Well, it has been a long time since I have posted on my blog, and God willing, I will be able to post more frequently. Since I have been away from the keyboard, I have done a lot of reading, listening, and learning. Recently, I just finished R.C. Sproul’s book, The Truth of the Cross (As I am writing this it is FREE for Kindle). I really enjoyed the book because it highlighted some truths about Jesus death that I needed to know. It also was great because it cost me nothing to read it! Anyway, something Dr. Sproul wrote struck me profoundly when he after he discussed our need to be perfect in order to be in the presence of a holy God:
We try to get around the helplessness of this situation in modern culture by declaring that everybody deserves a second chance. -(Kindle Locations 226-229). Kindle Edition.
Today, many churches are talking about how God is the God of second chances. You may be asking, “What’s wrong with that?” And that is a great question. The problem with a second chance is that for corrupt and sinful human beings a second chance would be futile. It is pointless for a holy and righteous God who knows everything to give fallen people a second chance because they will inevitably mess up again. A second chance doesn’t save anyone, it only provides another opportunity to fail. If the standard for being with God forever is perfection, a second chance from God doesn’t equal perfection. Sproul follows his statement with these words:
My response is, “Who says so?” Does justice require that everybody get a second chance? A second chance is grace. It is mercy. Grace and mercy are never deserved. So it is nonsense to say that everyone deserves a second chance. But even if that nonsensical, hypothetical condition were true, what good would it do us? How long ago did we use up our second chance?
Sproul highlights the problem with second chances. We, sinful human beings, will eventually blow that second chance. A second chance from a holy God may be gracious and merciful, but it makes no sense because God also knows that we will trade that second chance in for rebellion.
What you and I need is not a second chance, but a savior. A savior that is perfect, holy, and upright in the sight of the Father. We need a savior that can take our place and stand on our behalf before the Creator of heaven and earth. Thankfully, there is a Savior. His name is Jesus and he is the only one that can save.
For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV
The only way to God is righteousness. You don’t need a second chance, you need Jesus!
Thanks for reading.
During my time in college, I worked so hard to make people believe in Christ. I would try to work through the issues people had with the Gospel. From creation to the resurrection of Christ, I tried to tackle them all. No matter what I said, many of the people I talked to refused to believe. All of my, what seemed at the time pointless, work and the Scriptures made me realize one thing…I can’t make anyone believe. Acts 17: 22-31 says:
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, “To the unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“In him we live and move and have our being”;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“For we are indeed his offspring.”
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’
Even though Paul is out of his comfort zone, the synagogue, he makes a compelling argument. He uses the Athenians belief system to introduce them to the Creator and the Savior. As I read this text I expected to see all the people bend their knees to Jesus, but that is not the case. Verse 32a says:
32a Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked.
Though Paul was probably the greatest missionary the world has ever seen, even he couldn’t make all the people listening believe. In fact, Paul couldn’t make any of them believe. Paul understood this lesson well, but I still had to learn it. I do not have the power to save. That is God’s job. I only have the power to speak the Word with courage and confidence, knowing that it contains the salvation every person needs. Once that truth is understood it takes all the pressure off me to try to convince a non-believer to believe. And when we are true to God’s call to preach, sometimes he grants us a front row view of salvation:
But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. -Acts 17: 32b-34
Though it may be my job to proclaim the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, I am certainly glad it is not my job to make other’s believe it.
Thanks for reading.
The past couple of weeks have been crazy. I went back to Minnesota, where I was born and raised, for Christmas. Everyday, I had some sort of obligation, at least that’s what it felt like. From family parties to friend gatherings, it was non-stop action. When I am away from home or on the go, I find that I become insensitive to my need for God. I worry about the next thing on the calendar instead of how much time I spend in the Word. This is a problem for me, and you may have a similar problem. Our human nature makes it easy to become callous. Ephesians 4:17-19 says this:
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
Paul depicts a vivid picture of the sinner. Though he uses the word, Gentile, he is describing every human here. For the Christian, we were once described here. For the unbeliever, this is a perfect description of them. They are lead by darkness. They are alienated and ignorant of God because their hearts are hard. Then Paul says this, “They have become callous”. This callousness can lead to all kinds of sin because it eliminates one’s sensitivity to the depth of their sin. After Paul describes the sinner, he moves to what the Christian should look like. Verses 20-24 says:
20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
As Christians, we are called to walk in holiness. We are not to solely trust in ourselves for truth, because our minds are not always trustworthy. The unsaved person is guided by darkness but we are to be guided by light. The sinner is separated from God, but we are called to have an intimate relationship with him. The hardness of heart for the sinner leads to ignorance, while the humble heart of a true believer leads to wisdom. We are called to throw away the old self and put on the new self that strives to be righteous.
While this is amazing, it is not easy. Just because you are saved doesn’t mean that we are not going to struggle with sin. Struggling with sin is a life-long battle, but we can take refuge in two things. #1 Jesus paid the price for every sin the believer has committed, is committing, and will commit. #2 Struggling with your sin means that you are not content in indulging that sin. Declaring war against sin means that you are not callous.
At the end of the day. It all comes back to Jesus and his work on the cross. I thank God for saving me and I pray that he removes the callouses that may be surrounding your heart, so you can respond to the grace and mercy that he provides.
Thanks for reading.