Jesus Reveals Himself
The Journey Begins
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
In February 1981, I met a beautiful young woman named Toni Escobedo. She told me that Jesus loves me so much, that He died in my place so that I would not perish but have everlasting life. Hearing these beautiful words of unconditional love and grace, I consented to receive the love of Jesus and I was gloriously born again. Words cannot adequately express the joy of knowing you are loved and forgiven. Oh to the glory of His amazing grace, by which He loved me and died for me while I was yet a sinner.
I fervently began to read the scriptures and relished the life and joy that accompanied every fresh new revelation of Jesus. Jesus had become the center of my life. I knew I was loved, forgiven and blessed because of the grace of God and not my own efforts. The miracles seemed endless. The joy uncontainable.
About a year later, a thought entered my mind, “It is time for you to grow up and no longer be a baby Christian.” The thought seemed perfectly reasonable. Up to this point Jesus had done everything for me. Now, He was expecting me to grow up and become a mature Christian. I decided I would do whatever I needed to do to become a mature Christian. I was determined to make God proud of me.
I had swallowed the bait.
Thankfully, I was planted in a wonderful church and surrounded by thousands of people who loved Jesus with all of their heart. Together, we searched the scriptures and endeavored to believe everything we read. I began to learn about the Holy Spirit, faith, the wages of sin, righteousness, sanctification, holiness, different types of prayer, the authority of the believer, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the qualifications of a leader, the importance of giving, sowing and reaping, the tithe, the five-fold ministry, elders, deacons, the responsibility of a believer, and much, much more.
And as the years passed, I began to personalize every sermon I heard. It seemed that each sermon contained another secret or another list of what I needed to do to be a mature and successful Christian. I learned what I needed to do to please God. What I needed to believe in order to receive from Him. How I was supposed to talk, walk in the Spirit, walk in love and forgive others. Why I needed to be patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and diligent. The importance of exercising self-control, resisting sin, resisting the devil, praying for the sick, visiting the imprisoned, helping the poor, praying for our leaders, possessing my soul, finding rest, interceding for others, and using my God-given talents.
I knew I was saved by God’s grace. But I also reasoned that to whom much is given, much is required. So I concluded it would require much more than grace to please God when you are a mature Christian. It was going to take my faith. It was going to take being a doer of the word. It was going to take effort and perseverance. In fact, so much emphasis was put on our responsibility to stand in faith, resist the devil, use the weapons of our warfare and persevere in tribulation, that I met Christians who proudly boasted about all the struggles God had put them through before He would answer their prayer.
Though I would not realize it for years, I had fallen from grace.
When I was born-again, God took care of me because I was a baby Christian. He had to do everything for me. I was totally dependent upon His grace. I knew I was helpless without Him. But now, as a mature Christian, God was expecting me to do my part. With each sermon, I would discover more of what He required from me. I began to understand that God was holding me responsible to do everything I had learned. I must be a doer of the word. A beloved preacher once said, “If you do it, it will work. If you don’t it won’t!” Therefore, I endeavored to do everything I learned.
Initially, I experienced great satisfaction (and pride) in the results of my efforts. The fruit that came from facing my fears and pursuing God’s direction for my life was quite fulfilling. I experienced many physical, emotional and financial breakthroughs. Each one bringing with it a completely new level of expectations from God. If I wanted more of God, He was going to require more from me.
Unfortunately, I also had stubborn areas in my life that were not progressing in spite of my most ardent efforts. One day, while listening to a sermon, I learned that the key to success was praying in the Spirit more. So I excitedly started praying more in the Spirit. From another sermon, I learned that the key to success was walking in love and forgiving more. Another revealed that my lack of tithing and giving was the reason for my struggles. Then another sermon revealed that unbroken generational curses were hindering my breakthrough. Other sermons revealed that I needed to resist the devil more, use the name of Jesus more, cast down imaginations more and confess the word more. Every sermon was about me and what I needed to do (more). I suppose I could fill this entire book with the list of things I was told I needed to do to enjoy a successful Christian life.
Year after year, I experienced so many victories and yet I still failed to see progress in certain areas. I diligently searched for the reasons why my prayers were still unanswered. The answer was always the same. I did not pray enough. I did not give enough. I did not worship enough. I did not confess enough. No matter the issue, the answer was always the same. I did not do something enough. It was never enough. I was never enough.
Unlike so many other Christians who were taught that God brings us troubles to teach us, I knew God would never do anything to hurt me. I knew He would never make me sick in order to teach me something. But I did believe that God would set some righteous level of faith to which I must attain before He would act. I believed I would not get a miracle from God until I had enough faith. Accepting the accusation that I did not have enough faith, I attempted to find solace by being grateful for the level of faith to which I had attained and the determination to have more. One day I would have enough faith to please God and He would answer my prayer.
Your story may be different from mine, but I know you have experienced the love of God. And like I once was, you may be overwhelmed by life and its never-ending list of expectations for which you have few options, limited resources and little strength.
You may have lost the joy of your salvation. You may have lost any hope of enjoying your life. You may even feel like God has let you down. And like Cleopas, sadness has filled your heart.
Discouraged, you decide to go home to Emmaus…
To be continued...
Copyright (c) 2016 Rob Gore Ministries