Simple…but Not Easy
Being a simple guy, I like simple plans and observations. If there is a complex plan presented to me, I try and break it down to its simplest elements.
Having been raised in Christendom, I learned a very complex plan of salvation involving confessions, rote prayers, prayers to dead people and a lifetime of good works. Under such a scheme it is literally impossible to know for sure where I would be when I die.
In fact, in much of Christendom, it is considered presumption to say that you knew for sure you were going to heaven since everything was based on performance. On the other hand, much of Christendom otherwise teaches that we are all children of God and everybody that sincerely seeks God is going to heaven
This left me left confused with a vague hope of having lived a good enough life that it would outweigh the bad things that I have done.
Under this false teaching, reading the Bible also appeared to be very complex endeavor. How could anybody without special training possibly understand the scriptures for themselves? As long as I put my faith in a religious system, or even a religious person to tell me what the Bible says, I would never be able to study God’s Word for myself in a way that rightly divides the Word of Truth and teaches me the true purposes of God.
When God saves a soul, He also gives that believing soul His Holy Spirit guide him or her into all truth. Once distinctions can be seen such as the distinction between religion about God and a relationship with God, or the distinction between Israel and the church, (and even the distinction between male and female) then a soul can understand the simplicity that is in Christ.
So, it is with that desire for simplicity that I am writing this in the hopes that anyone who reads this and can identify with what I described and might be helped to “no longer be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)
To that end, I want us to focus on something simple to understand but not so easy to accept: Only One Sin, Only One Solution, Only One Savior
Only One Sin
An objection to the gospel is often given that my sin is too great or my sins are too many. Such a sentiment sells God short as to the extent of His love for us. If you have children that you love and your relationship to them has suffered because they have gone astray and/or you had poor parenting practices, then isn’t it reasonable to assume that you would do whatever you could within your ability to restore that relationship?
Our problem is that we might not have the ability to do what is necessary to restore that relationship. The sins may be too many and the lack of justice may be too great for forgiveness to be found. But it is not so with God.
He has provided a way for justice to be met and for sins to be forgiven. There is only one sin that denies justice and excludes forgiveness. This is why many who say that they are sorry for their sins don’t really know forgiveness.
The objective reality is this: It does not matter how many or how grievous your sins are, there is only one sin that will send you to hell. We will identify that one sin shortly.
It is important to understand that the gospel or good news of Jesus Christ is an objective reality. Jesus died, He was buried and He rose again. That’s a fact. His resurrection out from among the dead cannot be denied any more than the reality of gravity can be denied. Resurrection from the dead may be counterfeited through deceit, but only God can truly bring the dead to life.
You and I have to confront that reality and not dismiss it as something that is a subjective experience. We cannot say of an objective reality like gravity what we often hear from souls when confronted with the claims of Christ…“well, that’s fine for you, but it doesn’t work for me”. Gravity will work for you or it will work against you regardless of how you feel about it. The same is true of the good news of Jesus Christ.
You and I must live and die with the claims of Christ upon us. His death, burial and resurrection from the dead will either redeem us to an eternity of joy or condemn us to an eternity of unspeakable horror.
Why The Despicable Can Be Saved and Many ‘Good People’ Are Not…
Suppose that I stood before you as a man who had been proven to be a pedophile. What’s more, what if I was a worshipper of Satan that not only desired children for vile pleasure but also tortured them so that through their terror I could murder and drink my victims adrenalized blood in order to earn eternal life.
Now suppose that you were sitting there, living an outwardly righteous life, carrying your bible into church, belonging to or perhaps raising a civic minded family. You would rightly think of me as a monster. You would look on me with contempt and you would rightly condemn me to death.
But then the preacher gets up in front of everybody and says that this pedophile who rightly deserves to die, may get in to heaven before you do.
Your reaction to that preacher would be pretty similar to how the religious rulers of Jesus’ day reacted when they heard Him say that sinners (idol worshippers) and publicans (traitorous tax collectors) would enter the Kingdom of God before they would. (Now a publican was considered to be a traitor by the Jews because he extorted money from his fellow Jews by collecting taxes for the hated Roman occupiers.)
In fact, this politically unacceptable statement from Jesus so enraged them that they ended up holding a murderer in less contempt than the contempt that they held for Jesus. That is why they requested that Barabbas, who was a murderer be set free and Jesus should be crucified.
The only way that Jesus could make such a statement is if it didn’t matter what how many or how grievous a person’s sin was, because there is only one sin that keeps a person out of heaven.
Likewise, It does not matter how few sins that you have:
One day, there was a rich young ruler that came to Jesus wanting to follow Him. Jesus told him that he lacked one thing.
“17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God.
19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.“
[Mark 10:17-22 KJV]
The point here is not that it is wrong to be rich, and it is certainly not wrong to be obedient to the Word of God and have a good reputation. Jesus is teaching that true righteousness can only come from God through a confident faith in Himself, not through faith in uncertain riches or right living. This rich young ruler was asked to give up his faith in the one thing that gave him the pretense of righteousness and kept him from fellowship with God.
There may not be a lot of sins that you can point to in your life. You may not be a horrific person. It may be that your friends, family and even society as a whole could say…there goes a great person. Even with all of that there may be “One thing thou lackest”… Faith in the right object.
There is only one sin that will send you to hell, it is putting your hope for eternity in anything or anyone other than Christ. Faith in the wrong person or the wrong object is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute…It will condemn you.
Only One Savior
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
[Acts 4:12 KJV]
This sticks in the craw of many religionists today. The ecumenical among us find this thought detestable. Surely, they ask, you do not believe that there is only one way of salvation?
Shortly after I was saved, I sat down across the table from a young man who was searching for truth. I identified with him because only recently I had likewise been searching and trying all kinds of philosophies and religions before the Lord saved me. So, I shared with him how it happened that I came to realize that Jesus Christ is the only one that gives us any real hope.
He listened very intently and while I was talking to him, I noticed at a table near us there was a middle aged man sitting there with a very angry look on his face. I could tell that he was just fuming as he listened to my assertion that Jesus alone can save.
My conversation with the young man was finished and we both began to walk away. As I passed by the table of the angry man, he motioned me over and began to angrily lecture me about the arrogance of my assertion. When he took a breath, I asked him what he trusted in. He reached for a necklace tucked into his shirt and forcefully pulled out a little figurine of buddha at the end of the necklace. He thrust it forward toward me and proclaimed, “THIS Is my faith!”
Let me ask you, how many religious leaders or founders of religions could you point to that are sinless before God?…Not even one. Jesus did not come to found a religion, (He already had a religion…He is Jewish.) He came to restore a relationship.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened (made alive) by the Spirit“ [1Pe 3:18 KJV]
Who else can have this said about them? There is only one who is just and that can bring us to God. He alone is that just one that has suffered for your sins, an unjust sinner.
If you have been looking, looking, looking and you have tried and found no peace, then look no further than Jesus Christ. He is the only Savior.
Only One Solution
In Matthew’s gospel 22:1-14 Jesus told a story of a man who came to a wedding in his own garments instead of the wedding garment supplied by the groom. The result was that the offender got thrown out into outer darkness.
One time before I became a Christian, I went to a swanky wedding in Chicago and let’s just say that I was severely underdressed. My wife will not find it hard to believe that I didn’t have a lot of nice clothes but I did have a bit of a self-righteous attitude at that time in my life. I was what we would call today ‘being woke’.
I relished the disapproving looks of the the ‘bourgeois’ adults at this wedding reception I ended up sitting at the same table as the priest that performed the wedding. He was a young guy and as we drank together he pronounced that God gave us all things richly to enjoy. It turned out that he was a pretty good dancer so all eyes were focused on him and nobody cared that I wasn’t properly dressed…so I didn’t get thrown out.
The point of Jesus’ story is that a lot of people try to have fellowship with God that come to Him with their own wedding garments. In other words, like myself coming to a swanky wedding without fine clothing, we come to God with an attitude of self-righteousness and ignore the righteousness that only God can supply.
Some of our respectable garments are:
- Religious observances;
- A life of good works;
- Donating money to charities, etc.
Some closer fitting Garments:
Repenting of your sin with great weeping;
While it is no doubt that we can be genuinely sorry for our sins, without the convicting faith that produces brokenness of spirit over our sin that only Christ can pay for, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)
Without faith in Christ alone, a dry sinner becomes a wet sinner.
Confessing with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believing in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. (Romans 10:9)
This is not a command for the church age believer, it is the requirement for Jews to recognize Jesus as Messiah in order for the Kingdom to be established on the earth. Confessing Christ as Lord will bring the believer great joy but it is not a work that holds any merit for us as sinners.
Giving my heart to Jesus
Probably based on Proverbs 23:26. (“My son, give me thine heart”) This is an application for wisdom, not a condition for salvation. Salvation is not an exchange, it is not a mutual agreement contract for we have nothing to give. If you are going to give your heart to Jesus, make sure that it is a redeemed heart and not a filthy, corrupt thing. We come to God as we are, filthy sinners in need of soul cleansing. Only after this cleansing do we have a heart to offer Him in worship.
Asking Jesus into your heart;
I know that there are many genuine believers that have this as their personal testimony. I suspect that for many believers, this is an expression that describes the change of heart that they experienced toward Christ when they were saved.
The reality is that if you are saved, it is not because you invited God to anything. Nowhere does the Bible tell us that it is a condition of salvation to ask Jesus into our heart. It is God that invites us to His fellowship and not us that invites Him into our heart. God’s salvation offer is for us to either accept or reject. When we accept His offer, He gives us His wedding garment of righteousness as our own.
Going forward at a church service to receive Christ.
If there is an invitation to come forward at the end of a message, it should be understood as an invitation to seek help and prayer. There may be someone to meet you whom the Holy Spirit may use to point you to Christ, but the Holy Spirit is pointing you to Christ right now. You can be saved right where you are by simply believing His promise. You will get a lot of joy by coming forward for Christ after you are saved, but going forward in itself cannot save you.
I know, I know…This list steps on a lot of toes.
My prayer is that it will be the Holy Spirit Himself that will come down hard on your instep so that you at least recognize that if you are not saved it is because you are a spiritual cripple and relying on yourself instead of something outside of yourself.
The Old Testament patriarch Jacob, wrestled with God until he had the sinew of his thigh so damaged that he had to rely on a staff to help him walk after that encounter (Genesis 32)…I hope that the Spirit of God has at least caused you to realize that you must depend on something outside of yourself for salvation.
The reality is that there is only one that we can depend on. Only Faith alone in Jesus alone saves the poor sinner.
Only one sin keeps you out of heaven: Faith outside of Christ
Only one Savior can bring you into heaven: Faith in the finished work of Christ
Only one Solution can make you fit for heaven: Faith alone in Christ alone
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