Posts Tagged ‘performance’

Romans 10:5-21 — Let’s spend a couple days on this passage. Today, the message is that it is really simple actually!

Yesterday, we talked about the fact that when we leave it up to man, he will create religion. He will create checklists. He will make it about performance. He will make it complicated. Paul’s message here is that it really is quite simple.

In order to be saved by the law, one must live a perfect life without sinning one time ever. As far we can tell, there has only been one person who was flesh and bone that ever accomplished that. His name was Jesus. However, what about the rest of us? Why did God give us the law if He knew from the get-go that we would be unable to stand up under its weight? The reason that God gave it to us was to show us that we are guilty and in need of a Savior. The law was a foreshadowing of Christ. The sacrificial system that God instituted through Moses was to educate God’s people on the need for a Savior. It showed us that we need a way outside of ourselves to make us right with God. Jesus was the culmination of the OT sacrificial system. He was that which makes us right with God once and for all. No temporary sacrifices that atone us for a period of time. He was the permanent, once and for all sacrifice.

The old sacrificial system was complicated but Jesus’ coming to earth in the flesh makes it simple. Salvation, being made right with God, is as simple and as close as your heart and lips (which represent the mind). If we believe from the depths of our soul that Jesus is Lord and Savior and we confess with our mouth our belief in our mind that Jesus was raised from the dead, we will be saved. That’s it! No complicated pagan ceremonies of pleasing a man-made God. No keeping a checklist of things we have to be and do. No apprenticeship that must be served. No, it’s quite simple. Believe and speak. We must believe that Jesus is the one sent by God to die on the cross as the ultimate, final sacrifice for our sin-filled life that condemns us under the law. We must confess that He was indeed the Son of God by believing that He arose from the dead.

All other religions make things complicated. All other religions make it up to us to perform. Things that we must do to become one with the universe. Things we must do to achieve perfection. Things we must do to prove ourselves. Christianity is different. It is because Christianity, in its purest sense, is not a religion at all. It is about a relationship with the Father that we come to through simple faith in Jesus Christ. It is not complicated. We must learn that we are sinners incapable of earning our way to heaven. The law does that for us. We must learn that we need a Savior to intervene on our behalf. The law does that for us. We must learn that there’s not a thing we can do to keep ourselves from the hell that our dark souls deserve. The law does that for us. We cry out to the Messiah to save us from hell. Jesus does that for us. We must simply believe that Jesus is the one who died for us and our sins. We must simply believe that His death makes us right with God. God does this for us.

What a wacky religion that is? No black belts to earn over time. No complicated levels to attain? And guess what it is not something that we can use to segregate ourselves from others? Once you accept Jesus as your Savior, you have the same standing as a person who has been saved for 60 years. Once you accept Christ as your Savior you also can’t use it to say I’ve got it and you don’t. Being a Christ follower is available to anyone who will believe in their heart that Christ is Lord and who will confess with their mouth that they believe Jesus was raised from the dead. They are in the club once they have these beliefs. Not complicated. Simple. Jesus. Simple. Relationship not religion. Simple. Is it not true that the truth is simple and that lies are so complicated. All other religions are lies and are complicated. There is but one true way, there is but one truth, there is but one life. Jesus. Simple. Available to anyone who believes in their heart and mind that Jesus is Lord and that He was raised from the dead. Simple. Jesus.

Tomorrow, let’s revisit this passage one more time and talk about how this simple message must be shared since it is available to everyone who will believe!

Father, I have a simple prayer this morning. Thank you for pointing out through the law that I am a sinner in need of help from outside my efforts. Thank you for Jesus who is my Lord and Savior who was raised from the dead to demonstrate that He is indeed the Son of God. Thank you for His sacrifice that makes me right with you. Amen.

Romans 9:1-29 — Even though I am 52 years old now, does the fact that I grew up as a Methodist preacher’s kid give me an auto-pass into heaven? Does being part of church for most of my life give me brownie points on judgment day? Does doing all the right things get me there? These are the types of questions that Paul talks about in this passage.

In Romans 9-11, Paul deals with the heritage of the Jews as God’s chosen people and how that relates to salvation in Jesus Christ. The Jewish people were very proud of the fact that they traced their lineage back to Abraham. It was through Abraham’s line that God promised to make his descendants His people. God made covenant with the Jews and made them His chosen people through who He would bring forth the blessing to all nations. God made His chosen people different. He gave them the law, social and ceremonial rules that made them completely different from the nations around them. He did this so people would be drawn to them because it was through them that Jesus would come. Over time though, the Jews fell in love with who they were rather than being in love with God. The reveled in their privileged position. They thought that because they were among the chosen that this mere fact saved them and would give them heaven. Paul says no one can claim to be chosen by simply by heritage. Being born a Jew does not guarantee salvation. Being born a preacher’s kid does not make me chosen. It did not guarantee salvation. My pedigree does not save me. My salvation comes from the mercy of God to give me Jesus as the sacrificial lamb who took my punishment for what I deserve. My salvation comes from the Lord. It comes from His mercy. Being a preacher’s kid does not give me a free pass nor more than being born a Jew. We all are dependent upon the mercy of the Lord so that no one can boast. I was born this. I was born that.

OK, so if my heritage as a preacher’s kid doesn’t give me a leg up, what if I do all the right things? What if I am in church every Sunday? What if I serve in every way possible at church? What if I follow your command to tithe? What if I read the Bible daily? What if give alms to the poor? What if I do all the right things? What if I go to seminary to learn more about you, Lord? What if I write a daily post on Facebook and/or a blog where I help people understand Scripture? Nope. These things don’t save me. Don’t get me wrong, these things are admirable but in and of themselves they do not save me. Nothing that I do. There is no effort, no action that I can take that will make me heaven-worthy. The only thing that can save me is a relationship with Jesus Christ. No amount of good that I can do in a million lifetimes can erase the sin nature that I have and the sins that I have committed. If God is perfect and sin is imperfection then I cannot be in his presence no matter how much good I try to do in this life. I am saved by realizing that I need mercy. I am saved by God’s mercy as expressed through His Son Jesus Christ. He cleans me up and makes me right and beautiful before the Father. Doing good deeds for the sake of seeking favor or brownie points with God is like putting the cart before the horse. Because of the joy of our salvation, because of the joy of my salvation, good deeds flow overflow. We are so thankful for this salvation that we KNOW we don’t deserve that we can help ourselves but serve Him in every way possible.

If my lineage saved me, if my deeds saved me, there would be reason to boast and there would those who are excluded from salvation because they are from the wrong people group or they simply don’t care about doing all that churchy stuff. We could easily say I am better than you because I do this and I do that. If you live on the wrong side of the tracks, or you have done all these bad things in life that are so much more seriously bad than the things I have done, then sorry bud I guess you are screwed. Have you ever noticed when God leaves things up to us, we try to make gradations out of everything. That way I can measure myself against you. That way I can determine and show you that I am better than you. Paul says wait a minute! THERE IS NOTHING that we can do to earn our salvation. My pedigree doesn’t save me. My degrees don’t save me. My social position doesn’t save me. My church membership doesn’t save me. My good deeds and service don’t save me.

It is the mercy of our God that matters. A man that lives like hell for 70 years and accepts God as His Savior in the last years of his life has the same standing as one who accepted Christ at 7 and has lived a life of service ever since then. God grants His grace in the manner that He chooses. We are saved by grace not by who we are, what we are, what we do, when we do it, how often we do it. So, there is no life that is so horrible that God cannot redeem it through grace given through Jesus Christ. Nothing that you have done is so horrible that I cannot be covered in grace. You are never too far gone. Our bad deeds don’t condemn us. If that we the case, heaven would be empty. God’s grace through Jesus is a gift. It is not something we earn.

Think about it. It’s like doing something wrong repeatedly even though your parents told you not to. So, finally, they put us on restrictions and oh yeah you know that trip to Six Flags this weekend, you as a teenager have to stay with us your parents the whole time. Uggh what torture that is going to be. Being seen by all the kids in the world having to hang with your parents. The humiliation! But when you get to Six Flags as you are preparing for your humiliating day, your parents inexplicably say go, go have fun. See you at the gate at the end of the day! Freedom not deserved but freedom given. That is grace. If salvation was something we earned, then we are in trouble. I am in trouble. Thank God for grace. Thank God that He has mercy. And thank God it really isn’t about who we are and dependent on what we do. Thank God for your mercy. Thank God I don’t get what I deserve. Thank God for Jesus. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God!