We are all guilty. Everyone. And yet in our attempts to justify ourselves and our sin, we want to make God the guilty One. After all our sin highlights His righteousness…it makes Him look better, right? So why should we then be judged? Sounds like a familiar pattern…deny, deny, deny, deflect and then turn it back on my accuser. Somehow everyone else is to blame but me. As Paul says, our condemnation is just.
Salvation in both the OT and NT has always been about faith. Paul will make this more abundantly clear in the following chapter. It’s also a topic that he takes up in his letter to the Hebrews. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval…” (Hebrews 11.1-2). Example after example is given of OT characters who by faith did what God said. No one was ever saved by keeping the Law. And no one will be saved by doing good works of any kind. Because salvation is a gift of God’s grace that we receive by faith.
So if you have been trusting in anything other than Jesus to save you, now’s the time to put your faith in Him. Only He can save you. He’s already done all the heavy lifting. He lived a perfect life. He died a sacrificial death, satisfying God’s wrath and paying the penalty for sin. He was raised the third day showing that He had not only conquered sin but also death. So that by believing in Him, we can have both forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
If you have trusted in Jesus, good. Who can you share your story with? Who needs to hear about the hope that you have? I know it can be a bit challenging in a world under quarantine, but ask God for opportunities and be intentional about taking advantage of them when they come.
This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster
A question over entrance requirements for the kingdom is threatening the unity of the early church. Should the Gentiles be required to become Jews before becoming Christians? At stake is the very gospel itself. Is salvation by faith in Jesus alone or not?
The council renders an overwhelming verdict in the affirmative…salvation is by faith in Jesus alone according to God’s grace. That’s awesome news! Every obstacle has been removed so that you can come to Jesus by faith, just as you are. If you haven’t yet trusted in Jesus, what’s stopping you?
I’ve got to believe that the hearts of these Pharisaic Christians were in the right place. They didn’t necessarily want to keep folks out, they just wanted to control how they came in. I think sometimes we do the same thing. Maybe not consciously, but we kind of expect that folks who follow Jesus will look like us…they’ll act like us, they’ll have the same convictions as us…and when they don’t we begin to question whether or not they are really one of us.
There is a fine line between conviction and legalism. There are things that the Bible is clear about, and walking in those things is part of following Jesus. I’m not talking about those things. But there are things that the Bible isn’t necessarily clear on…and on those things through our own reading of Scripture and time with the Lord we develop convictions. Those are more personal…our own rules of engagement. When we take our convictions…not talking about what the Bible says, but our convictions…and inflict those on others we’ve crossed the line into legalism. Legalism is measuring my righteousness against yours…comparing how good I am to how bad you are. And it’s easy to fall into. We say salvation is by faith alone, but we too can hang expectations on that, can’t we? What are those expectations for you, and how are they keeping you from welcoming others into the faith? Do they need to act, dress, talk or behave a certain way? If that’s you, it’s time to let go of those expectations.
No doubt Jesus changes everything. Like Paul says, when we choose Jesus we are turning from vain things to follow the living God. But sometimes I think we hang on to those vain things. I think we drag them along with us as we half-heartedly, if that, turn in His direction. What are the vain things you are holding on to? What idols…what sins…what of your past are you clinging to, unwilling to let go of? You will not experience the life that Jesus saved you for until you let go of them. If that’s you, I want to invite you to let go of those things, and turn completely to Him today.
This post is based on a sermon from our Acts series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster