Thankful on Thursday - The Gospel
Have you noticed that the world is really messed up? All you have to do is turn on the TV, pick-up a newpaper, listen to talk radio, or read a blog and you'll find out pretty quickly that this is one big train wreck. Why is that?
The Bible calls this problem sin, which is to say that we have missed the mark and that we have fallen short. We have missed the mark of righteousness and fallen short of God's glory. In other words, we do not live as our Creator intended for us to live.
Now, I don't have to delve very far into my own heart to know that I'm part of the problem, not the solution. And while I don't know you or your heart directly, the Bible says what is true about me is true about you, too, whether you are willing to admit it or not. We are enemies of God; estranged from the One who created us live in His presence forever.
Can We Fix It?
So, should we become more moral and ethical people? Stop cheating on our taxes, obey all the traffic laws, be more courteous, and spend more time with family? I suspect our lives would improve if we did these things, but it would only be a temporary improvement. Morality is not the solution.
Then should we form another civic organization and try to do better? Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and visit the sick? Those are all good activities, but none of them will make up for the evil in our hearts. In the words of John Mellencamp, "I do charity work when I believe in the cause but my soul it bothers me still." Social activism is not the solution.
So, you can see it coming, right? What we really need is religion. Join a church, study the Bible, pray, and give money to the church. Again, this is all worthwhile, but being a church member is not sufficient either. Religion is not the solution, either.
In fact, as long as the focus is on something we do, no matter how good and right it seems, we are on the wrong path. Why? Because we are spiritually dead. You may not know it but you have the sixth sense - you see dead people every day. Anyone who has not been born by the Holy Spirit is dead. Sin kills. We are on the gurney and there is no sign of life. We need someone outside of ourselves, a Physician, to bring us to life.
Such a Great Salvation
That Physician is Jesus. The Bible proclaims that new life is possible through the gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul explains the gospel as follows:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:1-5 ESV)The good news is that Jesus died "for our sins" as had been prophesied hundreds of years before His birth. We cannot reach God on our own merits, but God, in His grace, sent His Son to pay the debt we owed. Therefore, God justifies us (declares us to be righteous) because Jesus has born the punishment of our sin. Now, God the Father will treat us as if we have lived the righteous life that Jesus lived.
All we have to do is believe. When the crowds asked Jesus what they needed to be doing in order to do the works which God required, Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29 ESV) We participate with Christ in His death if we stop relying on what we have done, and throw ourselves to the mercy of God, trusting that Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient for our salvation. Then we can sing with Horatio Spafford:
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!Today Is the Day
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
I bear testimony that I'm thankful this Thursday, and every day, that 2000 years ago the penalty for my sins was paid, and that over 20 years ago now the Holy Spirit caused me to be born spiritually so that I would trust in the finished work of Jesus.
So I plead with you be reconciled to God. Trust in the work of Jesus that you might be with God forever.
Will your life be free from trial and tribulation if you believe? No. In fact, in our current society, it is likely to get worse if you truly follow Jesus. But for those who are in Christ there is joy even in suffering. And the difficulties of this life will pale, both in duration and quality, to the blessings of the life to come.