There are many people who go to church or become Christians to “become better people.” Sadly many people, non-Christian and Christian alike, that believe Christianity is can be reduced to a few simple “do’s and don’ts” (“thou shalt or thou shalt not”). However, my question to them is this, if Christianity is all about rules, then why did Jesus have to die? He certainly didn’t break any “rules” of Christianity (see Hebrews 4:15 that says He was without sin). Just as dangerous as the “rules” group are those who believe that Jesus simply wants to make them a better person. If all you do is “WWJD” through life, you will be a moral person, but not a saved person (yes there is a huge difference between being moral and being saved). I would submit to you that those who are going to church are having a hard time learning the truth, because too many pastors and too many churches are preaching moral messages instead of Gospel messages. So what is the difference?
A moral message says “do this little Johnny” and you will be a good person. Do this and you will be type of person God will bless. What we are teaching is that the kind of person God wants you to be is a good moral person and He will bless you for that. Can I be honest, if that is all that it takes in order for God to bless me, then I’m not sure church is all that necessary. Before, anyone tries to stone me let me explain. I know some non-Christians who are more “moral” than many so-called Christians. Yet God is not blessing these non-Christians, because the Bible tells us that if we are a friend to the world, then we are the enemy of God (James 4:4). That is if we do the things that world approves us, then we are not doing the things that God approves of. Therefore, we are not God’s friend, but rather His enemy. If at the end of your life all you have done is been a good, moral person, heaven will not be your eternal home. For heaven to be our eternal home, there must be a recognition of who we are fundamentally, and then a true change that can only be done in us by God. Let’s see what that looks like.
In Ephesians 2, Paul says, “An you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Paul is talking to a Christian audience here. He said you were dead in your sins (trespasses), you use to do things the world approved of, you did what you wanted to do, and you were a child of wrath just like everyone else. Let’s pick it up in verse 3, “But (love that word because it means there is a change coming) God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved.” Paul just told us that while we use to do the things of verses 1-4, God showed His love to us in the fact that Jesus died in our place. Why did God do this? Let’s continue reading, “and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly placed in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” In short, He did it because He loved us, it was the only way, and when He saves us, He blesses us (not for being a “good, moral” person). So how can we go from this child of wrath, disobedient person to a saved, obedient, and blessed person? “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” We will never become that person on our own, by our own will or desires. We will only become that person through an act of God, reaching out to us in His love and grace, us admitting who we are and surrendering to Him. I will close this post with a quote I saw from Mark Batterson this morning, “Jesus didn’t die on a cross to make bad people good. He walked out of a tomb to bring dead people to life.” Jesus said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” Are you dead or alive?
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him