Fact: “The gospel confronts us with the hopelessness of our sinful condition (pg 31).”
Truth: The gospel or good news is this:
At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6-11 NIV
Our sinful condition reveals that we are powerless and ungodly sinners, enemies of God. The good news is that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. It is Christ who justifies us by his blood sacrifice on the cross. It is Christ who saves us from God’s wrath. It is Christ who reconciles us to God and saves us from eternal damnation apart from Him. We should therefore rejoice!
How can we show love to such a man as this, who did for us that which we were powerless to do for ourselves?
In America, “we have been told all that is required is a one-time decision, maybe even mere intellectual assent to Jesus, but after that we need not worry about his commands, his standards, or his glory (pg 38).”
The Bible provides no such deception. The Bible is absolute in stating that if we truly love God, we will do what he commands (John 14:15, 23; 1 John 2:3, 5:2-3).
As Christians, we are not called to abuse the grace of God. The Apostle Paul clearly teaches against this in Romans Chapter 6. If professing Christians have made a verbal declaration for Christ, yet have no desire to obey the Lord, Paul calls those people to question their true hearts’ desire. Paul tells us not to offer our bodies to sin, to be used as instruments of wickedness, rather God desires that we live righteous lives (v. 13).
We can live righteous lives through the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18). It is the work of the Holy Spirit that transforms us to be more like Christ.
We can also live righteous lives by knowing what pleases the Lord and understanding what he detests. Once we understand the difference between the two, we can pray for our hearts, minds, and eyes to be transformed, that means continuously changed, to see as God sees. We should love the things that God loves and hate the things that he hates, and the only way we will know the difference between the two is by studying his Word.
It is not enough to hear the Word preached on Sunday mornings or infrequently on the radio or television stations; it is not enough to sample his Word a few days a week for a few minutes in the morning or evening. We should meditate on God’s Word frequently both night and day.
I recently attended a seminar where statistics revealed that there is no significant change in lifestyle between an atheist and a professing Christian who reads the Bible less than three days per week. Out of a random survey of 1500 Christians, 3% of professing Christians said that they never open their Bibles. How is it that people can see Christ in the life of a Christian if the professing Christian is living no different than an atheist (who other humans sometimes consider as “nice” or a “good person”)? How is it that a Christian can be transformed with no understanding of their sinful condition or God’s attributes and character which are all revealed in his Word?
This is an issue of major concern because Americans have fallen prey to sound-bite theology. We look at God and all that Jesus has done for us, and shamefully try to figure out how to fit him into our lifestyle. The American society (including many in the American Church) has lost its hunger for God, but I need Him like the air that I breathe and this is why I worship.
Why is it important for us to hunger for, study, memorize, and follow God’s Word?
© Natasha S. Robinson 2011