By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr
“ALL HAVE SINNED”
By nature all mankind are the children of God’s wrath (Eph. 2:3). The reason is simple: All follow the disobedience of Adam and Eve who passed on their depraved nature to all mankind (Rom. 5:12, 14; Hosea 6:7; 1Tim. 2:14). The result is that none pleases God–all humanity provoke God’s wrath by their life of sin and disobedience (Rom. 3:9-12; Gen. 6:3, 5-7).
Romans 3:23 sums up the situation: “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. The word “glory” translated from the Greek word “doxa” can also be rendered ‘praise’.
In this one word, we find how God sees all mankind: None measures up to His expectations or earns His praise; all have broken His law (1John 3:4) and stand condemned as sinners (Ez. 18:4; Gen. 2:17).
But there is one Life that makes a difference: “For as by one man’s [Adam’s) disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One [Christ] shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).
Christ lived to show us how to please God (1Pet. 2:21-24; John 8:12; 1John 2:6) and died for us to pay the penalty for our sins which is death (Matt. 20:28; Rom. 3:24-25, 5:8, 6:23).
JESUS SHOWS THE ONLY WAY OF ESCAPE
The Lord Jesus Christ, who said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (1John 14:6), is the One who shows us the only way of escape from God’s righteous judgment. Except one acknowledges and uses this way, there is no other way of escape!
Hebrews 2:3 poses the question to each and every member of the human race:
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him.”
The word “neglect” implies that God’s “great salvation” is not unknown to us. In fact, it was Christ who first began to preach it, and it was taken up by the early apostles and disciples.
But the worrying development is that some have abandoned this ‘great salvation’ which is found in specific words Jesus and His immediate followers spoke (see John 6:68; Acts 11:14; Jam. 1:21). To these has the warning come: ‘How shall you escape since you have neglected “so great salvation”, the only door of escape from doom?
Now, when did Christ first speak this “great salvation” during His earthly ministry? He spoke it at the very beginning of His ministry:
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
“And saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).
This is the only message that brings salvation: “Repent and Believe the gospel”! In other words, turn away from your sins; be converted; have a change of heart, and believe the gospel story of the Saviour’s sacrificial death as the propitiation for your sins (see 1John 2:2, 4:10).
Jesus’ death as “the propitiation” for the sins of man should gladden the heart of every sinner! It simply means that Jesus’ death on behalf of sinners as payment for their sins pacifies
God’s anger; it turns away His wrath, giving way to favour and reconciliation:
“Much more then being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from [God’s] wrath through Him.
“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:9-10).
The path to salvation has been made plain in the scriptures: It’s through repentance and faith in Christ who died “and was raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:25 NKJV). Whoever rejects this path has the wrath of God abiding on him:
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth [or rests] on him” (John 3:36).
GENUINE FAITH IS EVIDENCED BY GENUINE REPENTANCE
It’s often the case that many by following “another gospel” have a wrong conception of the Christian doctrine of faith. Most often faith is decoupled (i.e. separated or cut off) from repentance based on the belief that faith in Christ is simply an inward experience or conviction without any outward expression. Those who hold such a belief are sadly mistaken!
Faith must express itself in obedience. Hence “by faith Abraham, when he was called … obeyed” (Heb. 11:8). Similarly, all who confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour should necessarily obey Him by departing from lawlessness (Rom. 10:9; 2Tim. 2:19).
Now take note of this interesting figure in the Gospel of Luke — Zacchaeus, the short man who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus! Having heard and believed the gospel preached by Christ, this man “stood, and said unto the Lord; ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke 19:8). Here was Jesus’ reply to Zacchaeus: “THIS DAY is SALVATION come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost [to sin]” (vv.10).
Zacchaeus demonstrated his faith in Christ and acceptance of His message of repentance with deeds. His faith led to action since “faith without works is dead” (Jam. 2:17, 26).
In the eighth chapter of the book of Acts, we see an opposite of Zacchaeus — Simon, the sorcerer! When Philip the evangelist preached the gospel to the people of Samaria, this
“Simon himself believed also; and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done” (v.13).
But, alas, the man’s faith wasn’t genuine – it wasn’t accompanied by repentance! Disqualified from receiving the Holy Spirit, Simon offered the apostles Peter and John money, only for Peter to rebuke him, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part not lot in this matter [of Holy Spirit baptism]: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. REPENT therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (vv 20-23).
Simon wanted to purchase what is a gift with money. The Holy Spirit is ‘purchased’ with repentance and faith. The apostle Peter told the people on the day of Pentecost when the
Holy Ghost fell on the church: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
But repentance was far from the mind of Simon, the sorcerer. He had other reasons for ‘believing’ in Christ. He wanted God’s gift for his selfish ends. Apparently he hoped that by receiving the Holy Spirit, he would boost his magical powers!
Simon’s attitude is identical to those who use the grace of God as a licence for immorality rather than as a springboard to righteousness (Jude 1:4; Tit. 2:11-14).
Faith in Christ is not just something we ‘feel’ inside us; it’s evidenced by repentance which leads to salvation (2Cor.7:10). Abundant in mercy, God does not leave us to struggle on our own to break free from the clutches of sin. He helps us to repent. Indeed, He grants every sinner who sincerely responds to His call “repentance to life” and forgiveness of sin (Acts 11:18, 5:31; 2Tim. 2:25-26; Prov. 28:13, Acts 26:18, 1John 1:9).
All that God requires is that the sinner not harden his heart against His voice of rebuke as it exposes the evil contents and intents of the heart (Heb. 3:7):
“Turn at My rebuke; surely I will pour out My Spirit on you; I will make My words known to you” (Prov. 1:23 NKJV).
That is to say, ‘be responsive to My rebuke. Feel sorry for your sin and have a desire to quit sinning (Isa. 1:19-20). Surely, I will transform you into a new creature by pouring out My Spirit upon you and revealing My words to you’ (2Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22-24; Ez. 18:20-21; John 3:5-6; 1Pet. 1:23).
Repentance, then, is of great importance to humanity. All must necessarily repent in order to escape the wrath of God! John the Baptist cried out when he saw the multitudes, including religious people, come to him for baptism in the river Jordan: “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits [deeds] meet for repentance. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matt. 3:7-8, 10).
The stark reality is that we either repent or perish! When Jesus was told of the heart-rending story of a group of Galileans “whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices,” He said to those present, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:1-3 NIV).
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GOD’S GRACE NOW!
God will not put up with sin forever. Judgment awaits every un-forsaken sin (Heb. 2:2; Nah. 1:3; 2Thess. 1:7-9). But the good news is that today – as you read this tract – is the day of salvation, the accepted time. Don’t receive the grace of God in vain (2Cor. 6:1-2). Take advantage of God’s grace freely available to you in Jesus now (Heb. 2:9) and forsake your sin – just as the grace of God bringing us salvation teaches us to do (Tit. 2:11-12)!
“Let no man deceive you with vain words”, such as ‘grace excludes us from obedience to God’s law of righteousness’ (see Rom. 6:1-2, 3:31). Have no illusions: The wrath of God will come upon the children of disobedience (Eph. 5:3-6). God, through the preaching of the gospel, commands people everywhere to repent, “Because He hath appointed a day, in which
He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-13).
“God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). His judgment is “according to truth”, for He will “make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the plummet” (Rom. 2:2; Isa.28:17 NKJV). “In every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness”, He declares, “is accepted with Him” (Acts 10:35).
There’s no other way of escape. The only ones who will escape are those who repent of their sins, have their sins forgiven them in the name of Jesus (Luke 24:47; Acts 13:38; 1John 2:12) and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as the righteous children of God in whose hearts is His law (Isa. 51:7-8; Heb. 8:10-12; Ez. 36:25-27). Having obeyed God’s law through faith in Christ (which is what repentance stands for), these are the only ones who shall be justified on the day of judgment when all humanity appear before the judgment seat of Christ to “receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (Rom. 2:13 & 16, 3:31; 2Cor. 5:10 RSV; Matt.
13:41-43; Isa. 24:5-6).
ESCAPE FOR YOUR LIFE!
Beloved, it’s never too late to get right with God. If it wasn’t late for the criminal on the cross (Luke 23:39-43), it isn’t late for you. With God’s judgment afoot, Daniel urged Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar: “O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity” (Dan. 4:27 NKJV).
In the book of Zephaniah we read:
“Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation.
“Before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the LORD’S fierce anger comes upon you; before the day of the LORD’S anger comes upon you!
“Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger” (2:1-3 NKJV).
When the time comes for God to judge the world, He won’t delay. Take advantage of the present opportunity, in which God is calling on “all the ends of the earth” to look to Him for salvation, and repent of your sins because God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2Pet. 3:9; Isa. 45:22). Christ promises not to drive away anyone who comes to Him (John 6:37).
So why don’t you come to Jesus Christ today through repentance and faith in His shed blood for the remission of your sins?
Don’t store up for yourself “wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” by hardening your heart at God’s message of salvation (Rom. 2:4-5; Prov. 29:1).
It’s time you escaped for your life! The angel said to Lot and his family: “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed” (Gen. 19:17 NKJV).
This is your last chance! Don’t return to Sodom, (sin and wickedness – Gen. 13:13); don’t look back! Look to Jesus only, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). Once you heed His call to repentance and surrender your life to Him, He makes you a new person, and God accepts you totally, never to change His mind about you:
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:33:34).
Surely, there is no condemnation to the one who has come to repentance and faith in Christ and lives by “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1-2). He is FREE FOREVER! Instead of wrath and judgment, God gives what no man truly deserves or could ever earn by himself – the GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE (Rom. 6:20-23). What a wonderful escape!
Repent now and make the Escape! Amen.