You Can't Jump Across the Grand Canyon (Article 18-1)
In this article, I want to address the age-old question, “How can we be right with God”? Before we address this question, we must first review scripture on where we stand in relation to God, more specifically, as it deals with righteous. In Romans 1:18-3:20, Paul forcefully drives home the point that all people, whether the pagan Gentiles or the religious Jews, are under sin. We all fall short of God's glory. He spent a great deal of time on this subject, especially hitting the religious Pharisees on their self-righteousness and hypocritical behavior, because he knew that unless we feel the weight of our own sin and condemnation, we we could not appreciate our need for the gospel, thus God. In short, Paul is teaching us that we must first understand the bad news before we can understand and welcome the good news. The bad news is that we dishonor God and have no right to enter His holy presence. The great news is that our Heavenly Father has made it possible to come back home to Him. But, we must realize that there is no way to go back home by our own abilities, works, or efforts. It can only be done through Jesus Christ.
We Must Understand Our Human Condition
Let me come straight to the point. No man can ever hope to fulfill his one and only purpose in life – to become one with God - without realizing his utter hopelessness. Not only are we “hopeless”, but we are in an eternal state of “helplessness”. Any man believing otherwise is being deceived or chooses to deceive himself. See, our biggest obstacle in our pursuit in knowing and having a relationship with God is our unsaid (or may be even said) belief that we are “a God.” For example, do you not believe that you may have control over your life? Do you believe you that you can make the best decisions for life by way of your own intellect and abilities? Do you seek self-sufficiency? Do you yearn for recognition, praise, and respect? Do you, at some level, want to be appreciated and revered? Do you desire to be honored and remembered by those who you live with and those you will leave behind? Do you seek relationships and strive to be in the center of it? For many of us, the answers to all or many of the above questions are likely to be “yes”. When you carefully think through the above questions, you will come to realize that what we subconsciously believe we have Godly attributes and should be treated accordingly.
God Warns Us About Our Godly Desires
The very first Law that God gives us is “Thou Shalt Not Have Any Gods Before Me”. Many may think God means we should not worship Gods of other beliefs or religions. Some may think it means to not worship or put first tangible and worldly things. For some, this commandment may mean to put anything before Him. These views are in fact true; however, I want to offer something else to consider relative to the this First Commandment's intent for understanding. Whether we want to believe or admit it, we are the God that He commands us not to put before Him. Christ talks to this point too. In His “Sermon on the Mount (Beatitudes [Matthew 5:1-12]), the very first thing that Christ states is “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, For They Shall Inherent the Kingdom of Heaven”. What Christ tells us is that we must understand, before anything else, our spiritually poverty. What this means is that we must recognize who we are in relation to God and our need for God in all things. In short, Christ is explaining the importance of being humble! Not only did Christ teach us this critical point as a prerequisite to being one with God, He, by His own personal example, taught us how to be humble. By doing so, Christ restored humility back into the world. In sharp contrast, the opposite of humility is pride. Pride is one’s lack of ability or willingness to understand who he is in relation to God, with the belief that He does not need God to live a fulfilling and happy life. He trusts in his own intellect and abilities to make the best decisions for his own life and the lives of others. This will lead to destruction. Think about it. How many times have you taken things in your own hands relative to your life destiny or to address problems. How has it worked out for you so far? I'm confident in my assuming that it didn't work out very well. I'm also confident in assuming that you, as in many other instances, came to the end of yourself. The good news is that is how God leads you back to Him. He will let you come to the end of yourself so you will have the desire to reconcile back to Him. He does so out of love and the desire for you to come back home where you belong.
Faith and Faith Alone is the Basis For our Salvation
Paul had referred to the gospel in Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.” The profound truth behind this scripture is that our faith in Christ is the only basis from salvation is achieved. Let me say this again. Only faith in Jesus Christ can save us. There is no other way! It is this one point that separates Christians from the other two Abrahamic faiths (Judaism and Islam) from which we share Old Testament scripture-based beliefs. The difference is that of the three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), only Christians believe that salvation is achieved by means of Christ and His works on the Cross. Since neither Judaism and Islam recognize Christ as the promised Messiah (Savior of the World), they default to doing good works on earth as the means for salvation.
Accept That You Cannot Jump Across the Grand Canyon
So how can you and I as sinners be right with a God who is absolutely holy? It’s impossible to be right with God by striving to be a good person or by attempting to keep God’s Law. The Law only reveals how far we fall short of God’s glory. To be right with God by our good deeds would be like trying to jump across the average 10-mile width of the Grand Canyon. Some may be able to jump three feet toward the other side, while the most capable athletes may be able to jump 7 or more feet to the other side. A person with infirmities would only step off the edge and plummet to his death. The point is that no man can, by his own physical abilities, can jump across the Canyon. It’s impossible!
If we put our trust in Christ alone to carry us across the Grand Canyon, which represents the chasm between us and God, we can be assured that we will make it to the other side. For we know that we can not be made righteous by our own accord, but only through abiding in Christ and His righteousness.