Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
Some ask how a loving God could allow anyone to go to hell. Perhaps this is the wrong question though. A better question is how a just God could allow any of us to go to heaven. Even at our best, we still fail to live up to God’s standard for “good”. Our very best attempts at righteousness are just filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). This is true of every one of us. The question then is not how God can send some of us to hell but how He can allow even one of us to enter into fellowship with Him.
Two words come to mind: love and grace. God is all-knowing. It was not a surprise to Him that man would fall short of the plan. But even in spite of this, God created a way. Through His Son we can know Him. By His grace we have been delivered. Only someone who is full of love could even conceive of forgiving His enemies and allowing them a place that only friends deserve.
God does not send people to hell, we’re all headed there on our own from birth. Our loving God provides a way out, a way to Him. We can never earn this. It’s by grace alone.
John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The Bible, God’s Holy Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). It is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). The Word is from God to man; His will, His plan, His love, all contained between those two covers. It is not merely words on pages.
The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believers (Romans 1:16). It is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit (Hebrews 4:12). Within the Scriptures are the words of life. Apart from God and His Word, there is no life.
Jesus said if we abide in His Word we are truly His disciples. By it we will know the truth and the truth shall set us free (John 8:31-32). Apart from God there is no truth, for He is truth. There is no greater way to know the will of God than to know His Word.
God’s Word stands alone. It is divinely inspired, containing no error. All of the self-help books in the world could never compare to the Book that tells us we can’t help ourselves and offers hope to all mankind.
Romans 3:28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
There was, even in the time of the first century church, controversy surrounding the subject of whether one is justified through faith alone or whether that is not sufficient on its own. Many Christians of Jewish heritage believed that one must first become a Jew (come under the Jewish laws) before becoming a legitimate Christian. Today we have similar sects within the church that believe justification comes though a combination of faith and works.
There is no biblical support for this view. To the contrary, the Bible tells us that Jesus died once and for all (Romans 6:10). To add requirements for salvation is to cheapen the cross. James’ argument in the New Testament (James 2:14-26) is not that works are a requirement for salvation but rather that salvation through faith in Christ results in good works.
The bad news is that there is nothing you or I can do to get into a right relationship with God. The good news is that because of Christ Jesus we don’t have to earn our way into God’s favor. Justification is found through faith in Christ alone. This is a wondrous, glorious truth. God loves us so much that He sent His Son because He knew that otherwise we could never be good enough (Romans 5:8). We just need to put our faith in Him. What an awesome God we serve!
Ephesians 4:14-15 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
What is the goal that a disciple should aim for? There are many things we need to do, and much that God has already done, but what are we striving for in the end? What does God want from us?
To boil it all down into one simple thought: God wants us to grow to be more like Jesus. He wants this so that we can fulfill His purposes for us. He created us with intent and He wants us to live up to that. He made us alive in Christ and He wants us to use that life for Him.
But in order to do what God wants from us, we’ve got to move beyond just being saved sinners. We’ve got to solidify ourselves with sound doctrine so we don’t believe every little thing we hear. We’ve got to learn God’s character so that we know His will. We’ve got to grow in fellowship with Him and grow in our faith.
In a disciple’s life, stagnation is not an option. We were chosen for holiness, even before the foundation of the world. We have been given lives to live on purpose, for God’s glory.
Go to God daily in Prayer
Read the Word every day
Obey God moment by moment
Witness for Christ
Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ
To be sure, there are a lot of “spiritual” people and things out there today. Take a look around your Christian bookstore and you’ll see a wide range of products all claiming to be spiritual. As Christ followers, we have to be on our guard against false doctrine. It’s out duty to be mindful of what we’re bring taught about the gospel.
Paul warned the Colossians of such things, drawing attention to those that teach a deceitful philosophy and keep our attentions on worldly ideas rather than the things of Christ. There are more than a few wolves posing as sheep, just waiting to catch us in their snares. Some even believe that they’re correct in their doctrine. They don’t necessarily have nefarious motives, they’re just wrong. False doctrines can seem harmless, even wise. They can feel right to man, but in the end, they lead us away from the one true God.
We shouldn’t fear these deceptions, rather we should seek godly wisdom. Discernment acquired through the Holy Spirit keeps us on the right path. Such false teaching will be obvious to us if we walk in truth. We won’t have to sniff out false teaching if we’re truly familiar with Truth. For those who belong to Him know His voice (John 10:4). We won’t be inclined to follow another if we know the One who is Truth personally.
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
What do we do with the Word once we’ve received it? We’ve put aside our sinful nature (Ephesians 4:22) and we’ve opened ourselves to receive from God. But now what? Church on Sundays? Maybe a church function now and then? Bible reading? What?
There’s no question that as disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we’re to read the Scriptures, studying them and learning all we can. We’re absolutely called to attend Sunday worship services with other believers (Hebrews 10:25), taking part in corporate worship, listening to a sermon, and sharing life with others. Quiet study and prayer done in solitude are vital to the life of a Christian as well.
But James takes things a bit further. Being doers of the Word is to live out our beliefs. Jesus taught us to “love one another” and we must do this, not just think about it. He called us to love God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). This too requires action.
For more examples look no further than a few verses later in James’ writing. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). This, of course, does not limit us to only looking after orphans and widows. James makes his point that true faith leads to action. Action beyond our church campus, out in our communities, amongst our neighbors. True religion puts hands and feet to work, doing God’s will.
James 1:21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
If we are vessels belonging to God then we must be empty, ready for Him to fill us. That means abstaining from filling our lives up with the junk this world offers. The apostle Paul teaches that even some things that are permissible are not good for us or helpful to our growth (1 Corinthians 6:12) because for every moment we focus on self a moment passes that we are not focused on Christ. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong to have fun. There’s a time for it, but it’s not all the time.
What this does mean is that nothing should be placed in importance before Christ. Nothing should be such a priority that it keeps us from Him. As wrong as it may sound, even our families should not be considered as important as Jesus. As James says, we must put aside other things, especially those that are sinful, and receive what God is giving us. His gifts feed our souls and lead to His glory. In order to receive all that God has in store for us, we must be open to Him. That requires making Him first, placing Him above all else.
Place God first and receive the Word that He has revealed.
Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Where should I go on mission? Your first mission field is at home. If you’re a parent, then your primary assignment on mission is to reach your family and make them disciples. This is an ongoing task that never ends and your job is never done. If you don’t have family at home, you still have a mission right around you. Can you think of some neighbors you could help out and show the love of Christ?
All around you are opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Faith begins with hearing, so tell everyone you can. Tell the cashier at the checkout line, tell the taxi driver. Tell your teacher or your partner. Share the story of what God’s done in your life and let it be known that you are His.
Tell His story through words and through actions by the way you live your life. Share with those who will hear and always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you because of Christ Jesus. Tell people the Gospel, but do it with gentleness and respect, never with arrogance or judgement. Love God enough to tell everyone about Him.
Romans 10:14-15 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
How can we reach the whole world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? It happens through sacrifice. In order to reach them we’ve got to give of ourselves. We’ve got to be willing to do without so that they can hear the Good News.
We may be required to give financially so that resources and supplies can be purchased or travel can be accommodated. We may need to give of our time to help mobilize a team or to go out on a mission trip. We may need to give up our own comfort so that others can be reached. All of this can extend around the world or be true of our own home town. Giving for the sake of others knowing Christ might be allowing someone else to have your seat in church so that they can hear the message. It might mean sitting through an uncomfortable sermon that others need to hear. It might mean interacting with “sinners” and stepping out of our comfort zone to love them for the sake of Christ. Giving sometimes hurts, but it’s for a good cause.
Giving may be this or it might be that, but there’s one thing it’s not: optional. All believers are called to reach others for Christ and the kingdom of God grows through us. But if we won’t give, they won’t be reached and we hinder the Holy Spirit’s work. Let’s choose to give so that they might hear.