Good Enough

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 2:13-14 (NLT)
13 For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight.
14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it.

For years I have heard people try and use these verses to justify that we don’t need to accept Christ as Savior, but all we need to do is be good. The assumption that they are trying to draw is that a person can get to heaven simply by being good, and thus, work their way into heaven. Is that what Paul is saying? Not hardly! Paul is giving us a general principle that says God judges all people equally based on how they live. However, this must be interpreted by what Paul is trying to say in the larger context that none of us can be good enough to fulfill God’s standards (Rom. 3:23). None of us can consistently be good enough to match up to the righteous standards of a holy God. You might say, “Gee that doesn’t sound like good news!” Yes, but that is not the end of the story. You see because of what Jesus did for us on the cross we don’t have to try and live up to God’s standards as a result of Jesus taking the punishment for our sins. Like the old song says, “He paid a price He did not owe; I owed a price I could not pay.” That my friends is the Good News!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Advertisements

So Who’s Intolerant?

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 2:4 (NLT)
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

Our society today places great value on what they view as tolerance. In their minds tolerance is merely overlooking the faults of everyone and carries the ideal that nothing is really wrong it just depends on your perspective. In other words, if a person doesn’t think something is wrong then it isn’t. Unfortunately, not only do they take this view on others, but also on themselves. The concept is I can do whatever I want and no one has the right to tell me it is wrong. However, this leaves any concept of truth behind. People today don’t accept real truth. In our society, the only real truth is our own opinion. Yet the reality is that there is real truth; the truth revealed to us in Scripture. Our society condemns Christians for claiming real truth as taught in the Bible, which seems to be a contradiction of their own ideals about tolerance. In Romans 2:4, Paul teaches us what real tolerance is all about. When we are truly tolerant, we are patient with the faults of others, and yet we do not overlook our own. The tolerance taught in Scripture says that we are sinners saved by grace, and because of this fact, we cannot judge others for doing the same thing while realizing that God has been tolerant and patient with us. In other words, tolerance is not overlooking our fault, rather it causes us to deal with our faults. When you look in the mirror what do you see?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

The Irrefutable God

Greeting In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 1:19-20 (NLT)
19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

People are always looking for a way out when it comes to God. Probably the most commonly used excuse is that of ignorance: “I didn’t know anything about God.” However, the Apostle Paul clearly spells out for us that when it comes to God we have no excuses. He explains that we can see God’s invisible qualities, eternal power, and divine nature all around us. They can see him in majestic mountains, the power and elegance of the oceans, and the vast expanse of the open prairie. Furthermore, we can see God’s power in the variety of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles. As King David stated so elegantly, “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place— what are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them” (Psalms 8:3-4, NLT)? Unfortunately, however, people reject this and try and argue that all of nature just happened, or is the result of a cosmic event in the universe and try and explain away God’s majesty with scientific rhetoric. Yet, try as they may, God’s creative power and holiness cannot be brushed aside. God holds us accountable for what he has made plainly visible. Even sadder yet are those who do know the truth and treat their relationship with God as something that can be pushed aside when it gets in their way. They constantly make excuses for not praying, reading their Bibles, or attend church on a regular basis. What’s your excuse?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Getting It Right

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 1:17 (NLT)
This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

The key phrase in this verse is “how God makes us right in his sight.” Literally it reads, “the righteousness of God.” This key phrase appears eight times in Romans (the only other occurrence in Paul’s writings is 2 Cor 5:21). The phrase makes us right comes from the law court. It does not mean “makes us good people”; it means “puts us in right standing before God.” Paul is trying to make the point that we cannot do anything to earn salvation. We cannot be good enough, kind enough, living enough to earn God’s favor. The only thing that we can do is accept what he has already done for through Christ at the cross. He then goes on to explain how this happens, “This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.” We refer to this as “justification my faith alone.” We can never rely on anything we have done, or could do in the future, we are totally dependent upon the grace of God. This was one of Martin Luther’s biggest struggles and a key component to the reformation. He said, “I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. There upon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.” It is this understanding that separates Christianity from any other religion in the world. All other religions are about people trying to be holy enough for God, which we’ve already said doesn’t work, but with Jesus he has already done to work for us!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark