God’s Righteousness

anonymous religious hasidim jews during pray near western wall
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I was told once that Christians can be divided into three groups:  Modern-day Pharisees, Christian Eeyores, and lastly, the Grace Community.  And I was told that I was the modern-day Pharisee type.  A lot of you were as well.  You know, the really annoying, judgmental, legalistic type?

 

But, c’mon, unless you used to be an Ultra-Orthodox Jew, you were nothing like a Pharisee. Neither was I.

 

The Pharisees were hard-core religious zealots who devoted every minute of their lives to being righteous; they were sincere and serious. Their zeal was based on the Laws that God spoke to Moses.

 

“For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” Romans 10:2

 

Not according to knowledge?

 

The apostle Paul goes on to explain in Romans 10 that their religious practices were “their own” attempts at righteousness, and had nothing to do with God’s.

 

Yes, God gave the Law to Moses, but He did not give it so that it would lead us to Him.  To a life of faith, of reality.  The Law was given to increase the knowledge of sin and to lead us to despair and to the feet of the Lord God. (Romans 5:20)

 

So, if you desire righteousness and holiness, your efforts at being ‘good’ will not succeed. The Bible is so clear.  Again and again we are told that, to be righteous in God’s eyes, you must have FAITH.  Before Jesus came, one had faith in God and the words He spoke to one’s heart.  After Jesus came, one puts their faith in the death, burial, and resurrection.  It is THAT that spells out the good news, the gospel; it is that that saves a soul from hell.

 

Paul calls the gospel “the word of faith.”  The gospel is “the word of faith” because it has to do with assenting to what God reveals to your heart, it is about saying yes, having faith, and telling God, “yes, I believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.”

 

The Christian life is a life of faith.  “From faith to faith,” as it is written.  We are saved through faith by grace, and then we grow to know Jesus through faith by grace.

 

Faith is the noun form of the verb “to believe.”  Faith is about trusting God.  It’s about        believing Him. You trust Him for salvation and you continue to trust Him every day afterwards.

 

. . . yet with most of us, there was a slight detour into “works.”  For me, it was a 15 year detour.  Although we were not as serious and sincere as the Pharisees, we church addicts were still nonetheless trying to establish our own righteousness based on “law.”  Our lives were guided by rules and principles and standards (not by the Lord.)

 

But God brought me back to Himself.  He asked me to quit church, to give up my religious idols. To surrender my pride to Him. He asked me to stop TRYING to be righteous.

 

It’s great news because anyone can do this; the gospel applies to anyone and everyone!    God’s idea of righteousness is attainable.

 

We don’t have to be modern-day Pharisees to be righteous in God’s eyes.  I’m still blown away by that!  So, thanks for listening. 🙂

 

“Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4

How would you explain the gospel?

Sharing the gospel on the dance floor of a bar might seem strange, but it happened to me once after I first got saved.  I was a new college graduate who had moved back home, and was at some nightclub in South Florida with my sister and her group of guy friends.  One of the guys and I were dancing together when he asked me about my recent conversion to Christianity.

“Cindy tells me you are very passionate about the whole Jesus thing.  Do you actually believe what you are being told at church?”

I was thrilled with his question, because it was the perfect opportunity for me to share the gospel for the very first time.  It seems odd to me now that I could have such a serious conversation while grooving to pop music on a dance floor . . .  but at the time it was perfectly natural.  He listened patiently as I began my explanation with the Garden of Eden.

I kept talking for an entire hour.

I didn’t know how to explain the gospel simply and concisely!  Oh Lord, how embarrassing.  I don’t even remember that young man’s name, but God bless him for hearing me out.

And, if you don’t mind, may I please explain the gospel to you right now in a simple and concise manner???  I promise; I’ll be quick.

The gospel is the good news, or the glad tidings, of Jesus Christ.  It’s good news because He came to solve the problem that plagued humanity.  As I told that anonymous guy on the dance floor:  the problem began in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 2:15-17, The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Adam and Eve were given one commandment to obey, and they failed.  They ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They chose to reject God. So on that day, He left.  They lost the life of God, the Holy Spirit, which had been breathed within them . . . and they died (Gen 2:7).

You and I are born into this world “spiritually dead.”  We are all born in the image of Adam.  We are empty.  We are blind.  We are lost.  (Haven’t you noticed?)

Romans 5:17-19, For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Humans are born in the image of Adam, not in the image of God.  Death reigned from Adam to Jesus.  Life reigns from Jesus until eternity, until forever!  😁

God came to earth as the promised Messiah to the Israelites; the prophet that was foretold and expected for thousands of years.  He was born as a baby and was called Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

After living a perfect life according to the Law of Moses, He was put to death; His death paid the penalty that was required for sinners under the Law.  He was then buried in a cave; hundreds of Roman soldiers guarded that cave for the following three days.

But you can’t kill God, so on the third day, He rose again; His body was resurrected from the grave.  Having died for the sins of the world, the world is now forgiven of all of its trespasses against God.  The slate has been wiped clean so that anyone who wants to be saved, can be saved.  You are saved by receiving the resurrected life of Jesus, by inviting His life – which is His very Holy Spirit – to come and live with you for all of eternity.

Romans 5:10, For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

His death, His burial, and most importantly, His resurrection made it possible for humanity to be saved; to be made alive; to receive His resurrected life, His Spirit, that would resurrect US from the dead.

That life that Adam and Eve lost?  It has been restored.

Have you been restored?  Have you been made alive?  Have you believed in the gospel?

Hearing this message with faith, is what allows a person to be saved from eternal death.

Kind of an important message to share. . . . even if you are on a dance floor.

 

 

May 4, 2018

You are a forgiven person — period

If you seek to be obedient to God, then you must love Him with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength and you must love your neighbor as you love yourself.  These two commandments are the summary of all of the commandments listed in the Law of Moses.  In your attempt, you must never falter and never veer off course.  You must love God and your neighbor for every minute of every day for your entire life. (Mark 12, Matthew 22, Luke 10)

You know what you must do, and you must do it perfectly.  You should give this your best effort.  Your greatest attempt.

Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

If you fail for even one moment, you are completely guilty; it is as if you failed continually for your entire life.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (James 2:10)

At this point, you should see that you are hopeless.  You should feel the heaviness of ‘the impossible’ weighing you down.  You should embrace the dark enormity of this empty void.  Because simply by knowing what is good and what is evil, you can in no way obey the Law of God. (Genesis 2:17)

Allow the Law to kill you and to bring a complete end to any attempts at obedience.  Afterall, “the Law brings death, but the Spirit brings life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)

You are now ready for the Good News.  You are now ready to enter the Promised Land of Rest!  You are now ready to acknowledge the complete forgiveness of your sins.

Being set free from the Law allows you to live a life of rest knowing that Jesus Christ has done it all – He has done all the work.  Your only job now is to live in the fulfillment of the Sabbath Day.

Live as a forgiven person!  Give no thought to guilt or condemnation when you sin – He has dealt with your sin.  But do talk to Him about it, of course.  Talk to the Lord continually, and pour out your heart to Him at all times.  Allow Him to teach you that He has no expectations of you; that only He could be a perfectly obedient human.

Live as a forgiven person!  The Law came to an end when Jesus Christ fulfilled it here on earth, so do not think in terms of “sin” and “repentance.”  It is the Law that defines sin, and therefore, you are free from sin, since you have been set free from the Law. (Romans 6:16-18)

Live as a forgiven person!  Grow in the grace that He has for you.  You are finally free to grow as a new creation as you get to know your kind, forgiving and loving Savior.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

 

November 21, 2017