Back to the basics. We all know it’s where we should start when things seem kind of crazy or we seem kind of lost. So, to kick off the year, we’re going to do a series on the basics of what we believe as Christians. The hope is to strengthen you to Go. Do. Be.
No one we know will get into heaven just
by being nice.
SIN AND GRACE
Why are sin and grace important? We all talk about each but we tend to speak about both lightly. Sometimes I wish we could use other words to spark our hearts as we have grown a little callous to the brilliant basics of our faith. In Romans, Paul takes us through our foundation with two main items we need to be crystal clear on for starting at ground zero.
“for ALL have sinned and fall short of theRomans 3:23.
glory of God”
ALL HAVE SINNED, ALL CAN RECEIVE GRACE
As individuals, in order to understand our need for Christ, we must recognize who we truly are. Truly, who all of us are is the real bottom of the stack. The Bible is painfully clear, “for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. Regardless of how many times we say it, the verse simply doesn’t resonate with some.
NONE of us deserve to go to heaven. There is no shortcut here. If you are alive, you have sinned. Somehow. Regardless of how—without Jesus Christ, you will not see heaven when you die. There’s no “Oh, he was a good person. He didn’t follow Jesus, but I’m sure he’s in a better place.” The Bible is very clear. For many, we want to believe something better than reality, because it troubles us to think God would punish people so harshly. Funny enough, we all want justice when someone wrongs us, but for some reason, we do not seem to think God deserves that same justice.
Without Christ, we are all destined for an eternity apart from God, apart from all things good, apart from love, apart from happiness. All things. The Bible calls this place hell. It’s tough to read. We don’t like to believe it. We think for some reason that our God is so kind that He just wouldn’t let this happen. However, it’s critically important to understanding the whole basis of the Christian faith. We all deserve separation from God. No one we know will be get into heaven just by being nice. The only ticket through those pearly gates is salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s not up for debate across the Christian denominations. “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6.
Let’s break it down further in a quick history synopsis. God made Adam and Eve without sin. He only forbade one thing…the thing they decided to do. As such, sin was born into the world and every human being was born into sin, as we originated from Adam. Through one man sin was born and passed to every generation. Your nice neighbor, your everyday criminal—all born into the same status–sinful. The degrees of separation from God are not set on how far apart you are from Him. Regardless of the distance, it’s one solution for all. The consequences of the sins might play out differently in our lives, but our status is either FORGIVEN or NOT FORGIVEN.
Fast forward. Jesus dies on the cross. A sinless man, born of the Holy Spirit and MARY, sacrificed himself for us and was raised again to life. This sacrifice paid the price for the sin that started with Adam. Jesus was buried and rose again on the third day. He was the sacrifice. We, as Christians, have accepted that payment. Freely given. Freely received. As such, we are now born a second time through Jesus Christ. Thus, the term “born again.”
If someone does not accept Christ that person will not be entering into any kind of heaven. (and no, there aren’t multiple heavens. Just one.). They have only been born once—into sin. Being born again is incredibly critical once you understand where sin started in the human race. Sadly, if we are born, we cannot avoid being a sinner. If we don’t accept Christ as our savior, our punishment and the justice served is to spend eternity separated from God (Hell).
Once you understand the destination set at birth for everyone (as we all know we have sinned at least once in line with our sinful ancestry), then it really evokes two big thoughts:
How do I avoid this punishment and how do I tell others?
When we truly understand our status without Jesus, that’s where grace rings truest. It’s a gift we are offered that we do not deserve. This is where we see God’s issuance of judgment with the gift of the payment.
It’s justice wrapped in complete love.
Grace is also where we see God’s amazing love for us. “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.
The Bible makes grace very clear—it’s not something you earn, but it is a gift from God. It’s not about how many little old ladies you have walked across the street. It’s not about how many you haven’t (although we can talk about how faith generates action later this year!). It’s simply about accepting what God has done for you. You were a sinner. You deserved punishment. Hell. Jesus died on the cross. He was raised on the third day. He paid a debt only He was fit to pay for us. Part one–we all deserve to be punished. Part two–the grace God extends to us is He provided the payment for that sin. Both just AND loving.
For the record, that’s exactly why we’re called to GO. (Matthew 28:19). If we understand who we are (sinners) and we understand we deserve Hell (justice for sin), then our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude for the grace God showed us by sending Jesus to pay the price for us. This position of a grace saved grateful Christian paired with our love for our family and friends should motivate us to share with them the same AMAZING grace we have already received. I’m baffled at how lulled into sleep we can be when it comes to sharing Christ with others. Once we realize where we were, what we deserved, and where we were headed before someone shared Christ with us—how do we look anyone in the eye without wanting to help set them free as well?
So returning to this CORE belief of sin and grace is where we start. We simply need reminded of where we were before Jesus and his AMAZING GRACE that made us right with God. I would challenge you to spend some time in prayer and reflection with God on these really heavy concepts. They are paramount to living a life worthy of our Lord and Savior. They could also be the foundation you need to build an incredible ministry in your life for Christ. If you know what you deserved… if you know what He did for you… how can you NOT share it with others? If by chance you are reading this article and you find yourself KNOWING you are sinful and wanting to accept God’s grace, I simply invite you to pray this prayer: God, I am sitting here understanding who I am and what I deserve. I’m in awe of your grace through your son Jesus Christ. You sent Him to die on the cross for my sinful self. I ask you to forgive me of my sins and I accept the gift of salvation from you through Jesus. It’s in your son Jesus’ holy name I pray, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, we welcome you to head to our website for information on what to do next to start following Jesus. Being forgiven is step one. Getting involved in a church/Bible Study is really step 2.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.