"First Things First"
Contrary to modern notions, salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ does not first offer help to the needy, substance to the empty, and tranquility to the troubled. No, the Gospel's initial offer involves pardon to the guilty.
"God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:17-18).
Before anything else, the matter of God's perfect righteousness and our sinful unrighteousness must be settled. He must forgive us without compromising His integrity. Justice must be served if justification is to be supplied. This our Heavenly Father made possible through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of His Son.
"Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:25).
Apart from faith in the Lord Jesus, human beings remain in their sin, and in God's condemnation. The Lord Jesus Himself plainly stated the indictment - "condemned already." When sharing the Gospel, therefore, we must be lovingly honest in proclaiming its primary truth, namely, a Savior from sin and its consequences exists. Then we declare the spiritual and moral gulf that exists between God and unbelievers because of His righteousness and their sin. We refrain from clouding the issue by suggesting that people need salvation because they are sad, forlorn, and unfulfilled. Certainly faith in the Lord Jesus leads to a relationship with God that powerfully addresses such human need. But this is not why people need to be saved, at least in the initial aspect of the new birth. Redemption through Christ from being "guilty before God" must first form and inform the content of our evangelistic message (Romans 3:19). Sin must be judged for God to remain true to Himself. For believers, this happened in the past when the Lord Jesus bore our sins on the cross. For unbelievers, it will occur in the future because they refuse God's offer of pardon in the Lamb (Matthew 25:41).
Salvation in Christ involves and impacts every aspect of our existence in both time and eternity. "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3). Such grace, however, addresses first things first. Sin must be forgiven, freely and breathtakingly provided through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus and our reception of His gracious mercy. We must share the Gospel accordingly in order to be faithful to our Lord, His Truth, and needy human hearts that must be redeemed from condemnation to the clemency found only in Christ.
"But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you."
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Without Me ye can do nothing."
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