Getting Right With God

Title: Getting Right with God

Text: Romans 1:17

Time: June 18th, 2006

Does God like you? Would you like God to like you? Wouldn’t you like to be right with God? Wouldn’t you like to have God smiling at you when you see him face-to-face? There is coming a day when we will meet God face-to-face. Think about that. Nobody knows when that day will come. It could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could be next month, or next year, the year after that, we don’t know when we’ll die and stand face-to-face in front of God. But the Bible says that day is coming. Now, let’s suppose you die today, right after this church service, you walk out of here and all of a sudden you get this sharp pain in your heart and after a while it stops because you are now dead. After the sharp pain for a minute, all pain stops and you find yourself in a strange place and standing face-to-face in front of God himself. Now what kind of expression do you see on his face? That’s going to tip you off for what’s ahead for you. What kind of expression is on his face? Is he smiling or frowning? Now if he’s frowning, I’m going to get really scared because that’s a bad sign, that’s a really bad sign if you die and face God and he’s frowning or his face looks really serious at you. That probably means that he is not liking what he’s seeing. It probably means that whatever it took to get on God’s good side in this life, you didn’t do. It probably means that you are in big trouble and there is no way out. It probably means that you are not going to be in for a good Judgment Day. If God has a frown or scowl on his face when you meet him for the first time, which could be today, or tomorrow or whenever it is that you die, it means that you are not right with him. It means that whatever you did in this life, you did not get righteous before God. It means that all your sins will be judged and you will be condemned and you will suffer for all eternity for your sins because you didn’t get your sins taken care of, erased, washed clean, forgiven in this life. I hope I never see God frowning at me when I meet him, because I’ll know that whatever I should have done to get right with God, I didn’t do and now I’ll pay. But if you die today, or tomorrow, or whenever, and find yourself face-to-face before God and he’s smiling, he’s got this great big smile on his face, and looks happy and joyful, you’ll know you are in. Right then, right there, you don’t even have to hear what he’s going to say next. If you die and stand before God and the first thing you see is this great big, wide grin on his face, before anything else, you know you are in, you are going to heaven, your sins are forgiven, you are right with God. Whatever it was that you had to do in this life to get righteous before God, it happened because here is God with this smile on his face. And once I see his smile, I’m going to smile and take a sigh of relief. Now how many here want to see God smile at you as you walk in the door? How many here want to get right with God or be sure you are right with God now before you die and face God? Ok, let’s see how the Apostle Paul explains how we can get right with God in this life, so that when we face God he’s got his smile on. Romans 1:17, “For the gospel reveals how God puts men right with himself. It is through faith, from beginning to end. As the scripture says, ‘He who is put right with God through faith shall live.’” TEV. Three things about this passage.

First, we don’t start out right with God. “For the gospel reveals how God puts men right with himself.” Now if the gospel tells us how God can put us right with himself, it must be that we are out of sorts with God to start out with. That’s because you and I are born of the race of Adam, we are great, great, great, great, great, etc. grandchildren of Adam and Eve, and being such we have their disease of original sin. It is passed on from generation to generation. Do you know that it’s possible for mothers to pass on AIDS to their babies? Isn’t that sad? It doesn’t seem fair that a mother can catch AIDS because of her lifestyle, maybe because she was doing what she shouldn’t have been doing, and she contracts AIDS, and then has a little bitty baby, and the baby has AIDS too. That doesn’t seem fair, but that’s what can happen. Well, that’s what happened to you and me because of the original sin of Adam and Eve our great, great, great, great, etc. grandparents. So we are born into original sin, we have the sin disease, and when we get big enough we start sinning just as our parents started sinning when they got big enough, and their parents, and so on and so on. That means that from the moment you are born in original sin you are out of sorts with God and when you get older and start sinning on your own, you are doubly out of sorts with God. That means that your sin debt keeps getting higher and higher and interest keeps mounting and mounting, and God gets madder and madder because not only do you have original sin, that’s bad enough, now you are compounding it all with having earned sin, through sinning on your own. When God looks at you, all he sees is sin, and as you get older that sin just keeps getting bigger and bigger. If you were to die in that sinful state, when you stand before God face-to-face you would see a frown on God’s face, you would see a very stern and serious expression on his face. And seeing that expression would make you fear, and you had better, because it’s a bad sign of things to come. And then when the Judgment Day comes and you are shown all of your sins, from A to Z, it will really get awful. Imagine the pain of seeing all the sins and evils and offenses you’ve committed against God’s law? Imagine seeing all your moral failures, all your selfishness, all the times you rebelled against God, all the times you’ve defied God’s will, chosen sin against God? It will be the worst experience of your life. But that won’t be the worst thing you’ll experience, because after it’s all over, you’ll be condemned and sentenced to hell forever and ever, along with all the demons and the devil himself, you’ll go where they go. And all along God will not once smile at you or give you even an ounce of kindness because your sins were never forgiven, you never got right with God in this life. So we all start out not right with God. If we stay that way we go to Judgment Day and then to eternal damnation. Is there any way to get right with God and avoid that entire awful scene?

Second, we don’t start out right with God, so we try to get right with God by our own human efforts. “For the Gospel reveals how God puts men right with himself. It is through faith, from beginning to end.” Now that’s the correct way to get right with God, faith, but that’s not what we try to do at first to get right with God. What we usually try first is to make ourselves right with God through our own human effort. The religions of the world are all invented for one reason: to try to get right with God through religious practices. I must admit that when I was a young man I thought that in order to get right with God I had to make things right by my own human efforts. I though I had to be good enough to be right before God. I remember joining the Boy Scouts and trying to follow all the rules they gave me. I though if I followed all the Boy Scout rules I’d be right with God. There is one rule in Boy Scouts that I went out of my way to keep because I thought that in order to be good, in order to be right, with the Boy Scouts and even with God, I had to keep all the rules. There was this one rule in Boy Scouts that I went out of my way to keep, it was: do a good deed daily. So I religiously tried to keep that one simple rule, do a good deed daily. To show you how serious I took my Boy Scout rules I remember once that I had gone to bed one night and woke up worried. Why? Because I had forgot to do a good deed that day!! I raked my brain to try to think up something of a good deed that I had done that day so that I could go back to sleep, find peace, and feel satisfied that I had kept my promise to do a good deed daily, but I couldn’t. So do you know what I did? And this shows you how dedicated I was, and how much I thought that in order to be right, good, righteous before God and man I had to do it myself, this shows you how misguided I was as to how to get right with God. Do you know what I did in the middle of the night? I got up out of my bed, went down stairs in the middle of the night with my parents asleep in their room and my sister asleep in her room, I went downstairs to find something of a good deed to do, in the middle of the night. I found a basket of unfolded clothes from the dryer load and began to fold socks in the middle of the night. Why? Because I thought in order to be right with God and keep my promise to the Boy Scouts I had to do a good deed daily, and so I was trying to make good on that. Well, as you can guess eventually, at some point in the future, I couldn’t keep my promise. I eventually skipped doing a good deed daily, I failed to live up to the rules of Boy Scouts, I failed to fulfill the requirements. I couldn’t do it by myself. And that is what everyone finds out when they try to get right with God by their own human efforts, I don’t care what religion it is, you will fail. You can’t live up to the high standards of God, you will fall, you will fail. You can get baptized in a church, but you can’t even live up to your baptism vows. You can join a church, but you can’t live up to your membership vows. All human efforts lead to failure, because as humans we just can’t get right with God trying. If we die in our human failings, we’ll meet God with a frown, He won’t be smiling. And then we’ll know we’ve missed out on everything. So how can we get right with God? Only one way: faith.

Third, there is only one way to get right with God: faith. “For the Gospel reveals how God puts men right with himself; it is through faith, from beginning to end. As the scripture says, ‘He who is put right with God through faith shall live.’” Only through faith can we get right with God. Faith in what? Faith in Jesus Christ alone. Faith in Christ’s righteousness. Jesus came and lived a totally, 100% righteous life on earth. Then he died upon the cross and took upon himself all the sins and disobedience of the world. On the cross he takes away all our sins, and by his life he earns us righteousness. Or in other words, if we give him all our sins, he will give us all his righteousness, so that when we stand before the Father he sees only the good and none of the bad. Now isn’t that a good deal? Notice it says faith, from beginning to end. That means we are saved 100% by faith and 0% by any human efforts on our part. It is not true, it is false to say that we try as best we can, say 25% righteousness, and then Christ provides the rest, say the final 75% to equal 100% righteousness. No. It’s Christ’s righteousness alone, and it’s all by faith, none by our good deeds. I could fold socks and be a good boy every day of my life and it wouldn’t get me any closer to God, it wouldn’t make me any more right with God than somebody who doesn’t try at all. What I didn’t realize at the time is that it didn’t matter how good I tried to be I couldn’t please God with my good deeds because my problem was sin, original and actual. So what if I did good deeds, I’d still have to deal with the bad deed I’d done. No, I needed the righteousness of Christ, because the righteousness of Jeff isn’t good enough, and neither is your own self-righteousness. You can pray, read your Bible, go to church, get baptized twice (sprinkled and dunked), join a church, join two churches (Elvis once did), try to follow all the rules, fold socks at midnight, etc. But it’s only the righteousness of Christ that can save you. Have you reached out with the empty arms of faith and clung to Jesus on the cross to forgive you of your sins, and to pour his own righteousness into your soul? Have you stopped trying to please God by your own human efforts? Have you trusted Jesus by faith alone, without trusting any of your own good deeds? Have you? If you have, then when you die, and stand before God the Father, the first thing you’ll see is this great big smile on the face of the Father saying, “Come home, through the righteous blood of my son, come home through the forgiveness of sins, come home, pass through the Judgment, pass into your heavenly home.” And the Father will take you, put his arm around you, and walk with you into your new home in heaven. Isn’t that what you want? That’s what I want. Let’s pray and tell it to the Father: “Father, we want to be right with you, not by our own good works, but by the righteous works of your son Jesus. We trust in Jesus right now, trust in his death on the cross in our place, trust that his blood is sufficient to cover even our sins, trust in his righteousness to flow into our souls and make us acceptable in your sight. We repent of all our sins and turn to you know with the empty arms of faith. Save us we pray. Amen.”


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