the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
The other day I ran across an illustration depicting a series of identical skeletons, each with its own label: white, black, straight, gay, christian, atheist. The artist intended to imply that everyone is ultimately the same and so we shouldn’t judge people because of race, sexual orientation or religion. To the world, these are warm fuzzy sentiments, designed to make everyone feel like singing kum ba yah, reaffirm their embrace of tolerance as the primary virtue of civilized society and stiffen their spine in the battle against fundamentalist wackos. In my case I immediately thought of Romans 3:22-24: This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
According to the Bible, there are only two kinds of people in the world: the saved and the lost. No other label makes any difference. In Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11). The only way to move from one category to the other (lost to saved) is through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6) a fact reaffirmed by Peter who stated, salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
Apart from Christ all are lost because all sin. To sin is to break God's law which is the expression of the perfection that God’s absolute holiness demands (Isaiah 1:2, 1John 3:4). Now, most people object to being called a sinner. They are quick to claim they have done more good than bad in this life and so are sure they will end up in a “better place” when they die. However, the Bible tells us that all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away (Isaiah 64:6). In short, no one is good enough to save themselves from eternal damnation (Matthew 25:46).
On the other hand, everyone who confesses Jesus as Lord and believes in their heart that God raised him from the dead will be saved (Romans 10:9). This confession must be the work of the Holy Spirit in order to be genuine and is the initial evidence of God's gracious work of redemption (Ephesians 2:8-10). Further proof of salvation is found in a desire to walk just as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). Thus, the new Believer will renounce racism, sexual perversion, worldly parochialism and any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God (1 Timothy 1:10b-11a).
Unrelenting pressure to compromise is brought to bear on Christians by the world. Our stand for truth is portrayed as a threat to societal peace and harmony. We are painted as stupid, narrow-minded and without any real answers for the problems facing mankind. We should not be surprised. Jesus said, If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (John 15:19). Our goal is not to be loved by the world but to please our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are called to share the good news of salvation in Jesus with others and live in a way that exemplifies his lordship in our lives. Don't let the ridicule of the world dissuade you from doing so.