By Pat Fraher
In preparation for our upcoming Referees Embracing Faith Conference, where this year's focus is 'Salvation: A gift and a call', I thought that we should begin doing some serious thinking about salvation. Over the next five Sundays, we will be discussing different aspects of salvation, and doing some critical, honest thinking about where each of us stand.
Last week, we reflected on just how aware we really are of what God did for us by sending his only son Jesus to be sacrificed in our place.
Today's salvation metaphor is the courtroom. We will all sit in the defendant's judgement seat one day, so let this serve as your summons.
To set up this week's message, let's first watch this short sermon excerpt from Pastor Greg Laurie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgrhmryOQ2M
Jesus began His ministry with these words in Mark 1:15, "the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel."
The word gospel means 'good news'. The problem with sharing the gospel with people, is most don't realize just how much they need it! This message of the good news becomes that much more meaningful and powerful once we understand the bad news, so we are going to look at both sides.
Let's start with the bad news: You are guilty. We all fall under the wrath of God. Isaiah 13:9 says, "behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel with both wrath and fierce anger to lay the land desolate, and He will destroy its sinners from it."
Why is God so angry? Because God hates sin. We are all sinners, as we are reminded in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Because God is absolute holiness, that is the standard for entrance into Heaven.
Revelation 21:27 says, "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."
Ephesians 5:5 agrees, saying, "For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure, or greedy person -such a person is an idolator- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."
God is also our judge, as written in Psalm 7:11, which says, "God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day."
And so, since God is a just judge, a penalty must be paid for sin. Romans 6:23 states, "the wages of sin is death," so since we are all guilty of sin, and cannot enter into Heaven in our impure state, we are therefor destined for Hell and are in desperate need of a savior. It doesn't get worse than that.
But hold on! Ready for the good news? Enter your defense attorney... Jesus!
In addition to being a holy, just, and wrathful God, His fierceness has a flip side. He is also a God of fierce love, mercy and kindness.
1 John 4:8 says, "whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." Further, Isaiah 54:8 states, "But with an everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer."
Psalm 136:2 reads, "o give thanks to the God of gods, for his mercy endures forever."
Those two sides of God, the just judge and the merciful, loving redeemer, collided at the cross!
Only His perfect, absolute love for us could satisfy his justified wrath and judgement. God sent His only son, Jesus, as our substitute in order to have the penalty for our sins justly paid!
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." - John 3:16
That is what this famous verse is saying. The wages of sin were paid, and through our faith in Jesus Christ, we are justified as righteous before God.
Ephesians 2:3-5 summarizes it, saying, "all of us also lived among them at one time gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature, deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace that you have been saved."
It doesn't get any better than that! But you must get Jesus on retainer as your lawyer ASAP!
Referees Embracing Faith Conference 2019 will take place on August 17 in Mason, Ohio at Prasco Laboratories. Registration is just $10 and is open now. Complete details: https://www.sportsofficialssurrendered.org/post/ref-conference-details-and-faq-s