But What About… (Part 1)
“Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him.”
See Luke 24:31
We all have questions. God is not against us having questions, in fact, His Spirit welcomes them. Unlike those who struggle with ungraciousness and refuse to have a civil biblical conversation without A.) attacking you B.) belittling you, or, C.) ignoring you and shutting you out of their lives, God invites us to question everything. Why? Because the truth will always set us free.
This freedom is taught by the Holy Spirit primarily through the truth about our identity as children of God. Once we understand we’re God’s kids, as one-time believers, ask away with reckless abandon.
However, there are sub-categories which should be questioned in full other than who we already are as holy people. When we know that we have nothing to fear as coheirs with Christ, we can ask anything. If the answer leads us into fear, for us, it’s a nasty lie. If the answer leads us into peace of mind, bank on it.
Legalism hates truth and the world does too because both operate on fear rather than truth. For the world, it’s the fear of not being good enough. For religion it’s basically the same except churchianity fear creates hierarchies. As in, you “need” a specific human being to “keep you right” with God. The revolving door of “Do better! Try harder! Give until it hurts and never question pastor or priest!”? It spins every Sunday with all ferocity, collecting money from selling blessings to those who don’t understand they’re already blessed with every spiritual blessing (see Ephesians 1:3).
“You don’t want to miss out on God’s provision do you?!” they’ll shout while sweating and spitting–or even worse in my opinion, smug passive-aggressiveness. “Just be like me,” they’ll say but not say. Yet, some will say. Their “spiritual disciplines” is what you need, so hurry up and fall in line. Don’t worry about Christ’s spiritual discipline–that is, what He did to the point of sweating blood in obedience to the Father. He’s just a footnote. He’s not quite enough. So be radical and finish what He started.
The truth, however, creates easiness because it’s focused on only Jesus and not any man or woman who isn’t. And giving is never done under pressure or to earn kudos or cash from our Creator. Instead, grace is the basis for all things–life and giving. And our wallet should open up because we’re excited about the message, not because of spilled, overflowing anxiety from a person who can’t stand to rest.
God has given us an amazing gift in His Word, the Bible. As you study it, a sense of peace will encompass your life. When you experience this peace, you can respond with love and softness to those who attempt to stress you out with threats “from” God. Rule of thumb: fear is a red flag for believers to take a step back and assess the situation.
Christian, as you learn fearlessly–which is the correct way to interpret the Bible as a saint–you will have questions. “But what about this, and what about that?”
Good! Don’t worry, just keep searching Scripture and listening to the guidance of God’s loving Spirit. As you do, perfect love always rises to the top and your confidence in your true identity will grow.
Here are five But What Abouts I’ve learned the answers to from God’s Spirit. Through His Holy Word, and the correct exegesis based on the New Covenant, these same truths might help you too. Friend, don’t be afraid any longer:
- Can I walk away from God? The answer to this But What About is very simple: we cannot walk away from being born. Just like you can’t physically walk away from being born, the same applies to your spirit once it is reborn as a saint. Every Christian is a saint, equally, by way of one-time faith in Jesus’ ability to forgive them. Those who are focused on “what all they do for God” this insults them greatly. I was once there and it’s a dark place of misery. The gospel has nothing to do with what all we do for God, or how little we sin. Those are minute details after the fact. The gospel is about our supernatural death and then our supernatural rebirth which happens from the moment we first believe in Christ’s saving ability for our sin (see Romans 6:6-11, John 1:12). This is why Jesus said to an extremely well-behaved religious man, “Don’t be surprised when I say ‘You must be born again.'” (see John 3:7). The gentleman He was talking to was the epitome of obeying God’s commandments, so why say this if obedience is what caused a person to walk with God and not away from God? Why tell him he must be born again? Because his spirit was dead and needed to be brought to life! Once this happens, by grace through faith in Jesus, it can’t be undone (see Ephesians 2:8,9). Birth is final! Physically and supernaturally! Where you walk, God walks. Deal with it. I say with all love and respect.
- But what about when Paul said work out your salvation? In Philippians 2:12, Paul tells the church to work out their salvation, yes. But–he does not say work for your salvation. He’s advising them to let out what has already been worked in. Jesus! After all, Jesus is our salvation because salvation is eternal life in Christ! We can’t work to get Jesus, but we can work Him out of us by expressing Him–and we should, because such is normal and healthy as a child of God (see Hebrews 7:25, Colossians 3:4, John 3:16, 14:19, Galatians 5:22,23, 2 Peter 1:3-9).
- But what about when Jesus said depart from me I never knew you? In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus explains what will happen to those who never knew Him, on their Judgment Day, and it is bad. However, the key word in this passage is never. “I never knew you.” Those who drink from the fountain of legalanity will spit this verse out as a threat toward those who aren’t “doing as much as them” (heavy on the quotations). But as you can see, Jesus never knew them, no matter how much they did. This is not a Christian who didn’t do enough, or stopped sinning enough, but an unbeliever who had a bunch of religious actions to show and gifts constantly displayed. Read all of it and you’ll see that Jesus is referring to those who find their identity in what they did for God, on Judgment Day, rather than what Jesus did for them. Friend, don’t let this verse cause you fear because Jesus does know you. You are hidden inside of Him, never to be taken out. The religious unbeliever is not (see John 10:27,28, Colossians 3:3).
- Didn’t Paul say he was the chief of sinners? Yes, he did. But he was talking about himself before salvation as an example of just how big God’s grace is. Don’t just cherry-pick this single verse. To get the context start at verse 12, in 1 Timothy 1, and read to verse 17. Writing to young Timothy in this pastoral letter, you’ll see he uses past tense words while describing how bad of a person he used to be. Paul was saying his identity was horrendous as a former persecutor of Christians. If you truly want to know Paul’s opinion of his brand new spirit, just read the rest of his epistles. He talks repeatedly about his righteousness, holiness, new self, cleansing, blamelessness, completeness, and many other positive characteristics after he believed in Christ. Paul is not a sinner–and neither are you, Christian. God cannot live in wicked, sinful places, so He created a new, clean place to live by way of your faith in the Cross. Your very spirit (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Colossians 1:22, 2:9,10, 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:11,17,19, Galatians 2:20, Ezekiel 36:26, Hebrews 8:10).
- But what about the passage that says we will all stand and give an account on Judgment Day? 2 Corinthians 5:10 has been misconstrued to create anxiety for children of God for a long time: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” The key words to focus on are “whether good or bad.” Yes, all of humanity will stand before Christ in judgment, each person after they die, but we Christians don’t have anything bad to be judged for. To God, what are bad things called? Sins. And what has Jesus done with our sins? He’s taken them all away! (See John 1:29, 1 John 3:5). So what’s left to be judged for? What’s left to receive? Only good things! And honestly, Christ is our full reward and we have Him right now! So who cares what else we’ll get? For me, I’m not focused on raking in the prizes when I die. I’m focused right now on who I already have, both in this life and the next! Jesus!
A prayer for you: Dad, thank you so much for opening up the truth of the Scriptures to me. Your perfect love for us in Christ casts out all fear because fear has to do with punishment–but Jesus was already punished. What an amazing gift to receive, which is freedom from fear. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. I know that some of the things they’ve just read may have caused them to feel good and it should’ve. But so many have been taught that feeling good is bad. Teach them, Father, that as your child, feeling good is okay. It’s okay to feel good stuff! And that’s what the truth of the gospel does, it makes us feel good–not bad! Renew and ease their minds as you take them deeper into the knowledge of your grace, little by little, day by day. Teach them more about your perfect love and reinforce what you’re teaching them through your Holy Word. In Christ’s name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from my upcoming book, The Christian Identity, Volume 2. Check out my other bestselling books here!