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Many of the visitors to Dean’s Garage are designers. Designers understand the difficulties involved in identifying problems and creating solutions. Cars used to be designed on paper and in clay, mediums easy to change. Now cars and products are designed using computers. Why? Because it greatly speeds up the process of trying to get it right. Which is never achieved.
If we consider life and the cosmos even superficially, which is far more complex than anything we can imagine, the evidence of design is obvious. If there is a Designer, then we are the product of His creation. His character qualities are revealed in His designs. However, we cannot understand God or what He wants of us by staring at the stars. How could we?
Everybody has a notion that we are somehow accountable. But God didn’t leave us adrift to invent some weird process by which we delude ourselves into thinking that we can be accepted by God. He provided us with what we need to understand in the Bible. It states clearly what arrangement God has created to make a relationship with Him possible. And the Bible is crystal clear as to the consequences of just going though life, ignoring God, and dying without Him.
God is a God of justice.
God created us with a free will to choose. Even if we seek God, there is an obstacle that must be overcome before God can accept us. The obstacle is called sin in the Bible.
There are several important things about sin that we need to understand.
We have a sin nature from day one. The problem that we have with sin is inherent (Romans 5:12).
There is a terrible consequence if our natural body dies and we are still in our sinful condition. The Bible states that we will also die spiritually. That means that for all of eternity we will be in some other place than where God is. God’s law is on the books and it won’t go away. God is a God of justice, and He cannot sweep our sin under the rug. (Hebrews 9:27 , Romans 6:23)
What is sin?
The word sin conjures up all kinds of things in our minds. However, the word simply means missing the mark. Imagine you are given a bow and a quiver of arrows. There is a target with two rings drawn on it. The inner ring states “Love the Lord God with all of your heart, soul, and mind.” The outer ring states “Love your neighbor as yourself.” At the end of the day God comes around to see how you’ve done. Not only are there no arrows in the target, but despite your best effort, all of the arrows fell far short of even reaching the target. (Matthew 22:36–40, Romans 3:23)
There are two possible responses to your miserable performance. The first is the most common. “Well, I’ll try again tomorrow,” or “I’ll join a church or organization that claims to know how to do this,” or “I’ll work on getting my act together, drop bad habits, be nicer to people.”
The second response is far different. “Lord, I have been trying very hard to meet your standards by my own efforts, and I just can’t do it. I need Your help (Hebrews 11:6).”
God created us with a free will. And man made his choice long ago. Rebellion (another way to define sin). As a result, we are born living for ourselves and ignoring God. He knew that we would choose to live for ourselves and reject Him. So He invented a solution, in what I call a contract. In the terms of His contract is contained how to have right relationship with Him even though we are all in a state of rebellion. This contact is strictly a “yes, I’m in,” or “no, thank you,” affair. (Genesis 3, John 3:18, Romans 5:8)
God is a God of Mercy
God is a God of justice. But He is also a God of mercy.
His contract has no pre-qualifying conditions (like trying to be good), and after acceptance we have no actions to perform to keep the contract in effect. That makes sense. We can’t do anything on our own to gain God’s acceptance. God offers us salvation as a gift. So how could we do anything to lose it? (Romans 6:23)
The reason that there are no pre-qualifying conditions is that we’d never be able to meet them if there were. Remember the target analogy. Maybe your archery skills are better than mine, and your arrows got closer to the target. But the standard is a bullseye. How close we could get is not the goal. So, how good would you have to make yourself to be accepted by God? Would pretty good cut it? No. You’d have to be perfect, and we and we are all the exact opposite. It’s an impossible situation. (Matthew 5:48)
In the world in which we live our acceptance in society for the most part is based on performance and accomplishment. But our acceptability to God is not based on our performance. It is based on His promise and guaranteed by His character.
So what is in this Contract?
The Bible states that what makes us us will not die, but will exist perpetually. If we reject the contract, then after physical death we don’t exist where God is. This is called eternal death.
However, if we accept the terms of the contract, then we are recipients of the benefits without any effort on our part (well, there is one thing we have to do). God’s character guarantees that He will fulfill His end of the bargain without our help.
The Bible states that when we accept his terms of the contract, God declares us righteous. He doesn’t make us righteous. (That’s why Christians’ behavior is often inconsistent.)
Accepting His contract means that we inherit eternal life after physical death.
We have everything to gain by accepting His terms, and everything to lose if we don’t. But the choice is left to us.
How can God’s justice and mercy both be satisfied?
The contract is legally binding. To review, the Bible states that the ultimate consequences of rebellion is death (called the law of sin and death). Death means eternal separation from God. We are in this rebellious condition from day one. God is a righteous judge. That means He can’t just ignore his own law. His law must be satisfied, just like the laws of the land are upheld in a court of law, and the lawbreaker is sentenced. But God invented a way for us to escape our impossible predicament. Because He loves us. He provided an acceptable substitute that can satisfy the conditions of the law for me. Jesus died in my place. He was a substitute for me to satisfy God’s law. I don’t think anybody really understands how this works, but it seems like a good deal to me. (Romans 5:8)
This substitution is not a trivial thing. Understand that the consequence of rebelling against an infinite and loving Creator is also infinite. For Jesus to have died in our place, He, being God, paid an infinite price. That’s why our efforts to appease God on our own are of no consequence as compared to the actions of Jesus. And that also explains why our efforts to gain or maintain salvation is such an offense to God. It reduces the value of what Jesus did.
So the sin barrier that stood in the way between myself and God’s has been eliminated by the substitution by God Himself in my place. There is only one thing that I have to do to be in a right relationship with God. And that is to accept His terms of the contract. It has nothing to do with blind faith. Acceptance of the contract means agreeing with His terms as stated in the Bible and trusting that God will fulfill His promise. (John 5:24)
Simply stated, accepting his terms means telling Him that: I have been in sin against God because I have not trusted in His Word (the Bible). I want to be in a right relationship with God. I accept what God states in His Bible as being true. I’m trusting in the words of the Bible which state that He loves me and accepts me. This is accomplished by directly talking to God (prayer); not going to a church, confessing anything to any man, or some ritual, or anything of the sort.
If there is one verse which sums up the contract, it’s this one.
John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Jesus is speaking. He is saying that anybody that hears His Word (words in the Bible), and believes on God (it’s on, not in; it’s not blind faith, but trusting God to keep his end of the bargain), is not on a course leading to eternal separation from God, but at that moment of trust has been made alive and will exist forever wherever God is.
Why not give up what you cannot possibly keep for something you cannot possibly lose?