“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 5:1)
“If you have never received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I invite you to come forward now, we’d like to pray with you…”
How many sermons have you listened to that ended with words similar to these? I have regularly attended several different churches in my life where the message every Sunday, invariably, was a call to receive Christ and obtain Salvation. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Nothing is wrong with preaching Salvation, it is the Message that every preacher of the Gospel is called to preach. In 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul counsels the young pastor to “Do the work of an evangelist…”, literally one who proclaims the Good News (Gospel). Evangelism is, without a doubt, the highest order of business for any Christian minister.
But is the call to Salvation the be all end all Message that should be preached? Is the invitation to the lost sinner to receive Jesus Christ the totality of the preacher’s errand? One particular church I attended for a while when I was younger was located in a very small, rural town and had a regular attendance of about 25 to 30. Comprised of mostly older people, many of whom had been members of this same church for decades, this was a little, intimate congregation made up nearly entirely of folks who were either related or had known each other for years. Yet Sunday after Sunday, the preacher would stand in his pulpit and expound on the necessity and importance of receiving Christ for Salvation.
I remember thinking one morning during the awkward silence following yet another unanswered altar call that, if there were any among this group of modest farmers and laborers who had not yet come to faith in Christ, they probably never would!
The ardent call to faith in Christ is extremely important and should be implicitly present even in the sermons where it is explicitly absent. That one must be trusting in Jesus Christ, crowning Him as their own Lord and Savior, believing on His name for Salvation, is the underlying assumption behind every message given involving the grace and blessings of God. Yet the time comes for us to move beyond the call to faith, the Message of Salvation itself, into that meat of the Word of God, that nourishment and spiritual sustenance that the Provider of all good things has given to His own. We certainly do well to periodically revisit the fundamental foundation on which every Christian stands, for even the full-grown adult can still feed on the gentle milk of the Gospel and be filled by it, but for any of us to grow beyond spiritual “childhood”, we must partake of solid food.
“Therefore being justified by faith…” (Romans 5:1a)
That single word, therefore, bridges what we have been discussing in the previous chapters with what follows. In other words, what we are about to look at is expressly for those who have been justified by faith, it is for those already saved. The Apostle Paul has delivered the call to faith, and any who have not yet heeded must do so if they are to avail themselves of the rest of what is to come. In Verse 12 of this Fifth chapter of Romans, we return again to a discussion of Salvation itself, but for these first 11 verses, we will consider what it is we have in Christ.
So many non-Christians are disinterested in coming to Christ because they fail to see any benefit in it. The reality of an afterlife just seems far too abstract and ethereal for a lot of people, particularly younger people. Try to talk with most teenagers and young adults about what will happen to them after they die and you will often get a blank stare at best, or perhaps a cynical smirk. Why? Because in their mind, what happens after they grow old and die might as well be a million years away.
What we often miss is the fact that there are many blessings and benefits to be enjoyed in Christ today. Eternal life is, of course, the greatest gift that God has given to us, but He has also given us so much more! We do not have to wait until we die in order to enjoy all of the wonderful things that the Lord has provided. There are earthly benefits to be found in Christ, blessings for anyone who is trusting in the Lord Jesus to have right now. Over the coming days, Lord willing, we will take a closer look at some of these benefits.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,