Everyone seems to agree that all we have to do to reach God is fly a little straighter, pray a little harder, live more nobly, become more religious, and perform more charitable deeds. What is the idea behind this thinking? It simply is the thought that we are piling up enough positive things in our lifetime that in the end of our life we will somehow be entitled to live in the presence of a Holy God.
What an eye opener are the words of the prophet that point out the foolishness of such an idea, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isa 64:6).
I must be candid, at one time I too was absolutely certain that the way to gain God’s favor was to perform, achieve, and strive. Then one day I met the Son of God in a powerful way and learned that the only way to gain his favor was to accept his gift of grace. Upon accepting his grace my soul was overwhelmed by His peace and love. On that day He put an end to my useless striving, and changed my entire world.
There are a number of protests going on right now; some are quiet while others are causing damage. I understand the anger and frustration on both sides of the issue, but the situation is at checkmate, for if you do away with the police you have no order, and when there is no order there is a call for more police. Rodney King’s, “Can’t we all just get along,” doesn’t go very far in this world.
I couldn’t take the irony of the mobs calling for justice while breaking windows, so I turned the TV off and turned to John 19; the crucifixion of Jesus. Six trials with no verdict of guilt, yet his protesters shouted crucify him! One word kept coming to my mind: Unfair.
In thinking about the crucifixion of Jesus I recalled a short poem:
“How can it be the righteous one is punished & I go free?
How can it be the cross meant loss, yet it is victory for me?
How can it be that I gain the kingdom through a hideous tree?”
It’s called grace, and there is nothing fair about it. Because of Jesus I learned this: Never expect justice in this world, but I never stop giving it.
A young boy was acting up one day so his father warned him if he continued he would get punished. The boy didn’t listen and finally did something that he needed to be punished for. The father told his son he couldn’t play with his favorite toy for a period of time. The boy pulled a wrinkled dollar bill from his jeans and waved it in front of his dad saying, “Perhaps Mr. Washington could change your mind.”
We all do it, don’t we? We get squarely caught and we try to finesse our way out of it. When it comes to God there is no finessing our way around His throne. We’re guilty and we know it, but the extreme self-confident nature of sin prevents us from admitting it.
There was a sentence in Sunday’s sermon that explains why Christ went to the cross, and I hope you caught it: “On the cross Jesus gets what we deserve; in return we get what Jesus deserved.” It doesn’t sound fair does it? But there is nothing fair about God’s grace. Here’s my point: It takes the work of God to overcome our sin bathed self-confidence.You want someone else to take the blame?
Why become a Christian? In the minds of those asking this question is the belief that they are already a good person so the need for Jesus is not really important.
When we say we are a good person we mean if our life were placed on a great balance scale, our good works would out-weight our bad works and that makes us OK with God, and God doesn’t really see all my bad works.
In the Bible God says, “Be holy, because I am holy” (Lev. 11:44). Holiness is a higher standard then being good. It means everything a person does must be sacred; both thoughts and deeds. Here’s the point: If you break one of God’s Laws, there is nothing you can do to offset the laws penalty because everything you do must be holy; there is no such thing as doing extra goodness. Once you have broken God’s law you are in a hole that you cannot dig yourself out of. And by the by, God sees everything.
Jesus paid the price we cannot pay. If we accept him, he imputes his righteousness to our account, and we become justified, or just-if-I’d never sinned.
It’s called grace,
Is it fair for God to punish people for the wrongs they do? It is if you consider this: If Jesus is God, and he is, and he died on a cross as punishment for our sins, and he did, then the God we proclaim is the kind of God who is willing to take his own punishment so others will not have too.
This thought helps us to understand Grace and mercy. Grace is a favor rendered by one who does not need to do so. Mercy is withholding of a judgement that is deserved. It has been said, “On Calvary’s mountain God’s grace and God’s mercy met and God’s salvation was offered.” Salvation means: The cell doors have been opened, the chains have been loosed, and the prisoners and the slaves have been set free because their price has been paid.
Jesus, What a Savior,