by Robert Jacobs
To much buzz and celebratory fanfare, Apple computers unveiled their tenth anniversary iPhone this week: The iPhone X. With facial recognition software, OLED screen, and TrueDepth camera, the iPhone X offers a plethora of new features to potential uses.
As I thought about Apple’s new product, though, I realized that I would more than likely never use many of the new updates. In fact, I hardly use more than a few of the features offered by my current, two-year-old phone. Besides sending texts, making calls, and taking pictures—all things my good old flip-phone could do—I barely use my phone for much of anything else. Here I am sitting with a computer in my hand that can process 3.36 billion instructions per second (which by the way is 32,600 times faster than the best Apollo era computers) and I use it to take cute pictures of my dog.
Yet, I would argue that most Christians view their salvation the same way I use my smart phone, living their life with only half the gospel in mind.
Now, many of you are probably thinking, “Robert, I am secure in my full salvation. I live my life in the knowledge that I have been justified by the blood of Christ. I am no longer condemned before God for my sins.” Fair enough. But let’s step back and look at the totality of the good news found in Christ.
When asked about salvation, most Christians provide a definition like the one above. If you noticed, the whole definition focused on their legal standing before God, the fact that their guiltiness is removed from them and, consequentially, placed onto Christ. This understanding of justification is absolutely biblical, with a host of versus corroborating this act of divine pardon. Just check out these examples:
- “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
- “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 5:7)
- “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:33)
And the list goes on and on.
While salvation clearly includes the concept of justification, the good news of Christ does not end there. In fact, I would even argue that the BEST aspect of the good news is not the fact that we are legally clear before God.
Think with me for a moment. Let’s pretend that you were brought into a courtroom for sentencing. As you stand there, completely guilty of—fill in the worst crime you can think of—the judge suddenly decides to release you of your guilt. Your punishment, instead, has been given to someone else who was willing to take it on. Although I am sure in that moment you would feel relief, the problem is that you would still feel like a scumbag. You DID in fact commit that monstrous, deplorable, and disgusting crime. And even if that news was not publicly broadcast, YOU still know what you did.
You see, if the gospel is simply justification, there would be no living hope. You would stand there in that metaphorical courtroom exposed, naked, and ashamed. But praise God, His goodness includes more than simple justification; it also includes covering.
What do I mean by covering? Let’s go back to our courtroom example. Let’s say that as soon as the judge releases you of your guilt, he then looks at you and says, “I love you and I want to adopt you into my family. You will have the same rights and privileges as my natural son. I want you to know me and live in community with me.”
This, my friends, is a total game changer. Not satisfied with taking away your legal guilt, God wants to also completely cover your shame, to give you a new identity—his child. You will not be known as the guilty person who was lucky to get off by grace. No. You are now known as a child of the King.
The problem is that we often do not think about this part of the good news. We simply know that we are legally clear before God. Yet, in many ways, we still feel naked, ashamed, and alone. Rather than looking to God for Him to take care of the shame we feel at our core, we desperately look to other identities to cover over our shame, to be anything other than a vile person who got off by God’s grace. We get wrapped up in our identity as an artist, or a parent, or even an SSA struggler, looking to these things to bring covering to us, to distract others and ourselves from the shame that we feel.
Just look at how God wants to remove our shame:
- “And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.” (Zephaniah 3:19)
- “Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore, in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.” (Isaiah 61:7)
Are you living in light of ALL the good news? Are you looking to Him to cover you, or are you looking to something else to provide that covering? Embrace the whole truth and goodness of your salvation. Look to Him, and he will remove your shame.