Barbwire Chief Editor Dave Jolly issued a stunning indictment against the Body of Christ in the United States.
In America’s Christians – Ashamed and Afraid, Jolly writes:
The state of the Christian church in America today is nothing like it was when I was young and the change is not a good one.
When I was young, many Christians boldly stood up for Jesus Christ and their faith in Him. They weren’t embarrassed to pray over the meal when eating in a restaurant or in front of other people. They weren’t afraid to stand up against the social recognition of sins and perverse lifestyles.
Sadly, over the past 50 years, millions of American Christians began to compromise with the decaying secular world. Rather than continue to stand up for their faith, they didn’t want offended anyone and they wanted to be inclusive.
Christians are ashamed to call themselves Christians, or to declare that Christ Jesus is their Savior. They are afraid to be slammed, shamed, defamed, and defeated in the public square.
Granted, these are welcome criticisms to point out.
I am interested in finding out why this is happening. One can suggest that many of this class of Christian really are not Christians. They are professors, not possessors of faith. If that is the case, then they need to hear the Good News in its fullest.
But I submit to you that there are indeed many in this “Ashamed and Afraid” class that do believe in Jesus, in that they know that Jesus died on the Cross for all their sins and rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures.
So, what’s the problem, then? How does this get remedied?
The Gift of Righteousness
I can attest that I believed on Christ Jesus when I was 13 years old – June 11, 1994. Yes, indeed, I can point to a day and a time when I said “I believe in Jesus,. I believed that He died for my sins.)
It wasn’t until at least 20 years later that I understood the fullness of what it means to “be saved.”
Salvation is about righteousness, it’s about being established in Jesus’ own righteousness. Indeed, there can be no eternal life until we understand that all our sins are eternally forgiven—sins past, present, and future.
The Apostle Peter preached to Cornelius and his household:
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him … To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:34, 43)
Remission, the sending away of all sins—that is Gospel.
And there’s more! Paul the Apostle clearly articulated the Gospel message thus.
“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39)
Forgiveness of sins, justification from all things – there you have it. And how? Through Jesus!
“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:11)
Now what does righteousness have to do with dismissing shame and fear?
After Isaiah 53, the prophecy of our suffering Messiah, we find the glorious Blessings outlined in Isaiah 54, in seventeen stirring, remarkable verses!
Here are a few:
“4Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.” (Isaiah 54:4)
Why “fear not”? The prophet declares:
“In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.” (Isaiah 54:14)
Whose righteousness, though? Our own? Not at all!
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:17)
It’s HIS Righteousness, God’s own righteousness that secures every blessing.
Does this sound farfetched? Even heretical?
Rear your Bible:
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Because of Jesus, we are not just righteous, we are made the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We are invited, exhorted to receive—and keep receiving—this gift of righteousness and the abundance of grace, of unmerited favor from Him (Romans 5:17). God our Father looks at us, and He sees His own Son, because we are in Him!
“Herein is our love made perfect [lit. love perfected among us], that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)
When we are established in His righteousness, we have nothing to fear, since His covenant of protection watches over us (Hebrews 8:10-12). And let’s face it, people are fearful because they feel condemned, they are wary of any wrongdoing attached to them, whether rightly or not.
Consider Isaiah 54:4 once again:
Why fear not?
1. thou shalt not be ashamed:
2. neither be thou confounded;
3. thou shalt not be put to shame:
4. thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth;
5. [thou] shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.”
All the shame, all the reproach is taken away from us forever, because of Jesus! We need to preach fully that all our sins are forgiven, that any and all shame is removed forever from us.
Even when we sin, fall, fail, screw up—His righteousness is never taken away from us. It’s an eternal gift which we receive and keep receiving.
Why are Christians ashamed? Why are they afraid? They don’t know their righteous standing before God in Christ. We have been made the righteousness of God in Him—but many Christians just don’t know it—yet. Let’s change that! Once we know the grand and glorious gifts, the standing, the grace we have in Christ, we can then say with Paul:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
When we are established in His righteousness, Christians will no longer live in fear and shame, the way that our loving Father intended us to live!