Are you one of the many “Miserable Christians”? People that love God live all of their lives feeling they are constantly falling short of what is expected, so they walk under a cloud of guilt and compromise believing they can never measure up. To these “miserable Christians”, they go to church, read their Bibles, pray and even help others, yet they are miserable in their relationship with God. How can this be?
I believe the reason is that many don’t understand what Salvation really means. They think Salvation is simply the forgiveness of their past sins, but each day they keep chalking up another sin to add to the pile and they return to the altar to ask one more time for forgiveness. There is no sense of freedom from sin, just God’s big finger pointing out every mistake they make so they can wallow in guilt and condemnation. This is a poor and inaccurate picture of who God is and what He desires for us. There is truth to the fact that after we receive Jesus as our Savior initially, we do make mistakes and we will need to seek His forgiveness as 1 John 1:9 assures us we can. However, we must understand what Salvation really is and that Salvation can only be understood in the context of relationship with God and not a system of religious rules to follow.
What is salvation really all about?
In Romans 1:16, the Apostle Paul says he is not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to any who will believe. Within the gospel, the power for salvation is found and the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. What is the good news? First, let’s look at the Louw-Nida Lexicon and what the words gospel and salvation mean.
εὐαγγέλιον, ου n: (derivative of εὐαγγελίζω ‘to tell the good news,’ 33.215) the content of good news (in the NT a reference to the gospel about Jesus)—’the good news, the gospel.’ οὐ γὰρ ἐπαισχύνομαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ‘for I am not ashamed of the gospel’ Ro 1:16. In a number of languages the expression ‘the gospel’ or ‘the good news’ must be rendered by a phrase, for example, ‘news that makes one happy’ or ‘information that causes one joy’ or ‘words that bring smiles’ or ‘a message that causes the heart to be sweet.’
σῴζωa; σωτηρίαa, ας f: to rescue from danger and to restore to a former state of safety and well-being—’to deliver, to rescue, to make safe, deliverance.’
So the message of Christianity is a message of joy and happiness that assures us that God has delivered us from the evils of the day and desires to restore us back to a former state of safety and well-being. What is that former state? Before we met Christ, there was no former state of well-being, so it must be the former state of mankind at the time that God created the earth and before sin entered into the earth.
Looking back in Genesis Chapter 1, we find that former state that describes God’s desire for mankind.
Genesis 1:26–28 (ESV) — 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
God has chosen for us to be created in His likeness. He then states what that likeness is: that we are to be people who have dominion. He created us to rule and reign in life and each of us has been given a realm of responsibility or “kingdom” for lack of a better word. God has given to us potential and possibility to experience a life of destiny and purpose. The decisions or choices we make within our kingdom will have a direct effect on that kingdom and God has given to us the ability and the freedom to make those choices.
Also, we see that God blessed mankind. The TWOT tells us the word blessed means “to endue with power for success, prosperity, fecundity (offspring and intellectual productive and inventive), longevity, etc.” Again, we have the potential to become all that God designed within us. So, God placed mankind and his “kingdom” within God’s own kingdom which operates according to the principles of His Presence and His Word. This is telling us that God desired to interact with mankind. This is the safety that is found in our salvation. When we are abiding in God’s Kingdom with Him, all things will work out for our benefit and good. His will is for our good and His purposes to be accomplished. (Romans 8:28)
God gave to Adam incredible intellectual ability to name the animals. Why is this important to know? Because this confirms God’s mandate on mankind to have dominion and rule over all of the earth. Adam was given the dominion of the earth, so Adam was given the right and responsibility to name what he had authority over. Just as a parent has the right to name his own child or an entrepreneur has the right to name his own business, Adam was given the right to name the constituents of his dominion. It was God’s way of saying to Adam, “this is yours and I give you full rights over it.” God surely was involved with Adam in this process as he was supernaturally endowed with the ability to give every living creature its name.
Again, why is this important? It is important for us to fully understand what was restored with our salvation. To have this understanding, we must understand what was lost. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God (His principle of His kingdom), mankind was no longer allowed to remain in that place with Him and was expelled. (Gen 3:23) An important part of man’s expulsion from God’s kingdom was that man no longer had God as his partner in man’s own personal realm of responsibility. How do we know this? God told Adam in Gen. 3:19 that he would now work by the sweat of his brow and the earth would no longer work in cooperation with him as it had before. The partnership between God and Adam was now broken and Adam would be surviving by his own natural abilities, the sweat of his brow. And finally, instead of having unending life, Adam is now destined to return to the earth (the cursed earth now) from which he was formed. The life source of Adam had been cut off when union with God was broken.
So what is this telling us? With salvation, our former state of relationship with God is restored. His blessing is restored. His partnership with us is restored. His kingdom is now once again available to us. And, we have the eternal life of God within us. Our natural bodies will one day give up its mortal form for an immortal one. We now have restored to us the supernatural ability of God to assist us in our assigned realms of responsibility. This is why the Apostle Paul could say, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13). And this is why Jesus could say “With God, all things are possible.” (Mt. 19:26) It is why Jesus tells us to ask for the Kingdom of God to dwell on earth, just as it is in heaven. (Mt. 6:10)
The gospel message of Christ is that we once again have available to us the Kingdom of God. We have restored to us all that God ever desired for us. And this all comes in the context of relationship with Christ. Praise His Incredible Name! Christianity is relationship and relationship is a joyful, happy blessed state of well-being with God.
If our Christianity is making us miserable, it is only because we do not understand what has been done for us. God is for us and not against us. He is on our side! He gave us the best He has in Christ. What a wonderful day we are in. Let this day be a new start as we begin to enjoy the joys of Salvation in Christ!