found the truth even though it was pretty gruesome reading. This with many Protestant, and Roman Catholic mystics formed the roots of my new belief system. Still I had many doubts with all this self-flogging so I kept looking. After many nights of prayer and seeking as I watched TV one day I heard a message that was so plain and simple from a TV preacher that I laughed at its simplicity. The message was that it is all in the blood of Jesus and that I could not do anything more to get closer to God because Jesus had already paid the price on the cross so all I had to do was to have faith in the blood of Jesus and in his finished work. Ephesians 2:13
After that the words of Jesus which I had read over and over were bought home to me by the Holy Spirit. First and foremost the Lord always said that the gospel was so simple that it was to be received as if we were little children. And then the clincher came when Jesus said in John 19:30"It is finished." With that He bowed his head and gave up His spirit. The word finish here is in the perfect tense which signifies that Jesus death on the cross completed once for all the salvation of all who believe. You cannot add to this work or pay for it; it is only given by grace through faith. This along with Ephesians 2:13 which states that we who were once far away from God have now been bough near to him by the blood of Jesus Christ, makes all my self-effort seem foolish and a waste of time.
So if you go to church trying to please God or trying to get close to Him by tithing and working in the church, praying more or fasting. Or maybe you are good in order to get chummy with him you are wasting your time and His. You are bought close to God the Father only because of what Jesus did on the cross, only the blood of Jesus can get you close to God and this is by faith, nothing else. All of your works are like a dirty rag in God eyes; these are done only for your advantage and not for Him.
It's a hard message to receive because we want to do something, anything to have a part in this and have our ego stroked. But God sees only the finish work of Jesus on the cross and the blood which brings us to Him. By having faith in the blood you are as near to God as you will ever get. Your job is to believe it and trust that it is so, in church or out of church, it does not matter because you had nothing to do with it anyway. It is always all God. He calls, the Holy Spirit woos, and Jesus saves, you just accept.
In the end you can't even keep yourself as a Christian. It is God who keeps you by his grace and his power. 1 Peter 1:4-5 into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desire.
What the mystic books taught was how to get closer to God by suffering and self- effort. They also taught that God would often put sickness and disaster on his people in order to make them more spiritual and bring them closer to him. If that were true than the bible would be a lie because it states clearly that only the cross and the blood of Jesus can bring you close to God. As the scripture tell us "the just shall live by faith" but faith in what? In the the blood of Jesus and his finished work. If man could add something to this then Jesus died in vain.
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