Many people mistakenly believe that eternal life or salvation can be earned. If you asked most people why they believed the Lord was going to grant them eternal life in His presence, they would say, "Because I have done more good in my life than bad." But is that true? Does Scripture actually teach this or is salvation obtained in a different way than many people expect?
If we took an honest self-assessment of our lives, I think each of us could probably identify a few areas where we've been blessed with gifts or privileges that others may not have necessarily received. In your life, those privileges might relate to where you were born, when you were born, what kind of health you've experienced, the strength of your family of origin, your educational opportunities, or the financial blessings you've been given. It might also be possible to identify ways in which you've been privileged spiritually.
What are you doing with the gifts and privileges you've been given? Are you grateful for them? Are you using them to bless others? Are you allowing those gifts to impact your life the way God intended?
One of the most awkward subjects for many of us to discuss is our personal finances. Even though our personal financial health directly impacts our family, our local church, funding for international missions, and our opportunities to be able to dedicate time to volunteer with ministries that matter to us, we hesitate to understand how to be stewards of the money the Lord entrusts to us. How are you handling the money the Lord has blessed you with?
Self-righteousness is disgusting, but it’s what many people in this world expect to experience when they encounter devoted Christians. Quite possibly, someone they have encountered in the past has left them with that impression, or maybe they've bought into the ways Christians are stereotyped in the media. Maybe they've even been on the receiving end of hurtful condemnation from a person who professes to believe in Jesus. Have you ever struggled with self-righteousness?
Years ago, I was in a hardware store and from a distance I saw someone I knew. Typically, when that takes place, I'll take the time to say "hello", but on this particular occasion, I didn't want to. The man I saw had just created a lot of conflict for some mutual friends, and I didn't want to engage him in conversation because I didn't want to get drawn into the drama. So I pretended like I hadn't seen him. I kept shopping and tried not to be seen. To my knowledge, he never knew I was there, but it felt very strange to try to walk through the aisles of the store while actively hiding from him and pretending I didn't know he was there.
In many ways, that's the way a large percentage of humanity lives their lives in regard to God. Instinctively, they know He's there, but they're doing their best to pretend He isn't while doing everything they can to avoid running into Him. There are consequences for doing this, and a dark side to living with this kind of disbelief that Romans 1:18-32 illustrates.
When you read through the chapters of Romans, it quickly becomes clear that Paul was trying to help the believers in the church at Rome come to a thorough understanding of sound doctrine. He wanted them to be able to understand deeper details about our faith so that their love for one another would grow and their appreciation for the work Christ has accomplished on our behalf would be strengthened. We don't need to be ashamed of Jesus. Rather, we can be joyful and grateful for who He is and what He does on our behalf.
Prayer is a beautiful and powerful thing. When Scripture speaks of prayer, it's describing the privilege we have as those who trust in Christ, to come to God personally, collectively, and directly, and communicate with Him. In prayer, we can praise Him for who He is, confess our sins and struggles, thank Him for the work He's accomplishing in our lives, and make requests for His divine help and intervention.
Various aspects of God's nature are so different from our daily human experience that it can be challenging for us to comprehend them. In time, as our trust in the Lord matures, we may come to accept the fact that these things are true of God, but we'll also probably spend a considerable amount of time wondering how these things work.
So why should it matter to us that God is self-existent? And what difference does it make to trust the fact that God is sovereign over His creation?
God wants us to live righteously, but how can we practice righteousness when, by nature, we're sinful people? And how can anything we do be considered righteous since all aspects of our lives have been tainted by sin? Our God is pure and far above everything He has created, but still His righteousness is made available to us, and in blessing us with it, He remedies this dilemma.