Can Jesus Christ Be Trusted?
by Irwin A. Moon
WHAT HE HAS PREPARED FOR US
To bring about the complete salvation of a lost soul is a tremendous undertaking. So many things are involved. So many things are rigidly required of the sinner, of which every sinner is destitute and which he cannot furnish by any possible effort of his own.
PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS REQUIRED
Required, did we say? Yes, just that. If the redeemed soul is to live forever in the presence of a holy and righteous God, it is required that he have a righteousness in keeping with his surroundings. To be in the presence of God with anything short of a perfect righteousness would be intolerable, not only to God, but to the lost one as well. The company of the damned in eternal torment would be preferable to the "consuming fire" of God upon the unrighteous one in His presence.
But how may the lost soul acquire these things which are required of him and of which he is destitute and which he cannot produce? To answer this question is to reveal the heart of God.
The first requirement from man on the part of God was death for a broken law. This requirement man could furnish in himself, but in the doing of it, it would mean he could never be saved but must remain eternally in a state of death. This would bring about the satisfaction of God's broken law and satisfy justice, but God's love for the sinner would not let Him be content to permit man to thus suffer until He had given him a chance to righteously escape the inevitable consequence of his sins. The only alternative, therefore, was for God to take upon Himself the punishment and suffering that was justly due to the sinner, for the debt of sin must be paid and God's immutable justice must be satisfied.
Just here is where many fail to understand the necessity of Christ's atoning death. They do not seem to understand that God must first be just before He can be merciful and gracious, that He must maintain His righteous laws 100% and demand absolute perfection. He must act in such a way that there could not be a creature in all His great universe who could righteously point the finger at Him and say, You were not fair. You were unjust." And not only so, but He must act in accordance with His own inherent righteousness and justice. Consequently, the debt that man owed must be paid. Man could not pay it and live, so God chose to pay the debt Himself by becoming a human being in order to die the death of a human being.
But God must require more thin the simple liquidation of man's debt, though it cost an infinite price to liquidate it. Man must also be righteous. At this point, the sinful soul is completely helpless.
We have already noted in a previous chapter that sin is not only an act, but sin is also a state, a state in which there is an utter absence of righteousness, a state in which man is wholly incapacitated to furnish the righteousness required of him and which he must have to permit him to come into the presence of a holy God. Now, God knows this. He knows full well man's inability, yet He will not be satisfied with anything less than a 100% righteousness. God demands absolute perfection. What is to be done?
It is a fundamental principle in Scripture for this age that everything that God requires from man He has prepared for man and offers to him in grace. In Romans 1:16-17, the Holy Spirit enabled Paul to say, For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ for It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth ... for therein (that is, in that "good news," and therefore, a part of that good news) is the righteousness of God revealed. What the Holy Spirit is saying here is this: The "good news" (that Christ died for our sins was buried... and rose again) is the message that God uses in every case to bring salvation to the lost individual; a very important part of the "good news" discloses "the righteousness of God."
Romans 3:21-22 tells us what that righteousness is and the source of it that it is non other than the righteousness of Jesus Christ. All that Jesus Christ was in thought, word and deed is here summed up and is called "the righteousness of God." Furthermore, we are told in verse 22 that this righteousness of God is "unto all" that God has prepared it for all, and it is offered "unto all." We then have the further statement that it is "upon all them that believe." It is offered to all but is only "upon" those who "believe."
This is further elaborated in Romans 4:3: Abraham believed God, and it (that is, his faith) was counted unto him for righteousness. Then in verses 20 to 24 of this same chapter, Paul continues this thought by saying, He (Abraham) staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe.
Now, what is said in the foregoing Scripture is indeed wonderfully good news that although sinful man has no righteousness of his own and cannot produce it, that God by His foresight and in infinite grace has provided for this very contingency and has already prepared a satisfactory and suitable righteousness which He offers to man as a gift and bestows upon him when he believes. This is marvelous. The believer now has "imputed" to him (placed to his credit) a perfect righteousness not his own to be sure, but the righteousness of another: the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. And it is this righteousness, and this alone, that will enable him to stand unashamed and unafraid in the presence of a righteous and holy God.
We are to notice that this righteousness is first of all an "imputed" righteousness, imputed the moment we believe. From this point, it is then a matter of "growth in grace," as day by day the Holy Spirit seeks to impart, as we yield to Him, that which has first been imputed. Suffice it to say that the only righteousness we can offer to God that He will accept from us is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, and this we receive when we receive Him as our Savior. He gives to us His own righteousness in exchange for our unrighteousness and sin.
This is the transaction that Israel could not see and stumbled over in their quest for righteousness. Romans 10:14 says, Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. This, then, is our Savior's own provision for our great necessity. Surely we can trust Him.
A NEW NATURE
It will be recalled that in our study in a previous chapter of the question of sin, we found that sin is an act and that sin is also a state. But sin is more than this. Sin is also a nature and such a nature as cannot be changed or made over. God Himself will not attempt to change it in any way or make it over.
When you and I came into this world, we came with a nature in which it was perfectly natural for us to do wrong. That was our nature: prone to sin. And God tells us in His Word that with such a nature, we have as a result a threefold incapacity.
First of all, we cannot understand God. It matters not how well educated we may be or what intellectual capacity may be ours, we are unable with this nature to understand God who He is, what He says, His nature, His character, His acts, His love, His grace, His justice, His holiness. We read in 1 Corinthians 2:14, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
In the second place, we cannot obey God. In Romans 8:7 we read, Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. You will say then, "Well how does God expect me to obey Him when He knows and says I cannot do so?" The answer is this: God does not expect you to obey Him with such a nature as the one with which you were born into this world. He knows you cannot do so, and yet His justice demands your complete, perfect obedience.
In the third place, the natural man cannot please God. Romans 8:8 says, So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Now here is a strange situation. It is the will of God that all should come to repentance, that all should be saved and spend eternity rejoicing in His presence. But try to imagine, if you will, one soul with such a nature being tolerated in heaven. Heaven would be a strange place indeed if its inhabitants could not understand God, could not obey His laws and could do nothing to please Him. And yet, this is the true and sad situation, or condition, in which every soul coming into this world finds himself. And this nature has not been acquired through our sinning. Our sinning is the result of our having such a nature.
A mistaken idea in our public school system of today is that our boys and girls should simply be trained along the line of their natural inclinations, thus bringing out the best that is in them. They are not to be diverted from their natural tendencies, by restraint or coercion or even discipline if these should run counter to inherent tendencies. The theory is that they are naturally good at heart, and if these natural tendencies are not perverted through suppression or wrong teaching, these young people will grow into stalwarts citizens of high moral character and righteous living. When one of these "breaks out" in some especially outrageous sin and becomes an outlaw and a menace to society, they explain it by ascribing it to "a bump on the head" received sometime earlier in life
In the face of such teaching and training, what do we have in the world today among our boys and girls, and older ones, too, for that matter? Instead of what this false and fatal theory in teaching is supposed to produce in the lives of our boys and girls, and in our young men and young women, we have the very opposite. We have all about us in society today the very things we would logically expect to find with such natures as the Bible says we have, when left to develop without restraint.
What, then, is the remedy for this state of affairs? Man can do nothing to remedy the situation. Man can no more change his nature than can the "Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots." Do you not know that what you are on the outside is determined by what you are in the inside-by your very nature? A dozen different kinds of plants grow together in the same plot of ground, but each produces according to its nature. All life grows from the inside outward, and the only way to change the outside is to change first the inside.
What we are at heart, what we are by nature, determines our thoughts, our actions, our character, our life. Unregenerate man is wrong at heart. He has a sinful nature, and he cannot change it and live righteously any more than the leopard can change his nature and get rid of his spots. And yet God requires a nature in man that will produce a righteous life. What is to be done?
Again, God in His love comes to our rescue. Knowing that we have a nature that can never produce the life He desires us to live and knowing our utter inability to produce or acquire a nature that will produce it, He again prepares for us and offers tolls as a gift a new nature one that will produce the right kind of a life. A new nature did we say? Yes, just that. God is not in the reformation business. He does not cure the rot in an apple; He makes a new apple. Whatever sin has touched must be made new. We read that sin started in the heavenlies and from thence it was transferred to this earth, but we do not read that God is to reform heaven and reform the earth. But we have this promise that there shall be a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1). And again, Behold I make all things new (Rev. 21:5), and among the "all things" which God proposes to make new is your sinful nature and mine.
How then may we acquire this new nature that has been provided for us in love? Just the same way by which we come into possession of all of God's gifts to us: by believing on Jesus Christ. By receiving by faith Jesus Christ as our very own. He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:32).
When Jesus Christ, God's gift, is received, there are many "by-products" that are received with Him certain things that we may call "extras," things that God has prepared for us and come along with the gift of His Son. Of these "extras," we have called attention to two: a perfect righteousness and a new nature.
A SUPERNATURAL POWER
Another of these "by-products," and one of which every soul stands in great need, is that of supernatural power. Sin left us impotent and without strength. Daily we are surrounded with powerful evil influences against which we are helpless if left to resist them in our own strength. Supernatural forces are pitted against us constantly, day and night. Our great enemy, Satan, though a defeated foe, has not ceased his wiles and is unceasing in his efforts to thwart the work of Christ in our behalf. If left to our own devices and such abilities as we may possess naturally to withstand his daily onslaughts, we must go down in defeat.
This helpless condition of ours is also known to God: For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust (Isa. 103:14). And because He knows and cares, He has again provided in grace for this need also. Just before His ascension to heaven, Jesus Christ made this statement to His disciples in John 14: 16-17: And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? Romans 8:9 says, Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.
Now what have we in the foregoing statements from the Word? Simply this: When Jesus Christ undertook the responsibility of being a Savior, He left nothing unprovided for. He made abundant provision for all needs of every individual whose salvation He is permitted to undertake, for every one who will put his case in His hands. And because the believing soul is in dire need of a power beyond that of his own to enable him to live as a child of God should live, the Lord has provided against this need by arranging to actually live within the believer, in the person of the Holy Spirit.
God Himself, then, is the power within the trusting one, not only to enable him to overcome the evil forces from without, but to bring constant daily victory and rejoicing within. He knew we could not stand against these evil forces for a single moment if left alone, and so He made provision for us. Surely we can trust Him.
A PERFECT STANDING
In a previous chapter we called attention to the fact that Jesus Christ "took our standing." We say "standing," but the fact is, we had no standing save that of a criminal before the bar and under the sentence of death. And it was this "standing" that our Savior took for His own and then paid the penalty due to one in that condition. But heaven requires of those who would enter there that they have a righteous standing, that they have a record of having always obeyed God's righteous laws and of never having disobeyed them and not only obeyed them according to the letter but from the heart, as having always desired and willed obedience to every desire and wish of Almighty God. Now, none of us have ever done that and are therefore discredited. Some of us may have a fairly good reputation among our fellows, and our standing in the community may be good, but our great need is a proper standing before God. This is not only our great need, but it is God's imperative requirement for us.
Only One human being ever had such a standing. And when we believe on Him and receive Him by faith as God's gift to us, then His standing passes to our credit. His standing becomes our standing. And this is the only standing that God will accept from you and from me the perfect standing of God's own dear Son. It only remains to be noted that this perfect standing, provided for us in grace, is but another of the "by-products" that come with Christ and are received when He is received. Surely we can trust Him.
A FUTURE GLORY
In the foregoing, we have called attention to some of the things that Jesus Christ has prepared for us, as showing added reasons why we should be able to trust Him with our eternal welfare and salvation. In this connection our attention is now called to one other provision which the Son of God is now engaged in making and preparing for us. In John 14:2 He says, I go to prepare a place for you. This statement was made just prior to His going away, His ascension. That was almost two thousand years ago. He also promised at that same time that He would "come again" and receive us unto Himself, the inference being that we would then have the privilege of enjoying with Him the place that He is now preparing for us. It may also be inferred that since He has not yet come for us, this place is still being prepared.
What a wonderful place it must ultimately be! We read that He "spake" the worlds into existence, the suggestion being that by the word of His mouth, and a "wave" of His omnipotent hind, they came into being. But when a place must he prepared for those who are the objects of His infinite love, He takes two thousand years in its preparation. Indeed, what a wonderful place it will be!
Whatever else may be in that wonderful place, it is certain that it will be filled with the marvelous glory of Jesus Christ. For in that high priestly prayer of His in John 17, we have these words in verse 24: Father I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory. Such preparations are not made by those who are untrustworthy. Surely we can trust Him. And the command is still, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:31).
< Back | Top | Return to New Testament Church Page >