23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift,
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:23–24
Truth Number One: The LAW. By that I mean the universal moral law of God, revealed by God’s Word and communicated also to our God-given conscience. It shows us what God condemns and what he approves, and by extension, what condemns us. In a word, it shows us what sin is. If you go against the LAW you go against God. God hates sin and you never have his blessing by sinning.
The problem with the LAW is not what it commands, but with us. It’s our problem that we can’t keep it. Therefore we are by nature irrefutably, undeniably in opposition to God. Because we are unable not to sin, we are undeniably condemned. No way out of our lost state can be found by trying harder. Even if we could manage to live perfectly sinless from here on, we did not do so in the past. It is our whole life, not part of it that counts. Once that thoroughly dismal predicament is grasped by the heart and mind, the LAW has done its assigned work. Yes, that is the primary function of God’s law—to condemn us, not to make us behave.
It is the primary use of the law because it points us to ..
Truth Number Two: The GOSPEL The Gospel is the reason that we don’t have to fear the truth that God’s Law condemns us. The Gospel is the Good News that Christ has paid the debt we owe God by way of our sin. Sin incurs debt because it robs God of the obedience and glory we owe him. Christ’s death atoned for our sin, thus cancelling our debt. God raised Christ from the dead to confirm His acceptance of this final and full payment of our debt. A wonderful truth about the Gospel is how we receive its benefits. We get them by faith.
The truth of God’s Law and Gospel is undeniable no matter how much we want to deny our sin. It’s true no matter how much we want to take credit for earning a ticket to heaven. It’s true for the atheist and for the skeptic, for the Muslim, for the Jew and for the Buddhist. It’s true for all because there is no inside knowledge kept from others so that only a select few can be saved. It’s true for all because no one on earth can keep the Law to the perfect standard God demands. It’s true for all because the solution to sin is something everyone on earth can do. All people can believe. All people can receive the Gospel gift without earning it. Just believe these two truths.
Pastor Tom Konz
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“I believe, help my unbelief” Mark 9:24
There seem to be two kinds of atheism. One is found among those who profess not to believe in God’s existence. The other is found among those who don’t believe God. They profess his existence but don’t trust him. Practically speaking, it is as if God didn’t exist, except as a concept. Sadly, there seems to be a lot of the second kind of atheism, even among Christians. On some level at different times we all practice this kind of atheism where we don’t really believe what God says, as indicated by our response to His words. Imagine if we really did believe God.
What difference would it make if we trusted his words that when we seek his kingdom above all else, we don’t have to worry about having the necessities of life? Could that increase your peace, lower your anxiety, and give you a more open and generous heart?
What difference would it make if we really believed that in Christ God separates us from our sins as far as the east is from the west, and remembers them no more? Would that rescue us from the bondage of habitual sin? Would that help us sleep better at night, avoid anxiously trying to make up for our past and enable us to forgive those who sin against us?
Jesus said, “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” If we really believed that would we quit looking down on others, act more compassionately toward those in need, and open our heart and hands to help them?
Perhaps if more of us who believed in God also believed God, and lived accordingly, there might be far fewer people who don’t believe in God at all. What if we really believed Jesus when he said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven?” What if?
Pastor Tom Konz
“Pay it forward” is a term that means we are not to let our blessings lie dormant. If we have received a gift or a talent then use it to bless others. It is how the universe is meant to work. We all bump into each other with our blessings and the good things of God get passed on.
It’s easy to forget that this is also supposed to happen when it comes to our greatest gift—salvation by the free gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. We are so attuned to focus on the “free” part that we don’t remember that this is a gift that God wants us to pay forward. We don’t do so as he did, for none of us can redeem another by giving our life as Christ did. But he redeemed us to pay forward this blessing through good works that show the love we have received from him.
Peter concluded his Pentecost sermon by answering the question, “What must we do?” He replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38).
So the forgiveness is a result of the repentance and baptism. But what is the Holy Spirit for? Yes, the Spirit works faith in our heart and keeps in that faith, but is there more? Paul answers in Galatians 5 that the Spirit produces fruit of various kinds: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; Then he tells us to “walk by the Spirit”. By bearing the fruit of the Spirit a Christian pays forward the gift of his salvation. Such fruit blesses others and gives glory to God.
Many Christians stop short of living in the fullness of God’s grace because they take it but don’t pay it forward. Not only is that not God’s will for us, but also it is inherently unsatisfying and leaves us wanting. When it comes to the blessings of God, do not be only a receiver. Be also a giver. Greater joy comes to those who are.
Pastor Tom Konz