Have you ever been excluded from something? If you have, you know how it feels to not qualify. I was asked to pledge to a fraternity when I went to college and I went through the pledge process and then became a member after I completed what they wanted me to complete. I qualified. It also helped for me to pay my monthly dues as part of that qualification. I used to race barrel horses, and sometimes I would need to get a certain time to qualify for the finals to hopefully get the first place prize. When I played softball our team would have to win a certain amount of games to get to the final and then play for the championship. When you don't qualify though, any further advancement toward the goal is stopped and you are pushed to the side.
In Romans 10:10-13 Paul writes the following 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile[f] are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Salvation isn't something that we set our own qualifications for and it is most certainly not for a select group of people. As Paul writes “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” In our thinking we might conclude that some don't "deserve" to be saved because of past sins or wrongdoings, but God leveled the playing field and made salvation possible for EVERYONE!
Our part in this whole salvation experience comes down to one thing. FAITH! Paul also wrote in Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. We can do nothing more in the salvation experience than believe. Paul also wrote in Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
In our flawed human reasoning, we might have a tendency to "qualify" who we think is a believer and that flawed reasoning will surely not line up with the immensity of God's grace. And I say immensity because God's grace is so far beyond our comprehension, so we try to qualify it through our human reasoning. That reasoning runs through the filter of our life experiences and our ability to give grace ourselves. Our capacity to give grace is limited by our flesh, so we try to put qualifications on the way that we believe God looks at human-kind.
So the qualifications for receiving Jesus all fall back to the truth of God's Word and His Word says this in John 3:3 Jesus responded and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This new birth is given to us by God through Jesus and it is a spiritual rebirth that changes us at our heart level. Our ways of qualifying this salvation really don't hold value because it is all per God's qualifications. Remember, Paul said in the above verses for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness. Jesus changes us at our heart level and that change is made permanent and growing through the Holy Spirit taking over our life.
So all who are sinners, and that means everyone, are qualified to receive Jesus because Jesus paid the cost to make that possible. That is why we, again and again, say it is the "gift" of salvation offered by God when we describe this great salvation. All of us are qualified because we are all sinners as Paul said in Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, If we try to use our flawed reasoning instead of God's Word to figure this whole thing out our reasoning will lessen the immensity of God's grace every time. That is why some Christians form little "clique' groups that exclude people who don't reason like they do and then form "teachings" that are followed more than the Word of God. Oh sure, they are based on the Word of God, but human interpretations cause them to make decisions and teachings on their impressions and those impressions are tainted with fleshly convictions.
I believe it is important to follow God's Word and let it fall where it may and just trust it as best we can. Over the next few blogs I will try to dispel some errancy in our thinking that can sometimes lead us down a path that is not where God wants us to go. Keep in mind that my musings can be at fault as well, so it is my desire to get those who read this to seek the Lord with all your heart, and therein you will find the pure truth of the Word. The writer of Deuteronomy said it this way in chapter 4 verses 29-30 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.30 When you are in distress and all these things happen to you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice.
The Pilgrimage Continues...