By Doug Mamvura “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world, that He even gave His One and only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him as Saviour shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The focus of John 3:16 is not just on perishing, but rather on us having everlasting life. According to Jesus in John 17:3, eternal life is knowing God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is speaking of intimacy.
A person who comes to the Lord for forgiveness of sins but doesn’t go on to experience intimacy with God is missing the true point of salvation. While it is very important that one avoids hell and all its torments, everlasting life begins here on earth in the form of intimacy with the Father and Son (John 3:36).
Sin was just a barrier that blocked our access to God. Without the removal of that barrier, there could be no true fellowship with the Father. Jesus did take the sin of the world upon Himself (John 12:32) and has reconciled us to God (2 Corinthians 5:19). However if we don’t go past where the barrier used to be, into intimacy with the Father, we are missing the true point of salvation in this life. It is very sad to note most of us ministers of the Gospel, just preach about the forgiveness of sins and leave out the other benefits of the finished work of the cross which include deliverance, healing and prosperity. No wonder most believers are being tormented by the devil in most aspects of their lives through sickness, disease and poverty.
We preach about sin, and portray God as a God who is so mean, angry and ready to punish any sinner. Our messages become so intimidating that people receive Christ out of fear not out of the love of God. This is how we then set a faulty foundation which is based on fear not the love of God. It is God’s love that leads man to repentance not fear or intimidation.
God is not mad at anyone. He loved us while we were still sinners and gave His only begotten Son to die for us. We have to preach God’s love. Indeed there are consequences if one does not accept Christ as Saviour but the focus should be on God’s love which was demonstrated by His horrible death on the cross followed by the burial and resurrection on the third day.
The resurrection of Christ ushered a new era in the life of a believer. It signalled the passing away of an old covenant that was based on law and works and brought in a new Covenant that was associated with grace and a divine exchange in which man obtained Christ’s righteousness in exchange for his sins.
This new Covenant is outlined in (Hebrews 8:8-13). The key message in this Covenant is that God brought in a “new Covenant” because He had now made the “first obsolete”. In addition, He would put “His laws in our mind and write them on our hearts” and He “would be merciful to our unrighteousness and our sins and lawless deeds, He would remember no more”.
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This is the good news. Christ who knew no sin was made sin because of my sin and I who was neck deep in sin have been made righteous through faith in Christ. I have become a new creation and the old sin nature is gone and everything has become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This new dispensation in my life as a believer now means that I have now become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21) and as Christ is so am I in this world (1 John 4:17). I now have direct access to my Father through Christ and I don’t need a priest like in the old covenant, to take my requests to God. I now have the authority to “command mountains to move away and be cast into the sea” (Mark 11:23). Christ now lives in me the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). I can do “all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and I am an over-comer (1 John 5:4). I have become rich through Christ who became poor for my sake, (2 Corinthians 8:9). By His stripes I was healed (1 Peter 2:24).
All I need to do as a believer to make the above privileges a reality in my life is to have faith that God has already done that for me. I don’t have to fast for these things unless I am trying to get rid of my unbelief so I can access these benefits. Faith becomes my positive response to what God has already done for me. Without that faith, you can wallow in poverty, sickness or disease and no amount of anointed oil or water will change your position. You should never put your faith in the anointed oil or water or any medium but the faith has to be anchored in Christ. You are not healed by the anointed oil or water or the power of the pastor, bishop or prophet. You are healed by “the stripes of Jesus” (1 Peter 2:24).
All these benefits are coming to you and I as a result of the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. This had nothing to do with your “good works” which for your own information are like “filthy rags” compared to Christ’s righteousness. No amount of fasting will make you holy and righteous as required by Christ. Righteousness is a “gift from Christ” (Romans 5:17).
It therefore means that we were reconciled with God through the death of His Son. We have now been “delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Light” and we have been brought close to God not because of our performance or personal holiness but through the finished work of the cross.
Our own performance is inadequate. We still fall short of the glory of God. We make mistakes and so if we were to depend on our performance, none of us would make it. Jesus didn’t come to die for the perfect people because there are none such people. Instead, He came to die for messed up people like you and I. This happened while we were still enemies with God. If He could love us while we were still enemies “much more then, having now been justified by His blood we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” God has never quit loving you because of your mistakes. He still loves you. However it is important not to abuse the message of God’s grace. There are people who believe that because of God’s grace, they are now free to live as they will. This is ignorance gone on rampage. Sin has consequences. You reap what you sow. Sin opens the door for the enemy and the devil will have you for breakfast should you live in sin.
As we celebrate His resurrection, we should thank God for paying the ultimate price for our salvation. He paid a debt He didn’t owe and you and I had a debt we couldn’t pay. Indeed what a friend we have in Jesus! This should never be taken for granted. Our God is an awesome God who is Love Personified. His resurrection is an announcement to the whole world including the devil and his clan that we have been forgiven and sin no longer has power over us. We have been redeemed. We have been acquitted because of Jesus. Jesus was made sin without sinning and we have been made righteous through faith in Christ Jesus.
All religions of the world are focusing on what do I have to do to get closer to God? My Bible tells me that all that is required is faith in Jesus Christ and not works. Christ did everything for me. It is about having an intimate relationship with God and not works. My holiness becomes a by product of the intimate relationship I have with God not the other way round.
- Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @dougmamvura.