Sunday, July 17, 2016

God's Free Gift Part 2 of 2

By Pastor Ken Lawson

The second reason is closely related to the first. Because of sin, our so-called good life (outside of Christ) is simply the fruit of a fallen nature. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (I Corinthians 15:22) While the unregenerate life may be highly esteemed by men, it is an abomination in the sight of God. We stand before God in Adam condemned and worthy of death! Such a life in the flesh does not have the glory of God as the driving motivation or the Spirit of God as the empowering force.

What we need is a new birth-the imparting of divine life from above. This regeneration by the Holy Ghost makes us new creatures in Christ and able to produce good works toward God. Paul, the apostle exclaimed, "I have been crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith (faithfulness) of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) "By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not 1, but the grace of God which was with me." (I Corinthians 15:10)

Thirdly, trying to live a good life in the flesh to merit heaven is a manifestation of pride and unbelief-not faith. There were those in Paul's day (as well as ours) who, while religious and zealous for God, were - ignorant of-God's righteousness. They went about to establish their own righteousness and did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." How sad that all of this self-righteousness is leading countless souls to destruction when God plainly told us "by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight." (Romans 10:3,4; 3:20)

Finally, if righteousness comes by obeying the law (living a good life) then Christ died for nothing. (Galatians 2:21) The whole reason for Christ shedding His precious blood on the cross is because our lives are sinful and we are spiritually bankrupt-unable to pay the sin debt. This truth is no more graphically shown to us than in Christ's agony in the garden of Gethsemane. There while facing the horror of the cross, He prayed saying, "0 Father, if it be possible, let this cup (of suffering) pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39) And what was the Father's reply? Did He say, "This substitutionary suffering plan is too costly to Me and My believed Son. I am instituting my alternate plan for man's redemption?" It is evident that God did not alter His plan, for Christ did drink of that cup. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquities of us all." (Isaiah 53:5, 6)

But wait! Won't the teaching of salvation by grace through faith alone produce a lax attitude toward good works and the Christian life? God forbid! The commands which speak of glorifying God in the Christian's life are all given to those who have already become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Having become the recipients of eternal life by faith alone, a realization of the love of Christ for the believers should now motivate them to live not for themselves, but for Him which died for them and rose again. This is far from inducing a negligent attitude toward Christian behavior. The grace of God that brings salvation teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. We do this as we look for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God, who is our Savior, Jesus Christ. This is our purifying and confident expectation. (II Corinthians 5:14,15; Titus 2:11-14)

How different is the grace-faith way from the law-works way! We who are in Christ serve God and man out of love and gratitude for the gift bestowed upon us freely by God. How tragic to see religious but lost people hoping against hope that their good works will outweigh the bad and that they will finally be received into heaven.

Let us not be like the foolish girl who thoughtlessly insulted her man by trying to help pay for his gift of love. But let us reach out with the hand of faith and receive by grace the free gift of eternal life. Then we can truly say we have experience something of the romance of redemption.

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