Forgiven and Free by Greg Mattson

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“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of the disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved.”

                                                                                                     Ephesians 2:1-5.

Have you ever been asked why you believe you need a Savior?  I was recently asked that question by my dad whom I respect and love dearly.  He told me during our one of many theological discussions that he believes man in general is good.  I told him that goes against the reality that I see in the world and what Scripture states.  I pointed to the fact that children develop their own defiant will at a very young age.  I also stated that people in general are prideful and selfish and will look out for themselves instead of putting other before themselves.  I then said that personally, as my faith has grown, I realize all the more I am a sinner in need of grace and a Savior. I fail daily.  He then asked why I believe that?  I replied that I can’t even keep 10 simple commandments, often placing object “idols” above Jesus.  I have coveted and lied often several times in the same day.  He told me that he thinks perhaps the Scriptures need to be updated for modern times since these are minor offenses.

It is very difficult having these discussions with my dad; he is a very intelligent man having a PhD, who taught statistics at the University of Illinois to doctors and nurses.  It’s times like this that I wish Ravi Zacharias was in my back seat!  My dad went to Moody Bible institute before going to college and has knowledge of the Bible.  He is a good man from the world’s perspective.  He is kind, honest, and treats everyone with respect.  I’ve never heard him say a bad thing about anyone; in fact, he would tell me that before you judge anyone you need to walk in their shoes.  He told me his whole purpose in life is to make the life of people he comes in contact with better.  He demonstrated this while we were driving, giving a random young motorist 50 dollars for gas while I was getting gas myself.

He is an amazing man and I’m thankful to have a dad like him.  He was raised in the church and to this day continues going to church every Sunday with my mother whose faith is very strong.  We continue in this ongoing discussion often, with questions that I can’t answer which frustrates me, since I feel like his salvation is dependent upon my answers – even though I know it’s not.  My dad is his own savior.  He remains deceived, feeling he doesn’t need a savior.  I continue in fervent prayer that his blinders will be removed.  Unfortunately, I think there are many in the church today with the same condition of blindness.

The world, like my dad, remains blind and dead, living the passions of the flesh and carrying out the desires of the body and mind.  Today anything goes.  Of course, this all changes upon accepting Christ as personal savior.  Suddenly our sinful nature becomes obvious and nothing we can do will save us other than an utter dependence upon Jesus and the grace of God.  We are no longer dead but are new creations which we will be celebrating in our upcoming baptism service. 

I love the statement, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved.”

I am saddened that at this time my dad focuses mostly on God’s judgement rather than His unending love.  A love so great that he sent his Son to die in my place so that I may be declared righteous.

It is this understanding of God’s love that the words in the song “Even me” impacts me.

“He knows my past.  The choices I have made.  When I wandered.  When I pushed away.  Some how still I’m held by this one thing.  Yes, Jesus loves me, Even me, even me.  I stand forgiven and free, Even me, yes even me”.  

This is the good news that I hope my dad can proclaim in the future.  We stand forgiven and free!!

                                                                                                        In Christ, Greg.

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