This week's Bible Study - September 25, 2016
One Great Savior
Quotes of the Week:
I understand I'm a sinner. I'm not perfect, and I need a Savior, and that I'm not going to make it to Heaven on merits and doing good things.
This lesson continues the series of one great… In the previous lesson, we talked about the one great problem that we all have, and that is sin. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Wouldn't it be tragic if that was the end of the story? Some hear that and do not want to accept that they are sinful and want nothing to do with anyone who says they are. Many religions acknowledge the fallen condition of mankind and religions have been created based upon trying to do certain things to gain acceptance with God. Evan apart from religion, people that understand their own wrong behavior want to know 'what they can do' to fix this problem and make things right.
Assuming that most who read these lessons are believers, what would you give as answer to an unbelieving co-worker or neighbor as to why they should care about salvation? Can't they simply be good people, and isn't that enough?
Many people seem to want to seek God, but they have been led to believe that God is found when you live a certain lifestyle and do good things. Some want some way to grade themselves so that they have a measure of goodness, in comparison to others. What they fail to realize is that this life is not based on a curve. It is pass / fail. Even if it was based on being good enough, how good would be good enough? Where is the cutoff? Would you ever know if you were truly good enough?
Just this past week, I saw a clip of Ravi Zacharias at Yale, where he answered a question about why one must subscribe to Christian doctrine, as opposed to simply have a desire to live a good life, as Jesus taught.
Click here to watch the Ravi Zacharias clio
Those who have come to faith in Christ have the realization of a righted relationship with God. We could never approach God on our own goodness, but we are seen as perfect through the blood of Christ. It doesn't mean that our lives don't matter, but when we have accepted Christ, we are able to get off of the performance treadmill and enter the arena of grace. We could never do this on our own. We need a Savior.
As stated previously, there is a desire of many people to come to God on their own terms. We, being prideful creatures, might like to think we can control our own destiny. There are, in fact, many decisions that we can control in life. We don't have control of the outcomes or other's behavior, but we can make choices. However, to come to God on our own terms is to vastly underestimate our own goodness and to show we have no concept of the holiness of God. God's standard on sin is binary, either you are perfect or you are a sinner. One sin in a lifetime disqualifies any of us from approaching God based on our goodness. The problem is that many people don't want to acknowledge the fact that God is perfectly holy and that our own sin cannot be in His presence. We need to understand that God is not based on who people think He is, but He is who He is.
It is the beginning of faith to realize that you need a Savior and that you do not deserve one. This passage says that while we were powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. It doesn't say that God recognized the valiant efforts of some and Christ died for them. All of humanity, without Christ, is in the category of ungodly. In God's eyes, the person who is charitable, loving to friends and family, a joy to be around and always wanting to help those in need is as ungodly as the person who hates the world and is into all types of dastardly deeds. From a human standpoint, we have a hard time with that, but from God's standpoint, both are ungodly on their own and powerless to establish a relationship with Him.
Given that we have no merit in and of ourselves, it is even more remarkable that Christ would ever die for us. There are people who would consider giving their lives for those who they love, but who would ever give of their lives for people who are antagonistic towards them? People may not think they are being antagonistic towards God, but when anyone chooses their own way over what God has said, they are thumbing their nose at Him. Have you truly considered your standing before God, if Christ was not your Savior? Would you dare to approach Him saying that you are good enough to be in His presence? On our own, we are helpless, rebellious and sinful. Isn't it amazing that Christ gave Himself for us, the very ones who battle against Him before accepting Him? If He only died for 'good' people, there may seem to be some fairness, but that He died for any of us, no matter how wretched we are, defies all logic.
There are some people who still choose to believe that you can only find Christ when you have put your life together and they often try and push that decision off until they are ready to change. That time will never come. On our own, we cannot make ourselves so clean that God will want us. The time to turn to God is when God is calling you, and when you feel led to seek Him. It doesn't matter your degree of goodness (or badness) at that time, because when you give your life to Him, you realize that is entirely about what He did and nothing is based on your deeds.
We come to realize that we have been made right with God (or justified) through the blood of Christ. God's wrath has been satisfied and the penalty has been paid for our sin, in Christ. Many people fear the throne of God's judgment and rightly so. Most of us get a tinge of fear, driving down the road and seeing a police car with its lights on, coming behind us. Even when we have done nothing wrong, that tends to make each of us skittish. How much more so would we be fearful to approach the throne of Almighty God on our own? At that time, none of us would want to be judged on our own merit, but if we have not put our faith in God's Son that is what will happen. To say that we know of the historical presence of Jesus is not what gives us assurance. Only when we have placed our lives in His hand will we be righteous.
While we were enemies with God, He sent His Son to die for our redemption. I still can't get over how amazing it is that God, who knows everything about you and I, loved us enough to send His Son for us. And, if He did that while we were enemies, He didn't do that to just let us take it from there. Even after we have become believers, we continue to find ourselves in sin. Over time, it may be less, but it is still in our lives. I feel sure we wouldn't keep giving us chances if we were God. It would be like if you were in charge of team. If you had a player on your team, making continuous errors, miscues and goofs (and doing nothing to change), how long before you would pull them out? Yet, God is patient and longsuffering with us.
We have not been saved to become content and there are many more benefits that God desires to give us. As believers, have you ever wondered how much you have missed out on, because you may have tried to take the reins back to your own life? When we truly give our lives to Him, we find joy in God through Jesus Christ.
There was a story about a man in poverty. He saved money to take a riverboat trip from Cincinnati to New Orleans. He saved enough money for the ticket, but there was no money left for food. His diet consisted of snack crackers and cheese. When mealtime came, he hid. Towards the end of the trip, another passenger saw him and questioned why he didn't eat. The man said that he could never afford to go to the dining hall. The other passenger told him to look at his ticket. All of the meals were included in the price.
This is so much like our salvation. God loved us so much that He provided salvation for us, but it didn't end there. We are thankful for being set right with God, but if we live our life hiding, we are much like the man on that riverboat. We enjoy the ride, but think we are responsible for everything that comes with it.
If you are a believer, what has becoming a Christian done for you? We have peace with God. We know of hope and we are assured of God's love towards us. We know the truth that God has put before us. Others may still be looking for truth, or perhaps making it up. It's much like people that look into the clouds and one might see a horse, while another sees a mountain. It's up to the imagination of those looking at the cloud.
The reality of problems in life often brings despair for many people. They look for escape through all sorts of different behavior. We see people that try all different types of things to fill the void to cover up that despair. However, the reality of these problems in the life of a believer can have a much different impact. IT doesn't necessarily lessen the pain or change the circumstance, but we can know of peace with God, hope for eternity and His love that surrounds us.