Tom: In our ongoing review of the Gospel, we noted last week that while there are wondrous blessings connected with the salvation which Christ alone provides, there are both conditions and consequences. John:3:16; 3:18, 3:36 tell us that those who will not believe in Jesus will perish, are condemned already, will not see life, and will suffer the wrath of God. Jesus himself gives many descriptions of the consequences of rejecting God’s salvation: being “cast into outer darkness,” “into a fiery furnace,” “a lake of fire,” “an everlasting fire, where there will be wailing, weeping, gnashing of teeth unto everlasting destruction”. Now those are not teachings of Jesus that are promoted in many Christian circles today, but they are indeed His teachings. Dave, they hardly indicate that God is going to unconditionally accept everyone into heaven. Nevertheless, the scriptures tell us that it is His desire that all receive His salvation.
Dave: Tom, it’s just so amazing that God loves us. And you mentioned John:3:16 (you were giving the “perishing” side of it), but John:3:16 begins, as most everyone listening probably knows—that’s the first verse you learned in Sunday school: “For God so loved the world….” And it’s because of God's love that Christ died, and it’s because of God’s love that He wants all men to come to the knowledge of the truth, and He’s not willing that any should perish. So we have to keep emphasizing that. This is…
Tom: Dave, there are so many scriptures that reveals God’s heart: Isaiah:45:22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” Ezekiel:18:23: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD, and not that he should return from his ways, and live?”
Dave: So we need to emphasize the fact that salvation has been provided by God.
This is not the impersonal law of Karma, that turns you into a bug or something, you know. This is the God who created us, we rebelled against Him, and nevertheless, He still loved us—still loves us. So God himself, through the virgin birth, became a man, came to this earth where we are, suffered, was hated, mocked, persecuted, nailed to a cross—and He did it for us in our place. Not only did He take our hatred and mistreatment and mocking—and I, you know, sometimes, Tom, I think the mocking would be the hardest thing to take. You know, if you are mocked, you are accused—falsely accused—and you know you’re not guilty of it, to not speak out in defense…
Tom: Dave, this is the Creator of the universe! I mean, we can’t even fathom…
Dave: Right. And He could have wiped us out, and yet He takes all these false accusations because He took our place, when we deserved it. But then, He takes the judgment that His own infinite justice required against sin, and what that is, Tom, I can’t even imagine. We would suffer for eternity, separated from Him. Because God’s justice is infinite, the penalty must also be infinite, and Christ took that infinite penalty—the horror of it! And now we’re forgiven if we will accept His forgiveness—and yet, if we don't, the consequences are very serious.
That’s why He suffered—because the consequences are serious. And those that refused to accept His suffering in their place will have to endure that forever. And, Tom, I can’t fathom why anyone would reject Christ. Is it pride? We don't want to admit we’re sinners? We don’t want to admit that when He took our place He had to accept the judgment of God that we deserve? We don’t want to accept a free gift from God? We want to do something. We don’t want to be indebted to Him. Or we want to show that we can live up to, you know….
Often I think, Tom, that our repentance, even, of our sins, is not genuine repentance. We get on our knees, and let’s say that I got angry with my wife and said something that I shouldn’t have said (which, by the grace of God, never happens. I mean, I couldn’t even remember when it happened, but let’s say that I did that). I get on my knees, and I say, “Oh, God, I’m sorry! I blew up, and I said some things I shouldn’t have said.” That's not repentance, Tom. I wouldn't have said that had I not been disobedient and rebellious in my heart. If I had been walking with the Lord, if Christ had really been my life, my love, my joy, and living His life through me, as He is supposed to, I wouldn't have blown up at my wife and said these bad things! But I haven’t confessed that. In other words—I hope people are understanding what I’m trying to say: I've confessed the symptoms—I haven't confessed the disease.
Basically when I said , “Oh God, I blew it, but give me another chance! I'll show you. I'm not really so bad, I'll do better next time.” No, I need to confess, “Lord, I have turned away from you, and Self was on the throne, and I was living for Self in control of my life, and I had forgotten You and Your love and Your grace, and You were not really living through me as You should be, because I had taken the throne of my life and was living for self.”
That’s what I need to confess. Instead, I confess the symptoms. But, anyway….
Tom: For those out there, so that they don't misunderstand—we're talking about our relationship with Christ and walking in obedience to Him to do His will and His pleasure.
Dave: These are Christians.
Tom: Right. Not for salvation.
Tom: Not confessing sins, thinking that the slate is going to be wiped clean, and then I’m going to be able to get into heaven. This is not what we're talking about.
Dave: And as far as confessing sins for salvation, I don't even know…when I come to Christ, how old am I? Fifteen? Thirty? Forty-five? Sixty? You know— when different people come. I couldn't even remember every sin that I’ve ever committed. Christ has paid the penalty for my sins: “Forgetting those things that are behind, reaching forth unto that which is before.” I've become a new creature in Christ Jesus, and my past—whatever it is—and my future sins, whatever they may be as well, by God's grace—and that doesn't mean that, as Paul says, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”
“Oh, well, now I can live any way I want to, because now I’m saved, and it's all covered by the blood of Jesus—He’s paid the penalty for it, so I can just do whatever I want.” That is not what the Bible teaches, and it is not the attitude of someone who has truly been born again. But we do fall into sin, so.... We don't have to. So, John writes in 1 John chapter 2, “These things write I unto you that you sin not. And if [not “when”] if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He’s the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
So for those who have not come to Christ, He is the propitiation—that is, the satisfaction—of God's justice for everything that they have ever done or ever will do. But He also, for the Christian, it’s wonderful to know that if I fall into sin, it doesn’t limit it—it doesn’t say whatever it is, or only up to a certain degree of sin, or a certain amount, and so forth. If we confess our... “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father. Jesus Christ, the righteous. If we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is the God of love, the God who doesn't want anyone to perish. And, Tom, I often think, I don't tell God often enough, “Lord, I love you!” I tell Jesus, “Lord Jesus, I love you! Thank you for dying for my sins!” We need to be doing that more frequently—all day long, and that in itself will keep us from straying away from Him.
Tom: Someone you love, I mean, you really love them, to do something that you know displeases them, well, if your heart is there, it’s very difficult in the face of that to reject that person if you say you love them.
Dave: If I can just quickly, in a few seconds, tell you—Ruth and I, you know my dear wife, Ruth. We met at UCLA. We’ve been married for 50 years, coming up here, soon. And I remember when we were engaged, and I remember one night I was visiting her where she was staying, and there was a wall between us. I didn't know something was wrong! How had I offended her? I mean, she’s getting weepy and I don't know what I did wrong. Finally it comes out it’s her birthday, and I had not given her a birthday card even! Well, in our family, we didn't pay much attention to birthdays and I didn't even know if I knew that it was her birthday. I tell you, this was at UCLA, and up in the hills there—I broke all records running into Westwood Village to get a birthday card and a birthday gift for her. I ran on the wings of love because I loved her, and I didn't want to offend her.
And that’s what you’re trying to say. We really love the Lord, and we’re walking in that love relationship with Him, it’d be pretty hard for us to do something that would displease Him.
Tom will reset their discussion of God's salvation again next week, the scriptures daily a radio ministry of the variant call.
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