Summary: Can you tell me **clearly and simply** what it means to become a Christian?
July 7, 2002
Romans 10:1 - 10:10 (KJV)
1Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 5For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. 6But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
A short parable:
There was once a mouse who really longed to be a lion. He told himself that if he could learn to walk like a lion, talk like a lion and prowl where lions prowl, he would be a lion. So he practiced stalking and swishing his stringy little tail in grand and majestic sweeps. He worked hard at turning his pitiful little squeak into awesome, bellowing growls.
Finally, the mouse convinced himself that he really looked and sounded like a lion. "Now," he said, "all I have to do is roam where lions roam." So he marched into lion territory one day about lunchtime, loudly announcing his presence; And (as the mother hen used to proudly say she had many of her offspring enter the ministry), the mouse did indeed quickly enter into lionhood!
The scriptures say that we are created for God. Like it or not, we are His creation! Whatever we may long for, we are the objects of a holy and mighty God that has a prior claim on our lives. The claim is absolute. God is in control.
There are those who rebell, saying, "I’ll live my own life. God, you stay out of it!" There are those who say, "I fear God, I want to obey Him." The reality is that, no matter which of those camps you are in, there is no way to please God. The scriptures affirm that:
All we like sheep have gone astray....Isaiah 53.6
There is none righteous, no not one....Romans 3.10
All have sinned and fall short...Romans 3.23
In preparing for a crusade, Evangelist Billy Sunday wrote a letter to the mayor of a large city, asking for the names of individuals the mayor knew who had a spiritual problem, needing help and prayer. How surprised the evangelist was when he received back in the mail a city directory.
There is a word in verse 3 of our text that blows me away..."RIGHTEOUSNESS"! The word literally means "the condition which is acceptable to God." There is a standard by which God judges man, and determines man’s acceptability to God. The standard is God’s own character, His righteousness. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to tell us that "...all OUR righteousness is as filthy rags ." In the background of this realization is the awful wrath of God. When God judges unrighteousness, terrible punishment is the outcome.
In the 18th century evangelist Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon entitled, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." It was about the consuming fire of God’s wrath and punishment. That sermon was the springboard for the greatest revival this country has ever seen to date.
We sorely need a fresh wind of revival in our country. America will wake-up one day; And it will be in the midst of revival, or it will be in the midst of the judgment of God for our national and individual sins. Judgment will rain-down on an unsuspecting, apostate land.
Men and women who love the Lord and this country have been praying, "Lord, do it again. Send us Holy Ghost revival!"
Now, if you have stayed with me so far, you are aware of the "bottomless pit" this word "righteousness" presents. If we have to come up to God’s standard - His righteousness - in order to be acceptable....Yet God says that is impossible....WHAT can be done? It seems like a dead end.
Have I got some good news for you! If you have pondered that question, and you are worried about the answer, you are not far from the kingdom. You have moved into the position from which God wants you to start! That position is the realization that HE calls the shots OUR job is to respond.