Years ago an elderly man said to me, when I was a very young pastor, “Young man, just remember to keep the main thing the main thing.” I never forgot that. As we approach the Easter Season I’m kind of amazed that in America and even in our churches there are so many who really don’t understand the good news we call the gospel. I’d like to share the gospel as I understand it strait from the pages of Scripture. It all starts and ends with our understanding of who God is. The Bible starts with a God so full of love He can’t help but create. He creates objects to love and shower with grace and goodness. The simple story shares only one small test of the creation to show we also love our creator and are grateful. As we choose our own way it is a metaphor for what we have all done down through history.
The Bible portrays God as absolutely balanced in his nature and character. His attributes are who He is; they flow from his very nature. God is love, He is also just, He is also merciful and grace-filled. Imagine if you and I sinned only one time a day in thought, word or deed. Let’s start counting at age 12 though the Bible never says anything special about this age. I’m 57 at the time of this writing so 57-12 means 45 years X 365 days = 16,425 violations of divine law. Any one who knows me would agree, one a day is very conservative but still the debt is huge. Imagine 16,425 traffic violations. Imagine a judge who could not wink at them but required you pay your fines.
We could easily double or triple or more that talley in our offenses against God. The debt is really massive and God being just means He cannot just look the other way. By His very nature He must require payment. In His love and kindness, the Father had a way that both His justice and mercy could not be in conflict. He allowed Jesus Christ, His unique Son, the innocent one, to take upon Himself the full punishment for the sin of the world, when He died on that cruel cross. Because someone else paid, we can be pardoned. The gospel is two fold. One is Christ’s death for my sin, the other is the resurrection, whereby God is able to give us new life. The simple truth is Jesus has deposited in the escrow account of heaven payment for every violation you and I have ever committed against Him. When we believe Jesus did that for us enough to hang our entire eternal destiny on that truth, God declares us “not guilty” before Him. Romans 3:21 and following sums it up like this, “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law. . . We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are or what we’ve done. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” He continues in 3:26, “God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when the believe in Jesus.” I’m not sure the main thing could be any clearer than that. Don’t lose this key thought. Religion can lose you in all the do’s and don’ts so much we forget the main thing. Just a reminder this Easter Season!