When Regis Philbin launched “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” in the U.S. in 1999, he popularized a question I’ve always found intriguing. Whenever a contestant gave their response to a question, Philbin would ask them, “Is that your final answer?”
That always seemed like a dumb question to me. Of course it was their final answer. It’s not as if they could get five guesses. And although I wasn’t a regular viewer of the program, I don’t remember anyone changing their mind.
However, lately I’ve realized that many Christians are wobbling in their faith and struggling to believe that God has given them His FINAL answer in Christ. Even if they’ve experienced His love at some point in the past, their difficult circumstances have caused them to question His love for them today. And though they’ve seen many signs of His favor over the years, they mistakenly worry they’ll have to DO something to EARN and MAINTAIN that favor in the future.
As a result of this works-based relationship with God, many people live on a spiritual roller coaster. Their perception of their Heavenly Father’s love is akin to someone picking off daisy petals, one by one, “He loves me. He loves me not…”
Often this happens when we use our circumstances as a measure of God’s love and favor. At other times, we see all the ways we’ve fallen short in our Christian life, and we assume the Lord couldn’t possibly love us when we’re in that kind of condition.
Somehow it’s all too easy to miss the clear teaching of Scripture that Jesus died for our sins “once for all” (Hebrews 7:27). Yes, our debts are paid in full—past, present, and future, for Jesus was “the final solution of sin” (Hebrews 9:26 MSG).
Notice the word “FINAL.” The sacrifices prescribed in the Old Testament were God’s temporary solution, but Jesus was His final answer. In His Son, He demonstrated His perfect love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and favor for all time.
If we were still living under the Old Testament, I could understand why we might wonder where we stood with God. After all, the Old Testament ends with this ominous final word in the book of Malachi: “CURSE” (Malachi 4:6). Wow.
That word “curse” pretty much sums up the outcome of works-based and feelings-based spirituality. You never quite know whether you’ve measured up. No matter what you do or refrain from doing, there’s never any guarantee that you have enough brownie points to merit God’s love and favor.
What an exhausting way to live!
Thankfully, when you’re in Christ, you no longer need to doubt where you stand. Instead of having a righteousness based on your own efforts, you’ve become “the righteousness of God” through His amazing grace (2 Corinthians 5:21).
So how do you know God’s verdict is final? In stark contrast with the Old Testament, which ended with a curse, here’s the final verse in the New Testament: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21).
If you’ve grown weary of the treadmill of works-based religion, I encourage you to let this life-changing message sink in:
God’s final answer is GRACE!
And since the canon of Scripture is now closed, God isn’t going to change His mind and retract this good news. He doesn’t love you IF… He doesn’t love you BUT… He doesn’t love you MAYBE…
God loves you…PERIOD!
Yes, that’s His final answer.
I remember hearing so many Preachers and worship leaders say things like,”I feel the Holy Spirit with us today!” What if I have a cold and don’t feel good? Is the Holy Spirit gone from me?
THANKS, Jim, for another well done article. I’ll send you a small paper I am writing to see what you think.
Thanks for your encouraging words, Gary. Today I unexpectedly had to pay over $700 to get my car repaired. I definitely wasn’t feeling God’s love and favor based on my circumstances. Thankfully, He can show us His love even amid very disconcerting circumstances.