Monday, 8 February 2010

A big problem - and a great solution!

A big problem
As I read the Bible, I become more and more convinced that we all have a big problem. That problem is – God is good. Why is that such a big problem? Because as I read the Bible and see the standards God expects I realise that I am not good. I may look around at other people and think I’m not really that different to most people, in fact I probably lead a more moral life than most people. Apart from a few points on my driving licence I’ve never been in trouble with the police, and I’m generally a good citizen. But according to the Bible, I shouldn’t compare myself with other people, but with God’s standards.

There’s a story of a little girl who saw some sheep standing on a green field. She said to her mummy how clean the sheep looked. Then it snowed. When the grass was covered in snow, the little girl said to her mummy that the sheep looked dirty against the snow. We need to compare ourselves with the “snow” – God’s standards, and not the “grass” – other people.

The Bible teaches that our “acts” must be good – our behaviour – are we being kind to others all the time, loving others as ourselves all the time? Not only must our acts be good but our thoughts must be good too –Jesus says that whilst we may not have killed anyone, if we have ever been angry with someone then we have broken God’s Good Law. Not only must our acts be good, and our thoughts good, but also the words we say – who has never told a lie, which is forbidden by God’s Good Law? Then there is the First Commandment – to have no other gods before the One True God, and to love God with all our hearts, mind, soul and strength. I don’t believe any of us can say we have kept that commandment all the time. According to God’s Good Law, I am guilty. According to God’s Good Law, we are all guilty.

So we all have a big problem. If God is good, and we are not, how can we approach God? How will we live with Him for all eternity? The Bible teaches that God will one day bring all of us to account and He will judge us. By the standards of God’s Good Law we will all be found guilty, and we all deserve to be condemned for that.

Thank God that He hasn’t left it there. Thank God that He sent His Son Jesus who lived on this earth, who lived a perfect, sinless life – the only man ever to have done so. Then he died on the cross – and on the cross He was punished in our place. And after He died He was raised from the dead and is now exalted to the right hand of God the Father. Our sins were put on Him, and He was punished so that we might go free. “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God”. A double exchange takes place – our sins are placed on Him, and in their place His righteousness is given to us.

If we repent - turn away from our sins, and turn to God, accepting by faith that Jesus did what we could not do, that He lived in complete obedience to God’s Good Law, and suffered our penalty, then we will be forgiven, set free and will be at peace with God. Our sins are left at the cross and dealt with there, and in their place we are clothed with the goodness of Jesus Christ.

A parachute jump
Ten years ago I did a parachute jump. I went up in a plane 10,000 feet, and then jumped out with a parachute on my back. (Don’t ask why!). After a few seconds of falling to the earth at 120mph, I pulled the cord on my parachute, it opened, and I sailed calmly(ish!) to the earth. I knew that the parachute was what would save my life, and there was absolutely no way I would have jumped out of that plane without that parachute on my back.

All of us are headed for a parachute jump. The Bible says “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement.” If we don’t have a parachute on our back, we won’t make it. The only parachute that will work is Jesus Christ.

3 Parachutes that will not work:

We may try to put on other parachutes. We may try to put on our good works as a parachute, hoping that somehow the good we have done will outweigh the bad things we have done. The Bible says this parachute will not save us – “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it”.

We may try to put on another religion as a parachute, following say, Mohammed, or Buddha, Hinduism, or New Age spirituality. The Bible says this parachute will not save us – “there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” other than Jesus. Jesus is the only one to have died for our sin and risen again so that we can be reconciled to God.

We may go to church, thinking this will save us. However, the Bible says this parachute will not save us – it takes more than attending church to be saved. Each of us has to do business with God personally. “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”.

If we put on any of these 3 parachutes, we will jump out of the plane, pull the cord to open the parachute – and the cords will get twisted, the parachute will not open properly, and we will not be saved.

The One Parachute that will work:
The only parachute that will work is the one the Bible tells us about – Jesus Christ. We need to put Him on, and put Him on today. Trust in Him, believe in Him, follow Him.