by: Amber Olafsson
“Am I even going to Heaven?” Doubt used to constantly plague my thoughts.
At a whopping five years old, at the little white country church down a dusty dirt road, I asked Jesus to be my Savior. For a long time after this, I continued to wonder if I was actually worthy enough to get into God’s Kingdom.
While I had accepted Jesus as Savior, I didn’t comprehend the gospel, and because of this I remained in a holding pattern between religion and relationship, bondage and freedom, worry and peace. I was a Christian with an Old Covenant mindset. Yikes! How can a person who believes in Jesus as their Savior get stuck there? This occurs when we don’t really know what Jesus did on the cross did for us and the difference between the Old and the New Covenant.
The Old Covenant hinged on the obedience of people.
The New Covenant hinges on the obedience of Jesus.
RUIN—that is what happens when you blend two things that are never supposed to be mixed. Unfortunately, I see A LOT of mixture of the two in Christianity. The Old Covenant/religious mindset (I’ll use these two phrases interchangeably) is essentially: Jesus + your behavior = righteousness, holiness, acceptance, heaven. But this is not the gospel at all. God isn’t a fan of mixture; Jesus actually straight up says what happens when you put the “old wine” into new wine skin . . . it ruins the whole batch—as does mixing the Old Covenant with the New Covenant (Luke 5:37-39).
It is so easy to make it all about us . . . even our faith. The temptation of the religious spirit is to put ‘you’ at the center while simultaneously and subtly pushing Jesus to the side. It’s not obvious which is why it’s often successful. The Old Covenant mindset always focuses on the obedience of man instead of what the obedience of Christ accomplished. It highlights sin and leaves out the fact that Jesus’ work broke the power of sin. Its anthem is “Believe in Jesus, but everything is really up to you.”
An Old Covenant mindset will make you feel like your salvation, righteousness, holiness, acceptance, and entrance into Heaven is up to you. This isn’t to say “I don’t read the Old Testament,” I do . . . ALL the time, but I read it through the lens of the cross.
The religious mindset plants seeds like:
- If you believe in Jesus AND are “worthy enough”, then you can be righteous.
- If you believe in Jesus AND are “worthy enough”, then you can be holy.
- If you believe in Jesus AND are “worthy enough”, then you can be accepted.
- If you believe in Jesus AND are “worthy enough”, then you can go to Heaven.
Revelation gives us a peak into the Kingdom of God, where we find there is only one in Heaven or on earth found worthy. Read this passage with fresh eyes paying attention to who the focus is:
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is WORTHY to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because NO ONE WAS FOUND WHO WAS WORTHY to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I SAW A LAMB, looking as if it had been slain, standing at THE CENTER of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And they sang a new song, saying: “YOU ARE WORTHY to take the scroll and to open its seals, because YOU WERE SLAIN, and with YOUR BLOOD you purchased for God PERSONS from every tribe and language and people and nation. YOU HAVE MADE them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.Revelation 5:2-7, 9-10
Did you notice where the Lamb who was slain (Jesus) was positioned in the Kingdom of Heaven? The center. He is in the center of the throne, the center of the angels, the center of the elders. When we have a Kingdom mindset, Jesus is the focus.
We can’t ever be worthy enough, that is why the gospel is such good news. The Gospel says Jesus is the way, Jesus made us holy, Jesus made us righteous, Jesus is our pleasing sacrifice before the Father. Jesus was worthy enough and He gifted us what He earned. Can I get an AMEN?! Do we still obey God? Absolutlely! However, our obedience is not to earn us Heaven or holiness, but is a direct result of our new identity in Christ. We act righteous, because we are counted righteous by faith—thanks to Jesus. (John 14:6, Hebrews 10:10, Romans 1:16-17, Hebrews 7:27)
I no longer wonder if I am going to Heaven. When I previously questioned my salvation, the problem was: I was at the center, not Jesus. While I believed in Jesus, I was also placing faith in my behavior. I knew Jesus ushered in the New Covenant, but I was living through an Old Covenant lens(remember it hinged on people’s behavior—the New Covenant does not). Jesus truly became the center of my salvation the moment I stopped hoping my behavior was enough and started trusting in His finished work on the cross. As I shifted from having faith in myself, to placing full faith in my sacrifice—the slain Lamb of God—I finally experienced true peace.
I wonder if you’ve questioned your salvation. Have you worried that you aren’t worthy enough to be considered righteous or go the Heaven? Perhaps ever so subtly religion has tricked you into putting yourself at the center—your works and obedience at the center. It’s time to say: “NO MORE!” Put Jesus at the center and step into the peace of God, a place He wants you to live in and from:
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”Romans 5:1
The peace we have with God does not hinge on us . . . it hinges on Jesus. The glorious New Covenant cut in His blood. Take a moment to consider who is at the center of your faith and thank Jesus for what He did for us! What a Savior!
TIPS FOR MAINTAINING A KINGDOM MINDSET
Hold up EVERY teaching against the Word.
- Example: If we are told we must do something to get right with God again, what does the Word say?
Romans 3:22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. Is it our belief/faith or our actions make us right with God?
Always look for Jesus to be the focus.
- Be mindful of messages that focus on people and sin without mention of Jesus or who we are in Him. Remember: We are new creations in Christ, the power of sin was broken at the cross, Jesus is why we’re holy, righteous, accepted, going to Heaven, He is the Lamb of God who removed all the sin from our account, His blood forgave our sins, He ascended and sent us the Holy Spirit to help us walk in His ways. It is literally all about Him . . . we’ve just got to believe it!
True freedom is found when Jesus is at the center, not ourselves. Remember that Revelation passage? Those in the throne room know it is all about Jesus. They are falling down in worship and crying out holy and worthy is the Lamb. This is the mindset of the Kingdom . . . those who understand the New Covenant, freed from the obedience-based Old Covenant and completely reliant on God’s sacrificial Lamb. They know Jesus was and is enough. He is the center.