January 29, 2012

Freedom From Misery

          I would like to take the time to look into the Law. I want to ask some important questions. Questions like, can the Law save a person? And, who is the Law for? Further, how does one get saved, and should a Christian keep the Law? It is these and other very important questions that I want to look into. For it is absolutely critical that we understand the purpose of the Law and what saves a person. It is a matter of life or death. A matter of where you will spend eternity – Heaven or Hell. 

          Let us now look at some of the broadly held beliefs of the professing church. Commonly believed is that Law cannot save, but must be adhered to in order to keep one saved. Another school of thought says a similar thing. That is, the Law must be adhered to in order to maintain fellowship with Jesus Christ after one is saved, even though one’s salvation is secure. The thought is simply that before one is saved, they don’t have the power to keep the Law, but once saved they are able to keep it, and must try to do so.

          Sadly, people miss the point that we are free from the Law. Jesus Christ came in order to set us free from the Law, rules, and such like. Paul described life under the Law as “wretched.” This word is also translated as “miserable,” and that is just how Paul describes life under the Law. Yet Christ says we are saved by grace, and are to live a life on that same basis. The word grace is better translated as favour, for few people understand grace, as it is a little used term today. The fear people have is that if there is no law, then what will keep them from sinning? This shows a misunderstanding of what Christ Jesus has done for us. 

          I want to take the time to show that the Christian life is not about rules and laws, but about rejoicing in the freedom Jesus Christ has given us. I want to look at the freedom from sin and death that Jesus has delivered us from. If you are not experiencing freedom from sin, and are bound by miserable rules and laws, then please take the time to read what I’ve written. For Christ did not call us to bondage and misery, but to a life of freedom and joy!

The purpose of the law

          Let us begin with the purpose of the Law. The purpose of the Law was very simply to show that we cannot meet the standards God has set – perfect innocence.  What was God’s purpose in wanting to show mankind that they are not perfectly innocent? It is to show that every person without exception is a lost sinner worthy of death and the torments of Hell. For it is written, “Knowing this, that Law is not laid down for a righteous one [a saved person], but for lawless and undisciplined ones, for ungodly and sinful ones, for unholy and profane ones, for slayers of mothers, for murderers, for fornicators, for homosexuals, for slave-traders, for liars, for perjurers, and if any other thing opposes sound doctrine [lost persons].” 1Timothy 1:9-10 We can clearly see then that the Law is there for sinners and not for Christians. Again, God’s Word says, “But I did not know lust except through Law; for also I did not know lust except the Law said, ‘You shall not lust.’ But sin taking occasion through the commandment worked every lust in me…And the commandment which was to life, this was found to be death to me…Then that which is good [Law], has it become death to me? Let it not be! But sin, that it might appear to be sin, having worked out death to me through the good, in order that sin might become excessively sinful through the commandment.” Romans 7:7-13 Once more we see how the Law is at work in the lost sinner. The Law actually causes the lost sinner who is trying to live right to “become excessively sinful through the commandment.” For we read, “But Law came in besides, that the deviations might abound.” Romans 5:20 We conclude then, as Paul said, that “by works of Law not one of all flesh will be justified before Him.” Romans 3:20 The truth is that “The Law works out wrath.” Romans 4:15

          Let me give you an example of how the Law does not work. If the law tells us that the speed limit on a certain stretch of highway is 100km/hr., will that keep one from driving over the speed limit? Of course not! If it did work we would have no need of cops, judges, lawyers, and traffic tickets. Even with fines people still keep breaking the law. Clearly the law is weak and imperfect, not being able to keep people from breaking the law.

          The shocking truth is that it is law itself that is the problem! For we read, “The power of sin is the Law.” 1Corinthians 15:56bAgain we read, “Knowing that a man is not justified by works of Law,” and again, “That no one is justified by Law is clear.” Galatians 2:16a and 3:11a  In fact we are told that “As many as are out of works of Law, these are under a curse.” Galatians 3:10a By the way, the word “justified” means to make innocent – a Christian.

          One may then begin to question, why then did God give the Law if we are not to get saved by it, or live by it once saved? Well, the truth is, that as said before, its purpose is to show us that we are lost, guilty, condemned sinners on the way to Hell as punishment for all of our sins.

          Let me say this, if you are still trying to get saved, or trying to stay saved by obeying the Law, you will never come to the place of perfect innocence that God requires. Even if you could come to the place of living blamelessly, the sins of your past still leave their mark on your criminal record with God. Someone must still be punished for those crimes/sins. Just as the Jews stumbled, thinking that the Law was the answer to getting or maintaining eternal life, so today many people who call themselves Christians stumble at the same point. For it is written, “But Israel following after a Law of righteousness did not arrive at a Law of righteousness. Why? Because it was…as of works of Law.” Romans 9:31-32 For again the Scriptures say, “If a law had been given which had been able to make alive, indeed righteousness would have been out of the Law.” Galatians 3:21 Let us be very clear, law cannot give eternal life, nor is it a part of the Christian life. For once more we read, “For the Law had a shadow of the coming good things, not the image itself of those things. Appearing year by year with the same sacrifices, which they offer continually, they never are able to perfect the ones drawing near.” Hebrews 10:1 How sad, then, that people are still trying by their ability to perfect themselves by the Law when the Bible says that the Law is “never able to perfect the ones drawing near.” The Law was but a shadow - a shadow is not the reality! A tree casts a shadow, but the shadow of a tree is not the tree itself! How sad to cling to the shadow of the Law when we have the reality!


          I want to take things in a slightly different direction for the time being. I want to talk a bit about caterpillars, butterflies, and metamorphosis. 

          How frustrating do you think it would be to try and fly if you were a caterpillar? It would take you all day to climb to the top of tree, and then with a pathetic leap, you would try hard to make some flapping motions while hurtling towards the ground bouncing off of branches on the way to a crash landing! Once you crashed, fellow caterpillars and butterflies would be giving you the gears for not having done better. On the other hand, imagine yourself a butterfly. Would you have to climb a tree to make the same ridiculous attempt, or would you just effortlessly take flight? Would any caterpillars ever discover you in their midst munching on leaves? No, once you’ve become a butterfly flight comes naturally, and your food instantly becomes flower nectar. 


          Let us now carry this analogy over into the human realm. If now for whatever reason you thought you were a Christian, as I did, but you were actually still an unsaved person, what do you think it would be like? Well, you would be trying very hard to act like a Christian. You would try this not only because you think you are a Christian, but because others think so as well. Thinking you were a “butterfly” you would try to read your Bible, try to pray, try to attend church, try to behave yourself, get baptized, get married, go on missions trips, go to Bible college, and might even try to become a missionary or pastor. Notice the word “try.” Why emphasize the word “try?” Well because there is so much failure. How frustrating to “try” and live like a Christian when one is not! Sin just seems to be waiting to pounce all the time! It seems so hard to do all the many things one is supposed to do! It’s hard to follow all the rules! There is one word to describe it all – MISERABLE! Is it not interesting that Paul the apostle uses the same exact word?! I wonder why he uses the same word? Well, because he had exactly the same experience! Really, you say?! Let’s take a look. Romans 7:14-24 says this of Paul the apostle, “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, having been sold under sin. For what I work out, I do not know. For what I do not will, this I do. But what I hate, this I do. But if I do what I do not will, I agree with the Law, that it is good. But now I no longer work it out, but the sin dwelling in me. For I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good. For to will is present to me, but to work out the good I do not find. For the evil I do not desire, this I do. But if I do what I do not desire, it is no longer I working it out, but the sin dwelling in me. I find then the law, when I desire to do the right, that evil is present with me. For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man; but I see another law in my members having warred against the law of my mind, and taking me captive by the law of sin being in my members. O wretched [also translated “miserable.”] man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

          I want to take note of a few things that I underlined in the text. First, Paul the apostle says that he is “sold under sin,” and that he is taken “captive by the law of sin.” Whom we have here is a miserable person who is trying ever so hard to live by the Law. Someone who thinks they’re saved, but are in reality lost. Now many people will argue that this is Paul talking as a Christian. Now of course they themselves, thinking they are Christians, look at this and see a similar experience to what they themselves are having, and therefore justify themselves by saying that they’re going through the same struggles as Paul the apostle had! Yet, immediately prior to the above battle Paul was having, we find these words, “And I was alive apart from Law once, but the commandment came, and I died. And the commandment which was to life, this was found to be death to me; for sin taking occasion through the commandment deceived me, and through it killed me. So indeed the Law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Then that which is good, has it become death to me? Let it not be! But sin, that it might appear to be sin, having worked out death to me through the good, in order that sin might become excessively sinful through the commandment.” Romans 7:9-13

          So how do we describe Paul in chapter seven of Romans? This is how he himself describes himself: “Deceived,” “killed,” “worked out death to me,” “sin might become excessively sinful,”  “sold under sin,” “But what I hate, this I do,” “sin dwelling in me,” “taking me captive by the law of sin,” and “wretched.” This is not a Christian, do you think?!  Yet how many of us haven’t lived under this very burden of misery thinking ourselves to be just that! 

          Let us not overlook the last thing I underlined in bold print. For Paul asks a very important and overlooked question. He says, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Paul is looking for someone to deliver him from this miserable condition! This clearly shows that chapter 7 is prior to Paul being saved, for he is still looking for a deliverer – a savior! For as with the caterpillar becoming a butterfly, so with the sinner becoming a Christian. For it is written, “So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!” 2Corinthians 5:17 But before we get too far, I want to examine one more aspect.

          Many use Romans 7 as an excuse for their sinful behavior by saying that Paul was a Christian when he had those struggles, yet we have clearly proven that to be utterly false. Let us then see what else God has to say about those who are religious and yet lost (like Paul prior to being saved). We hear God say this, “Or do you not know that unjust ones will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be led astray, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous ones, nor drunkards, nor male plunderers shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Cor. 6:9-10 What is the point being made? Simply that you can’t claim to be a Christian and live sinfully. You see it is also written, “From their fruits you shall know them. Do they gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? So every good tree produces good fruits, but the corrupt tree produces evil fruits. A good tree cannot produce evil fruits, nor a corrupt tree produce good fruits. Every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and is thrown into fire. Then surely by their fruits you shall know them.” Matthew 7:16-20 It becomes very clear then that those who practice sin are sinners, that is, they are lost. For again it is written, “Little children, let no one lead you astray; the one practicing righteousness is righteous, even as that One is righteous. The one practicing sin is of the devil…By this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone not practicing righteousness is not of God.” 1John 3:7-8, 10 Very simply then, those that practice sin are lost sinners. To make matters worse, the religious unsaved are also miserable, as was Paul the apostle prior to being saved. Once more God directs His words to the religious unsaved, “Who knowing the righteous order of God, that those practicing such things are worthy of death, not only do them, but also approve those practicing them. Therefore, O man, you are without excuse, everyone who judges, for in that in which you judge the other, you condemn yourself; for you, those judging, practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth on those that practice such things. And, O man, the one judging those practicing such things, and doing them, do you think that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, and the forbearance and the long-suffering, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But according to your hardness and your impenitent heart, do you treasure up to yourself wrath in a day of wrath, and revelation of a righteous God?” Romans 2:32-3:5 What do we say to these things? Simply this, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man may sow, that he also will reap.” Galatians 6:7 For it is written, “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23a For again, it is written, “Behold, you are called a Jew [or in today’s culture you could say “you are called a Christian”], and rest in the Law, and boast in God, and know the will, and approve the things excelling, being instructed out of the Law…You who boast in Law, do you dishonor God through transgression of the Law? For the name of God is blasphemed among the nations [one could say today, among the non-religious lost people] through you.” According as it is written, ‘There is not a righteous one, not even one!’ All turned away, they became worthless together, not one is doing goodness, not so much as one!...Because by works of Law not one of all flesh will be justified [made innocent/Christian] before Him…for all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 2:17-18, 23-24, 3:10, 12, 20, 23 Is it not plain to see that all are guilty, lost, condemned people before God? Is it not plain that it is not a matter of our good outweighing our bad? No, all our prayers, tithes, church attendance, missions trips, and living modestly will never be enough. God says we must be perfectly innocent – 100% is the standard God has set. For it is recorded, “And He spoke this parable to some of those relying on themselves, that they are righteous, and despising the rest: Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee was standing, praying these things to himself: God, I thank You that I am not as the rest of men, rapacious, unrighteous, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice on the Sabbath; I tithe all things, as many as I get. And standing at a distance, the tax collector would not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, but smote on his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me, the sinner! I say to you, This one went down to his house justified, rather than that one.” Luke 18:9-14 See then that the Pharisee corresponds to present day religious "Christians,” and the tax collector to present day non-religious persons. For “many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name do many works of power? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; ‘depart from Me, those working lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:22-23 These most religious people of all, thought that surely they had done enough to get into Heaven, yet Christ says that He “never” knew them, and that rather they were workers of “lawlessness.” Beware then lest you also be a “Pharisee"! 

          It is because of the above reason that we see so much gross sin in the religious circles today. We hear about it in the colonies, Catholic Church, and among other “Christian” circles. As Paul wrote, “In order that sin might become excessively sinful through the commandment.” Romans 7:13b  You see, the Law is like a mirror. You may well not know that you’re dirty, until one tells you. Of course you don’t believe them, until after challenging you to “go look in the mirror!”, you realize that you are filthy! That is just what the Law does – it shows you that you are filthy dirty in the eyes of God. It shows you that like Paul, you need someone to “deliver” you from your dirtiness. See then, that the Law itself is not what saves you, or keeps you saved, but that which shows you that you need to get saved. 

          See then also that from a human perspective you can appear to be clean on the outside as were the religious Pharisees. Yet on the inside God saw that they were filthy, dirty sinners! Don’t be deceived, God can see the sin on your inside. You must be clean in and out in order for God to accept you into His Heaven. “For the Word of God is living, and powerfully working, and sharper than every two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of both soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge of the thoughts and intentions of the heart; and there being no creature unrevealed before Him; but all things are naked and laid open to His eyes, with whom is our account.” Hebrews 4:12-13 See then that a person can trick another into believing that they are a Christian by trying to act like it, but that none can trick God. Even then the world will see enough wolf under your sheep’s wool to realize that you’re not genuine most of the time.

          A common saying among those who call themselves Christians is, “I’m not sure if I’ll make it to Heaven or not.” This doubt shows one thing, and that is that this person is relying, at least to a degree, on themselves to get there. That is what Christ referred to as, “Those relying on themselves, that they are righteous.” Luke 18:9a This is why it is so hard for “Christians” to rejoice, because they’re not certain that they’ll actually end up in heaven. However, the fact that Christians are called to rejoice, shows that there is a way to be certain.

          Even today the “Pharisee mindset” is very much alive. The Pharisee said, “Abraham is our father.” Yet Jesus answers, “If you were the children of Abraham, you would do the works of Abraham,” that is they would bear “good fruit.” Further, the Pharisees said, “We have one father, God.” To this Jesus answers, “If God were your father you would love Me…You are of the devil as father, and the lusts of your father you desire to do.” John 8:39, 41-42, 44 Another thing the Pharisee would surely say is, “I’m circumcised, and that is my proof, by seal that I’m saved.” And of course the Pharisee would say, “I’m a Jew, I belong to this and this tribe.” So today, the religious Mennonite, Catholic, or other denomination may well be heard saying, “Well I’m not a lost sinner, I’m a Mennonite! I’m a Catholic!” Of course these would also say, “We worship God, we believe in the Bible, we believe in Jesus!” And also, “I was baptized, I was christened, surely that is proof that I’m saved!” As well one might hear, “I’m a member of so and so church.” Yet these are the very same things the Pharisees said, and look at how Jesus responded to them in the above verses! And further hear these words of God, “And the Lord says, Because this people draws near with its mouth, and they honor Me with its lips; but its heart is far from Me…For the wisdom of his wise ones shall perish…Woe to those who go deep to hide their purposes from Jehovah; yea, their works are in the dark; and they say, Who sees us? And, Who knows us? O your perversity!” Isaiah 29:13-16 

                    Don’t be deceived. Don’t be confident in your traditions, whether Mennonite, Catholic, Lutheran, Mormon, or whatever other religious walk you come from. For God can see straight through the religious veil you wear!

          Those of you who are weary of the empty hypocritical religiousness of today, let me say, there is hope for you! This hope is not found in a church, a pastor, a counselor, or anyone else in the religious system.

          Paul the apostle came to see his hopeless situation as a most zealous religious person, and therefore wrote, “O wretched [miserable] man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24 Yet this man had the best credentials of any religious person! For he describes himself this way: “In circumcision, the eighth day, of the race of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; according to Law, a Pharisee; according to zeal, persecuting the Assembly; according to righteousness in Law, being blameless.” Yet he says of all this, that it is “trash!” Philippians 3:5-6, 8

                There is a lot of emphasis put on the Law and commandments. For the conscience of mankind tells them that they are guilty. Mankind therefore realizes that only those who do good will be able to enter God’s Heaven, and that those who do evil will go to the torments of Hell as an eternal punishment. The mistake mankind makes, is that they think they can attain to this on their own, or with God’s help. This is the same lie the Serpent told Eve in the garden of Eden. For the serpent got Eve to eat from the tree of knowing right from wrong. However that knowledge did not give her the power or ability to keep from doing the bad and doing the right. It is the same mistake the Israelites made when they told God that they would keep the 10 commandments, and then broke them as they were being given by erecting the golden calf. It is the same as Paul’s struggle when he tried to keep the Law, but found himself doing what he was not to, and not doing the things he should be. The truth is that mankind has absolutely no ability to keep the right and avoid the wrong! The pride of mankind keeps them from admitting that they are lost sinners deserving of Hell. This is especially hard for a religious person to admit, and most especially so if they are a pastor, missionary, Sunday school teacher, or other prominent religious person. Yet such was Paul!

          Now it is written, “Why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we had strength to bear?” Acts 15:10 Now the yoke refers to the Law, and he says that neither the Jews of old, nor the believers of the present had the strength to bear that yoke. So then why do people who claim to be Christians today still try to put the yoke of the Law upon anyone? “But what say the Scriptures? ‘Cast out the slave woman and her son, for in no way shall the son of the slave woman inherit with the son of the free woman.” Galatians 4:30 Now we are told that the “slave woman and her son” refer to the Law. So we conclude with all clarity from Scripture that the Law has no place in the believer’s life at all. For the Scriptures make this clear statement, “If righteousness is through Law, then Christ died without cause.” Galatians 2:21 See then that if one can be made innocent – a Christian, through Law, then Christ did not need to die – in plain words, it was pointless. 

Hear then also the words written in the next chapter to believers, “O foolish Galatians, who bewitched you not to obey the truth, to whom before your eyes Jesus Christ was written afore among you crucified? This only I desire to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of Law or by hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you perfect yourself in the flesh? Did you suffer so much vainly, if indeed it also was vainly? Then He supplying the Spirit to you and working works of power in you, is it by works of Law, or by hearing of faith?” 3:1-5  He then goes on to say, “That God would justify [make innocent, Christian] the nations by faith…for as many as are out of works of Law, these are under a curse.” 3:8, 10 So once again it is stated that the Law cannot save the lost, nor can it perfect the believer. The sole purpose of the Law is to act as a mirror. It reveals that one is sinful and in need of a deliverer – a savior.

Hope for the weary

Therefore Jesus says, “Come to Me, all those laboring and being burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 So Paul too was “laboring and being burdened,” under the Law and sin. Paul was seeking “rest.” Let us again be reminded of Paul’s exact words. “O wretched [miserable] man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24 Paul, realizing that the Law can’t deliver him, now says, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ our Lord…for…Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 7:25, 8:2  Christ did what the Law could not. Christ did what self could not.

        So we now know that Jesus Christ, and not Law, is the answer to one being delivered, but just how? For it is widely known throughout Christendom that Jesus Christ has something to do with one being saved. Yet there is a lot of misunderstanding as to just how one is saved. Many argue that there are many ways to be saved, yet we have just seen that the way, Law, cannot. Yet God tells us through Paul, “There are some troubling you, even determined to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel out of Heaven, should preach a gospel to you beside the gospel we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we said before, and now I say again, If anyone preaches a gospel beside what you received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:7-9 We find here that Paul the apostle is most emphatic that there is but one gospel, that is way to be saved, and not many. He even goes so far as to say that those who preach another way to be saved should “be accursed.” In fact Jesus Himself says this: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 

Here again, we have a very clear statement. Jesus says He Himself is “the Way,” and that “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus says that He is the only One by whom we can be saved. Yet how is one to be saved by Jesus? Well first of all, Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Once again it is written, “For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of Godnot of works, that not anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 

What is clear so far is: we are not saved by the Law, works, or ourselves. That there is but way to be saved, and that way is Jesus Christ. We know also that it involves God’s grace (favour), and faith. We could put it in an equation something like this: sinner = condemned to death and Hell, yet saved by God’s grace + our faith in Christ as our Savior = saved.

I find there is so incredibly much confusion about how one is saved that I want to go into detail to make it simple for all to understand. Part of the problem is the terms used in our Bibles. Many of these terms are just not used anymore. So I’m going to explain just a few of the basic terms. Grace, as before stated, means favour. Faith and believe mean to place one’s confidence or trust in something or someone. Repent means simply to change one’s thinking, or mind. I think that is enough for terms.

The good news

Now let me explain the gospel itself to you. First then, we have already proven that all are guilty and worthy of death. “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23a Here then is a clear statement: sin = death. We therefore need a savior to free us from “death.” If “death” is the payment for our sin, then it need be that someone die to pay for our sin. It must either be you, or someone else. Hebrews 9:22 clearly says, “Apart from shedding of blood no remission [pardon] occurs.” Now “shedding of blood” signifies “death.” So apart from “death” no one is pardoned of their sins. So again, either you must die and go to Hell as punishment, or someone else must die for your sins so that you can be pardoned.

Let us see now who this someone is. If you recall, all throughout the Old Testament we hear about lambs being sacrificed. We read in Exodus, prior to Israel’s departure from Egypt, this account, “A flock animal, a male without blemish, a yearling, shall be to you. You shall take from the sheep or from the goats…And all the assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it between the evenings. And they shall take from the blood, and put it on the two side doorposts and on the upper doorpost, on the houses in which they eat it…And I will pass through the land of Egypt in this night. And I will strike every first-born in the land of Egypt…And I will see the blood, and I will pass over you. And the plague shall not be on you to destroy, when I strike in the land of Egypt.” 12:5-7, 12-13 Again we read in Leviticus, “And if he brings a lamb as his offering…without blemish, he shall bring it, and he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and he shall slaughter it for a sin offering in the place where he slaughters the burnt offering.” 4:32-33 Throughout the Old Testament we read of such accounts. Notice that the sacrificial animal always dies. There is no other remedy for sin. 

Now when we get to the New Testament we hear these words, “On the morrow, John sees Jesus coming toward him and said, Behold! The Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 Why must Jesus come? Were not the lambs of  the Old Testament under the Law enough? Hear the words written in Hebrews 10:1- 4, “For the Law had a shadow of the coming good things, not the image itself of those things. Appearing year by year with the same sacrifices, which they offer continually, they never are able to perfect the ones drawing near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered?” “But in these there is a remembrance of sins year by year, for it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” So we see that all the Old Testament sacrifices of lambs could not take away sins, but rather they were but a shadow, not the reality. We then hear that Jesus is called “The Lamb of God” who does “take away the sin of the world.” Jesus is the reality! This is the One who it is prophesied about in the Old Testament. This was the coming deliverer! Therefore we read about His birth, “And she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins as a lamb without blemish. Of this sacrifice we read, “And indeed every priest stands day by day ministering, and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But He, offering but one sacrifice for sins, ‘sat down’ in perpetuity ‘at the right’ of God.” Hebrews 10:11-12 Just one sacrifice was sufficient to make payment for all of our sin! 

Let us examine the most well-known verse in the Bible. It says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone believing into Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 Firstly then, we note that mankind was in trouble, for God sent His Son into the world. Of course we know that the whole world was guilty in the sight of God because of their sin. The consequence was that we would “perish.” That is, that as payment for our sins we would die and go to Hell. Therefore we needed a saviour – God’s Son Jesus Christ. How do we get saved? “Everyone believing into Him…should have everlasting life.” “That’s it?” you ask? That’s right! 

You might ask, “Don’t I need to invite Him into my heart, confess all my sins, or get baptized, or something?” No, there is absolutely nothing! Looking again at John 3:16, could one insert the words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone believing” and inviting Jesus into their hearts “should not perish, but have everlasting life?” Of course not! Why? Because “the wages of sin is death.” Jesus died. Inviting Jesus into my heart, or living right, did not die. That is why Jesus’ death was not vain, but necessary in order for us to be pardoned. Jesus was our Substitute! The Sacrificial Lamb! The one-time sacrifice for all of our sins!

The missing ingredient

Now of course most people in the world have heard about Jesus. In fact over a billion of the people that populate this planet claim to be Christian. Yet Jesus says, “For narrow is the gate, and constricted is the way that leads away into life, and few are the ones finding it.” Matthew 7:14 Clearly then, not all these that claim to be Christian are Christians. What we have is a lot of people who are religious. 

I think it is very critical to stop and ask a serious question. Why, if these have heard about Jesus and His death, are most of these people not saved? For these people attend church, pray, and do a lot of good things, and yet there is something very wrong. I want to take the time now to look at the missing ingredient. 

Let us look at Hebrews 4:1-2. Here we read, “Therefore, let us fear lest perhaps a promise having been left to enter into His rest, that any of you seem to have come short. For, indeed, we are having the gospel preached to us, even as they also; but the Word did not profit those hearing it, not having been mixed with faith in ones having heard it.” So we know these people heard the gospel, yet it “did not profit” them because they had no “faith,” that is they did not believe the gospel. So today the gospel is being preached, and yet how few believe it. Sunday after Sunday, day after day the Bible is opened and read, and yet how few believe the gospel if it be preached at all. Many churches today don’t even pay attention to the Bible, or in some cases even forbid it to be read by the people. In this way the truth that would free these people and see them saved is kept from them. How terrible will God’s judgment be on those who forbid the Bible to be read by the people! God’s Word is given to all, not just a select people.


Many people today, thinking they are Christians, and yet are not, try desperately to act like it. They say the sinner’s prayer, or invite Christ into their heart. This is a false substitute for believing the gospel. Then they go to church, hear the Bible read, and yet don’t understand it. They try to do good, and avoid the bad. A false substitute for dying with Christ and becoming a new creature. From then on they live a miserable life as did Paul under the Law. Many of these people eventually give up on Christianity and say it doesn’t work. The world looks at Christianity and wants nothing to do with it, because they too can see that it doesn’t work. Why is Christianity failing? Is there something wrong with it? Is God not true? No, Christianity has not failed, neither is God a liar, but something is wrong! What is wrong, is that people are calling themselves Christians when indeed they have never believed the gospel in the first place!

How can one tell when a person who calls themselves a Christian is not a Christian? Here are some identifying marks – red flags if you will. Even though they call themselves Christians, they still do things like swear, get drunk, smoke, feel comfortable around unsaved people, participate in Halloween, and watch movies that contain murder, lust, and “ugly” things like in Star Wars. There are many other things that could be listed, but it will suffice to show the wrong side of things. Not that these things are always present, but if they are it is a warning sign.

These same people tend to be big on church attendance, reading one’s Bible, baptism, church membership, missions, tithing, dressing a certain way, refraining from jewelry, tend to be stingy, talk of recommitting their lives to Christ, and may even brag about their giving.

Why do these people act this way? Well, because they’re trying to be what they’re not – a Christian. This is the same things the Pharisees did. They tried to dress everything up on the outside. They tried to renovate instead of replace. You can’t rejuvenate a dead tree, it must be cut down and a new one planted. Sinners are like those old trees; they must be cut down. A new tree is needed. The sinner needs to die. The Christian is a new creation, just like the butterfly. A true Christian does not have an appetite for sin. That is why Christ said we must be born again. The old must die. 

Why do I go on like this you ask? It is because one must first see that they are a hopelessly lost sinner on the way to Hell, and deservedly so. To recommit one’s life to Christ is not getting saved, and shows that one does not understand how to get saved in the first place. A recommitted life shows that one is still trying to gain God’s approval on their own. Trying to live right for fear of losing one’s salvation also shows that one is depending on one’s own righteousness to get into Heaven. To think that one might not make it into Heaven shows that one is still depending on one self to get there.

The answer is simply that we need to look solely to Jesus Christ to be saved and not to ourselves at all. We just need to believe that Christ is who He says He is and that as our Substitute He fully paid the penalty for all of our sin, and rose to life the third day. It is up to Jesus and not you to get you there the rest of the way. 

What God has to say

I would now like to take the time to look into God’s Word to see what He Himself has to say about getting saved.

“And He made distinction in nothing between both us and them, having purified their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:9

“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the authority of Satan to God, in order that they may receive remission [pardon] of sins, and an inheritance among those being sanctified by faith in Me.” Acts 26:18

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; even as it has been written, ‘But the just shall live by faith.’” Rom.1:17

“And that no one is justified by Law before God is clear because, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” Galatians 3:11

“Even the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ toward all and upon all those believing…” Romans 3:22

“Whom God set forth as a propitiation through faith in His blood…” Romans 3:25

“Then where is boasting? It was excluded. Through what law? Of works? No, but through a Law of faith.” Romans 3:27

“Then we conclude a man to be justified [made innocent] by faith without works of Law.” Romans 3:28

“Since it is one God who will justify [make innocent] circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.” Romans 3:30

“But to the one not working, but believing on Him justifying[making innocent] the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5

“…For we say the faith ‘was counted to Abraham for righteousness.’” Romans 4:9

“For the promise was not through Law to Abraham, or to his seed, for him to be the heir of the world, but through a righteousness of faith.” Romans 4:13

“But it was not written for him [Abraham] only, that it was counted to him, but also on account of us, to whom it is about to be counted, to the ones believing on Him who has raised our Lord Jesus from the dead, who was delivered because of our deviations, and was raised because of our justification.” Romans 4:24-25

“O foolish Galatians, who bewitched you not to obey the truth, to whom before your eyes Jesus Christ was written afore among you crucified? This only I desire to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of Law or by hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now perfect yourself in the flesh? Did you suffer so much vainly, if indeed it also was vainly? Then He supplying the Spirit to you and working works of power in you, is it by works of Law or by hearing of faith? Even ‘as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.’ Know, then, that those of faiththese are the sons of Abraham. And the Scriptures foreseeing that God would justify[make innocent] the nations by faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham: ‘All the nations will be blessed’ ‘in you.’ So that those of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham. ” Gal.3:1-9

“That the blessing of Abraham might be to the nations in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:14

“Then being justified [made innocent] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

“Through whom also we have had access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we glory on the hope of the God.” Romans 5:2

“What then shall we say? That the nations not following after righteousness have taken on righteousness, but a righteousness of faith; but Israel following after a Law of righteousness did not arrive at a Law of righteousness? Why? Because it was not of faithbut as of works of Law. For they stumbled at the Stone-of –stumbling.” Romans 9:30-32

“Knowing that a man is not justified [made innocent] by works of Law, but that it is through faith in Jesus Christ (we also believed into Christ Jesus, that we may be justified [made innocent] by faith in Christ and not by works of Law).”Gal.2:16

“But the Scripture locked up all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to the ones believing.” Galatians 3:22

“For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, that not anyone should boast.” Eph.2:8-9

Even though I might have trust in flesh; if any other thinks to trust in flesh, I more; in circumcision, the eighth day, of the race of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; according to Law a Pharisee; according to zeal, persecuting the Assembly; according to righteousness in Law, being blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss because of Christ. But, nay, rather I also count all things to be loss because of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them to be trash, that I might gain Christ and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness of Law, but through the faith of Christ, having the righteousness of God on faith.” Ph’p 3:4-9

“And everyone believing in this One is justified [made innocent] from all things which you could not be justified [made innocent] by the Law of Moses.” Acts 13:39

“And much disputation having occurred, rising up Peter said to them: Men, brothers, you recognize that form ancient days, God chose among us that through my mouth the nations should hear the Word of the gospel and to believe.” Acts15:7

“But through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe to be saved, according to which manner they also believed.” Acts 15:11

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…” Acts 16:31

“How then may they call on One into whom they have not believed? And how may they believe One of whom they have not heard? And how may they hear without preaching” Romans 10:14

“For since in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom did not know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save the ones believing.” 1Cor.1:21

“But for this reason I received mercy, that in my first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for an example to those being about to believe on Him to everlasting life.” 1Tim.1:16

“Knowing that not with corruptible things, silver or gold, were you redeemed from your worthless way of life handed down from your fathers, but with precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot, indeed having been foreknown before the foundation of the world, but revealed in the last times because of you, the ones believing in God through Him, He raising Him from the dead, and giving glory to Him so that your faith and hope may be in God. Having purified your souls in the obedience of the truth…” 1Pet.1:18-22

“Because of this, it is also contained in the Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion’ an elect, ‘precious Stone,’ ‘a Corner-foundation;’ ‘and the one believing in Him shall not be ashamed, never!’” Then to you who believe belongs the preciousness. But to disobeying ones, He is the ‘Stone which the builders rejected; this One became the Head of the Corner.” 1Peter 2:6-7

“I wrote these things to you, the ones believing in the name of the Son of Godthat you may know that you have everlasting life, and that you may believe in the name of the Son of God.” 1John 5:13

“But many of those hearing the Word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” Acts 4:4

“But when they believed Philip preaching the gospel, the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and woman.” Acts 8:12

“And hearing, the nations rejoiced and glorified the Word of the Lord. And as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48

“And it happened in Iconium, they went in together into the synagogue of the Jews, and spoke so as for a huge multitude of both Jews and Greeks to believe.” Acts 14:1

“And Crispus, the synagogue ruler, believed the Lord along with all his house. And hearing, many of the Corinthians believed and were baptized.” Acts 18:8

“Then whether they or I, so we preach, and so you believed.” 1Cor.15:11

“In whom also you, hearing the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also believing you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is an earnest of our inheritance, to the redemptions of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Eph.1:13-14

“For which cause I also suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard my deposit until that Day.” 2Tim.1:12

“That everyone believing into Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone believing into Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:15-16

“The one believing into Him is not condemned; but the one not believing has already been condemned, for he has not believed into the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18

“The one believing into the Son has everlasting life; but the one disobeying the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

“Truly, truly, I say to you, The one who hears My Word, and believes the One who has sent Me, has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24

“Jesus said to them, I am the Bread of life; the one coming to Me will not at all hunger, and the one believing into Me will not ever thirst.” John 6:35

“Truly, truly, I say to you, The one believing into Me has everlasting life.” John 6:47

“Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life. The one believing into Me, though he die, he shall live.” John 11:25

“To this One all the Prophets witness, so that through His name everyone believing into Him will receive remission [pardon] of sins.” Acts 10:43

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone believing, both to Jew first, and to Greek.” Rom.1:16

“The one believing in the Son of God has the witness in himself. The one not believing God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness which God has witnessed concerning His Son.” 1John 5:10-13

“But these things have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31

Final thought

These verses make plain that one is saved by believing the gospel. They make equally plain that works of law cannot save. It is Jesus who died as our Substitute. All of our sins were heaped upon Christ, and He alone paid the penalty of death for your and my crimes.  We must believe that Jesus is the Savior who was to come to deliver us by His death from the penalty of our sins. Do you believe that Jesus is your Substitute? Do you believe that He paid the full penalty of all your sins, past and future? If not you have made God a liar, and are already condemned. Yet God in His patience does not desire any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

No comments:

Post a Comment