2014-09-05 - A Great Story
"In the beginning
These are how great stories begin. I, too, have a great story to share with you today.
Long long ago, in a decade known as the seventies, in a city not too far away, a white-headed child was born. He had blue eyes and sparkling blond hair - almost white in the right light; he was a cute little thing - the stuff dreams are made of. However, there was one problem. There was something horribly wrong with this child, on the inside. Doctors couldn't figure it out. In fact, it went completely undetected for a few years. This child was dying. Could his life be saved?
I was that child. Shocking, but the brown-haired, green-eyed man I am now was once a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy. Now please let me paint in some of the details. I was born October 27, 1971. Yes for those of you whose mind just went to solving a math problem, I am 42, so now focus back on the story. After all, this is about me - so it's got to be pretty awesome. I need to really back up a little further, though. My story, in essence, goes all the way back to another Adam that lived about six thousand years ago. That Adam was the first man. He and his wife were over all the Earth. With just one rule given to him by God, he broke it, and sin entered the world.
Romans 5:12-13 (NASB) Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned- 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
I was born a sinner, and all sinners die. Verse 13 says my sin is not imputed, that is to say put on my account spiritually speaking, until I understood the law, so I was okay for a few years. But then the disease of sin began to destroy me. "Where there is no law" includes "where the law is not known." After all, the point of Genesis 2 is that there were indeed laws beyond the "don't eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" law, but they weren't known to Adam and Eve, and so they weren't accountable for those laws. Otherwise, there'd have been no knowledge of good and evil to gain! That's why they immediately realized they were naked, and made clothes. They became aware of the unspoken law: "Thou shalt not run around the garden with all your nakedness hanging out, for everybody to see."
How many of you know right from wrong? If the law says don't use red crayons, and someone writes their name with a red crayon, I believe you all understand that they have broken the law. Since we understand that none of us are exempt from sin's penalty, using the verse 13 escape clause, in Baptist church words, we call that "reaching the age of accountability".
I don't think my son Justin is at that age yet. If you ask him if he ever breaks the rules, he'll say no. He does not get it. One day he will, and when he does, I pray we will have a conversation much like this one that I'm having with you. So from the moment I understood right from wrong, I was dying. Romans 6:23a puts it like this, "The wages of sin is death." But the story doesn't end there and neither does our passage so let's keep reading
Romans 5:15-17 (NASB) But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
We get a free gift that undoes the whole dying thing. Since we aren't in the escape clause, it's great to know that we have a solution. That is an amazing cure. If any of you had cancer, how many of you would do whatever you could to be cured? We all know that we understand right from wrong. We understand the law. Have you broken some law? If you're honest then you'll say yes, just as I would. As Romans 3:23 puts it, "All have sinned." All of you are dying from the deadly disease of sin. But God gave us a free cure. Let's back up a few verses to find it.
Romans 5:6-11 (NASB) For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 "And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
The free gift is complete removal of sin's deadly consequence, purchased by the death of one person - the Lord Jesus Christ. My story involves lots of people over the years - parents, preachers, teachers, friends. The list could go on and on, but in the story, there really is just one name that matters. The one that does, is in the verses we just looked at, and it is "Lord Jesus Christ". Some people get up in arms over his name being used incorrectly, because his name matters. There is power in his name, so let's examine it. It's interesting how we say Lord Jesus, Jesus Christ, or Lord Jesus Christ - much as I might say Jonathan Adam, Adam Cain, or Jonathan Adam Cain. Just saying that, in my head, gives me flashbacks of hearing my mom or dad say that - and that usually meant I was in trouble. But this is not his full name. His name is simply Jesus - just Jesus. Lord and Christ are descriptive words, or titles, kind of like Pastor Adam is not my name, but a title and my name. But let's break down those three words.
Lord is from the Greek kyrios with the following meanings according to Strong's:
The name Jesus means something. Jesus is the Greek form of Hebrew Yeshua. Interestingly, Yeshua in Old Testament is translated into English as Joshua, but for some reason, Jesus in Greek stayed in the Greek - but it means "YAHWEH (God's proper name) is salvation."
Christ is from the Greek word christos. It means anointed. The anointed one, in Jewish terms, was the one who would save Israel from everything, so we could simply say it means savior.
So to claim the gift, you simply must ask Jesus as your Lord (ruler) and Christ (savior) to give it to you. I did on September 21, 1989. On that day, I received the cure. Sin will no longer kill me. I still have some ill effects from sin, like a mouth that gets me in trouble with family at times, but the death part is gone. Kind of like radiation might cure the cancer, but if you had your kidney removed, the radiation doesn't regenerate the kidney. So let me tell you the part of the story I found the cure.
Flash forward to the fall of my freshman year in college. I was a pretty good kid. I had gone up front in church as a kid, and had said a prayer with a preacher. Saying a prayer doesn't save you - deciding to recognize Jesus as Lord and Christ saves you. I was not a huge troublemaker. I got good grades. I only got suspended once in fourth grade for running my mouth and an in-school suspension once in tenth or eleventh grade, for fighting about a chess game. I was a good churchgoing kid. Neither my goodness nor my lack of trouble saved me from sin. We cannot be good enough to earn our way out of death. There is just one cure - Jesus.
So I was at an FCA meeting that some people invited me to, and some soccer guy was speaking. I don't remember who he was, or what he was talking about, but God was talking to me through him - and I heard God. I ignored it until late that night. Late that night, as a storm blew through my college campus, I could not rest as God continued to work in me. SO I did what any intelligent college student would do, went for walk outside in the storm and had a chat with God. Let me share that conversation.
Me: God why are you bugging me? Go away!
And so I prayed.
That was it. There was nothing magical in my words, but I told Jesus that he was my ruler and my savior that night. I worshiped Jesus as God's salvation plan, I repented of my ways and chose his, and I committed myself to serving him. WORSHIP, REPENT, SERVE.
What is your story? IF you do not have one, I pray that today, you will discover that only name that can save your story and turn it into a happily-ever-after one.
All scripture references are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.