A New CreatureBro. David Chancellor
3/28/2004 11:00 AM
And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
A discussion had come up about whether or not the Gentiles needed to keep the law like the Jews had. Peter shared with them his own experience of how the Gentiles had been saved.
Everyone needs salvation. There's no way around it. In verse 11, Peter points out that the keeping of the law didn't save the Jews. They had to be saved through God's grace, just like everyone else. Men can't be saved without God showing mercy on them. Parents can't raise children and the children be automatically saintly. There is a nature that comes through. They need salvation, too. Even "impossible cases" are reachable by God. God's grace is there for them, too.
What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Paul asks, "Are we better?" He says, "No." You can say people are wrong without hating them. All mankind is the same, Jew or not. Jews are no better than the Gentiles. A good upbringing doesn't make you a better person. Without the blood of Christ, you're still a sinner.
The Middle East situation has wicked men on both sides. Without Christ, this is how things are. After a person finds Christ, there is a difference. The grace of God makes people better because it makes a change in the heart and life. Has your heart been changed? It takes the grace of God to make the change.
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
John gave it to them straight. These thought they could just join the crowd. He told them to bring forth the proper fruits of repentance. You have to repent. It's not just a feeling. You have to admit that you're a sinner in need of God's grace. This realization has to happen. If someone is claiming salvation without acknowledging his sinful past, we should be concerned about that soul. It's not being added to some church. Without repentance, you'll not have things clear between you and God. Without repentance, we'll perish. We have to recognize our dependence on God's mercy. You have to realize you can't earn your way into heaven. You can't do enough to atone for the sinful life you've already lived. God will forgive, but we have to come the way of repentance. You have to confess and forsake your sins.
When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus had told them they needed to partake of him, and some were offended. Some wanted to go the way of the flesh. They wanted to work their way to heaven. It takes the blood of Christ to make it to heaven. Lineage won't get you there; it's the gift of God that makes the difference. The rich young ruler knew it took more than works. Any religion that leaves you in your sins won't help your soul. Christ brought something that would change the man.
Our standing with God isn't up to us in the regard that we can't choose the time and place when we get saved. You deal with God as he shows you mercy. Thinking that you can come when you get ready is showing disrespect for God. When God speaks, we should listen. It's the greatest honor there is. Realize the honor it is. Don't treat it lightly.
There's nothing we can do. God offers us a gift. We should feel honored that he speaks to us. Naaman wanted to do the hard, grand, challenging thing - not the simple thing - to get his cleansing. Respond when God speaks.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Our testimony should emphasize the mercy and love of God. " and that not of yourself" It's the gift of God. God accepted us because of his love and mercy to us. Our part is to put faith in his grace. This doesn't say that there are no works in the saved life. Our salvation brings good works. God's grace forgives sin, but it also helps us to walk in a different way. We become a new creature; one who will do good and right things. If you're dong evil and wicked things, you're not a new creature. There is a change that happens. God changes us and we become a different person. God wants us to live a pure, obedient life that seeks to please him. God provided a way for us in his gift to us. We can be saved through his grace and mercy.