Your Weekly Dose of Gospel
Obtaining salvation or sustaining the Christian life by "law-keeping" is an effort in futility. The Law was never meant to be given as a Savior, was never intended to provide forgiveness or a demonstration of love and hope for the eradication of the sinful nature of man. The Law was given as a tutor to point us to Christ (Gal. 3:24). The tutor (GK paidagogos) was a slave commissioned by Greek and Roman families whose responsibility was to instruct young boys on behalf of their parents. They were to educate them and train them in their studies. They were strict disciplinarians who were to care for the children until adulthood. When the boy reached the age of maturity (barmitzvah) they no longer lived under the authority of the tutor but were set free from their instruction and thus accountable for their own actions.
In addition to pointing the Jews to the messiah - the Christ, the Law also brought about the wrath of God (Roms. 4:14; 7:7, 10-25). God hates sin and will not tolerate its existence. His holiness must be satisfied. Though "the Law is holy and the commandment is holy and righteous and good" (Roms. 7:12), the Law was God's plumbline to show the sinfulness of man and his inability to live up to God's holy standard of righteousness. Jesus Christ is the standard of God who fulfilled the Law and its demands and then bettered it! He did not leave us under a tutor or shut up to sin under the wrath of God, but He embraced the cross and became the sin offering (2 Cor. 5:21). He was both the perfect priest (satisfying the Law) and the perfect sacrifice (satisfying God's wrath) (Heb. 1:3) - the propitiation of our sins (Roms. 5:1-10; Heb. 12:1-3; 1 John 2:2, 4:10).
John MacArthur pointedly assures us when he says, "holy living doesn't come from our performance for God, but from His performance through us by His Spirit." Christianity is not a religion of human achievement but of divine accomplishment! What did Jesus mean then when He said to the crowds that wanted to be His disciples, "...follow me." Two words that sum up the Christian life...follow Him! He was calling them and us today to walk as He walked. To leave the old life we have been associated with, abandon all and follow Him! I call this the worthy walk.
What does this worthy walk look like?
The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:5 says these disturbing and penetrating words: "...test yourselves to see if you're in the faith..." What would "that test" look like? What are the measuring sticks by which one can evaluate the legitimacy to the claim os being a Christian? Some state that there are 159,000,000 born again Christians in America today. Here is a sobering question: if we are the light of the world, why is everything becoming so dark? Could it be that many people attending church on Sunday in America are not regenerate and have had only a cultural experience (at best) in regards to the gospel never having denied themselves, taken up their cross and followed Jesus and trusted Him as Lord and Savior of their lives? The rhetorical nature of that last question gives the implied answer: absolutely.
The Apostle John gives us five tests that reveal the fruit of genuine regeneration. May they encourage us all to further Christlikeness this very day.
TEST ONE: Practicing Righteousness
1John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
What is the great desire of your heart? Is it to honor the Lord, do what He says and obey His Word? Is it not just to be a hearer of His truth, but a doer also? John says that if we are born again, we will practice righteousness. IOW, pleasing the Lord will become the habit of our lives.
TEST TWO: Stop Practicing Sin
1John 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
This does not mean that we never sin after coming to Christ in salvation. Christians do and will sin; we all do everyday in thought, word, deed and desire. The difference is, when we do, we are quick to ask forgiveness of those whom we have wronged, repent of it before the Lord, and press on in following Him. He is a greater Savior than we are sinners.
TEST THREE: Loving Fellow Christians
1John 4:7 ¶ Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Biblical love is not an emotion and is not conditioned upon a response. It is self-sacrificial; unmerited; undeserving; unfailing; and unreciprocated. This is how Christ loved us; and how we are to love one another. This takes a real work of sanctifying grace in our hearts doesn't it? This requires humility, selflessness, patience and gentleness.
TEST FOUR: Jesus is the Messiah
1John 5:1 ¶ Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.
This is incarnational language that Jesus Christ is truly God in human flesh and that He is the only sufficient One for salvation. That He is the Christ (the anointed One, the Messiah); the One who died in our place as the propitiation for the sins of the people; satisfying God - His wrath, holiness and justice on the cross - for those He came to save.
TEST FIVE: Overcomes the World
1John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
That we persevere unto the end. This mark of faithfulness and steadfastness is so foreign to many today in evangelicalism. Some in the easy believism camp believe that you just have to give an emotional ascent to the claims of Christ, say a quick prayer and you have your "fire insurance" for eternity. But that would cheap grace beloved. We are saved by grace, by we are also sanctified by grace. Grace doesn't wink at sin or condone our sin. But grace teaches us everyday to deny worldliness and ungodliness and to live soberly, righteously and holy in this present evil age.
Have I arrived at this kind of life as described by the Apostle John above? No way. Have you? I don't think you have either. But this is how we know we are born of Him. Notice that phrase in each of the verses above "born of God..." This is the evidence that will be there in every true child of God.
Test yourselves to see if you're in the faith. If in your heart of hearts you can honestly say, "Steve, that is not my life nor my deepest desires each day..." Then I would encourage you to repent of your sin; trust solely in Christ; ask God to grant you saving faith; confess Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life; and receive Him this very day.
If it is your desire, ask Him to continue to conform you to Himself and that you would endure until the end. May this be the evidence that demands a verdict in all of our lives...
In His grace, by His grace, and for His grace,
Monday, April 23, 2007
Your Weekly Dose of Gospel