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  • Writer's pictureShelli Owen

Believing God’s Promises—Just As I Am

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, 36)


Painting of a ram with cords binding his four hooves together lying on a gray shelf or surface

Have you ever, like I have, believed something like this?: Jesus died for everyone’s sins but mine. I’m sure I’m an exception. He couldn’t have included me. Why would He? I’m not worthy....


In a recent conversation with a friend, we were talking about the pride of believing this. How it is a kind of false “humility” to believe you are “an exception to the rule.” We agreed that believing God is able, willing, and merciful enough to save others, but that somehow, uniquely, His grace doesn’t extend to oneself and one’s own circumstances is, actually, a stubborn form of pride and unbelief. To maintain this belief is to trust in your own understanding above God’s, above His word and promises.


As Christians, the Lord teaches through His word and Spirit that from the beginning of time, He has had each and every human soul in His heart and mind.[1] He has never stopped. Even knowing every one of us would sin in unbelief and separate ourselves from Him. As wise King Solomon acknowledged, “..there is no one who does not sin..” (1 Kings 8:46; 2 Chr. 6:36; Eccl. 7:20). And, as King David, Solomon’s father, declared:

God looks down from heaven

on all mankind

to see if there are any who understand,

any who seek God.

Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;

there is no one who does good,

not even one. (Psalm 53:2–3)

The prophet Isaiah exclaimed about God’s own people: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6).


And the apostle John taught the church after Jesus’ death and resurrection,

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8–10)[2]


Despite our human nature to sin, even before time began, God had thought of and prepared a way for us to be reconciled to Him once or if we are willing.


Even in the far distant past, God pictured through Abraham that He would offer up Jesus Christ, His only begotten son, for the sins of humankind.


When Abraham and Isaac were on their way to Mount Moriah (where Jesus was crucified many years later), where the Lord had commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only son by Sarah and the son of all God’s promises, Isaac asked his father where the lamb for the sacrifice was. “Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together” (Genesis 22:8). Once Isaac was bound, as Abraham raised the knife to sacrifice him, the Lord stopped him. And the Lord said to Abraham, “Do not lay a hand on the boy...Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:12). It had been a test to prove Abraham’s faith and to foreshadow what the Lord would do for us, without withholding. Afterward:

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:13–14)


Many years after Abraham, God gave the ancient prophet Isaiah an amazingly clear vision of what His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, would do for us:

Surely he took up our pain

and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.


He was oppressed and afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,

and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.

Yet who of his generation protested?

For he was cut off from the land of the living;

for the transgression of my people he was punished.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,

and with the rich in his death,

though he had done no violence,

nor was any deceit in his mouth.


Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,

and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,

he will see his offspring and prolong his days,

and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

After he has suffered,

he will see the light of life and be satisfied;

by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,

and he will bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,

and he will divide the spoils with the strong,

because he poured out his life unto death,

and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:4–12)


To those of us who would be looking back on these events instead of forward, the Lord, through the apostle Peter, enjoins us with these words:

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:17–21)


Jesus Christ, speaking of Himself, said to a man named Nicodemus:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16–18)

Jesus also taught, “..this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day” (John 6:39). Also, in prayer to the Father, Jesus, again speaking of Himself, confirmed, “For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him” (John 17:2).


When people asked Jesus, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

“Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent’” (John 6:28–29)


All we have to do is believe God about Jesus, the One He sent to take away our sins. We must believe Him instead of any other spirit or being, including ourselves. This is our work. Jesus knows once we truly believe Him—and so are born again (both by water and the Spirit)[3]—we will also obey Him from the heart.


Humanly, we might not be able to comprehend God or His love. We cannot. But we can believe on some level—through what Jesus did for us—that He does love us.


The other day, my dad reminded me of a hymn that isn’t sung much anymore. It expresses this timeless truth:

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell;

It goes beyond the highest star,

And reaches to the lowest hell;

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,

God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled,

And pardoned from his sin.


Refrain:

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure—

The saints’ and angels’ song.


When hoary time shall pass away,

And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,

When men who here refuse to pray,

On rocks and hills and mountains call,

God’s love so sure, shall still endure,

All measureless and strong;

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—

The saints’ and angels’ song.


Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.[4]


We never will be worthy of God’s love. That’s the whole point. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).


We can come to Him no other way than as sinners. In fact, we can’t come to Him at all until we acknowledge this about ourselves, that we are sinners in need of a Savior to reconcile us to God. As another Christian hymn, “Just As I Am,” recognizes and teaches us to respond:


Just as I am, without one plea,

But that [Your] blood was shed for me,

And that [You bid] me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


Just as I am, and waiting not

To rid my soul of one dark blot,

To [You] whose blood can cleanse each spot,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


Just as I am, though tossed about

With many a conflict, many a doubt,

Fightings and fears within, without,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;

Sight, riches, healing of the mind,

Yea, all I need in [You] to find,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


Just as I am, [You will] receive,

[Will] welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;

Because [Your] promise I believe,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


Just as I am, Your love unknown

[Has] broken every barrier down;

Now, to be [Yours, yes, Yours] alone,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.[5]


Those who wait to be worthy or who wait until they’re ready will never come because neither of those events will ever happen in this lifetime.


Lord, I pray You will give me the honest humility to trust You and agree with You that, indeed, especially compared to You—a perfectly Holy, just, and merciful being—I am a sinner who ever falls short of the mark. But also, give me the courage and wherewithal to continue the work of believing with all my heart that You sent Jesus, not only for everyone else but for me too.


 

[1] See: Job 14:5; Ps. 39:4; 139:16; Isa. 49:1; Jer. 1:4–5; Acts 17:24–28; Rom. 8:29–30; 11:2; Eph. 1:5, 11; 1 Pet. 1:2 [2] See also: Job 4:17; 25:4; Ps. 51:5; 53:1–3; Prov. 20:9; Rom. 3:12, 23 [3] John 3:3, 5-6 [4] Lehman, Frederik M., 1917; verse 3 by Anonymous/Unknown, Timeless Truths: Free Online Library, “The Love of God,” accessed 7/7/2023, https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/The_Love_of_God/ NOTE: Lines similar to verse 3 are found in the Qur’an (18:109 and 31:27) and in Akdamut, an 11th-century Jewish poem. Frederick Lehman tells us that the English rendition included in his song had reportedly “been found penciled on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after he had been carried to his grave.” While it is only supposition that the man was the one who translated or adapted the words to leave us these well-known lines, if the account is true it shows in any case that he highly esteemed the message. [5] Elliot, Charlotte, Timeless Truths: Free Online Library, “Just As I Am,” accessed 7/7/2023, https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Just_as_I_Am/

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