Posted by: pastortomvabeach | August 28, 2012

Thought for the Week September 2, 2012

Well, we made it. We began teaching through what the writer of Hebrews calls “elementary principles of Christ” (He. 6:1) in the middle of May. We thought this was extremely important to all of us since the writer mentions these principles after evaluating his readers as those who “need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God” (He. 5:12). We wanted to ensure, as much as we could, that those of us at Christian Chapel at least had the basics, the foundation from which we could begin to digest “solid food” (He. 5:12, 14) and be teachers of the Word rather than “babes” (He. 5:13).

We discovered that the writer included six areas of biblical truth as “the foundation” on which we should build our Christian lives. This foundation, he says, is “repentance from dead works and faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” (He. 6:1-2). This Sunday we will teach about the last of those elementary principles, eternal judgment.

Both the Bible and life experience tell us that there is one event that every individual among us will eventually face – death. Hebrews 9:27 says It is appointed for man to die once. This is one appointment that you will not miss nor arrive at late. God has set the date. We know this. But there is another appointment with which we may not be so familiar, although almost everyone instinctively knows it awaits – judgment. The rest of that last verse says and after that comes judgment.

Popular thought hypothesizes there will be a cosmic scale on which our good deeds will be stacked up against our evil deeds and that if we can just get the good to outweigh the bad, that God will have to accept us. The problem with that is it is not biblical. Religion that man creates is based on such performance – let me know what I have to do to pass God’s test and I’ll muster up the power to do it. I can make the grade.

What God has given us is not based on performance but on trust. He tells us that no one can ever be “good enough” to conform to God’s standard – which is the perfect holiness of Jesus. Romans 3:10-12 says, There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Paul goes on to say in verse 20 that no one can be “justified” or accepted by God through the deeds of the law. The law was God’s standard by which one could be right in His sight and it served to show everyone that it was simply impossible to “make the grade”. There is none righteous, no, not one!

Trust, on the other hand, says the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. (Romans 3:21-22) Did you catch that? God’s idea of being right, of “making the grade” so to speak, is to be given righteous apart from the law, righteousness that is God’s and comes only through faith in Jesus Christ. He says that He puts His righteousness “on all who believe.” I share this to make sure you don’t have the incorrect view of judgment. But it’s also important to know that being made right by faith does not preclude us from judgment.

The Bible teaches of two different judgments. One for those who believe and have been made right because of Jesus. You will find this referenced in Romans 14:10, and II Corinthians 5:10. At this judgment, those who trusted in Christ will be judged for what they did as believers, what they built on the foundation of righteousness and life God gave them in Christ. Believers will not be judged for their sins since Jesus already took that judgment.

The other judgment is found in Revelation 20:11-15. This is a judgment for “the dead” or for those dead in their sins. It occurs after the 1000 year reign of Christ and is also called the “second death” (Rev. 20:6, 14). Those at this judgment will be judged according to their sins because they never trusted in Christ’s substitutionary death on their behalf. The “second death” is eternal separation from God in the lake of fire. The only way to avoid the “second death” is by turning from my own ways and trusting in my ability to be good enough to trusting in Jesus to forgive me and remove any guilt so that I can stand before God in His righteousness.

So what about a Christian who sins? First off, Christians don’t “have to sin”. Galatians 5:16 tells us that if we walk in the Spirit we will NOT fulfill the lust of the flesh. It is possible, if we are constantly listening to the Holy Spirit and obeying, that we won’t sin after coming to Jesus. It is also possible we will fall down, maybe even a lot. I John 2:1 anticipated this, My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. While God’s best is that we avoid sin, Jesus’ death not only takes care of sins past, but also covers sins future (see Colossians 2:13). That being said there is ample reason to do our utmost to avoid sin because there are many warnings written to believers in the New Testament against getting into a pattern or lifestyle of sinning which can lead to apostasy or giving up the faith. Clearly that is a danger and my practice is to do as much as I can to stay as far as I can from occasions that could lead to sin. After all, I am a saint and a child of God. Isn’t that how I should act?

So how has the teaching on “elementary principles” impacted you? I would be interested to hear some feedback about your experience in studying and applying these Christian basics. The Hebrews writer says we should leave the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ and go on to perfection. (He. 6:1) Are you ready for the last part of that? Just a thought.

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