Dr. Richard L. Strauss
September 29, 1974
There are many concepts prevalent in America today concerning what a Christian is. Different, various, sometimes strange ideas. Some people think that a Christian is anyone who's not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. Some people think that one who is born into a Christian home and lives in Christian society is obviously a Christian. To others, it goes beyond that: You have to be baptized and join a church to be a Christian. Some think you have to raise your hand, or walk to the altar, or feel sorry for your sins, or have an emotional religious experience in a church or outside of a church.
I ask this question frequently of people: What is a Christian? What do you think a Christian is?
Sometimes people describe to me some emotional religious experience, but it has none of the elements of Biblical salvation involved in it that I can find. Some people think that if you live by the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount, or the Golden Rule, you are a Christian.
The most prevalent answer I get to the question is "a Christian is somebody who follows the teachings of Jesus." Maybe you thought that's what a Christian was. Others think it's one whose good deeds outnumber their bad deeds. Many people say to me, "Well, if you believe in Jesus and do the best you can..." Believe in Jesus, and…--plus--good works, gets you into heaven.
I read a sign on the lawn of a church in Fort Worth, Texas one day: "Do the best you can and God will do the rest." In other words, you try, and you try the best you really can, and if it's not quite enough, God will make up the slack. Well, now, these are man's concepts. These are not God's. We need to know what God says a Christian is.
The word Christian is used only three times in the entire Bible. As I delve into the meaning of the word and try to understand its significance, the best I can find is that it means simply belonging to Christ. A Christian is one who belongs to Christ. The disciples were first called "Christians" at Antioch. That's the first occurrence of the word in Acts 11:26.
Now in order to know what it means to belong to Christ and how we can know we belong to Christ, we've got to start all the way back at the beginning. I mean all the way back in Genesis chapter 1. Why did God create man?
"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:26-27).
God created man in His own image and likeness. Now that's obviously not with the physical body because God doesn't have a physical body. Jesus told us that. It means with personality. God created man with intellect and emotions and will. Now why did God create man with personality? Because He wanted an intelligent creature with freedom of choice with whom He could have fellowship in a Creator-creature relationship. And this relationship was to bring glory and pleasure to the Creator and it was to bring satisfaction and completeness to the creature.
God made man so they could enjoy each other. And God's appearance in the garden in Genesis 3 seems to be an indication that He wanted to have fellowship with the man that He created.
I'm going to try to diagram what I'm saying this morning, just to make it a little more interesting and understandable to you. We have God and man thus far, so let's put a box up here indicating God, and one down here indicating man.
They were meant to have fellowship with each other but something happened. Adam sinned. The results of Adam's sin are just about horrifying as we see them in the Scriptures.
The first thing I want to talk about today is man's predicament. The results of Adam's sin--what happened to us because our ancestor Adam disobeyed God.
a. God is Offended
The first thing that happened when Adam disobeyed God, according to the Scripture, is that God was offended. Something happened to God. We need to understand who God is and what He's like.
The Scripture tells us that God is infinite. That means that He is the highest and the greatest. He's limitless, He's boundless, He's immeasurable. The psalmist said God's greatness is unsearchable and His understanding is infinite. Everything He is, He is to the ultimate, the absolute, the perfect degree. God is infinite.
The Bible also says God is righteous. Righteous. The psalmist said God is righteous in all His works and holy in all His acts. God is righteous.
So if God is infinite and if God is righteous, it follows that God is infinitely righteousness. He's perfectly righteousness. He is absolute holiness.
Adam's sin was contrary to God's infinite righteousness. It constituted an offense to God. He couldn't even look on Adam's sin. Speaking of God, Habakkuk says, "You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness" (Habakkuk 1:13). God cannot look on iniquity. Six times in Romans 5, our sins are called offenses. What happened when Adam sinned? God was offended.
Let's write that here. Let's use that verse. Habakkuk 1:13: God was offended.
b. Man is Enslaved to Sin
But that's not all that happened when Adam sinned. According to the Scripture, man became a slave to sin. Something happened to God; something also happened to man. And the utter sinfulness and depravity of the human race is the subject of a great deal of Biblical revelation.
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12).
Now that's interesting. The tense Paul uses when he says "all sinned" is a tense that means it all happened at one point in time. At one point in time, all men sinned. Now when did that happen? And how could that happen?
All of mankind sinned when Adam sinned. This is called imputed sin. It's ascribed to us, and credited to us, and attributed to us, because Adam did it.
How is that possible? It's possible because the Scripture teaches that we were there. We participated in Adam's sin. God views the whole human race as a unity and we were in Adam. We were in his loins when he did that. So we share and participate in his sin and the guilt of it is imputed or attributed to us. Every human being, of every age--guilty of sin. You say, "Well, that's not fair."
Of course, it's fair. God is just.
"And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me" (Isaiah 45:21b).
He is called a just God. God is absolutely fair. That's what "just" means. He never does anything unfair. The Scripture teaches that God is just. He must affix a penalty to sin and because He views the whole human race as a unity, then we're guilty of the penalty that He affixed to Adam's sin.
The penalty for imputed sin is death. So what happened to man? He became sinful, and doomed to death.
I want you to notice something about the death here. What kind of death?
"Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come" (Romans 5:14).
Death reigned from Adam to Moses. What kind of death is Paul talking about there? You say even before the law came in, men died. He's talking about physical death there. Physical death is part of the penalty for sin. Physical death is the result of sin. But that's not all that's happened to Adam. There's more. Something else happened when he sinned.
He suffered an inherent, constitutional change. Up until that time Adam had no sin nature. He was innocent. But immediately after he sinned, he experienced a sense of shame, and degradation, and defilement. And that's exposed by his endeavor to hide from God in the account of his sin. In other words, Adam now possessed a sin nature. His whole being was affected by sin: his intellect, and his emotions, his will, were all affected by sin.
And he lost the capacity to commune with a holy God. Remember, God said, "Adam, in the day you eat of that tree, you shall surely die." Did Adam die physically that day? He started to. Up until that time he was not a dying man. But from that day on, he was a dying man like you and me. We start to die the moment we're born. We're dying men.
But Adam did die that day in a different sense. God said the day he sinned, he would die and he did. His human spirit--his capacity to commune with a holy God--became inoperative toward God. It died in a very real sense in its relationship to God. Adam became separated from God, and separation from God is spiritual death.
So while physical death may be the penalty of imputed sin, spiritual death is the penalty for Adam's inherent sin nature. And this sin nature and its penalty--spiritual death, separation from God--were passed on Adam's children and onto us. We have it. That's why Paul said to the Ephesians, "You were dead in trespasses and sins and were by nature the children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:1, 3b).
That's why David said, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity" (Psalm 51:5a), even as he took form in his mother's womb. He was a sinful being.
That's why Jeremiah said, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9).
The inner nature is sinful according to the Word of God. Man became a sinner.
You say, "Well that's still not fair. That all comes from Adam. His guilt is imputed to me and his sin nature comes to me through my parents and here I am, I haven't even done anything yet and I'm a sinner. That's not fair."
Sure it's fair.
Romans chapter 3 makes it very clear that there is another kind of sin, too, beside imputed sin and inherent sin. There is personal sin.
"As it is written: 'There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one" (Romans 3:10-12).
And there is where we are.
"All we like sheep have gone astray and turned, every one, to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).
We have committed personal sins. Now that one includes us. We're guilty. Every individual.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Now, Jesus teaches us some interesting things in John chapter 8. He says that because we're sinners, we are slaves of sin. Jesus was teaching the Jews and He said, "You will know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
That really upset those Jews. "They answered Him, 'We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, "You will be made free"?'" (John 8:33).
And here's the key. "Jesus answered them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:34-36).
Jesus says that sin makes us bond slaves of sin, hopelessly chained in the slave market of sin--doomed to suffer the eternal penalty of sin: eternal separation from God.
Since God is absolutely righteous and infinitely holy, He cannot tolerate sin in His presence. And so if we die in this sinful condition, we must be forever separated from God. That's what Jesus said right there in verse 35: You can't come to the Father's house. The Son abides forever but the slave of sin can't enter His Father's house.
Look back at verse 21 in John 8.
"And He [Jesus] said to them, 'You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world'" (John 8:21).
Why can't they go where He's going, to His Father in heaven? Because they're going to die in their sins. If you die in this condition, Jesus says you can't ever be with Him. Or His Father.
Now that's called, in Revelation 20:15, the second death. The second death is nothing more than spiritual death extended forever. Eternal separation from God. In Revelation 21, God says nothing that defiles shall enter His heaven. So you see, here we are down here, sinners separated from God, enslaved to sin.
Let's write that: John 8:32-35. Enslaved to sin.
Now that's not all that happened when Adam disobeyed God. God was offended. Man became enslaved to sin. But something else happened to man. God's back is now turned toward man. He's been offended. Man's back is turned toward God. He's all enmeshed and entangled, and chained to this sin.
But something came between God and man, and it's found in Romans chapter 8:7--"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God." This fleshly, sinful mind is enmity against God. "For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
God and man are at odds. They are alienated from one another. There's hostility; there's antipathy; there's antagonism between them. Paul said to the Ephesians, "We are alienated from the life of God" (Ephesians 4:18).
Alienated. There's enmity. When a husband or wife are alienated from each other, there's enmity between them. A great chasm filled with enmity. Notice the symbol of this enmity in Romans 8: It's the law. That's the thing that deepens the chasm and seals our doom. The law was never given to save. It was given to reveal God's holiness and man's sinfulness so he'll cast himself upon God and His gracious provision of salvation. The law shows us we're condemned.
"For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law" (Romans 2:12).
In other words, God says everybody's guilty. The Gentiles without the benefit of the law and its revelation--they are guilty; the law shows that. The Jews who lived under the law, that will be judged by its impossible standard--they are guilty. The law separates Jew and Gentile from each other and both from God, and renders us all guilty. So God has concluded all under sin. That's man's predicament--not a very happy predicament to be in, is it?
I want to say a word briefly, in the second place, about man's powerlessness.
Many men have recognized their plight--to some degree, let's say--and have sought to remedy it. And all human religions have this one thing in common: They are man's efforts to gain the favor of whatever god or gods they may believe in. And they've devised all sorts of ingenious schemes like mutilating the body, sacrificing their children, renouncing the world and living in caves or monasteries, doing good deeds, going to church, being baptized, keeping the law. We've tried to devise all kinds of ways to gain God's favor.
Here's man down here trying to gain God's favor. Everybody's trying--not everybody, but some people are trying. You say, "But none are seeking God, it says in Romans 10." None are seeking a personal relationship with God by His way: That's what it means. But many people are trying to become acceptable to God. But they fail to recognize one thing: They're sinners. They're enchained to their sins. They're controlled by their sin natures and all the good deeds they could ever do can't change the fact that we're sinners. All of us. All have sinned. Were all together in the same boat.
To enter God's presence we have to be as righteous as God is and we're incapable of being that.
"But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).
All our righteousness is as filthy rags. Tie all your good deeds up in a bundle. Wrap them up in a nice white cloth and a red ribbon and put a label on it. God labels it for us; we don't like to do it. It just goes against our grain, but God labels our good deeds: "dirty rags." We fall short of God's standard. God's up here. We're down here.
I like J. Vernon McGee's illustration. He says we can all stand on the shore at Long Beach and try to jump to Catalina. Now, maybe you can jump farther than he can jump, I don't know. Maybe some very athletic guy will get a running start and jump 25 feet out into the ocean. But that's still a long way from the 25 miles to Catalina. Now that's what's happening down here. Men are trying to reach God in their ways. Some may be able to get closer than others, you see, but nobody can bridge the chasm because we're chained to our sins. It's the unmistakable affirmation of Scripture that man is totally sinful and incapable of remedying his lost condition. Every attempt is imperfect because man is imperfect.
Now let's talk about God's provision for our sin. What's God going to do about this? In eternity past, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, foresaw man's predicament and decided to do something about it. God devised a plan. That plan is revealed in Revelation 13:8, where Jesus Christ is called the Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth.
God's plan is that God the Son should come into the world and take upon Himself a human body and die. God's plan was that His Son should die on the cross. And that cross is God's perfect provision for man's predicament. It is the only adequate bridge across that unfathomable chasm. And it deals with every one of these aspects of man's awful predicament.
In order to understand what God is doing at the cross, we need to understand another attribute of God. The Scripture says God is love.
"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8).
Because God is love, He longs to forgive sinners. He just wants to bring sinners into His presence, but He can't forgive them until His offended justice has been satisfied--His infinite holiness and righteousness has been satisfied. So how's he going to satisfy it? He's going to send His Son to die.
How does God prove his love for us?
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
I want you to look back up at verse 25 of chapter 4, though--"Who was delivered up for our offenses" (Romans 4:25). There's the word: "offenses."
Why did Jesus have to die? To satisfy God's offended holiness. When Christ's blood was shed on Calvary's cross, God was satisfied. And that satisfaction covers every sin committed in the world: past, present, and future. It's enough to atone for the sins of the world.
"And He [Jesus] Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:2).
There's a big word. Let's write it on our chart. Propitiation: 1 John 2:2.
The word propitiation simply means "satisfaction." God is satisfied. Why is He satisfied? Because Christ died for sins. How could He be satisfied? Because He laid all of our sin on Jesus Christ, when He hung on the cross. That's why 1 Peter 2:24 says, "Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree." He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us on that tree--the cross--that God might be satisfied.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we've turned, every one, to our own way," Isaiah said. "But the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
God is satisfied. He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquity. God is satisfied.
What good news that is for millions of poor misinformed people who are trying to satisfy God with their good works: God is satisfied! Jesus has died. He is the propitiation for our sins.
But that's not all Jesus did when He died. During Christ's earthly life, He told his disciples that He had come not to be ministered to but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
What's a ransom? A ransom is a price paid for release, a price paid for redemption, deliverance from bondage. Now in John 8, Jesus taught us we're in bondage to sin. The death of Jesus Christ was a ransom price to deliver us from sin. Titus 2:14 says He gave Himself to "redeem us from all iniquity."
Let's write it down here. Not only did Christ's death deal with an offended God, it dealt with man who was enslaved to sin. Redemption.
"In whom we have redemption, through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (Ephesians 1:7).
The shedding of Christ's blood on that cross is our provision for redemption.
Now go back to that moment on the cross, when Jesus Christ was suffering the agony of our sins. God had to turn away from Him, you see. God had turned His back on His Son because He had laid sin on His Son--our sin--and God can't look on sin--as we learned in Habakkuk 1:13--so God turned away from His Son. The Father forsook the Son. That's why Jesus cried, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).
What does it mean to be separated from God? That's spiritual death. You see, that's the penalty for our sin natures. Spiritual death. We saw it earlier: "For in the day that you eat it, you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17).
We are dead, spiritually dead, in trespasses and sins. Christ paid that penalty; He was forsaken by His Father. He paid the penalty of spiritual death. And a few minutes later, he died physically. He paid the penalty for imputed sin as well. And for personal sin. He died for our sins.
And with the price fully paid, release from the slave market of sin is available to every human being who wants it. The sin problem has been dealt with. The heart of the gospel is 1 Corinthians 15:3--"Christ died for our sins." That's the gospel.
Redemption has been provided. Now God is satisfied, and He's reaching out in love toward man. Sin has been paid for, and man is now free to be brought back into a relationship with God.
Only one thing remains, and that's affecting a reconciliation between God and man.
Now when a marriage is on the rocks, the offended party has to be satisfied. If the husband has run off with another woman, the wife has been offended. In order to get the two back together, she has to be satisfied. But the offending party has to be reconciled. Reconciliation has to do with the one who's done the damage, the one that is run off and done wrong. He has to be reconciled.
Whenever reconciliation is mentioned in the Bible, it's concerning man; it's towards man.
"For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son..." (Romans 5:10). See: "we." Man is reconciled to God. Propitiation is toward God. Maybe you want to add that. And redemption is for man--for sin, let's say. But God's doing something else now. Reconciliation, and this is for man. Reconciliation.
In Ephesians 2:11, Paul is writing to Gentiles and he's telling about their past condition. He says, you remember in times past, you were separated from all things relating to God. From the Jewish nation and their covenants, which at least brought them closer to God. And you had no hope and you were without God in the world. That was your plight. And you didn't have the prophecies and types of Jesus in the Old Testament. You didn't have the law to reveal the holiness of God. You were separated.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13).
How are you brought near? By the work of Christ on the cross.
"For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one"--Jew and Gentile, one--"and has broken down the middle wall of separation having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace" (Ephesians 2:14-15).
What did Christ do when He died? It says He abolished the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances. Why, He took that thing out of the way that sealed our doom and deepened the chasm between God and man. He abolished it in His flesh. Why?
"That He might reconcile them both"--Jew and Gentile--"to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity" (Ephesians 2:16).
Jesus Christ affected a reconciliation. He reconciled both Jew and Gentile to God, in one body, and broke down the middle wall of separation between them so He could bring them into one body, and He reconciled them both to God. Beautiful. That's what He did when He abolished the law. He took that handwriting of ordinances that was against us, according to Colossians 2:14, and he nailed it to His cross.
Christ died so that He could abolish the enmity that both those without the law and those under the law might be reconciled to God.
"Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).
That sums it all up so beautifully. God reconciled us to Himself, now He tells us, you go out and tell people to be reconciled to God.
"Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). "Be reconciled to God" is our message.
How can we be reconciled to God? How can we preach this message? How can we tell people they can be reconciled to God?
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
You see, first God imputed Adam's sin to us. Then He imputed our sin to Christ on the cross, and now He's willing to impute His righteousness to us. So that we, in turn, will be fit to enter His presence and have what we need to get into His presence: infinite, absolute, perfect righteousness.
How can He do that and still be a just God? Because Jesus Christ died for our sins, took away the enmity, satisfied God's offended justice, and we can be reconciled to Him. Immediately before Jesus Christ bowed his head and dismissed his spirit, in John 19:30, He uttered three beautiful words: "It is finished."
What did He mean? His life was over? No, no, no. No, more than that. They were momentous words. What Jesus was saying was God's perfect plan of salvation, which He had devised in eternity past, has now been fully accomplished. It is perfect and complete. There's not one thing that any living being can add to it. It is finished. It is perfect. It is complete.
God has been satisfied. Redemption from sin has been provided for. Man can be reconciled to God because Jesus Christ died for our sins. God has built a perfect bridge by which man can regain what is lost in Adam's fall. It's a perfect bridge.
Man can now be restored to fellowship with God--a personal relationship with Him. Man can now spend eternity in God's presence. The only thing remaining is, how do we avail ourselves of the bridge? Well, any thinking person can probably answer that question without looking at another passage of Scripture. If everything has been perfectly provided, then all we need to do is to put our confidence in the reliability of the One who provided it, and accept the provision which He has made. I mean, if what we've said to this point is true, that's the only thing to do: accept, or avail ourselves, what He did when He died on that cross.
So the person and work of Jesus Christ are the only issue that separates us from God. This is exactly what many passages of Scripture say. John 1:12: "For as many as received Him"--Christ--"to them gave He the authority to become children of God, even to them who believe on His name."
Do you believe on His name? "For God so loved the world that He gave"--that's His giving, right there on the cross--"His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Paul said to that Philippian jailer when he cried out, "What must I do to be saved?," "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:30-31).
When Paul was describing the gospel to the Romans, he called it " the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16). Same condition for all. Just trust the Lord Jesus Christ. There's no other way into God's presence save through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6).
Trusting Jesus as Your Savior
I want you to notice one thing in closing. To believe means to trust, to put our confidence in, to rely upon, to rest in. And if you're resting in Jesus Christ and putting your confidence in Him, then that eliminates all trust in anything else, or anyone else, even in what you can do.
And that's what the Bible says. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast " (Ephesians 2:8-9). And no man's going to boast in God's presence because God did it all when He sent His Son to die.
To insist that we must do something else, believe in Jesus and do good works in order to get to heaven is to say Jesus didn't do enough. He said His work was finished but it really wasn't. We have to add something to it. It wasn't perfect in and of itself. We've got to complete it for Him. No. You're either going to trust Him or you're going to trust yourself. One or the other.
If He did it all, then nothing you can do can add to it. Oh, when you trust Him, you're going to do good works. If you don't do them, it's an indication you've never really trusted Him. But the good works aren't going to get you into heaven. And if you're counting on them to do it, God says you're not really trusting His Son.
I had the opportunity of ministering in Catalina a few weeks ago, swimming in the ocean out there. Beautiful, clear water out there, 25 miles out. And that salt water does amazing things for you. I can just lay on that water without moving a muscle and float. Now, if I had a life preserver right near me, I could say, "Well, I'm really trusting the water," and then grab the life jacket preserver, I wouldn't really be trusting the water, would I? But when I relax and commit myself to that water, it just holds me up. I'm trusting it, completely. I'm not doing anything.
I don't know how I learned to do that. Somebody taught me to do that when I was a kid. I can almost do it in fresh water. Some people say, "Well, I trust the water, you know," and they lay back and all of a sudden they think, "Oh, I'm going to sink," and so they start waving their hands or kicking their feet. Are they trusting the water? No. That water will hold your body up if you will commit yourself to it and relax in it, and just trust it fully. It will hold you up. You're either trusting the water or you're not. You're trusting yourself and what you can do.
Faith is the absence of self effort. That's what faith is. It's trusting wholly somebody else. Paul wrote to the Romans in Romans 4:5, "But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted"--imputed to him--"for righteousness."
Do you want God's righteousness, which is the only kind that can ever get you into heaven? God will put it on your account if you'll stop trusting your own works and trust the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Not one human act, work, or deed can add one iota to what Christ has already done. The Jews thought it could. They came to Jesus one day and they said, "Jesus what must we do to work the works of God?" (John 6:28). They thought you had to work, see, to get rightly related to God. Work.
Here's what Jesus said; it's a great verse. Underline it. Memorize it. Don't forget it. John 6:29--"Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'"
Really, the only work you can do is the absence of all works. It's to believe on Jesus Christ. A Christian is one who has put his complete trust in the Lord Jesus Christ--His person and His work on Calvary's cross. His shed blood alone for salvation from the guilt and penalty of sin.
When a person recognizes his sin and admits he needs to trust Christ because there's no other way to God, and puts his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, commits himself to Christ and his whole hope of eternity to Christ alone, God forgives his sins. God redeems him from his bondage to sin, gives him eternal life, and he's born into a family of God at that moment. He belongs to Jesus Christ.
There is no other way to be sure you belong to Jesus than to acknowledge your sin and put your trust in His shed blood. According to the Scriptures, there is no other way. That is a Christian.
Now when you do that, you may feel excited about it or emotional; you may cry. You may not feel a thing. It doesn't depend on your feelings. It depends on the facts of the Word of God; that's all that really counts.
Are you a Christian? Have you acknowledged your sin and trusted the finished work of Jesus Christ? Oh, if you haven't, our prayer is that you will right now. Let's bow together before the Lord.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for the revelation of Your Word. We praise You that You made a way available in the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank You that He died for our sins. Oh, we praise You for the depths of Your love; Your willingness to reach down into the very mire of sin and redeem us.
God, we pray that in these moments that those who have never made the decision to trust the Lord Jesus may be overwhelmed with the sense of conviction and a willingness to repudiate all of their own self-generated righteousness, as far as its ability to gain Your favor is concerned, and put their trust in Jesus Christ, right now. God, save some, we pray. We have no other argument, no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me. God help us, every one, to be trusting in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.
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