One of the beautiful realities that comes from the gospel is the fact that there are no lost causes when Jesus is a part of the equation. No matter how low, horrible, treacherous, broken, destructive, or debased you are or have been, Jesus can save you.
The Apostle Paul lived in this reality. To put it nicely, Paul was a horrendous human being. But all that changed when Jesus knocked him off his feet and blinded him with the light of his grace. Here are Paul’s words on the reality that followed in his life:
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,
and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. [1 Timothy 1:12-15]
I see two things in Paul’s words there:
1) Jesus can save anyone.
2) With Jesus there are no lost causes.
Truly, it would be wonderful if this meant that there are no lost causes at all. In fact, there are no lost causes, except one.
This Sunday I’m preaching a message titled “Christmas in the Courtroom,” from the text Mark 3:21-35. This passage contains one of the most important and misunderstood things that Jesus ever said.
“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”- for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” [Mark 3:28-30]
In this context three different groups of people were misunderstanding and misrepresenting Jesus. This quote is in response to the scribes who were saying that Jesus Himself was demon-possessed, and that He freed people through power granted to Him by Satan. This was beyond “they’re not getting it.” This was an overt denial of the work of God in and through the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus had come to “save His people from their sins,” as God in the flesh, as the long-awaited Messiah, coming to bring men to God by bringing (in Himself) God to man.
The “unpardonable sin” in this context is the continual and habitual denial of Jesus, a refusal to receive the gift of salvation that He came to provide. It is the stubborn denial of Jesus as Lord, and the sentence is remaining lost in sin.
Indeed, there are no lost causes with Jesus. The only lost cause is the one who refuses to receive the grace of God through Jesus.
More on this Sunday as we examine “Christmas in the Courtroom.”