A Reasoning Faith — Lesson 7
Your Next Move
In our last lesson we saw how God could be both a holy Judge and a loving Father to those that believe in Jesus" (Romans 3:26). By passing the maximum penalty against sin that His holiness could demand and by paying that penalty Himself, God satisfied the claims both of His justice and His love.
We also learned that nothing can be added to the finished work of Christ on Calvary's cross. Salvation must be received as a gift by the sinner because it cannot be earned. In addition we learned that when a person receives Christ as Saviour and Lord, a new kind of life is imparted by God-spiritual life. Spiritual life is something far different from moral life. It is not something that can be evolved, but it is received in a moment, bringing the regenerated person into the very family of God.
Salvation Is More Than A Cold Contract
Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour?
Knowing these facts that, according to Ephesians 2:1, you are "dead in trespasses and sin," that you believe Jesus Christ gave His life in your place, and that by receiving Him as your Saviour; means you may have eternal salvation and can then go on living your life as you please, You are most certainly wrong!
A wealthy man loses all his money, and rather than sacrifice his social position, he agrees to give the hand of his daughter to a rich man for a significant sum of money. At first she refuses vehemently, because she despises the man, but when her father shows her the expediency of the marriage, that it is his only hope of being saved from utter want, she consents, and goes through the marriage ceremony. According to the law of the land she becomes the rich man's wife. But does her heart really belong to her husband? Surely not!
You see it now, don't you? The Lord desires a true love relationship. When a man and woman would be truly one, they receive each other into those innermost recesses of their hearts in a deep, true way, a way that cannot fully be expressed in words. The wife tries to please the husband and the husband tries to please his wife. Similarly Christ desires a true love relationship with us.
We all have that innermost recess of our beings which is sacred to us, where emotions stir and that no one else could possibly understand, but Jesus Christ, God's Son, does and because of His love for us, He claims the right to enter. The love He has shown by His death on the cross for us entitles Him to that place. Will I withhold it?
Christ Deserves My Love
When I think that Christ's love for me was so great that He left His Father's glory and came to earth, becoming truly human to suffer and die in my place so that I could have eternal life, my heart softens toward Him.
If, I lay sick and helpless in a burning building, and a friend rushes in to save me, and wrapping me in blankets carries me out but in the process he was burned and scarred about the face and arms, wouldn't my heart go out to him? God knows it would.
And now I am face to face with my Saviour. I see Him suffering in the garden of Gethsemane in anticipation of His death on the cross for me. I see Him in Pilate's judgment hall, the soldiers striking Him in the face, saying, "Prophesy, who smote thee?" I see them crowning His holy brow with a crown of thorns and smiting Him on the head with a reed. Bleeding and bruised, He is taken from judgment to Calvary. As he is lifted up to die between two thieves, with great spikes through His hands and feet, the people gather around to mock and revile Him, though He is pouring out His life to redeem them. Then I begin to understand what self-sacrificing love really means as I hear Him cry, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
But if we enter sympathetically into those physical sufferings of Christ until tears streamed down our cheeks, and that was all, we have failed miserably to comprehend the true significance of the cross.
The Supreme Sacrifice
We read in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that "He [God] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin." Come with me, I plead with you, with bowed head and humble heart. Let us, if we may, enter into the soul suffering of Christ the Son, and of God the Father, as that Holy One, who loathed sin more than we would loathe leprosy, and was "made sin for us."
If the higher the development of the physical organism the greater the capacity for pain, then the higher the development of the moral character, the greater the capacity for soul-suffering.
Have you ever heard of a venerable old gentleman, justly proud of his honored name - a man who would sooner lose his right hand than use it to do a dishonorable deed? His son and heir goes astray, and in a drunken brawl murders someone - and the old man walks no more erect, his head is bowed in shame, and soon his soul - suffering brings his gray hairs in sorrow to the grave.
If that is possible (and it is possible even for us to feel the disgrace of a greater sin than we are used to) - think what sin must be like in all its awfulness to an absolutely holy God! Now we understand why, in the garden of Gethsemane, Christ turns in loathing from sin and cries out in the agony of His soul, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). Yet in spite of that agonized cry from Gethsemane, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" to be "made sin" for us, "that whosoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Action Must Follow
Now do you understand why, if I would retain any ideal of manhood, or any nobleness of character, I dare not reject One who has endured so much for me? My intellect has reasoned it all out; my emotions have been deeply stirred; and now they both appeal to my will for a decision. To be true to my God and myself and my eternal future I have only one course open, and I must take it. Today Jesus Christ is my personal Saviour and my Lord.
Because of His love for me, because of the way He has blessed me here, and because of my assurance of a gracious hereafter, my heart's desire is that you might share in the blessings I enjoy. Christ has done all. He has borne the penalty of your sin; He has been raised by the power of God; now He presents Himself to you. Will you accept Him as Saviour and Lord?
You may be saying: "It seems so mysterious, the mystery of it baffles me." I do not ask you to understand the mystery of it. I cannot understand its mystery myself, nor can any Christian in this life. I am asking you to rejoice in its fact. Electricity remains a mystery. We have discovered many of the laws which govern it, but we cannot tell what it really is. You and I do not worry about the mystery of electricity as we make use of its benefits. You must have known men and women who accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour and were so changed as to be new creatures in Christ. Will you let these facts that you have seen for yourself influence you? Yes, it is just as simple as switching on an electric light.
Come, saying, " O God, I cannot understand the mystery of it all; I cannot understand why You care for me enough to send Jesus Christ to bear the penalty of my sins; but, with all my lack of understanding, I am willing, and I do yield to You absolutely. I trust in the fact of Christ's death for me, and the promise that You made in John 3:16, that whosoever believed in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
Just as you leave the mystery of electrical current with the engineer, and take the benefits of light to yourself, so leave the mystery of salvation with God, and take the infinite benefits of a personal Saviour to yourself. Yield to Him now. He wants to come into your life. Say, and mean it, "I am yours, Lord Jesus; yielded to you, body, soul and spirit and You are mine."
Ashamed Of Christ?
Now for the last but most important point. If you open your Bible to Romans 10:9, you will read,
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believed unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believed on him shall not be ashamed."
If you have accepted Christ. Go and tell someone, do not be ashamed to confess Him. Why should you be?
Suppose I had been convicted of a capital crime. But, while awaiting execution, the governor of the state gave me a full pardon and put me on the state payroll so that I owed him both my life and my livelihood. What would you think if, when the governor entered the office where I worked, I turned my back on him and refused to recognize his presence? Or if, hearing two men slandering the governor, I remained quiet for fear of being thought partisan? If such rudeness and reluctance are inexcusable relative to a fellow human being, how can the refusal to acknowledge the Son of God, who has granted me eternal life at such cost to Himself, be tolerated?
If you have already accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your own Saviour, perhaps even while studying this course, occasions will arise when you will meet Him face to face in the presence of those who despise Him. Will you be ashamed and look the other way, or will you honor Him in both work and deed as your Lord and Saviour? If you have really accepted Him, you must, and you will, acknowledge Him.
The Soldier's Choice
I was talking to a young soldier about accepting the Lord Jesus Christ, but like most men, he tried to evade the straight issue with the promise, "I'll think it over,"
"Harry," said I, "let me illustrate. Suppose you are out with the boys some night raiding the enemy's position, and on the way back you get hit. Bill Smith stops long enough to pick you up and carry you back, and for his trouble he gets two bullets in the back. You are both taken to a hospital. Two months later the doctor comes along, helping a man who limps badly and moves with evident difficulty.
"They stop at your bedside, and the doctor says, `Harry, I want to introduce you to Bill Smith, the man who risked his life to save you,' and you fold your arms and say, `I don't know whether I want to meet him today or not. I'll think it over.'
"You wouldn't say that, Harry, would you? You would grab him by the hand and try to tell him something of the gratitude you felt. I want to introduce you now to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Man from glory, who not only risked His life, but sacrificed it, to save you, and you propose to turn your back on Him and say you'll think it over."
"No," he said, "I'll accept Him"; and together we knelt while he told the Lord that he there and then accepted Him as his personal Saviour.
Are you "thinking it over," or have you faced the issue squarely and decided right?