" For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
In “the gospel of the grace of God” we find a striking paradox: God Himself condemning the righteous and justifying the wicked; forsaking the perfect and helping evildoers.
How can all this be right? The answer is that the One who died in agony and disgrace at Calvary was God Himself, manifested in the flesh. There, at Calvary, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (II Cor. 5:19). It was the Judge Himself, stepping down from the throne to the cross to represent the sinner and pay for him the full penalty of his sins.
And who will say this is injustice? Injustice? It is perfect justice and more. It is grace!(Bereanbiblesociety.org)
Now, on with the blog.
We had just finished breakfast, and I was about to shove off to work when it happened. I walked into my daughter's room to kiss her goodbye. I couldn't believe my eyes. Her entire room was a complete disaster, the likes of which I had never experienced before in all my days.
Clothes strewed all over her bed, both dirty and clean. Her muddy soccer shoes sitting on the dresser. Her last night's bedtime snack leftovers on the floor by the bed. And the list could go on and on, but you get my drift, I'm sure.
"Young lady, you come here immediately. Your room is nothing short of a war zone. I want it all cleaned up by the time I get home tonight. By the way, what made you do this, anyway?" I demanded.
"Well, Dad, it's like you often say, the Devil made me do it," she replied.
What could I say? She clearly had me there. So, off to work I went.
Now for a relaxing drive to the office, but my troubles didn't stop there. Apparently by some divine action, I must have dozed off for just a spell sitting there in my work parking lot. I was carried off into another of my dream world adventures.
I suddenly found myself walking down an isolated, lonely road blanketed in a heavy fog. In the distance through the shadows and fog appeared a most elaborate church setting. There in the wilderness, well lit, was a colossal cathedral that seemed to reach upward into the sky, and far above the fog. As if by divine guidance, and my curious nature getting the better of me, I hastened my walk and entered this place of worship.
What I found then was nothing short of amazing. It was a preacher, but not just any preacher, but one of the Old Time Religion variety. He was standing there in the doorway, as if waiting solely for my arrival.
"May I help you, my son?" he asked.
'Well, I'm not sure where am I and what's with this big flashing marquee announcing next Sunday's sermon topic of Sin versus Grace?" I responded.
"You see my son, we are living in very troublesome times. Sin has seemed to progressively evolve within every aspect of our society. Civilization has just gone amuck. Many of my parishioners have asked for a solution. And the only viable solution, of course, is the Word of God," he explained.
Then, as if to prove his point, he took an old ragged, worn out New Testament from beneath his big, black coat and began reading (Romans 5:20).
"You see my son, God's free grace, through the finished work of Christ on the cross, is always sufficient to cover all our human sin and bring us into His righteousness, to eternal life. We must not look on sin as defeating us, but His grace as overcoming all evil," he went on.
"The world's current attitude, with its progressive secular approach, is now being used to tear down the everlasting concepts of Christianity. We are fighting an unseen war of supernatural proportions. (Ephesians 6:12) We must not let evil win, not in our lives nor our churches. That's why the desperate need of my upcoming Sunday sermon."
"Go back and read why the first church was so 'right on' as they say. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:41-47)
If only we had that same attitude today. there would be no need for my upcoming sermon," he concluded.
"Wow, you are so right on pastor! I may just come back next Sunday and hear your 'right on' sermon," I exclaimed.
Looking around for his comment, however, I found him gone. For you see, just as quickly as I arrived, I left. In other words, I woke up to find myself sitting in the parking lot of my job, my clothing soaking wet.
The only thing I remembered was my dearest daughter's parting response to my reprimand. She had said, "The Devil made me do it."
Quickly driving home, I couldn't get to her room quick enough. And to my surprise, I found her sound asleep with her room in the utmost of tidiness. It was neat as a pin.
And lying on her bedside table was her open Bible, the one given to her for her Sunday school perfect attendance. Looking at her Bible, I couldn't help but notice evidence of some dried up tears upon a well highlighted Bible verse.
"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward." (Psalm 127:3)
And you guessed it, my tear flow matched hers, as well.
Tiptoeing from her room, I was driven to whisper a simple prayer, "Thank you, Lord, for family. And thank you for forgiveness." (I John 1:8-9) Amen!
Our church pastor, being a man of the Word, has issued a challenge to us parishioners. Each month he will designate a certain Bible book to be read chapter by chapter during the month. We started with the book of John, then Genesis and now this month we are in the book of Romans.
The book of Romans just happens to be one of my favorites. According to Martin Luther (author of the famous Ninety-five Theses, emphasizing justification by grace, and not of works, which he nailed on the door of the Catholic Church of Wittenberg in protest against the Roman Catholic Church) he believed that the test of maturity of any believer or any church, was their understanding of Paul's letter to the Romans.
My thanks to our dedicated pastor, for choosing this book as our monthly Bible study.
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