Whoring around

The Bible from beginning to end is an amazing book that is full of entertainment, twists and turns, and dare I say bad language.  I love the fact that the writers of scripture never sugar coat a situation or try to spin it, instead they give us an honest depiction of real life.

Lately, as I’ve been thinking about the Old Testament, the children of Israel, and human nature, I see recurring themes. The theme I see is that the children of Israel can’t get their act together.  No matter how hard they try they continue to do the opposite of what God wants them to do.  You also see that God is not very happy with them, and even second guesses why he even created this horrible race of people.

The language that the Bible uses to describe their behavior is downright shocking.  Simply, they are referred to as whores. Two-timing, no good, sleeping around all over town, whores.  What a symbol of betrayal.  The God of heaven who continues to bail them out, gives them what they want, and protects them is married to a whore.  God is heartbroken.  

But, the heartbreak of God cannot stop him from loving them or us.  What I have to come to grips with is their actions towards God are my actions.  It reminds me of the hymn, “Come thou fount of every blessing”, where in says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.”

We are all prone to wander.  We all like sheep have gone astray.  We have no choice but to wander, but God came down. The hymn also says:

“Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.”

Like the coin, the sheep, and the lost son, we were once lost but now we are found.  Even in our attempts to run away we are found.  His love and kindness is always pursuing us.

“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” – Psalm 137:7-10

It is amazing that even in our fleeing he is still guiding us.

His love is so great that no matter how many times we cheat on him, he continues to search us out and love us.  This love is so amazing that there is nothing we can do to make it stop.  God is love, and therefore he has no choice but to love us, even in the midst of our wretchedness. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

God and failure

ExamI had the best math teacher when I was in high school.  She was really good to me; helped me with my work, encouraged me, and was just all around great person.  I did something in one of her classes in my junior year that was very out of character for me.  She passed out a test, and I decided to cheat.

Maybe I wasn’t confident enough in my own capabilities or maybe I just didn’t study for it.  As I looked over on my neighbors test I began to copy down all of his answers.  Then the unthinkable happened.  As my teacher took the test back she announced to the class that each row had gotten a DIFFERENT test with different questions on it.  So the answers on my test reflected my neighbors questions.  I was royally screwed.  I knew I would get caught.

I went home that day, and decided not to go to school the next day because I was afraid to face my teacher.  The next day I complained of an illness (which was a lie), and stayed at home.  I can’t remember what happened in the course of that day, but I do remember being tipped off by someone else saying that others had been caught and my teacher new I had cheated. In the words of Styx:

The jig is up, the noose is out
They finally found me

I had to come clean with my parents.  My dad was outside and I went out, sat on the front porch and told him I needed to talk.  Then I cried.  Not a little cry, but a big cry.  I’ll never forget what happened after I told my dad what I did.  As he saw the level of remorse on my face, he put his arm around me and told me everything is going to be ok and I would get through this.

He told me I had to go back to school tomorrow and face whatever punishment they deemed necessary.  But, in that moment he expressed so much love and grace that it made me feel ok.  The grace he showed me actually made it easier for me to come clean at school.  Knowing that I had the love of my father in a time where I had messed up had made such a difference.

There are more stories like this in my life than I care to admit, but for some reason my mind went back to this one this week.  I didn’t deserve that love he gave me because I had messed up.  That one action could have done harm to my grades, future college, and broke trust with my teachers.  In the moment grace is what I needed.  I needed the love of my father.  Nothing meant more to me than to know that my daddy loved me even in my weakness and failure.

This is an example of earthly grace, but what about heavenly grace?  Lately, when I read the Bible I think this message is too good to be true.  How is it that God can love me and nothing can come between that love (Romans 8:39).  There is nothing that can stop him from loving me.  In all of my sins, weaknesses, failures, God will not stop loving me.  I didn’t know how my father would react to my failure, but we do know how God acts in response to our failure. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Watch your speed!

speedingI wanted to share with you a story of grace that I experienced last week.  I made the long trip via a rental car from my home in NYC to visit family in my home state of North Carolina.  To quote the Grateful Dead, “it was a long strange trip.” As a side note I listened to the Grateful Dead nearly the entire drive!

As I was driving through Virginia with a speed limit of 70 mph, I decided to make sure I stuck my cruise control at a safe 75 mph.  As the Dead played and I heard “Casey Jones you better watch your speed”, I saw blue lights in my rearview.  At the time I’m thinking there is no way this guy is pulling me over for doing five over!  Well he was and I pulled over.

His name was Officer Smith and he approached my window and the conversation went as such:

Officer Smith: I pulled you over because you were driving above the posted limit.  I clocked you going 76 in a 70.  Is there a reason you felt the need to go that fast?

Me:  Well officer, I actually set my cruise at 75 not 76.

Officer Smith: Ok, is there a reason why you set your cruise above the legal limit of 70?

Stop!  This is the law being thrown right at my face, and I’m guilty!  When we look at the law of God or the law of something or someone else we are always guilty!  No attempts at self-justification (“I was only going 75”) will work with the law.  Now back to the conversation:

Me:  I have no excuses I broke the law.  I was in a hurry as I am going out of town to visit family.

Officer Smith:  License and registration.  Where is your family and where do you live?

Me:  They are in North Carolina and my wife and kids and I live in New York City.

Officer Smith:  You just gave me a NC license.  How long have you been in NYC?

Me:  Two and a half years.

Officer Smith:  In the time that you have lived in NYC you never thought to get a new license?

Me: Not really.  You see sir I take the subway everyday and rarely drive.

Officer Smith:  In the state of Virginia you are supposed to get a new license after 60 days of a change of residence. Why don’t you step back in my car.

At this point I’m thinking “Oh Sh#t.”  We get in his car and he discovers I have a clean driving record, and we talk a few more minutes, and he said; “I’m going to let you off with a warning.  Slow down and have a good trip.”

I drove the speed limit the whole way after that!  To be honest, I deserved the ticket because I was 100% guilty, but this officer gave me grace instead.

Grace is always getting something you don’t deserve.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; BUT the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Grace is a gift and cannot be earned.  We deserve the ticket of death because we have all sinned, BUT instead we get eternal life, acceptance, love, mercy, etc.

Repent and Confess!

confessHave you ever been to a revival or evangelistic crusade?  If you have then you most likely have heard bad theology.  Most of the ones that I have been to consist of the same elements.  One of the main themes is if you confess and repent of your sins then God will be merciful to you and forgive you and accept you into the Christian fold.  Until you clean it up and recognize just how bad you have been you can’t be a member. To be transparent, most of my Christian life has been lived this way.  Confession, for me became a way for me to barter with God.  I thought that this was my way of showing God I meant business, and if God saw how remorseful I was then maybe, just maybe he would spare me this one time.  Confession for me was a transaction.  It was me trying to save myself.  I couldn’t be further from the truth.

Repentance and confession should be in response to the goodness of God.  When we look at the Bible we see that Christ has already forgiven us without our consent. Think about this, when Jesus is hanging on the cross he says in Luke 23:34, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

While they are gambling for his clothes he has pronounced them forgiven. Or how about Matthew 9:1-2, “And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

The sick man didn’t confess nor repent of his sins.  Jesus just did it…maybe he did it for all of us? Love came down and we couldn’t do anything about it.

I believe when you come to face to face with the radical grace of God then repentance and confession naturally flows. Confession and repentance come after you have been faced with this marvelous too good to be true news that you already are forgiven.  There isn’t anything for you to do.  There are no transactions with God.

In William Hordern’s book, Living by Grace, he says this:

“If repentance is a work necessary to achieve God’s forgiveness, we are left with the problem that always haunts a doctrine of salvation by works.  How much work is necessary?…In the Bible forgiveness is often linked to repentance, but there is no evidence that repentance is a cause of God’s forgiveness.”

I agree, repentance and confession are not causative, they are responsive.  One of my favorite writers whom I quote often, Robert Farrar Capon says:

“…all confession that is not just a fudging of our tattered books but a plain admission that our books are not worth a damn – is subsequent to forgiveness.  Only when, like the prodigal, we are finally confronted with the unqualified gift of someone who died, in advance, to forgive us no matter what, can we see that confession has nothing do with getting ourselves forgiven.  Confession is…the after-the-last gasp of a course that finally can afford to admit it’s dead and accept resurrection. Forgiveness, surrounds us, beats upon us all our lives; we confess only to wake ourselves up to what we already have.”

What happens when somebody gives you something you don’t deserve?  What is your natural response? You think, “oh my God, I don’t deserve this…what can I do to repay you?”  A true gift comes without any strings attached, there is nothing you can do to repay the giver.  The only thing you can do is acknowledge that there is nothing in you that is good enough to warrant such a gift, and say thank you. That my friends is confession.

Confession is an acknowledgement that you are not worthy of this grace and forgiveness, but God in his love gives it to you anyway, without you having to do anything for it.

Hope in Charleston

I grew up in North Carolina, and visited South Carolina many times.  Growing up in the South had many advantages and liekwise many disadvantages.  One of those disadvantages was racism.  As we have seen through the last year, racism is alive and well throughout the U.S.

My heart breaks for the people in Charleston and Emanuel AME Church.  Church should be a safe place.  A place of worship.  A place of love.  A place of grace.  A place where everyone is welcome.  Instead it turned into a place where a terrorist attack occurred.

Evil exists everywhere.  Everywhere!  From the suburbs to the projects, evil persists.

As I’ve thought about this atrocity over the past few days I’ve had many thoughts of anger, frustration, and just really pissed off.  I’ve visited several predominantly black churches in my life, and every church I have ever been a part of was mixed racially.  This could have been anyone of my friends or loved ones at a prayer service.  We should never have to look over our shoulder in fear over who might be in our services.  We should be safe in houses of worship.

Then I saw the below video a few days ago.  I was shocked.  The pastor said below:

“I’m reminded by some news media person, “I wonder why all the nine families spoke of forgiveness, and didn’t have malice in their heart.”  You ought to know the nine families daddy!”

This pastor has every right to be angry and want revenge, but instead the church chooses forgiveness.  They forgave a man who hates them.  They forgave a man that killed their family members and loved ones.  They give the man a clean slate.

The church service begins by quoting Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  This type of praise, and this type of forgiveness can only come from one place, and that is from Jesus.

Dr. King Said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

Forgiveness and love go hand in hand.  However, don’t assume that forgiveness is easy, in fact an act of forgiveness may be the hardest thing you ever do.  Author and speaker Brene Brown says, “In faith communities where forgiveness is easy and love is easy, there’s not enough blood on the floor to make sense of it.”

The last thing love and forgiveness are is easy.  The moment we come face to face with the evil that lives in us then we are more apt to forgive because then we understand that we too need forgiveness.

I don’t have the answers for racism, but I believe that grace and forgiveness are a good place to start.  As Paul wrote, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it…even if we have been wronged.

Revisiting The Sopranos Ending

The Sopranos FinalThe Sopranos is one of those television shows thats timeless.  I’ve begun watching the series again, and I’m still blown away by the story and the acting.  If you remember the show’s creator, David Chase came under criticism for how the series finale ended.  The ending left many confused, mainly about whether or not the main character Tony is alive or dead.  Chase was just in the news a few months ago discussing the finale, and gave a few insights on what he wants viewers to come away with.  Chase in his own words:

“The biggest feeling I was going for, honestly, was don’t stop believing. It was very simple and much more on the nose than people think. That’s what I wanted people to believe. That life ends and death comes, but don’t stop believing. There are attachments we make in life, even though it’s all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we’re so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short. Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it’s really worth it. So don’t stop believing.”

After reading this, I had to watch the final episode, and I shared a few tears.  Tony is plagued throughout the series.  A man that is torn between a terrible lifestyle, and a man trying to be a good family man.  He goes to therapy.  He really tries to be a decent person…sometimes.

Tony is a man that is so flawed, and in need of so much help, but in truth he is like a lot of parents, and the family is sort of like the American family.  I know that is stretching it a little, but as I watch the final scene I notice little things about him that make me think, there is good in him.  Kind of like how Luke Skywalker noticed good in Darth Vader.

He sits down at the diner, and he doesn’t just pick a song, but he picks a song that identifies his life and his family.  Don’t Stop Believing by Journey.  In the words of David Chase, “it’s really worth it. So don’t stop believing.”  I think David is trying to show the audience that Tony still believes, and more importantly he believes in his family.

If you watch the video below you will see at around the 2:28 mark, Tony looks up at his son and pats him on the arm, the way a loving father would.  To me, that might be the most important part of the scene.  A father embracing his son.  In one act he lets his son know…I’m here and I love you.  As his son, A.J. starts to complain about his job they begin to have an enlightening conversation:

Tony: It’s an entry-level job. Now buck up!
A.J.: Focus on the good times.
Tony: Don’t be sarcastic.
A.J.: Isn’t that what you said one time? Try to remember the times that were good?
Tony: I did?
A.J.: Yeah.
Tony: Well, it’s true, I guess.

Focus on the good times.  Don’t stop believing.  Lessons from a fictional mafia family!

It is much easier to give up and quit, but Chase is showing us that life is much better when you are with the ones you love.  In all the problems this crazy family has had together they stick with each other.  Tony isn’t perfect, but at the end of the day he wants to be with the ones he loves.  He wants to eat at a little whole in the wall diner with his family, and remember the times that were good.

Our mortality is a sure thing.  We are all making our way to death, but while we are on the journey.  Let’s not stop believing.

You can watch the final scene here.

Sibling Rivalry

resentmentMy favorite parable in the Bible has to be the parable of The Prodigal Son.  I don’t think there is another story that shows the heart of God more than this one.  As I have been thinking about this parable over the past few weeks I have focused more in on the older brother than the younger.  The older brother is an interesting figure.  He is bitter, angry, jealous, prideful, sinful, and the list goes on.  More than all of those things I see resentment (feeling or expressing bitterness or indignation at having been treated unfairly).

Luke 15:24-32:

24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

This story shows a love that is not from here.  It shows a unique grace and love from heaven that is unlike anything.  And this grace makes the older brothers blood boil.

The brother is out in the field and doing back breaking work, and as the day comes to a close, after he has put in his extra hours he starts his long trek back home.  As he gets closer he here’s a sound that he has never heard or hasn’t heard in a long time.  Loud obnoxious music, and dancing.  The Bible said that he heard dancing.  This must have been a party that could have been heard for miles.

The older brother has worked hard and yet his undeserving younger brother has a party thrown for him. He can’t go inside. How could he go in?  This is not fair.  It is not just.  Justice would be his father making him grovel for forgiveness.  Instead the father lavishly gives it away without a confession!

The older brother is resentful because his brother has just been let off the hook for his wastefulness.  He is resentful because he has spent his life following the rules, never committing any major sins, never skipping school, doing drugs, etc., and his younger brother selfishly takes the fathers money and wastes it on prostitutes.  The younger brother left home to have a good time and left the older brother at home doing chores.  The younger brother is selfish, and yet his crazy daddy throws him a party he didn’t deserve, but if he did deserve it then it wouldn’t be grace.

What about us?  Are we older brothers?  Are we resentful because God is letting people off the hook left and right?  Are we mad that a bunch sinners are partying with their daddy?

There is a party going on and we have a chance to get down with God or be on the outside; bitter, angry, resentful, because he lets in those that don’t deserved to be let in.

Closing with Robert Capon:

“Look. We’re all dead here and we’re having a terrific time. We’re all lost here we feel right at home. You, on the other hand, are alive and miserable—and worse yet, you’re standing out here in the yard as if you were some kind of beggar. Why can’t you see? You own this place, Morris. And the only reason you’re not enjoying it is because you refuse to be dead to your dumb rule about how it should be enjoyed. So do yourself and everybody else a favor: drop dead. Shut up, forget about your stupid life, go inside, and pour yourself a drink.”

Christians Are Always Right

christians are always rightA concern I’ve had for a long time is the public image of Christianity in America.  From reality TV to social media we project an image in our culture that might be hurting us. The typical image I see is one of self-righteousness, the need to be right, and have all the answers.  I’ve watched throughout my lifetime as Christians have preached, showcased, and proudly displayed our moral stance, only to fall far from it.  Our problem is we tend to break the very rules that we hold others to (see Moses for an example).

Why do we feel the need to be right and righteous?  Is it attracting others to our faith or pushing more away?  I tend to think many are on the outside of what we are doing because our moralism and our stance is very unattractive.  It could be unattractive because people might feel like they can’t measure up to our standards of righteousness.  

In our world of social media, we also feel the need to comment on EVERYTHING that happens in the world from a Christian perspective.  Are we God’s PR agent?  

I love Paul’s stance, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Why can’t we do that instead? Instead of giving the world nonsense, why can’t we just give them Jesus?  The Gospel is the hope of the world, the most dangerous message in all time, and instead we give the world something else.  

Ghandi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Last month I attended the Mockingbird conference, and I remember hearing one of the speakers say, “People are bad, Christians are people, Christians are bad.”  People fail.  Sin is our nature, but for some reason, American Christianity presents itself as an organization that is immune to being bad.  The Gospel of American Christianity is an invitation to moral living instead of an invitation into a relationship with someone who saved you from yourself.

I propose that we stop taking the position of the moral authority and the position of being right on everything.  I propose that we stop giving the perception that we are perfect and have all our ducks in a row because that sets up for failure.

I propose we listen more.  I propose we humbly admit that we might be wrong.  I propose that we silence our opinions, and love people that are different than us.

Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  Not if we are perfect, not if we can defend Christian principles, not if we vote Republican.  People will know that we are his disciples if we love.

The Dearly Departed

the dearly departedWe have all heard the quote, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  I’m sure there is a lot of truth in that.  However, what I keep asking myself is, “what if it kills me?”  What if the thing I’m most afraid of facing actually does kill my purpose and identity?  What if it takes away my rights?  What happens then?  What if I am to become the dearly departed?

I just recently re-read C.S. Lewis’ book A Grief Observed.  The book was made out of journal entries after the death of his wife, and how he dealt with it.  In it he says this:

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”

What if the whole point is our death?  What if God is knocking down our house of cards to show us what really matters?  To ressurect us into something greater than what we had expected.  The late Episcopal priest, Robert Farrar Capon has said:

“Jesus is only urging his disciples, and us, to do what he himself did in his own trial and passion: to lay down his life and to let God raise it up in his own good time…In Gesthemane, he prayed that God would “let this cup pass” from him. But he also prayed, “nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” Poverty, not wealth – death, not life – is the only material God uses to save us.”

and Capon again from The Foolishness of Preaching:

“Our preachers tell us the wrong story entirely, saying not a word about the dark side – no, that’s too weak – about the dark center of the Gospel.  They cant bring themselves to come within a country mile of the horrendous truth that we are saved in our deaths, not by our efforts to lead a good life

Maybe his will is to knock down our house of cards.  Maybe his will is for our death to occur. We might need to just drop dead.

God uses the circumstances that break us and kill us to save us.  As if to say, “now I can resurrect you!”

What if in our dying we find ultimate redemption?  Isn’t that what a picture of baptism is?  Doesn’t baptism signify our dying, and Christ resurrecting us?

Could the thing that is killing us bring us deliverance?  Look at Jesus.  Three nails brought about his death, but in that death brought deliverance to the world.

The fish in Jonah was both his death and the thing that brought him redemption.  For starters, the Bible says that “God prepared” the great fish for him, and then Jonah prayed in 2:1 “From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Capon again: “Because at the very worst, all you can be is dead – and for him who is the Resurrection and the Life, that just makes you his cup of tea.”

Christian Obedience School

Christian Obedience SchoolDoes my disobedience throw God off? There have been many times in my life where I thought “God must not love me”, or “I’m sure I’ve lost my salvation.”  I would usually have these thoughts right after I committed a sin, and felt a good dose of condemnation for it. It was in these times in my life that I truly believed that my position in Christ had everything to do with what I did or didn’t do, instead of what Christ did in his finished work on the cross. According to Romans 5:18-19 our obedience is really a non-issue with God.

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

Take for example Peter.  Jesus tells Peter that he will be disobedient by denying him, but what does Jesus do to Peter?  He restores him and makes no mention of his sin.  Christ was obedient not Peter, but yet Christ restores.

We also see in Matthew 18:12 a parable about a sheep who wanders off, but the shepherd leaves the 99 to bring the sheep back in.  The sheep’s disobedience had no bearing on his relationship with the shepherd.  His disobedience proved how much the shepherd loved it because he left his home to bring the sheep back to the fold. To me, this really sheds light on Isaiah 53:6:

“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.”

We have all left the fold, but the Lord laid our iniquity on Jesus and gave us his righteousness.  The great exchange.  

To be clear, my disobedience may cause me discomfort, there may be very hard consequences for my actions.  As Robert Farrar Capon put it:

“You can’t get into hell by being bad. You get into heaven by being bad and accepting forgiveness. Now, that does in a way mean you have permission to be bad. If you want to stick your hand in a meat grinder, you are free to do that. It’s stupid, but God isn’t going to run the universe that way. God is not going to punish. He cares more about relationships than behavior.”

My disobedience may bring consequences, but my disobedience does not affect my position with God.  In Christ, I stand perfect.  To quote John Calvin:

“Now someone asks, how has Christ abolished sin, banished the separation between us and God, and acquired righteousness to render God favorable and kindly toward us? To this we can in general reply that he has achieved this for us by the whole course of his obedience.”

His obedience, and not mine has abolished my sin, gave me access to God, made me righteous, and gave me favor. The moment I think my morality and good works makes me right with God, is the moment I mix law and grace and becomes my attempt to save myself.

“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Romans 4:25