Grace or Disgrace - Part 3

Scripture: Matthew 10:16-21, Romans 5:12, Romans 6:23
This talk continues a discussion on law and grace in the Bible. The most important question we can ask is, 'What must I do to be saved?' Jesus has given us a clear answer. We must keep God's commandments, but because we are sinners, we must have the grace of God received through faith into the heart.
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Today we continue discussing one of the most important subjects in all the world, law and grace. I believe the most important question in the world is found in Matthew 10:16. A rich young man came to Jesus. Looking at Him, he asked, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" I don't know anything more important than that, do you? What can I do to be saved? How can I be sure of having everlasting life? I don't believe there is a more important question for anyone. A banker can ask no other more important question, for he must someday stand before God in the great judgment. He should be crying out, "What must I do to be saved?" To the student in college there is no other question so important to ask. Nothing on the examination paper at the end of the term even begins to mean as much as that one supreme question, What can I do to be saved?

It makes no difference what an individual may be doing in this life, the one supreme question remains, What can I do that I may have eternal life? Remember, student: every one must one day sit for the final examination, and God has already entrusted us with the questions. He has already given us the information necessary that we may one day sit for that great final exam. Isn't that the one important thing in life? How to be sure of eternal life. The young man in Matthew 10:16 asked a very fair question, and Jesus gave him a wonderful answer. It is so clear and simple. Verse 17, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." That's the first point.

Then almost flippantly the young man countered, "Oh, I've done that ever since I was a child. I was brought up that way. Mother was a church member."

"But that's not enough."

"What more, Lord, what more? I've followed the letter of the law!" You see, he didn't recognize his obligation to his neighbor.

The law of God is divided into two parts, half has to do with our connection with God, love the Lord with all thine heart. The other half has to do with our relationship with our fellowmen, love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man did not regard his neighbor as he should. He was avaricious. He was trying to get all he could out of life and didn't recognize his obligation to his fellow man. So Jesus touched him in a very sensitive spot. "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor." Verse 21. The rich young ruler began to tighten up and his face flushed. But the question of his property disposition was not really the main thing Jesus was after. Some people stop right there, and I've heard a good many preachers making quite a point of selling everything and giving it to the poor. I think it is good to give to the poor, and to give to the church, but I don't believe that is the primary lesson in this story. I believe what follows that is the primary point. "...and come and follow me." Now that is most important.

Whatever it is that stands between you and following Jesus, that's the thing He tells you to get rid of. If it's riches, get rid of them. If it's your social standing, forget about it for your soul's sake. If it's all the clubs you belong to, all the activities, that stand between you and a closer walk with your Saviour, then away with those things! Whatever it is, if your eye offend you, pluck it out; if your hand offend you, cut it off, Do anything necessary in order to be right with God. Let nothing stand between you and following your Saviour.

There are a good many individuals who allow loved ones, friends, or pleasures of the world to stand between them and following Christ. This matter of salvation can be boiled down very simply. If thou wilt enter into life 1) keep the commandments and 2) come and follow me. It's a matter of the two principles standing side by side. They are parallel and have been parallel right down through the ages. Salvation is conditional upon these two points, keeping the commandments of God and following Jesus.

It is unfortunate that many individuals, even Christians, have the mistaken opinion that salvation through Christ on Calvary applies only to those this side of the Cross. They seem to forget there are two arms to the Cross, one reaching toward the Old Testament and one reaching toward the New. The arms of the Cross extend to the whole wide world. Christ is the Saviour of the whole world, not just the Saviour of the Christians; He is the Saviour of the Jews; of the Gentiles; He is the one Lord of all, for the Bible plainly says, "There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12.

So then, Jesus is the one and only Saviour of this entire world. Don't forget it. People in Old Testament times had no other Saviour. He alone is the way to eternal life. You can see the larger import of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary in Revelation 13:8 where we're told that Jesus is the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." That, I believe, is a vitally important point. Christ was actually offered. His blood was given as a sacrifice. His life was offered as a guarantee way back at the beginning of the history of this world.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they were doomed to die. In Romans 5:12 we read, "Wherefore as by one man (that is, Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Let's continue with verse 18, "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." And in Romans 6:23 we find that "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

What did we inherit through Adam, life or death? Death, of course. It came upon all men through the sin of one. It says, "Death came upon all for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." And, "The wages of sin is death." But thank God that while sin came on all men through Adam, eternal life and justification also came through one, that is, through Jesus Christ on Calvary.

We were all doomed to die. Adam and Eve marred the pattern. God had given them the beautiful world as their home, the Garden of Eden. God intended that they should keep it pure, clean, and undefiled. He warned them of the sophistries of Satan and told them to beware of deceptions, and He cautioned them about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Oh, but Satan slipped in with his insidious suggestion that God wasn't really particular about little things. Over and over that dangerous attitude has been passed on. We still hear it suggested that such a God of love won't destroy men and women because they have broken just a little commandment. Adam and Eve were deceived on this point by the adversary in the Garden of Eden, and they took of the forbidden fruit, ate it, and the death sentence passed on them. "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Genesis 2:17. Satan expected that Adam and Eve would be killed that very day. He considered that his plans had really succeeded. Now Adam and Eve must die, and he would be the ruler of this world. It would be his home forever. He had gained it from Adam by deception and now he would be the prince of this world. So Satan thought. Adam was doomed to die. Before nightfall that evening, before the setting of the sun, we can picture the tragic scene in heaven as Jesus, the Son of God, steps before the Father. He pleads, "My Father, let Me bear the curse. Let Me die in Adam's stead." Jesus loved Adam dearly, for He had created him. They were like twin brothers in a sense, for Adam had been made in the likeness of Jesus Christ. He loved him with an everlasting love.

Yes, friends, although it is hard to believe, it is true that Jesus loved Adam more than He loved Himself. I don't know how that could be. He would rather die Himself, even an eternal death, if Adam could only have eternal life. That is real love, isn't it? Love that is willing to die in another's stead, to suffer the curse of eternal death if need be. Christ risked just that in giving His life. He stood before the Father and said, "Father, put the curse of sin upon me. I will bear the sentence of death for Adam. I will die in his stead." Yes, the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.

Let's read another text now in 2 Timothy 1:9. "(God) who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." There it is again. Jesus offered His life. The Father accepted His sacrifice. Think you that it was not a great struggle? I tell you, friends, that must have been a terrific struggle when the Father weighed it in the balance; to give up His own Son, to let Him come down to this rebel world, to suffer, to die at last in that ignominious manner. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.

Yes, four thousand years later God was to make good exactly what He promised Adam in the cool of that day in the Garden of Eden. That fateful day Jesus bade His Father good-bye. He came down to this world enshrouded in a dark cloud of sin. He came walking in the Garden as He did so often with Adam. "Adam, Adam, where art thou?" Adam was hiding in the shadows, filled with terror. He thought the hour of death had come, because the death sentence had been pronounced. "In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." He thought, "Now I'll have to die." He thought Jesus had come to execute him.

Oh, friends, we have a wonderful Saviour, don't we? He came to save Adam. When Jesus saw Adam standing there in his impurity, He called to an animal. The animal came in obedience to His voice. See Adam as he watches the awful sight as the sacrifice is made and the blood is shed. From the skin of this animal which had done no wrong, clothes are fashioned to cover his own lack. My friends, only then did Adam begin to see how terrible, how fearful, how deadly are the results of sin. "The wages of sin is death." Adam was seeing death for the first time in order that his own nakedness might be covered. In order that Adam might live, someone else must live his life that very day. Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, who is the Lamb slain from the very foundation of this world.

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