“I’m A Good Person”

I have over the last 20+ years of ministry heard every excuse imaginable for someone not liking the “Christian” faith or wanting to be associated with the Christian faith. I am sure you have heard them too, things like: 

“Christianity (or any religion) is just a crutch” comes from those who think they got it all together and do not need any ones help.

“My past makes me unworthy” while not as common as others this one has deep rooted guilt for past transgressions and can be very hard to overcome

“I’m not ready to change yet” Oh pity those who use this, for they are truly without excuse. They have an understanding of their sinful nature but love the dark side so much they are unwilling to give it up to soon.

“They are all a bunch of hypocrites” maybe the second most used; stemming from seeing them in bars on Saturday and church pews on Sunday. Or for many young folks that grew up in church it maybe they see any act of weakness on the part of church leaders (human nature) as hypocrisy instead of what it really is sin. Also under this category I hear things like ‘I don’t get a “religion” where you can just go sin and ask for forgiveness and all is okay’ referring to 1 John 1:9.

“I’m A Good Person” I have never killed or …. you have heard the list. Unfortunately they are comparing their standard of good to themselves and not that of the Creator of the Universe.


INTRODUCTION:

MAN IS NOT GOOD – Romans 3:23 all mankind has sinned, Romans 6:23 the righteous punishment for man’s sin is death

WITHOUT EXCUSERomans 1:20 (AMP)  For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. Man can come up with any excuse he wishes but none hold water before a righteous God. 

GOD PROVIDES THE ANSWER – Romans 5:8 God sent His only begotten Son to save mankind. 

Luke 19 10 | The son of man, Cool words, 10 things

Porque el Hijo del Hombre vino a buscar y a salvar lo que se había perdido. (RVR 1960)
CONTEXT:

Here we have the very essence of the Gospel. Jesus’s work at Calvary was for a specified purpose to save sinners, not every sinner as some believe (universalism), but as our text says the lost.

So who are these lost? In this story Luke 19:1-10 Jesus has an encounter with a rich Tax Collector named Zacchaeus. There are some things that need be pointed out here:

v.1-4 Zacchaeus first seeks after Jesus. Like so many we he sought in futility to get close to Jesus but failed.

v.5 Jesus tells Zacchaeus to stop seeking, stop trying on your own to save yourself, I must do the work.

v.6 There will always be naysayers, those with excuses to hate you and and Christ. Here the crowd grumbled at Jesus’s choice to associate with Zacchaeus. They thought him beneath them and so Jesus should ignore him.

v.7-10 Jesus rebukes them not so much in words (at first) but in actions. By going to Zacchaeus house Jesus makes it clear that He did not come to associate with the High and Mighty Holy Rollers, the Pious crowd of the  Pharisees and Sadducees. Remember Jesus’s 7 woes (warnings) to the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23.

No Jesus makes it clear, Zacchaeus and folks like him, the truly LOST are the reason I came to earth. Because man on his own is not Good enough to save himself from eternal damnation.

APPLICATION: 

I have used this many times, an old Army expression of mine “The maximum effective range of an excuse is zero meters”  I jokingly say I have heard them all, but God truly has heard the hearts Psalm 44:21 of all mankind. While you may think you are a good person, you will never be good enough to get to heaven on your own

Are you like Zacchaeus today? Making excuses feeling you can seek Jesus on your own terms? The time for excuses is over, the Holy Spirit is pricking at your heart strings and calling upon you to as Paul writes in Romans 10:9-13 (AMP)

… acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile; for the same Lord is Lord over all [of us], and [He is] abounding in riches (blessings) for all who call on Him [in faith and prayer]. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord [in prayer] will be saved.”

 

Seven Things Jesus Said on The Cross, Part II

cross of nails

by Matt Slick / 11/02/09

Today we look at the second thing Jesus said on the cross:

  • Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

 2. Luke 23:43, And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (NASB)

Entonces Jesús le dijo: De cierto te digo que hoy estarás conmigo en el paraíso. (RVR 1960)

  • John 19:26-27, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”
  • Matt. 27:46, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
  • John 19:28, “I am thirsty.”
  • John 19:30, “It is finished!”
  • Luke 23:46, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.”

Once again such a simple and kind statement has such profound impact once we unpack it, so let us break it look at in context.

Jesus has been crucified between two thieves, one was ugly v.39 “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,[d] saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (ESV)  There are many who can excuse this behavior as someone caught up in the moment with the fear of dying and being in pain etc. Yet the second criminal responds, v.40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? You have to see it, “Do you not fear God” what does he mean by that? Whom is he referring to? Some argue he is generalizing saying in sort ‘you are about to die do you not have any fear (respect) for the God you are about to meet). Looking at the next verse v.41  And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”  would seem to disqualify that since he refers directly to Jesus. 

In v.42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” we see Faith in action. This criminal makes a BIG request by acknowledging Jesus as God and asking for him to be remembered in eternity. There are a lot of responses that Jesus could have come back with, the one HE chose And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (NASB) has major doctrinal implications. 

By telling one thief and not the other they would be with Him in eternal Paradise Jesus refutes Universalism which says everyone ends up in paradise. Jesus makes it clear here that is not so.  

The need for Baptism (Sacramentalism) is refuted. The was no dunking sprinkling no water of any kind and Jesus still promised this man eternal life with Him.

The idea of Purgatory is refuted. Jesus was explicit in what He said, and unless you are willing to call Him a liar or equally as foolish mistaken or misinformed Purgatory is a fallacy.

Soul-sleep, or the idea that it is valid was refuted. You can’t be with Jesus (conscious) and be asleep. 


Further Reading
John Piper Today You Will be With Me in Paradise

BreakPoint: A Lack of Judgment?

Why Hell Still Belongs in a Christian Worldview

If you think of American Christianity as a pendulum, we’re currently at the opposite extreme from the First Great Awakening. When Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” ¹ he compared human beings with spiders, dangling by a thread over the fires of God’s just judgment, upheld only by His mercy. Accounts from the time tell of listeners who clung to the pillars of their churches, lest they fall through the floor into the Lake of Fire. Like I said, we’re no longer in this territory these days.

In fact, according to Professor Michael McClymond, a very different idea is gaining popularity, even in evangelical churches. It’s called “universalism,” the belief that in the end, God will redeem every human being, and maybe even Satan and the demons.

McClymond has written a book on the history and beliefs of universalism, as well as its recent resurgence in American Christianity. In “The Devil’s Redemption,” he documents how authors like Rob Bell revived and popularized an old but fringe idea: that God will never finally judge anyone, but will continue wooing the wicked into eternity, until even the worst come to repentance and faith.

In an interview with Christianity Today, McClymond calls this doctrine not just a theological mistake, but a “symptom of deeper problems.” It’s easy to see what he means. We live in a time when many Christians eagerly downplay God’s condemnation against sin—especially sexual sin—in favor of a more therapeutic, feelings-centric approach. In these theological waters, universalism thrives. McClymond calls it “the opiate of the theologians,” since it allows them to tell a live-and-let-live culture exactly what it wants to hear: that God is a cosmic grandpa who will never finally hold anyone to account for their rebellion against Him.

Now look, I get the appeal of universal salvation. So did C. S. Lewis. In “The Problem of Pain,” he wrote: “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this…[B]ut,” he added, eternal punishment for sin “has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason.”

Jesus, in fact, spoke more often and vividly about Hell than anyone else in the New Testament. That’s part of why Lewis concluded that real, eternal judgment, as horrible as it might seem, is the only way Christians can affirm the holiness of God and the moral freedom of human beings.

The kind of love universalism demands from God wouldn’t really be love at all. Imagine a God who never put an end to evil, and who never quarantined those determined to continue committing evil—a God who never told school shooters, genocidal dictators, rapists, gossips, or cheats who refuse to accept His help or authority that enough is enough. There could be no ultimate restoration of creation, and no ultimate peace for the redeemed.

Lewis’ insight, which he developed in both “The Problem of Pain” and “The Great Divorce,” was describing Hell not so much as a place, but as a process. Many alive on this earth, he wrote, have already embarked on the early stages of Hell by trying to live life without God. In the end, he suggested, God would give them what they want. And they wouldn’t like it.

To those who object that this isn’t fair, Lewis replied with a piercing question: “What are you asking God to do?” To wipe out your past sins, and at all costs, to give you a fresh start, offering every miraculous help? “He has done so, on Calvary.” Do you want Him to forgive you? He has offered forgiveness in Christ. Do you want Him to leave you alone? “Alas,” wrote Lewis, “I am afraid that is what he does.”

The one thing God will not do—and cannot do—is allow those who refuse His love to “blackmail the universe.” Hell will not be allowed to eternally “veto” Heaven.

The promise of coming judgment—something we confess every time we say the Apostles’ Creed—is essential to the Christian hope of a restored world. Not only is it motivation to take the Great Commission seriously, it makes the Good News of forgiveness in Christ so good.

So, I’m with Michael McClymond. For Christians who take their faith seriously, eternal consequences, as taught in Scripture, still must have a place. Universalism isn’t an option.

¹ If you have never taken the time (it is a lengthy and can be a difficult read) please I encourage you to read aa“Sinners At the Hands of an Angry God” today

Source

A few years back I posted a sermon I preached entitled The Whole Counsel of God that I think directly relates to this topic.  – Mike