Thereís a concept popular in the
Christian world that causes confusion and discouragement. Most
Christian religions today will insist that your life changes
drastically once you enter their fold.
Joining their ranks (by following
their prescribed steps to salvation) results in the promise of a
The bible unquestionably promises
us a new life in Christ, so we arenít writing to discount that
fact. But the new life promised by most worldly religious
organizations is far removed from the truth. They would lead
you to believe that all the sins of the past and errors of life
are wiped away and the convert steps into their new family
congregation with a clean slate.
The idea of a fresh start is so appealing
that current members become cheerleaders, sales agents and helpful
persuaders to collect new souls for the group. Like multi-level
marketing, they push for converts and additions so their down level
salespersons not only count as, but add to future stars in their ďcrowns
I recall a great number of times my mother lamenting choices she
had made that caused her situation in life to be less than she
ďI wish I could go back and do some things differently.Ē
After hearing this for years, I finally
asked her a blunt question: ďIf you could go back enough times to
correct all your mistakes and choices and sins, do you think you would
still need a savior?Ē
The correct answer is yes, of course. But
it made her think more about forgiveness and mercy than choices and
errors, and I never heard her make that statement again.
Of course, we canít go back and undo
errors and mistakes Ė thereíd be nobody left in the present if that was
the case. So the clean slate is not really quite like it is
The false hope the world promotes can do a
lot of harm among Godís children.
Theyíre ready to dedicate and devote and
promise their lives to God Ė not out of a true sense of service, but for
the selfish promise of the clean slate. They want to enter a new stage
where all the errors and mistakes of the past will no longer exist. In
fact, in some excitable circles, they contend that they will never sin
again and can walk through this life in sinless perfection.
Can you imagine the disappointment in God
that these people must feel when reality sets in?
Proper goal, wrong motive.
They want to serve God for how it will
benefit them. Keep in mind as we explore this, we are speaking about
Godís children. If they can be convinced to do something for God,
itís because God has first done something in them.
What really happens to a child of God
thatís undergone a true, slate-cleaning change?
Thereís a part of him that begins to make
examination after the new birth. Heís been alive now, probably a couple
of years since his regeneration, and heís beginning to question some
things; heís finding some situations uncomfortable, and he may need
relief from a burden or internal force.
Heís got an urging for service that he
doesnít quite understand, and perhaps now he turns to church. While he
may have spent part of his childhood in church, this time something is
different. Now, he seems drawn to it. Heís actually on a journey.
Over time, if he hasnít fallen prey to the
promises of clean slates and sales pitches from the media, friends,
family, and associates, he may hear the sound of the gospel. Itís going
to irritate him, and make him uncomfortable, but at the same time, it
should deliver some peace from the questions and struggle his new birth
has stirred up.
He may think heís looking for eternal
salvation. And thatís fine, because heís on a spiritual quest as a
newborn babe and the only thing for certain heíll know is that the
gospel, the true gospel, when he hears it will bring that peace and
comfort heíll find no where else.
Eventually, under the sound of the gospel,
he might come to decide he canít hold back any longer and realize the
only relief from the pressure is to come forward and align with the
people that he believes are serving the true and living God. After
baptism, does he get a clean slate and get to start over?
We were forgiven at Calvaryís cruel cross if our names are
included in the Lambís book of life. Eternally, there is a clean
slate. And there is a sense of forgiveness that occurs in our
daily lives when obedience starts. But letís look at this from
a scriptural viewpoint.
Remember our title subject, Paul? He knew something
about clean slates and history. Paul penned a universal law in Galatians
that he had experienced and wanted us to understand:
Gal 6:5 For every man shall bear his own burden. Gal
6:6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that
teacheth in all good things. Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not
mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Gal 6:8
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but
he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Sowing and reaping are farming
terms. It means that if you plant something here, you can expect
it to sprout and spring forth from the same place at a later
Saul of Tarsus was a successful Jew: Powerful, well
respected, in charge of other men, a man of great authority. He held
life and death in his hand. Well studied, well educated, raised of well
to do parents, yet when he was struck down on the road to Damascus,
personally visited by Jesus, his life was immediately changed. But was
his past wiped clean?
Far from it. In fact, Paul
began immediately to experience what he would later write about in the
sixth chapter of Galatians. From educated and illuminated to uncertain
and blind. From powerful to helpless. From a ruler of men to a
servant. From a man of great authority to a man requiring the guiding
hand of an underling to lead him.
There are countless examples if we care to look for
them. Paul was reaping what he had sown.
Peter knew the lesson as well. And while the new
Christian convert in the world begins to look for that bed of roses and
his own personal soft cloud of comfort, the reality is more like Peter
1Pe 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the
fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened
unto you: 1Pe 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of
Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be
glad also with exceeding joy.
If you put that on your churchís welcome mat youíll never
have to clean it.
John tells us in Jhn 1:11 He
came unto his own, and his own received him not. Jhn 1:12 But as many
as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even]
to them that believe on his name:
While that was certainly true of the Jews in Jesus day,
it pertains to you as well. When are you given the power to become the
son of God and believe on his name? When you come up from that watery
grave, you become a manifest King, capable of ruling in the kingdom.
You are made a priest unto God, empowered to offer spiritual sacrifices.
But what else happens? You now have a courtroom set up
in your heart and mind and a daily judgment begins. Fire is associated
with judgment in scripture, so when Peter tells us about the fiery trial
which is to try you, he has a double meaning.
The blank slate theory the world holds fall apart under
examination. In the walk of a child of God, actions and
responsibilities begin to take on meaning. Peter tells us more just a
few verses down:
1Pe 4:17 For the time [is come] that judgment must
begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall
the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?
A king has responsibilities. A priest has
responsibilities. Even a child has responsibilities. Our
responsibilities are based upon whether we choose to perform them or
not. Blessings always come from obedience. If we are not obedient,
Paul says we have a judgment.
2Cr 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment
seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his]
body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.
Letís be clear. Judgment is in this lifetime. This is
reaping and sowing. Eternally, we were all judged in Christ at the
cross. Thereís a line in the old hymn Rock of
I soar to worlds unknown, See Thee on Thy judgment throne
We will never see him on His judgment throne in the world
to come. All judgment will be over. We face the seat of judgment
Did Paul get a clean slate? The scriptures reflect quite
For every assembly of believers Paul broke up and
disturbed, I think he had to start a church.
For every discussion about Christ he disrupted, he had to
later defend the same against heretics.
To contrast the letters of authority he held, he was
given the task of penning true letters, with true authority.
For the stoning of Stephen, he himself was stoned and
left for dead. For holding the cloak, he found himself naked.
For the imprisonment of the saints, Paul too found
himself bound and jailed.
For the shipwreck of Christian lives and devotion, Paul
found himself troubled multiple times at sea.
For the breaking of assemblies, he faced solitude in the
For forcing believers to blaspheme against the most holy
God, Paul faced beatings with whips and rods.
In addition, robbers, perils, hunger, thirst, fastings,
cold, nakedness and attacks by the heathen.
And finally, for attempting to remove the head of the
early church, that is, her leaders, Paul suffered a be-heading at the
2Cr 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as
a fool) I [am] more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure,
in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 2Cr 11:24 Of the Jews five
times received I forty [stripes] save one. 2Cr 11:25 Thrice was I
beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a
night and a day I have been in the deep;
2Cr 11:26 [In] journeyings often, [in] perils of
waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen,
[in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the
wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren;
2Cr 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger
and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
2Cr 11:28 Beside those things that are without, that
which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
This might appear to be a grim picture for the new
convert, but Paul was a particular case. We understand the principles
taught in scripture that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us.
Paulís story with the stoning in Acts Chapter 14 reveals
Act 14:19 And there came thither [certain] Jews from
Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul,
drew [him] out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Act 14:20
Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came
into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
Stoning may not have been the impromptu punishment of the
citizens of Lystra, but certain Jews incited the crowd. Paulís stoning
was so intense the crowd believed they had murdered the apostle.
Left for dead. But the next day, heís in travelling form and ready
to take on a new assignment. How is this even possible? Did Paul die?
2Cr 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years
ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I
cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
2Cr 12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the
body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 2Cr 12:4 How that he was caught up
into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a
man to utter. 2Cr 12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I
will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
Historians say if you backtrack fourteen years from the
time Paul writes this, you end up in Acts chapter 14. Whether a
physical resurrection or not, Paul was healed from a stoning, and
enjoyed a miracle and a renewing of life.
While weíve attempted to rightly divide between a clean
slate and reaping what we sow, letís end on good news, Paulís
perspective through it all:
Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God,
and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we
may be also glorified together. Rom 8:18 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.
Brother Royce Ellis