"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Colossians 1:18

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Simple Truth Entreated: The Response of Unbelievers (Part 5 of 5)

- Still others will declare, “I can believe in your God, but only as one God among many.”  I think you say this because you see there are many so-called gods in this world, and you cannot bring yourself to discount any of them, so long as people are worshiping them.  If people are sincere, if they believe they are right, then what right have we to declare otherwise?  Thus do we divorce belief from truth, for only when we remove truth is there room for so many opposing beliefs in this world.  Put another way, if people started to believe that two plus two actually equaled five, would this make five a viable answer alongside four?  Of course not!  It is preposterous, and yet we apply this very thinking to the spiritual world.   Real truth teaches, guides, and corrects, whether we refer to mathematics or theology. 

So we must honor truth, not beliefs.  Beliefs must be made to serve truth, and the Bible gives us absolute truth (John 17:17).  God says, “And there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me.  Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (Is. 45:21b-22)

- And what of those who state, “I cannot believe that the world is as evil as the gospel portrays it to be.  It is filled fundamentally good people.”?  If this is so, then the world is in terrible shape for having such good people.  Turn the television to any channel, or watch any small child for a day, or look for any candid moment into your own heart.  Can you escape the selfishness, the excuses, the frustration?   Aside from this, we do tend to judge our own goodness in relativity to those around us, but the gospel calls us to examine ourselves alongside the standard of our divine Judge, God Himself, and this standard is perfection.  All have sinned, and thus stand in need of salvation from that sin.

- There will be those who maintain, “Of course I have sinned, but I will count on my good works for the Lord to save me.”   This was the folly of many people in Jesus’ time as well.  They relied upon adherence to a set of rules (some from the Bible, and some not) to achieve a righteous standing before God.  This adherence, however, was never enough to save people – remember what Jesus said to a religious leader:  “You must be born again.” (John 3:7b) Just as a baby cannot bring about birth through his or her own actions, so we cannot achieve for ourselves the spiritual rebirth needed to save us. 

A legal example illuminates – a man is caught in a murder.  He is seen carrying out the killing, his fingerprints are on the weapon, and he has confessed.  However, he declares, “I know I have committed this terrible crime, but consider also the volunteer work I have done all my life.”  Will the judge be moved to mercy?  Of course not!  Doing what is expected cannot cancel out doing what is evil.  Justice looks at evil deeds without reference to good deeds. 

Aside from this, even the deeds which we do apart from God, and which we would reckon as good works, are viewed in a different light by God, who counts our own righteousness as naught but “filthy rags.” (Is. 64:6) If it is not done for Him in obedience and love, then it simply no good, no matter what it is.

- Finally, some have tragically concluded, “I believe in this gospel, but I am afraid I have sinned too much for the Lord to extend His grace.”  May your despair turn to rejoicing, for the gospel was made – made, we declare – for such a one as you.  You need not fear that the power of your sin is somehow greater than Jesus’ omnipotent victory over sin, or that the depth of your sin is greater than His reach, or that the murk of your sin will overpower the radiance of His grace.  Christ declared in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”  He is faithful with those who come to Him.  Remember Jesus’ command for all to repent in Acts 17:30?  If the all-knowing Lord has made such a command, then He is prepared to honor and bestow grace upon those who do repent. 

What you say is true in that we cannot deserve grace.  However, this is the very definition of grace, is it not?  No one deserves it, but the Lord, who is no liar (Titus 1:2) offers it to all.  This is the humbling glory of it all, the unique glory that God desires you to see, to relish, and to respond to in repentance and humility.   To you, we say again, repent now!  Believe that God is able and willing to save you, and repentantly seek that salvation on His terms.  If you find yourself unable to believe this, honestly approach the gracious God of all and plead with Him to bless you, so undeservedly, with a true and saving belief in Him.  

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
 - Romans 10:12-13

The gospel is and will always be the most important matter of our lives, whether we are children of God or are outside His grace.  While we are here on earth, it is the matter with which we all have to do, for it can either save us and fuel us for a righteous, obedient life, or it can consign us for all time to an eternity in hell.  It is the sole point of connection which God offers to humanity that promises the riches of forgiveness and sonship with God, rather than the just and perpetual misery which our sin demands.  Praise, praise our great God for the glory that torrents through the gospel – for the grace and the wrath laid side by side, for the power that assures His purposes, for the ever-present and unassailable justice, and for the love that saves His children.  May all of our selfish objections, and all that we seek to withhold, simply give way before the wondrous gospel of Jesus Christ.


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