November 16, 2015

Saved By God's Grace

November 15, 2015

One of These is Not Like the Others

So I saw another Facebook meme a few weeks ago. (I did some editing, but I think you can get the idea of what it says.) It's on the Facebook page entitled, I'm not "Spiritual". I just practice being a good person. This meme had to do with how all of the world's religions teach basically the same thing, which is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In Christianity, this is called the Golden Rule, and is found in Matthew 7:12.

While I think it's a little simplistic to try to boil down all of the teachings of all of the world's religions into one common catch phrase, this isn't the focus of this post. My question is this: Is this - the Golden Rule and its variants - the primary teaching of Christianity? My friends, the answer is No. The primary teaching of Christianity is the Good News or the Gospel. Let's take some time to explain what the Good News is and why we need it, because if there is Good News, it logically follows that there is bad news. Walk with me down the Romans Road to Salvation, which is a collection of verses from Paul's letter to the Romans that outlines the plan of salvation.

My friends, here is the bad news:

1. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." - Romans 3:23
Yeah, OK, so no one's perfect. God understands, right? This isn't really such bad news, is it? Yes, it is, because God demands 100% perfection for 100% of the time. There is no one who is perfect. The bad news gets worse.

2. "For the wages of sin is death..." - Romans 6:23a 
Yeah, but we all die, don't we? So how is this news? This is not just about our physical death, this verse is referring to our eternal death or damnation. But now, here's the Good News:

3. "But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 6:23b 
How is this Good News, you ask? Because God is love, He demands that our sins be punished. This is just, right, and loving. The Good News is that God sent His son, Jesus, who was fully God and fully man to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins so that we wouldn't have to.

4. "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." - Romans 10:9
If by faith you believe that Jesus died on the cross in our place, to take the punishment that you deserve, and that God raised him from the dead to show his victory over sin and death, you will be saved. You will trust in Jesus and not yourself.

5. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." -Romans 5:1
By placing our faith in Jesus' death and resurrection, we will have peace (as in the opposite of war) with God.

While on the surface, it seems that the world's religions have at least one thing in common, the fact is that Christianity is the only religion where God came to earth as a man; to live the perfect life that we can't live; to be humiliated and condemned to death on a cross, so that He could provide the perfect sacrifice as payment for our sins; to be raised from the dead on the third day to demonstrate His victory over sin and death. Jesus died so that you could be forgiven of your sins and have eternal life and be with God forever.

You fall short of the glory of God. You are not perfect, and that is the problem. Because of this, you cannot earn your salvation. You cannot work your way to Paradise. You cannot do enough good to outweigh the bad. Only the grace of God can save you. I do not know what the other religions teach, but Christianity says that salvation is a gift from God:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9
My friends, listen to the words of Jesus:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God." - John 3:16-21
You are a sinner in need of a Savior. We all need a Savior. That Savior is Jesus. Place your faith in him and not yourself, your works, or your rituals. If you would like to know how to become a Christian, here is an article for further reading, "How to Become a Christian". May the Lord open your eyes to the glorious truth of the Gospel.
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