The reason Religion exists but fails
I admit that I rag on religion a lot. All around the globe in every culture and in every
religion, there is the desire and attempt to remove sinful behavior from society. Religion’s main emphasis is to this end; to curb humanity’s carnal urges so that our co-existence in our various towns and cities is pleasant and people could somehow hope to achieve a heavenly existence. However, this is achieved by shear will power and thus makes heaven a reward to be earned only by the most dedicated, which is where they err. Heaven is not a reward. It is a place where God lives. It is where he allows those who are “In Christ, or who are true believers” to simply live with God. Any rewards gained during our lives will happen in heaven but working for them will not get you there. The book of Romans shatters the dream which religion dangles before men and exposes man’s inherent sinful nature and his lack of power to become good enough through human resources to earn God’s approval. Consequently they have no possibility to earn a place in heaven. (Picture credit: Donell Trostrud)
Paul also gives us the truth. If you want to see real lasting change in your life, and if you have a desire to please God acceptably, if you hope to enter heaven one day; then it will be because of what God has perfectly done on your behalf to please himself through the work of Christ. As a result, he will work in you those lasting changes that you so earnestly struggle to produce but by his power not yours. Christianity is only accomplished by his power working in those he has saved so that Jesus might receive all the credit and glory for any change in our lives. Any rewards subsequently bestowed are as a result of living by faith through the hardships that are experienced in this life by allowing God to give us victory over them. As verse 36 says below “To HIM be the glory forever!” not to us. Any rewards given to us will be laid right back down at Jesus’ feet who deserves all the credit anyway. This is what God desires us to realize, and this is why he made us, that He is the one who orchestrates our salvation for his glory not ours. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” – Ps 115:1
Rom 11:33-36 “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’ 35 ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?’ 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who is in control. From the creation of this world, to the creation of the next, I have a plan. Things don’t just happen. I AM the uncaused cause. I do not need anything. I exist by my own power. I AM not bound by your limited physical thinking. I AM the All wise and Knowing God who made this physical universe with for a specific reason. You are that reason. And I made you in order to display my majesty and glory to you in a way that you can appreciate me for it. No other creature has that capacity because I made you in my image. Before space and time existed, I was completely satisfied and content in myself. I chose to make this physical realm bound by time (not that I am bound by it, nor any of the laws of nature which I have created to govern it), so that I could bring you into existence by my spoken Word and to reveal my glory to and to share myself with. I made Adam to be in my image to have my same cognitive abilities, transferrable attributes and qualities so that he (and subsequently you) might appreciate me, communicate and fellowship with me, willfully love and obey me, depend upon me as your faithful father, and to be eternal so as to live with me in heaven. But he refused me in order to be his own god and thus you share his plight, punishment and need of me to save you.
However, I AM the God who rescues sinners who respond to being rescued. Salvation is from me not you. You have done nothing to deserve my salvation. But because of my love for the whole world, I offer salvation to whoever would have it. I am calling all men to repent and allow me to save them. Don’t worry about the next guy, or the guy down the street who needs it. What about you? Will you let me save you?
Romans is the antidote for religion
Over these last 11 chapters of Romans we have seen how Paul laid out the plan of God’s salvation. Firstly, for three chapters he shows how everyone is lost and that all must come to grips with their lost state. Secondly, salvation is strictly a free gift and received solely by faith, not by obedience to the Law of Moses or any other kind of religious legalistic requirements. Thirdly, we see that by his death, Christ replaced the authority of death which Adam brought upon us and is now our new authority and source of life. Thus Satan, the Law and Sin no longer control us who believe. Those who truly believe are free to serve God acceptably, however, not when we live this life controlled by the sinful nature or in other words by the “flesh”. Fourthly, only when the Holy Spirit takes control of our thinking and life style, can we see true change in our actions. (Religion puts the cart before the horse in this regard and thinks that they can accomplish all this by their own ability and in their own way, thus as they stand before Christ’s throne, they will sadly discover that they are woefully lacking.)
Paul also teaches one more thing in chapters 9 – 11. He explains how God has included the Gentiles in his plan of salvation just as he had the Israelites prior to Jesus’ death, but also how God will fulfill the rest of his promises to the patriarchs of old one day in the future. In these 11 chapters Paul has given us a foundation on which to base the next 5 chapters of our expressing this new glorious faith acceptably for all to see. Unlike Religion’s heavy reliance on good works for salvation, Paul has given us the understanding of where the power to live victoriously over sin and to live the “Christ life” comes from. He has given us the antidote for religion’s inability to please God and shows us where genuine righteousness comes from which can change the world. In a sentence Paul gives us the positional truths concerning us before he tells us our responsibility – Power from our position in Christ before our practice.
Now what do we do with this power? That is what the rest of Romans is about.
More to come,