Wednesday, November 17, 2010
the gospel is my only hope
...the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus...
There is only one solution for the problem of sin. It is not to be found in a just human government or any form of racial, social, personal, or gender equality. It is not going to be found through legal means. It is not going to be dealt with by education or science. There is no pill or psychological therapy that can eliminate our sinful tendencies. The only hope for us is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In Jesus, by putting my faith and trust in His sacrifice for my sin, I receive a righteous standing before God. It matters not what good I might think I might do. I am part of a vast group of sinful conspirators from my very birth. Paul has already elaborated on the universal aspect of sin as the defining human condition for everyone on the planet (see Romans 3:9-18). I cannot save myself. No human can do so. Only Jesus saves us.
Nobody gets a pass on needing the saving work of Christ. As Paul said, "there is no distinction". Every person, Jew or Gentile, has fallen short of the glory of God. Sin is endemic to being human. But thankfully the story does not stop there. Jesus came to make the difference for all this.
Paul goes on to explain that through faith in Christ, that condition can be turned around. We can be justified by His grace freely. Salvation is offered to us as God's free gift when we turn from sin, confess ourselves as sinners in need of forgiveness from a holy God, and receive by faith the salvation only Jesus offers us, committing ourselves to His Lordship and worshipping His as God and Savior. We are then declared righteous, like a judge dismissing the charges against us, and are redeemed from the slavish and hellish consequences of being under judgment as a sinner. That is really, really, really good news. It is the solution for all that is wrong in the world.
That sounds trite. It is not. Our spiritual need is our deepest one. Yes, access to healthcare, clean water, adequate nutrition, shelter, etc are all important needs, particularly in the most impoverished parts of the world. But they do not overshadow the gospel. Christians ought to be preaching the gospel WHILE caring for those other needs. We should never think that those needs alone are what doing the work of the gospel is all about. To fall into the trap of materialistic thinking as children of God is deceptive, disobedient, and ultimately disrespectful of the Savior Who came first and foremost to give His life a ransom for many.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13