As many of you know, I teach a morning Men's Bible study at Kingsfield Church. For those with early morning syndrome, feel free to join us 6AM on Tuesdays. It's great being with a bunch of like-minded, godly men, who just want to be encouraged in their walks with the Lord...and breakfast doesn't hurt either!
This season, I have been doing a biography study of the Apostle Paul. It's called "The Power of One: One Man, One Life, One Mission." For the most part, it's been a study on the book of Acts until we came to Acts 15, where the question of how a man is saved became the focal point of the Church. One faction said, "You have to follow the law and become a Jew!" The other faction believed that a believing faith in Christ would be sufficient. There was some heat and passion and vigor, as the minds of that early church in Jerusalem wrestled with essential theology.
So, as part of Paul's story, I moved us over to the book of Romans and have been surveying this fantastic book for the past month. I have always loved Romans. To me, it is one of the most perfect literary works that I have ever had the privilege to read, study and teach. Viewed in the mindset and context of Acts 15, I believe that I was able to catch personally the passion that Paul had when he wrote this answer to the question of how a man can be saved.
One thing that really stuck out to me was Paul's insistent theme of condemnation because of sin. It's always in my mind and I'm constantly reminded of my own sin, but I wonder if the message of God's wrath against sin is heard much today?
I remember as a young teen, the time when I discovered the wretchedness of my own sin condition. I had to be told. I needed to be convinced. I needed to be shown. But when the Word of God was exposed to me, I knew that I was a sinner, damned and on my way to Hell. I felt the weight of guilt overtake me and I had to be free of it. I knew that it was a curse that hung over me like a constant sign. I knew that the only hope was to run to Jesus and trust completely and thoroughly in His Word, that if I called on Him, then He would in no way, cast me out!
I wonder how many people feel that today? Many are innoculated by their own good deeds and their track record and the fact that they are not as bad as so-and-so. Many are deceived into believing that they can stand before a Holy God and point to their own righteousness, when in reality, the ultimate feeling of dread comes with the realization that their works don't represent righteousness, but are instead another debt! How sad, to have been so loving, so charitable, so "holy" in their own minds, and yet to have stood before the Savior that they rejected because of their reliance on their own "holiness."
Receiving Christ as Savior, means that you trust Him completely for your salvation. That is the positive side of it. On the other hand, it concurrently means that you reject fully and completely any other thing or work or deed that you would believe has redemptive value before God!
It used to be that one could illustrate the love that Jesus has for mankind by looking at the cross. The old picture is of a preacher, holding out his hands in a cross position, saying, "This is how much He loves you!" I have done this and I believe it with my whole heart. He does love me, and you, whoever you are, whatever you have done, THAT much! However, we are remiss in our preaching if we do not alternately use the same illustration to convey that God HATES SIN THAT MUCH!
He hates my pride, arrogance, lust, anger! He hates my sinful attitudes and actions! So much so, that He died for me, standing in a representative position, dying a death that I and all of humanity deserved. He took every ounce of the righteous, holy anger of God! Every moment He was tortured, more of God's wrath was released!
When I point to anything of my own righteousness, I might as well be saying, "Jesus' death was good, but not great!" I may as well say, "Jesus' death put me over the top, but I was pretty close!" Let such a thought be accursed!
Biblically, there is NO ONE WHO IS REMOTELY CLOSE! Paul says that there is NONE who seek after God, no not even one!
Jesus died to be my bridge, but the deal is that HE IS THE ONLY BRIDGE! There is no other bridge across the Grand Canyon that separates me from Him.
I will never be a party to anyone ever believing that their righteousness amounts to anything before God. Paul, writing to the Galatians said that that thought was another gospel and was to be considered accursed! So that's where I stand.
On the other hand, Paul wrote and implored the people, on God's behalf, to be reconciled to God, through Christ, for believing upon Him, trusting in His name and His perfection, is equal to living a perfect life, according to Romans 4! "Abraham believed and it was accounted to Him for righteousness!"
And now, in Romans 8:1, we read that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit! No condemnation!
Please don't miss this! If you happen to be reading this, having stumbled across this, please trust Christ and reject any item that you would hold up as redemptively valuable to God! If you have been a Christian for a long time, don't miss this reminder that this is our greatest and really, only message for the watching world of people who are currently living under the wrath of a living, Holy God, condemned because of their refusal to recognize Jesus Christ, the unique Son of God, as the Savior of their Souls from the bondage of sin. If that is not your heart's cry to make that known, please reconsider and ask for the Lord to give you His heart and message again!
Blessings To Our Friends,