Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's Not My Money!

Back by popular demand....It's Every Man's Gospel time!!!

Just kidding. Only two people have asked me about my blog (my wife and her friend that likes to pick on me sometimes). Since you are the only two people that read my blog, I'll just get into it and we can chat later.

As you may already know, I enjoy evangelism. I would devote my whole life to it if I had another way to earn a living. Recently I have had the opportunity to link arms with a missions plant in Butler called "Pressing On Ministries" run by a dear brother in Christ named Dan. My favorite fishing hole is the SRU campus on a warm Friday night, but I gotta tell you, Butler is a unique place to evangelize. At college everyone seems to wear their identity on their sleeves, but in Butler it seems that people are trying to hide who they really are. Butler is a dense, over-grown town that qualifies as a small city. It is infested with drugs and all of the dark practices that go with it. Because of a failing economy and drugs many people are hurting physically and mentally. But like any other people group, they know nothing of their spiritual need. No matter what you've heard, the Bible is clear on the issue; "There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God" (Romans 3:11).

This is why it is vital that when we open up our mouths about our great and glorious Savior, that we spend some time explaining to people their specific need for coming to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The moral law of God is a great way to show individuals that they have a sin problem that spills into every arena of their lives. We are not a people that have just told a few lies. We cannot count how many lies we have told or how many times we have stretched the truth and embellished a story in order to deceive people. We are a people that pursue sexual thoughts and so surround ourselves with sexual images that we don't even realize the impact. We harbor hatred in our hearts and lash out in verbal and physical aggression toward others (just think about the last time someone cut you off in traffic). We are a people of unclean lips, living amongst a people of unclean lips. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength. Yet with these very lips I have cursed God on numerous occasions in my unregenerate state. No one has ever for one moment fulfilled the greatest commandment. Believer or not. We are full of sin and wicked rebels that care very little, if at all, about the glory of God.

After addressing the issue of sin, I like to use a courtroom scenario to address the sense of God-given justice that has been pressed in the hearts of each of us. If we are found absolutely guilty before a human judge for breaking the law, he will see to it that the law is applied and justice gets carried out. That is, if the judge is a good judge. Could you imagine the outrage that we would have if a judge, having all of the evidence of a rapist before him, let the criminal go? We would call for the removal of that judge from the bench. Many of us would even seek that the judge be tried for wrong-doing. Yet somehow we expect that a holy and perfect God would do right by overlooking our sin. When we ask the judge to set us free or not uphold the law in carrying out the proper judgement, we are actually asking for the judge to commit a crime himself. God is perfect and holy and just and will in no way overlook sin on behalf of the sinner's plea. If we plead with God to relent, He can only relent in forbearance. Justice will ultimately be carried out. We creatures are on borrowed time from God and don't deserve yet one more breath.

The law of the Lord is perfect and exact. You can be sure that your sin will find you out. Every secret thing done in the cover of night, that you don't want your closest friend or worst enemy to know, will go before the Lord as if you did it while standing before Him. For you are always before Him. There is no where that you may go to hide from the presence of the Lord. His eyes go everywhere and see everything. Neither by any means can you convince God that you were really trying to be good, but your circumstances would not let you. There is no amount of good that you can do in order to please God or make up for your sins. God is perfect and we are sinful and wicked. Pure justice has no personal preferences and reaches far beyond outward manifestations of sin. We find that in Matthew chapter five, Jesus describes lusting as adultery and hatred as murder.

When I took the time to make sense of all of this with some teenagers in Butler the most interesting thing happened. They got it. They understood it better than most modern theologians. Let me explain. I know that I have run a lot of rabbit trails thus far, so I will try to keep it simple. I used the courtroom scenario in the following way:

Imagine that you are standing before a judge guilty of a serious crime. The judgment is one-million dollars or a life-time in prison. You don't have the money to pay, so the judge says, "Off you go then. Bailiff, cuff him and get him out of my sight!" All of a sudden a man enters the courtroom and offers to pay the fine on your behalf.
"Your honor. I have raised the money for this man's release. Here it is one-million dollars in the full. Will you accept the money on his behalf?"
The judge agrees and sets you free based on the fact that your fine has been paid and not based on anything that you have done.

I then took the time to explain that God in the flesh, Christ Jesus, paid our fine of death and damnation when He died and suffered under the wrath of God on the cross. Payment in full for sinning against a perfect, infinite God. I then asked if they knew how to get that payment accredited to their account. Then it happened. One of the young boys blurted out, "I can't! It' not my money!" I was taken back a bit but kept on going. I then gave them the command to repent and trust the Savior. They were grateful for the Word and so was I. It never hit me so hard as it did when that teenager had said it. But then it happened a second time about 30 minutes later with another teenager who said almost the same exact thing. God was taking me deeper. Not only did these kids need to hear from Him, but so did I.

It's not enough to say that we must repent in order to be saved, but the fact is that we will repent if we are being saved. I can stand at the bedside of a paraplegic and command him to walk, but nothing will happen. It would be absurd for me to say that if he wanted to be healed, then he needs to stand up. He cannot and will not because his body is completely unresponsive. And so it goes with conversion. We can call people to repentance but they are totally incapable of it unless a regenerative work is first started in their hearts. God does the first work that enables them to respond properly to the call. Without it, we are merely commanding dead men to stand up and walk. These boys got it and that night I too got it in a much deeper way.