Bible Lesson 118

FACING UP TO CHRISTIAN REALITY

‘The Just shall live by Faith.’ Romans 1:17

‘Christianity began in Israel, as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When it went to Athens, it became a philosophy, when it went to Rome it became an organization, when it went to Europe it became a culture, when it came to America it became a business.’

That’s where we find ourselves today in our so-called Christianity; it is neither a personal relationship with Jesus Christ nor a philosophy. Neither is it an organization or culture, it is as much a business as Wal-Mart is a business. Further, it is not established for the purpose that God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, established it to be. Perhaps we need to speak the absolute truth about our subject here on the front end of this lesson and say outright that the visible church today is in business for itself and Christ’s purposes may be more an item that it deals with along with the multitude of other services it sells.

There may be many who will be angered that I would speak these words, but I truly believe that the visible church, which chooses to call itself the representative of Christ on the earth, is not meeting the demands of the Bible. That does not mean that God does not have a church here on the earth, it simply means that many of the people who inhabit the pews of the visible church are not the children of God. God’s church consists of those who meet the specifications of the original early church, those who have a real personal relationship with Jesus Christ, those who live by faith.

We used Romans 1:17b as our scriptural text for this lesson and it would be good for us to closely examine that scripture since it sets the foundation for what we will prove in this lesson. The Just shall live by faith. Short, concise, and pregnant with meaning which most of us never comprehend. We cannot act on scripture that we do not comprehend, so let’s go to the trouble and make the effort to understand what ‘The just shall live by faith’ means. The first word there is ‘The’ and that may sound like it is something that anyone would understand but to make sure we are all reading off the same page, let’s understand every word of ‘The just shall live by faith’.

The ‘The’ there means those and only those who are just. And Just there means righteous, and that can only mean those who have been justified or accounted just by their God-given faith. The just here are people who have experienced the call of God on their lives and have been reborn as new creatures in Christ and are obedient to Christ and His commandments (Romans 8:28-29; Romans 5:1-5; Ephesians 2:10;

2nd Corinthians 5:17; John 14:21-24). Only the people who have had the hand of God in the New birth spoken of in John 3:3, 5, and are new creatures in Christ are Just, and there are no others. They just are not necessarily all those who are church members or even those whose lives seem good to us if we measure them by other humans. Good men will spill over the limits of hell; because good, at least in the way we measure good, has never been good enough for God.

Only those who are being conformed to the image of Christ are just, or righteous. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to those who are seen as just in the eyes of God (Romans 4:11). Impute means to reckon or to take into account, so we understand that we are just or righteous, only because God has imputed the righteousness of Christ to us. We could never attain it on our own or deserve it because of who or what we were, it is placed on us by God because we have exercised the faith that God gave us (Ephesians 2:8-9). We now understand that ‘The’ means those, and only those, who are just, or righteous, because God has imputed the righteousness of Christ to them.

Now that’s two of the words that we find in Romans 1:17b, which we can understand correctly. The next word there is ‘shall’ and shall mean doing or being something, and the shall in our text means that we will be about living by our faith or the way our faith leads us to live. We were everyone, born in the flesh, dead to God without any way to commune with Him hence we without everlasting life. By giving us the gift of grace and faith, God allows us to live righteous lives by faith. Only those who know the Father through faith in His One and Only Son Jesus Christ are alive. Those who do not know Him will suffer eternal death and that will take place in the flames and torments of hell.

So now we are in a better position to understand what Romans 1:17b is saying to us. We now know that those who have received the gift of Faith from God and been born again and imputed the righteousness of Christ, stand just before God; and they will live each day in the light of Christ as they glorify God by the way they live. We know that to be true because the scripture tells us that they will live by faith and faith means that we believe something so strongly that it causes us to act according to it.

We have faith in the Word of God and we live by its precepts and commandments because we trust the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Christians live as Christ lived and we know how He lived and what He said and did by reading and comprehending what the Bible says to us. The true Christian has his mindset upon obedience to the one who loved him and gave his life for Him (Galatians 2:20). We are not the same creature that was born into this world, dead to God.

We are now alive to God and in tune with His Creation and we are led by The Holy Spirit of God. We look the same with the exception that we now manifest the dying of Christ as we live each day by witnessing to His Presence and Power. In that old creature that was born of the flesh, sin reigned in death, but now grace reigns through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:21).

Now, the question becomes, can you fit that mold of the Just’ Are you righteous in the eyes of God and will you be able to stand in the judgment’ (Psalms 1:5). That is the question for our time! The question is not so much, who will be elected President, or who will be next Senator from your state, although those are questions that should be asked; but we have a pressing question about the souls of men who are dying and going to hell. That question is occasioned by the present state of the visible church. We can live over the elections (we may regret our choices) but we cannot live over going to hell for eternity.

Over 2000 years ago, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ set down a living will for those who would inherit heaven, and we call that will the Holy, Inerrant, Word of God, the Bible. Do you know what Christ put in that book for you’ I’m not asking what good old brother so and so said it said; I am asking you what God revealed to you as you read it, studied it, prayed over, and desired to know. Most cannot answer that question because we are a Biblically illiterate people. Now I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings but we have to be real and love one enough to be honest if we want to do any good in our preaching and teaching. The visible church of our day is not getting the job done, and in fact, it is part and parcel of the problem.

If the visible church was doing its job there would be fewer buildings and more righteousness in our communities. Without equivocation, I tell you that if every pastor in your community, including yours, would stand in the pulpit and preach and apply the real gospel to his congregants that most of the people would not go back next Sunday.

People have become so accustomed to hearing sermons which skirt the gospel, sermons that are liberal with jokes and nonessentials, sermons that have been tailored to appeal to and be acceptable to sinners that sermons don’t mean much anymore. Why do you think that kind of attitude exists in the church of our day’ It is because we are the kind of people that we are. We have been trained by the visible church, which we said before is more a business than it is the body of Christ, and it operates toward budgets, church attendance, relevance in its community, and some kind of grudging unity of its people.

Because a business depends upon customers, the visible church has had to tailor the gospel to fit its material needs. Now we have churches whose prime concern is ‘Nickels and Noses’ or people in the pews and the amount of offering and tithes that they give. We have left the Lord just as surely as that multitude in John Chapter 6, when Jesus preached that hard sermon that spoke to His disciples having to submit and surrender to Him (eat His body and drink His blood), they knew that He was not talking about cannibalism, but about devotion and they left Him and never followed Him again. I would ask you to read that chapter of John and see that Jesus Christ did not offer to change that message that He had preached, or beg those who left to come back. Instead, He turned to the twelve disciples and said, ‘Do you also want to go away”

We need to take much away from that statement, first, it doesn’t matter that the truth does not sit well with many, or even most. Second, the message, like the Savior, is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Third, the Savior requires our uninhibited, dedicated service, and obedience (Luke 14:26-32). Fourth, Christianity is not for dummies (Romans 10:17; Titus 2:11-15). Cowper once said of the churches apostasy, ‘When any turn from Zion’s way, (Alas, what numbers do!) Methinks I hear my Savior say, ‘Wilt thou forsake me too” We understand and identify churches with denominations and their congregations and it would seem, at least to me that we have very few that would fit the description of the early church, which had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

We tend more to the business of the church and all the worldly attributes that we have attached to it. I would ask that you stop and remember the various Sundays that you have attended church recently. Think about what went on and what exactly transpired. Wasn’t it pretty much the same, you heard a sermon, you listened but were not expected to respond, so I would call that a lecture, not a sermon. Everything went according to the clock and to tradition, and you left at approximately the same time every Sunday, without much to meditate upon or to do during the week except to brace for the same kind of thing next Sunday.

Is that real church’ Whatever happened to Pastors who were men enough to defend their sermons’ Whatever happened to the voices of laymen who sat in the pews and perhaps had a question of who had something of spiritual value to offer the group’ Whatever happened to seek the Holy Spirits input to our services’ Whatever happened to God taking over service and changing the prepared sermon for a message from God’ Whatever happened to the personal interaction between the preacher and his congregants’ Ask yourself, does your pastor know exactly what you believe about certain doctrines’ He should know what you believe about different doctrines so that you and he can always agree with the Bible.

It has been my experience that there is much disagreement in most of the churches that I know about. We need to talk about those disagreements; because whenever there is a disagreement, at least about doctrines it is evidence that one or the other needs lighter. Frankly, I believe that the visible church as a whole needs to give up their programs and leave themselves enough time and room to go back to the basics of Christianity. By that I mean, go back to knowing what the Lord means in His Word, the Bible. We need a lesson in reading the Bible for light, rather than reading it to say that we have read it. When the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the only way to God the Father, we need to know that it means exactly what it says.

There is too much made of ‘off the wall’ kinds of thinking. We have people questioning and offering up commentary on the Bible who do not know God nor His Word. Think about this we are saved by faith, and we are to live by faith but do we understand faith’ Most people that I know today do not understand that faith is a gift from God; and that means that unless God has begun the work of Salvation in a person, they do not have any faith. Oh, yes, we all talk about faith and sing about faith, but faith belongs to God and only God can give that gift to us, by His grace.

So many today want to pit faith against works and that is not possible because a faith that saves is a faith that behaves the way the Lord intended it to behave, and that is that we do those good works that God before intended that we should (Ephesians 2:10). Others believe that God will not judge sinners and send them to an eternal hell, perhaps they believe that God is too nice to do that but if that is your mindset, let me refer you to Matthew 25:31-46; and Revelations 20:11-15. Many people who are church members really will argue with you that Jesus Christ died for everybody and that Jesus and the Father love everyone despite their sin. If you believe that fairytale let me refer you to Hebrews 5:8-9; and John 14:21-24.

The prevailing thought is we have come a long way since the Bible was written and we live in a different time so we need to see the Bible like the current administration in Washington sees the Constitution, as a living document that speaks different things to different people at different times. Hear me well now, the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind, and it will never change and God warns those of us who would presume to change the slightest thing about His Word (Psalms 119:89; 1st Peter 1:23; Matthew 24:35).

Those who dare to update, revise, misconstrue, or use the Word for their purposes will stand to inherit hell at its hottest. We can lead people away from God but you will never cause God to lose any that He had eternally meant to save. We simply compound our judgment if we do not speak the Word and apply it to people exactly like God said it and meant it. The modern, up-to-date, church of our time doesn’t like repentance and so we rarely hear it preached as a necessary part of our salvation experience, but think about this, salvation belongs to the Lord and it is all of the Lord and He requires us to repent or perish (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; and Luke 13:3).

This modern and down and dirty religion that we practice in our day equates being saved to our walking the aisle in one of the denominational or nondenominational churches, shaking the preacher’s hand and saying that we are professing Jesus; and that has nothing to do with salvation. Joining a church makes you a church member, having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and His living through us makes us a Christian. We like to witness by going to people and telling them about Jesus and then attempting to get them to pray a prayer after us, and then we assure them that they are saved. Even Jesus did not do that and He very well could have. Only the Holy Spirit can assure any person that they are saved. We can tell if they are saved by watching them live for a while and testing their fruit (Matthew 7:16-20). I believe that Nicodemus thought he had right standing with God, after all, he was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, but notice how Jesus Christ dealt with Him. He simply told Him the truth, Christ dealt with Nicodemus as an unbeliever who could not even see the kingdom of heaven, (John 3:1-15.).

We need to stop and look around us and wakeup to the fact that unless we are born again and on that narrow path that follows Jesus, we are bound for condemnation. I believe that we are already in that time that the Apostle Paul wrote about, under the inspiration of God, where he tells us that ‘In the last days perilous times will come: for men shall be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good. Traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

We live in such a day right now, today. We are awash in people who have a form of godliness but deny its power (both in word and deed). We have something that looks like religion but it has no reality. Christianity has reality and its reality is the highest and glorious God of Creation. The reason that we have a form of godliness but no reality is that the visible church set the Word of God, and the God of the Word aside and began to preach a gospel that is no gospel at all. We found a new god and that god fits our desires to a tee! We found that since we had so many churches and so many people that we needed to save everyone. That is not a bad goal, and we are to preach the gospel to every creature; however, we do not have a warrant to save anyone.

It is our job to ‘Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching’ (2nd Timothy 4:1-5). That is all that God commanded us to do; the saving of souls is His purview’.we plant and water but God reaps the harvest. It seems that somewhere along the line the church got confused and, wanting to save everyone, and seeing that God takes His time in salvation, we just moved God over and took over his job. That has destroyed the visible church because only God can save and we now have churches that are awash with those unwashed by the blood of Jesus Christ. We have many who have been convicted but they have not been converted because that requires a work of God.

If that doesn’t convince us that we need to go back to our first love (Christ) and begin to ‘Study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed’, it may be too late!

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob