Friday, April 4, 2014

Galatians 6:14-18 Boasting in the cross

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God. 

From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen. (Galatians 6:14-18 NIV)

“Are you saved?” That question used to really tick me off! Even as a new believer. I found it exclusive, and, therefore, offensive. I thought it sounded like, “Are you in our special, members-only club?” But if a Christian is “boasting” about being saved, they are NOT boasting in themselves, but in the cross of Christ. We did NOTHING to deserve salvation, as the Bible makes abundantly clear:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

    each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6 NIV) 

All of us have become like one who is unclean,

    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

we all shrivel up like a leaf,

    and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NIV)

 “No one is righteous—

    not even one.   
No one is truly wise;

    no one is seeking God.   
All have turned away;

    all have become useless.

No one does good,

    not a single one.” (Romans 3:10-12 NLT)

That’s the bad news. And as my pastor, J.P. Jones always says, “You’ve gotta know the bad news before you know the good news.” What’s the good news? God sent His Son, Jesus to die in our place that we might be saved by believing in Him and the finished work of the cross. He saved us by grace. 

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  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 2:4-9)

Yesterday I was listening to Christian talk radio while driving to a meeting and heard a woman ask Greg Laurie how to answer the questions a friend had asked her. Her friend thought it was not fair that God would allow someone to live a life full of sin and self-indulgence, and then on his death bed receive Christ and still go to heaven. She just thought that could not be fair. If a Christian lives his entire life trusting and following God, how is that fair that someone gets to go to heaven at the eleventh hour???

Of course, I was in my car shouting the answer immediately, but I loved what Greg Laurie had to say about it. He immediately refuted the premise of her question by saying that deathbed confessions are more rare than people imagine. Someone who has lived their entire life turning away from God, has a hardened heart that is most likely NOT going to change at the last minute. However, because God is such a gracious and merciful God, sometimes that happens. He spoke about the thief on the cross, who was told, when he asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into His kingdom, “Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise.”

Then Greg reminded the woman that what we DON’T want from God is “fair!” Because, if we were to get what is fair or required by justice, it would be the eternal death penalty! He explained the old definitions of justice, mercy, and grace.

Justice is getting what we deserve.

Mercy is NOT getting what we deserve.

Grace is getting what we DON’T deserve!

I’ll take grace every day! I can’t boast in myself or what I have done, but I will gladly boast in the cross of Christ - because that is where my salvation was accomplished and my eternal destiny determined. Thank you, LORD!!!  

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