That single statement is the hallmark of what sets Christianity apart from any other major religion of the world – including its predecessor, Judaism. I’ve recently finished reading the book, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, and in this book he seeks and finds concrete evidence to the veracity of the Gospel message, the uniqueness, and trustworthiness of the New Testament writings, and the absolute unshakable truth that the Early Church, beginning with the Apostles believed in the resurrection and that they saw the risen Christ.

No other religion prior or at the time, with that kind of historical support, can claim that it’s deity robed himself in flesh and blood and paid the penalty of sin for the people, so that they might be saved from the penalty of the Law of Righteousness. This, of course, is seen in the pages of the Old Testament, but it was fulfilled in Jesus. But the most incredible part of the story is that this deity did it for those who were the most undeserving.

But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8, AMP

Look – Christianity, in the modern world can easily lose track of that reality while being caught up in the Sunday-to-Sunday ritual of what it seems to mean to be a Christian. Even this Sunday my Pastor was working to conclude the book of Acts and speaking of the last years of Paul’s life. When Paul sought to convert Felix he went on to spend another two years in prison before the new governor took office. On top of stonings, lashings, poisoning, shipwrecks and more torture.

In all that time in prison, there was no Sunday morning ritual for Paul – yet he kept his faith. They didn’t sing 3-5 worship songs, take up an offering, pray, sing again, dismiss the Sunday School Kids, preach a message, close with another wonderful song and send people on their way – to spend the week as they wish and to return again the next Sunday to repeat the ritual.

And there is nothing wrong with our normal Sunday services today – but it is easy to forget the incredible sacrifices it has taken to be able to have them. Most importantly, the sacrifice of the Cross.

The Most Unworthy

What grips me about Romans 5:8 is the declaration that Christ died for us WHILE we were sinners. While I was a sinner, (and I still am today if I was perfectly honest) while you were a sinner, while Peter was a sinner, and while Paul was a sinner, and while Mary, his biological mother was a sinner, even James his brother and the other Apostles, who, up to the point of his death were rejecting him, forgetting him, and failing to fully follow him.

66181-peter-denies-jesus.1200w.tn

Can we count all the ways that the founders of this faith we call Christian were flawed? Peter, who openly denied Christ three time? James, his own brother who refused to believe who he was, and Thomas, who has been given the title Doubting Thomas? How about Paul who killed, persecuted, imprisoned and fought to destroy the Way. Christ died on the Cross while Paul was still Paul, but he did it so that he could revive Paul and offer him the promise of the resurrection – if Paul would lose his life on this earth for the Gospels sake.

Often times, we can feel so unworthy of God’s grace today. I know I struggled deeply with my call to the ministry. I was/am so unworthy. I had a son when I was 16, out of wedlock. I went on to receive custody of him when he was but 6 (24 now) and raised him, and now have two more daughters. But the things I’ve done in my past and the things I struggle with today make me feel so unworthy of the calling and election I have received.

Yet – Abraham was a liar and a man of war. As were his sons. David was an adulterer, a murderer, and a liar. Not to mention Jacob. Rahab was a harlot yet instrumental in God’s kingdom. Peter was a hothead and denied Christ three times in public, but was given the keys to the Kingdom so to speak. Paul, the greatest persecutor of The Way in his time became the most prolific and accomplished father of our faith.

The most unworthy of men, and women have been touched by God to perform His will, and I believe that is what proves His grace all the more. It would be so much easier to follow mythological lore-style stories of great men with gigantic muscles and powers granted to them by God who went on to fight and defeat enemy after enemy to the counted worthy of God to ascend into the Heavens.

Yet – our God doesn’t work that way. He took the adulterers, the harlots, the thieves, and the afraid, and promised them eternity with Him in the resurrection – and all he asked was that we accept the free gift of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. What amazing grace is that, and how sweet the sound!

Made Righteous by His Obedience

This is the kicker of the Gospel – it came on the heels of the Mosaic law which, admittedly, to a studier of the Bible, was a system of grace, but it was corrupted by men until it looked like a works-based system of Self-Righteousness. It is no wonder Jesus highlighted the story of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee in Luke 18 as a parable. The Pharisee was confident in his obedience and his own righteousness, while the other man held no confidence in himself, and God honored that humility.

For just as through one man’s disobedience [his failure to hear, his carelessness] the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of the one Man [Christ] the many will be made righteous and acceptable to God and brought into right standing with Him. ~ Romans 5:19, AMP

If you don’t catch what I catch in that Scripture I want to urge you to read it and re-read it, and then read it again. I came from a system that taught endless rules of righteousness that, should you fail to follow, (they believed) would consign one to burn in the eternal fires reserved for Satan and his followers. Rules like how you dress, if a woman cuts her hair or not, or wears makeup, or if men and women wear jewelry, or shorts, or swims in public…

pg-18-passion-of-christ-ap.jpeg

It is the silliest thing to be now, to believe that my personal obedience, which is still expected, by the way, is what would make me righteous. That it somehow is more necessary and powerful than what Christ has already done on that Cross… That it would save me, or even keep me saved. The system of religion I left believed that their ideals of Holiness (which is code for dress standard) would not save a person, but in the absence of obedience to them, a person couldn’t be or stay saved. The system I left believed they were the only saved among the earth. All others who called themselves Christian were sincere but sincerely lost. Every Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Nazarene… name a denomination that wasn’t theirs, were lost.

All of this fails to realize that it wasn’t THIER obedience that made them acceptable to God. These fundamental and some cult-style religions fail to realize that it was the Obedience of Christ that placed us, who believe in Him and only in Him, in a place of Righteousness. Undeserved as it is, it was the promise of God, that whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life! (John 3:15-16)

Scripture, from Matthew to Revelation never one time teaches a message of ‘Do this ritual or be lost.’ In fact, it teaches the opposite, Paul honed in on this many times, in Galatians, Romans, Hebrews – for those who think their righteousness is found in their own works – they are fallen from Grace. Over, and over again, Scripture teaches that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, because we as fallen humans could never measure up to the commandment of Holiness. We need HIS Holiness to be Holy.

It is the obedience, and righteousness of Christ that will and does make us righteous by believing in Him and placing our trust in Him. Accept the Cross and the Sacrifice of Love, for while you reject Him, He Loves YOU, and has Died for YOU!

But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8, AMP

Posted by dividinghisword

I am the father of two, husband of one, and lover of Christ! I simply seek to spread the Word of God unadulterated, not filtered by denominational interpretation. I have a degree in Theology from Texas Bible College but more so I have His Word!

One Comment

  1. Amen!!!! We are made righteous by His obedience! Now that’s good news…because mine is not so hot most days. I’m going to print this off for my dad to read. So thankful that while I was raised UPCI, my father taught me (at home) about the grace of God and salvation through faith alone. He’ll like this. Another great article Ralph!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Deanna Jo Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s