When my faith failed, all my certainty fled, and I discovered that I knew nothing, God began rebuilding my faith from the ground up—a real faith this time, not the false, demon-like thing that I had previously. And when He did, these are the things I knew for sure.
- I believe in God and in His Son Jesus Christ. When I say I believe in God, I do not mean as a nebulous concept or a fuzzy imagining of our collective need to explain the unexplainable. I mean I believe in the God of the Bible, and only the God of the Bible. I believe there’s no other god, just clever fakes, and that Jesus Christ is both the Son of God and God Himself. How? No earthly clue. Hallelujah I neither have to understand or explain.
- I believe in heaven and hell. These, I do not believe to be metaphors but real places, the either-or destinations of the souls of all humanity. You die, you go to one place or another, and only your relationship with Jesus or lack thereof determines which. The Bible is light on descriptions of heaven. Not so much of hell. Hell is a terrible place, full of eternal torment and punishment of sins. But I do not believe it was made for me. It was made for the devil, not as a place he rules, but as a place where he is punished, and he’d like to drag me in. Short of that, he wants me living in a hell on earth, where forgiven sin gets punished anyway. This is not God’s plan.
God’s plan is heaven. He’d like for every one of us to get there, but unfortunately, sin is sin and God can’t just let it into His presence. Jesus Christ was His solution, and ours.
- I believe the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on my behalf is my only hope for salvation. To be frank, at the time I believed this, I did not mean that Jesus is my hope. I meant that there is hope nowhere else. Just as I believe there is no other god, I believe there is no other salvation. No other way to heaven. Just Jesus. In the beginning, I wasn’t even sure He could get me there. Just that no one else could. That in itself was a big step for me, because my habit is to try to earn it. This does not work.
- I believe that salvation is a gift by grace through faith (also a gift) and that nothing I do can earn, secure, or assure faith, grace or salvation. This I learned by doing. Or not doing. I tried everything from the working-for-salvation to the stop-working-for-salvation plans. I could do none of these things. I could not find the right words to pray or the right facts to believe or the right attitude to have. I could only find myself lost with no way out. Inevitably, this is where one must come for salvation. To the very end of me. It is here that Jesus found me.
- I believe in forgiveness and grace, both resulting in and resulting from salvation. There is a mass confusion about grace. Even in my gracelessness, I thought I understood it, all the facts and figures, the explanations and expressions. But I was lost as a goose. So let me describe my found-ness. Sin gets forgiven—not because I figured out what my sin was, felt bad about it, promised to never do it again, or in fact never did it again. It was forgiven because somebody scraped it off me, wore it like it was His, and died with it on His shoulders. God looks at me and sees perfection. How? Glory, hallelujah, no clue. Grace happens—not because I finally figured it out, memorized the proper verses, understood it in all its fullness, or prayed for it with the right words for once. But because of my two favorite words in all the Bible. “But God,” even though I was dead in my sins, made me alive. For by grace I have been saved.
And that grace and forgiveness just keep coming, because Jesus died for me, forgave me, and graced me. He started something with me, and by the same tools He used to save me, He continues to give more grace.
- I have Christ’s record, Christ’s character, and Christ’s power. My favorite verse in all of Scripture: If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). I do not believe that salvation is the proverbial “get out of hell free” card that one tucks away in a pocket for the day when it needs to be presented at the pearly gates. If it was, that would be… disappointing. Salvation is meant to do so much more than just save you from a future, someday hell. It is meant to save from that living hell Satan is so fond of thrusting believers into. When I am tempted to torture myself over my sin with guilt, shame, or fear, I must remember that I have been saved, yes, but also changed. And my past record, the one that contained all my shortcomings and sin, has been nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14), and I, since the day of my salvation, have carried around with me Jesus’ record of righteousness as if it is mine. Scratch that. Because it is mine.
The character of Jesus, His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, humility and all the wonderful things He was known for—these are now mine as my very nature. I got a personality transplant and while I am prone to acting from habit like the old person I was before salvation, that is no longer me. And I am remade. And I believe that God is now on my side (or I on His), and because of that, I am unstoppable, unbeatable, uncondemned. And He will finish what He began.
- I believe that grace is mutually exclusive to guilt, faith to fear, and fear to love, and that my actions give weight to one and deny the other its power. I believe that the Holy Spirit of God acts as a shepherd, leading and guiding us with the voice of grace and truth, but that Satan’s lies via guilt and fear drown out that voice and leave us feeling lost. When I act from a place of guilt or fear or any of Satan’s other lies, I drown out the voice of grace and peace. On the other hand, following my shepherd, listening to His voice, drowns out the other and leads to a life abundant (John 10:10, 27-28).
- I also believe in the sovereignty of God. There are a lot of words thrown around for this, but here it goes: I believe that whether God reaches down into a world already turning and tweaks something to accomplish His purpose, or whether He set the world to spinning with full knowledge of every permutation of every variable and every result of every decision, He does it all. Every good thing, God. Every bad thing, God. Every random, ordinary, insignificant detail, set into motion by a loving God who does all things well. We could spend a lifetime of study and speculation and theory and praying for wisdom and we’d still be as in the dark on how God works as now, but this is as far as I’ve come. God does it all, does it all for good, and can be trusted, no matter what.
- And I believe in the whole six-day, literal creation thing. Why? Well, because it makes way more sense than the billions-of-years, came-from-monkeys idea. Oh, and because God said it. Whether I understand it or not, “because God said it” tends to be enough for me.