A man dreams that he has gone to heaven. St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates. St. Peter says, ďhereís how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things youíve done and Iíll give you a certain amount of points for each item. When you reach 100, youíre in.
Okay the man says, I was married to same woman for 50 years, and I loved my children and took care of their every need. Thatís wonderful Says St. Peter......3 points.
Hmmm, Well, I attended church every Sunday, and supported it with my tithe and my talents.....Terrific St Peter said, one more point.
One point?....Okay I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for the homeless. How much is that worth?......Weíll give you two points for that.
This is crazy the man said, these are wonderful things that I have done, at this rate the only way Iíll get to heaven is by the grace of God!
Bingo! St. Peter says! 100 points! Come on in!............................................... Saved by grace alone!
Rom 3:19 GW We know that whatever is in Moses' Teachings applies to everyone under their influence, and no one can say a thing. The whole world is brought under the judgment of God.
Wait a minute! This doesnít seem fair. Why is the whole world brought under the judgement of God through Mosesí teaching, I thought that was a Jewish thing. If anyone is under the influence of Moses teaching it must be the Jew! Why do the Gentiles have to answer to Mosesí Law?
Well, as we pointed out in an earlier message from Romans, the teachings of Moses, or the Law, Are summed up in the Ten Commandments. These commandments are simply an outline form of the complete Law of God. In fact, Jesus came along and further reduced the outline to two commandments. Love God. Love your neighbor. But the entire Law, the entire rule book of the kingdom has been written on the hearts of all men. Gentile and Jew.
Itís all there, and we are all under its influence whether e like it or not, and one day we will all be held accountable to it. The whole world will be brought under the judgement of God. There will be no excuses. The savage in the deepest part of the jungle will not be able to say, ďWe have never heard of this thing called Mosesí Teachings (Godís Law!Ē)
Maybe, but it wonít matter, because Mosesí Teachings, the Law of God, has been written on their heart.
Granted, it has been dulled, by the neglect of preceding generations in their culture that chose to go their own way. It only takes one generation to lose it you know and this is becoming very evident in our country today. We have a whole generation of biblically ignorant people, young and old who do not know the first thing about the Word of God!
Not only is the Law obscured, but the promise of a Savior has also been lost, and again, ignorance will not be an excuse. The Promise was given to Adam and Eve, handed down to Noah, and shortly afterward people began to stray, and the promise forgotten. And if God hadnít given His Law to the Jews We would all be lost!
Some of those people in the far reaches of the earth are still paying the price for this negligence, doomed to eternity in hell unless someone responds to the great commission of Christ and brings the promise to them so they will have opportunity to receive it!
Some of your next door neighbors are also paying the price, maybe you are paying the price as no one has ever brought the saving Good News to your ears. Or perhaps it was brought to them and you, but you blew it away. Most Americans have a Bible somewhere in their house, but many have never opened it to discover the Good News of the way to eternal life!
This sad state of affairs is nothing new and listen to Jesus as He describes the lot of those who have His Word in their possession, but choose to ignore it.
Luk 16:20-31 GW There was also a beggar named Lazarus who was regularly brought to the gate of the rich man's house. (21) Lazarus would have eaten any scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Lazarus was covered with sores, and dogs would lick them. (22) "One day the beggar died, and the angels carried him to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. (23) He went to hell, where he was constantly tortured. As he looked up, in the distance he saw Abraham and Lazarus. (24) He yelled, 'Father Abraham! Have mercy on me! Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool off my tongue. I am suffering in this fire.' (25) "Abraham replied, 'Remember, my child, that you had a life filled with good times, while Lazarus' life was filled with misery. Now he has peace here, while you suffer. (26) Besides, a wide area separates us. People couldn't cross it in either direction even if they wanted to.' (27) "The rich man responded, 'Then I ask you, Father, to send Lazarus back to my father's home. (28) I have five brothers. He can warn them so that they won't end up in this place of torture.' (29) "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses' Teachings and the Prophets. Your brothers should listen to them!' (30) "The rich man replied, 'No, Father Abraham! If someone comes back to them from the dead, they will turn to God and change the way they think and act.' (31) "Abraham answered him, 'If they won't listen to Moses' Teachings and the Prophets, they won't be persuaded even if someone comes back to life.'"
The rich man and his brothers had Bibles, but they never opened them or payed attention to Mosesí teachings, they never put them into practice, and even if someone were to rise from the dead, they still wouldnít believe because they ignored Godís Word. They would pay with never-ending, eternal torture and suffering.
Well, Jesus rose from the dead, but His resurrection means nothing to so many because they have never read or heard the Word of God. Many, like that rich man, just so caught up in themselves and the world to really care what the Word of God says. Oh, the price they will pay unless they repent. Saving faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God!
All people have or have had access to the Law at one point in their history. Since this Law, the Bible contains all the rules of the kingdom, it would seem all we have to do is be model citizens, follow the Laws, and we will spend eternity in heaven right?......wrong! Well, not according to the next verse because it says:
(20) Not one person can have God's approval by following Moses' Teachings. Why? Because itís impossible. Somewhere along the line we will mess up!
Well for crying out loud, then why do we even have them? Why should we even bother to try and follow them? What eternal good are they? And Paul says,
ď Moses' Teachings show what sin is.Ē They show us our need for forgiveness.
Itís sort of like playing Bingo with my heart being the Bingo card. As I read or hear Godís Law being preached, the Holy Spirit calls out B-5, ďThou shalt not kill.Ē Well, I donít see that one on my card, but wait, Jesus said that if we just speak evil of someone we are guilty of murder. I guess I do have a B-5.
I-16, I-16, ďThou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain.Ē I guess I have let some swear words slip out. Iíll have to mark that one.
N32, N32, ďThou shalt have no other gods before Me.Ē ďDonít worry about that one God, I worship You and only you! Really? Youíve never put thing like sports, or TV, or money, or power ahead of Me? ,.... well, you get the point. Weíve all got marks on our Bingo card.
And the only bingo card that wins in this game of Bingo is the one that is absolutely blank, the one with no marks on it, the one with no sin. This is high stakes Bingo friend, a matter of eternal bliss or eternal torture, just ask Lazarus or the rich man.
One day we are going to have to stand before a holy God and He is going to look at our bingo card, (our heart) and if there is just one splotch on it, we will spend eternity in hell. Whether we want to admit it or not, we have splotches, we have a sin problem. And hereís the thing about problems. People react to them in different ways.
Some will just ignore the problem and pretend it isnít there, hoping it will go away. But it wonít. Sooner or later, the end comes for us all, and as the Bible says, ďit is appointed for man to die once and then the judgement. Then the look at the Bingo card.
This is why it is so important to preach the Law. Without the Law, knowledge of sin is hidden, but even though it is hidden from the sinner, their card is still marked whether they hear the Law or not. All that is changed in that situation is the card is still smudged, but the poor soul doesnít know it or denies it, and he or she will be in for a rude awakening on the final day.
Some react violently to the messenger calling out the sins. This happened to Stephen as he called out B-5 ďThou shalt not murderĒ to the Pharisees.
Act 7:51-58 GW "How stubborn can you be? How can you be so heartless and disobedient? You're just like your ancestors. They always opposed the Holy Spirit, and so do you! (52) Was there ever a prophet your ancestors didn't persecute? They killed those who predicted that a man with God's approval would come. You have now become the people who betrayed and murdered that man.
(53) You are the people who received Moses' Teachings, which were put into effect by angels. But you haven't obeyed those teachings." (54) As council members listened to Stephen, they became noticeably furious. (55) But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked into heaven, saw God's glory, and Jesus in the position of authority that God gives. (56) So Stephen said, "Look, I see heaven opened and the Son of Man in the position of authority that God has given him!" (57) But the council members shouted and refused to listen. Then they rushed at Stephen with one purpose in mind, (58) and after they had thrown him out of the city, they began to stone him to death.
Their logic seems to be, no messenger...no message, but again, the lack of message doesnít change the fact that their hearts are stained with sin.
Some, when confronted with their sin problem will seek help. These are the ones who react like the crowd reacted to Peter on the Day of Pentecost. Cut to the heart by B-5, ďthou shalt not murder.Ē They pleaded, ďWhat shall we do?Ē And Peter gave them the solution.
Repent! That is, think differently about this Jesus whom you have murdered. He was not the blasphemer you thought HE was. He was not just a miracle worker, not just a good teacher, He was the sinless Son of God. Who was sent here by the Father to take care of your blemished bingo card!
What does this mean for you and me though? How then can we win this Bingo game? How can we win Godís approval and be assured of eternal life? How can we get rid of the blemishes on our Bingo card?
(21) Now, the way to receive God's approval has been made plain in a way other than Moses' Teachings. Moses' Teachings and the Prophets tell us this.
There is another way? Yes there is. And itís even spelled out in Moses teachings and the Prophets if you read them carefully, if you allow the Holy Spirit to open them up to you. The Holy Spirit, working in the Law of God indeed drives us to despair as we realize that we are sinners, but He does not desire to leave us there. The OT is loaded with promises of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ the Savior from our sins.
After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to a couple of disciples walking along the road to Emmaus. They were discussing the events of the last couple of days.
Luk 24:15-27 GW While they were talking, Jesus approached them and began walking with them. (16) Although they saw him, they didn't recognize him. (17) He asked them, "What are you discussing?" They stopped and looked very sad. (18) One of them, Cleopas, replied, "Are you the only one in Jerusalem who doesn't know what has happened recently?"
(19) "What happened?" he asked. They said to him, "We were discussing what happened to Jesus from Nazareth. He was a powerful prophet in what he did and said in the sight of God and all the people. (20) Our chief priests and rulers had him condemned to death and crucified. (21) We were hoping that he was the one who would free Israel. What's more, this is now the third day since everything happened. (22) Some of the women from our group startled us. They went to the tomb early this morning (23) and didn't find his body. They told us that they had seen angels who said that he's alive. (24) Some of our men went to the tomb and found it empty, as the women had said, but they didn't see him."
You see, even though someone comes back from the dead it will not be enough. These men needed more.
(25) Then Jesus said to them, "How foolish you are! You're so slow to believe everything the prophets said! (26) Didn't the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (27) Then he began with Moses' Teachings and the Prophets to explain to them what was said about him throughout the Scriptures.
The Way to salvation is not found in obeying Mosesí Teachings...itís found in believing them, because they spoke of the coming Messiah.
Paul says in v21 that ďnowĒ the way to Godís approval has been made plain. You canít miss it! The answer to our soiled Bingo card was found in what the Old Testament said about Jesus, and made plain now by Jesus Himself as He taught His disciples, and they went on to teach others, and now we are taught about the way, by their writings in the NT. Now the way has been made clear to you and I.
2Co 6:2 GW God says, "At the right time I heard you. On the day of salvation I helped you." Listen, now is God's acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!
And Paul sums up the way of salvation in the next verses.
(22) Everyone who believes has God's approval through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no difference between people. (23) Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God's glory. (24) They receive God's approval freely by an act of his kindness through the price Christ Jesus paid to set us free from sin.
Thatís it! Itís all there...now! For you! Everyone who believes has Godís approval through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no difference between people. Black, white, Jew, Gentile, rich, poor, it matters not. The offer of the clean Bingo card is made to all.
Itís offered to all because all have need. All have sinned and ruined their bingo cards, we have all fallen short of Godís glory. The word glory here means acknowledgment. An important distinction, because in order to get into heaven we must be acknowledged by the Lord. We must be recognized! The last thing we want to hear on that final public judgement day is found in Mt. 7:23
Mat 7:23 GW Then I will tell them publicly, 'I've never known you. Get away from me, you evil people.'
I do not recognize you, I do not acknowledge you! You have smudges on your bingo card! You fall short of My glory.
So we better know what it means to believe! To believe is simply this: Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who lived a sinless life on earth. Perfectly obeying Mosesí Teachings in our stead. He then paid the penalty of all mens disobedience on the cross and God raised Him from the dead to show that the payment for disobedience or sin was accepted.
But thereís more entailed in belief. We must do more than merely give some intellectual assent, even the devil gives intellectual assent to the existence of God. The Bible says, ďThe demons believe.....and tremble. ď
James 2:19 says, ďYou believe that there is one God. Thatís fine! The demons also believe that and they tremble with fear.Ē
Why? Because they know their end. Eternal torment in hell when Jesus returns. Though they know there is a God, they have not surrendered to Him. They did not receive Jesus Christ as their Lord....but rather they opted for the devil as their Lord, and God sentenced the whole lot to hell with no chance for pardon. No chance to change their minds.
But you and I, as long as we have breath in our body, have an opportunity for pardon, but we must receive Christ as our Savior and our Lord. We must put our trust in Him for our salvation. Thatís what it means to believe!
Lenski gives a beautiful description of faith when he says ďFaith and Jesus Christ are ever combined like a cup and its contents. Faith is the heartís trust embracing Christ.Ē
You are the cup, God brings Jesus to you, and you have a choice. You can refuse the gift, (put a lid on the cup) or you can allow Jesus to be poured into your life. Embracing Him on all sides, totally surrendered to Him.
Thatís how we receive Godís approval, Godís acknowledgment!
It is given freely, no strings attached by the act of Godís kindness we call grace. Made possible by the shedding of Christís blood on the cross for you and me! God doesnít care about how many times youíve sinned or the depravity of your sin. We are all in the same boat, sinners with badly marred Bingo cards. But those cards can be cleaned up by simply receiving the gift.
My friend, if you have not yet received this marvelous gift, if youíve kept the lid on your heart resisting Godís grace, donít delay. Humble yourself before the Lord, right now, in the quietness of your heart.
Admit that you have not kept His Law perfectly, admit that you are a sinner, that your Bingo card is a mess, then quietly hand it over to Him. Let Him clean it up. Give Him your heart, take the lid off, stop resisting His grace and allow Him to fill you with Jesus.
If youíve never given your heart to Jesus I want you to pray with me right now. Itís not that the prayer is some kind of a magic potion, itís just a way to express your desire to surrender to Him. If you mean it you will back it up with evidence of surrender by desiring to follow Godís teachings with the help of the Holy Spirit who will help you.
Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that I can not lead a holy life without You. I am sorry for my sins and I receive the salvation and forgiveness that was won for me on Calvary's Cross. I ask You to now be the Lord of my life. Save me Lord! Make me a new creation. Thank You for being my Lord and Savior. In Your Holy name I pray, amen.
If you prayed that prayer with a sincere heart, a very loud cry of Bingo was just heard in
heaven.....well, probably not that word! But the Bible tells us of great rejoicing for every sinner
who turns from themselves, who takes the lid off their heart and surrenders to Jesus. Welcome to the family of God!