In the world today there are many things, outside the church, to ever so subtly draw believers away from Christ. The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful (Mark 4:19). Carnal pleasures and worldly lusts abound, and many are the philosophies (Colossians 2:8) of the world that would seek to uproot believers from the faith and lead them away from the truth of God's Word. If that is not enough, the Bible indicates that within the church there would be no safe refuge from the flood of false teaching and deception. Furthermore, the Bible indicates that these pressures that weigh on every believer would only get worse as we move towards the end of the age before Christ returns in His glory.
The progression of deceit and unbelief is so clearly taught in the Word of God, that to deny it would only reveal the depth of delusion already set in the minds of many. The soldier of the cross is warned to beware, to watch, to pray, to hold fast, stand fast, defend, stand on guard and to fight against any such deceitful manipulations as they are sure to arise in an ever increasing fashion in our local assemblies.
Degeneration would be the condition that would characterize the faith in the latter days. To verify this fact we will go to the very Words of Christ Himself. When Jesus was asked by His disciples, what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (Matthew 24:3), He took several chapters to answer them, going into much detail, which is recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke's gospel. However, we will look to just a few of the verses that tend to be the predominant theme throughout His discourse.
At the top of Jesus' list He first answered them saying, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many (Matthew 24:4-5). Further on He stated, And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many (Matthew 24:11). And yet again, there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect (Matthew 24:24).
If deception is to be the pitfall that will characterise the church of the last days, how will those living therein be able to withstand the looming tide of deceit that is rising with every passing day? The subtle thing about deception is that the incumbent is usually unaware that the wool has been pulled over his eyes. Christ warned the lukewarm Laodicean church saying, thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17).
This church thought they were pretty well off but were totally blind as to their true condition in the sight of God. They had quite a high opinion of themselves but in all reality, they were totally ignorant of God's judgment. So we must give diligence to make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10) and make every effort to be sure where our teaching comes from as it relates to the Christian faith.
In John's little epistle he admonishes us how to avoid such deception. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). We are to test the spirits, not with human reasoning, not with the wisdom of men, but are to compare every teaching by the Word of God which is the standard for Truth. The prophet Isaiah said, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20). Anything that agrees with Holy Scripture is to be accepted and all else to be rejected.
This was the position of the Bereans. They had such high esteem for the Word of God that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:11). The Scriptures were their daily bread and therefore they did not suffer the spiritual malnutrition that many suffer today, and as a result were less vulnerable to the effects of false teachings that plagued their day. They held to the Scriptural mandate, to Prove all things; [and] hold fast that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
In the Scriptures the believer has all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him (1 Peter 1:3). Without the Scriptures, the apostles were always concerned that the flock would be led astray. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
One of the common errors of many fellowships today is that they will look around and see what is commonly accepted by their peers and that becomes the standard whereby they measure themselves. However, we are told this is not wise. For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). This is akin to the blind following the blind.
A simple example may be helpful. I have been in some assemblies where some of the women dress like the pop stars of the world in their skimpy outfits. Now in the Scriptures we are told how to dress, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel (1 Timothy 2:9). Now if the younger ladies or those newly come to the faith see other women dressed in a promiscuous fashion, they may be tempted to measure or compare themselves among themselves, and assume that this form of fashion is acceptable. They may think, well Sally has been going to church all her life since she was a little child, and so have her parents, so it must be all right to dress in the attire of an harlot (Proverbs 7:10). To measure or compare ourselves with another is not wise. If we need to know the truth on any matter we need to go to the source of Truth, which Christ confirmed saying, thy word is truth (John 17:17). Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever (Psalm 119:160).
Those who would be leaders in the church should be examples to the flock, but they should only be followed to the extent that they follow Jesus Christ. They should never claim that their conduct is the standard whereby we can measure ourselves, but always referring to, pointing to, and exalting Christ and His Word as our standard. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)
Therefore, let us not allow worldly philosophies and trends to be our standard of measure, rather, let us look to Christ who left us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls (1 Peter 2:21-25).
If we are not following in the steps of Jesus we are going astray. If we are to follow His steps, we must follow His Word for Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1-3, Revelation 19:13), and He has given us His Word. Furthermore, Jesus said, the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit (John 6:63) and therefore we must use His Word to try the spirits whether they are of God (1 John 4:1), comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13). Only then will we be able to rightly discern between the the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error (1 John 4:6), and by continuing therein have our senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).
So, having been given His Word, His exceeding great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4), such as is able to steer us clear from every form of deception, it was essential that a succession of fundamental teaching be a part of every church fellowship, that we be Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught (Colossians 2:7). The apostles were given Christ's prescription for every new believer, Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you (Matthew 28:20). So the early church continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42).
The teaching of Christ was to be passed on as Paul told the young disciple Timothy, And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2). Of course the church could not go by memory to pass on the Words of life from Christ, so eventually the Word of God was miraculously recorded and preserved for all to read, to study and cherish. Jesus told the apostles, These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:25-26).
The Word of God was not dependent on the fallible memory of man, but was a product of the infallible work of the Holy Spirit. He would miraculously bring the Words of Christ to remembrance so at the right time they could be recorded in the Scriptures and made available for the entire world to read. Peter would assure us that they had, not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty (2 Peter 1:16). And under the guidance of the Holy Spirit they set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word (Luke 1:2-3).
So, the Scriptures were not third party hand me downs, but came directly from the eyewitnesses who, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, penned down the Holy Scriptures that we might know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed (Luke 1:4). Therefore, Peter concluded, We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:19-21). So the great revelation of God was revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Ephesians 3:5) and they could rightly say, The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue (2 Samuel 23:2).
We are reminded, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [mature], throughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17). One of the greatest needs in the church today is that of correction for, reproofs of instruction are the way of life (Proverbs 6:23), but Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die (Proverbs 15:10).
The Scriptures are a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path to guide us along the way and bring us to spiritual maturity, That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:14, 15).
The Scriptures are also referred to as, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17), and as such would be our main line of defence against any deception and false teachings that come our way. This great Sword is absolutely vital in the war against our deadly adversary the devil, [who] as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). But those who would not wield their sword skilfully, or by laziness lay it down while they slumber and sleep are quickly caught in the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Timothy 2:26).
Satan is the god of this world and the prince of it, and has blinded the minds of them which believe not (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is the one who tempts (Matthew 4:1-3) the believer by distorting God's Word and has many devices (2 Corinthians 2:11) in his bag of tricks. He is more subtle (Genesis 3:1) than any creature and none are immune to his evil formulations. He deceives the nations (Revelation 20:3, 8, 10), in fact, he deceiveth the whole world (Revelation 12:9), for the whole world lieth in wickedness (1 John 5:19).
But thanks be to God for the Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father (Galatians 1:4). Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Ephesians 2:2-3)
So we see that there is a war for the souls of men and women, and Satan, the enemy of God and His people, works to hinder (1 Thessalonians 2:18) the going forth of the truth and gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, it is a great tragedy to see and hear that within the very confines of the church today there are many enemies of the cross, who wittingly or unwittingly are serving the purpose of Satan. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). A counterfeit looks much like the real thing but is not the real thing and these ministers of righteousness as they are called, proclaim a false Christ, a false gospel and another spirit. In one of Christ's parables, these are the tares sewn among the wheat by the enemy (Matthew 13:25-30). They are false brethren unawares brought in (Galatians 2:4).
The apostles were sent as sheep in the midst of wolves (Matthew 10:16), therefore they were warned, Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15). These wolves have subtly crept into the midst of the flock. They came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage (Galatians 2:4). They may masquerade as sheep for awhile, however, by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:20), that is, by their doctrines, and their false doctrine by the standard of the Scriptures.
We should not be ignorant of these things for we are forewarned that these wolves would enter the flock. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. (Acts 20:27-32)
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 2-3)
As the long war against God progresses, it is very explicit throughout the Scriptures that in the last days, there would be a great apostasy, a falling away from the faith. Jesus asked the rhetorical question, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8) In the days of the early church Paul said, some are already turned aside after Satan (1 Timothy 5:15), but this trend would continue to increase before Christ returns as we are solemnly warned, evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13). There are many Scriptures which confirm this trend of spiritual degeneration.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:1, 2).
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (1 Thessalonians 2: 1-3).
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of (2 Peter 2:1-2).
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:1-4).
It becomes quite clear why one goes astray from the Truth. It may be that they have become lazy in their own personal study of the Scriptures, or their life becomes too cluttered with the affairs of this world, but it is most likely that deep down they really hate the Word of God for they have one or another pet sin that they love, which the Scriptures condemn, and have no intentions of repenting.
However, they like the spiritual numbness that religion brings, so wanting to maintain a form of godliness, they heap to themselves false teachers that are no friends to the true gospel of Jesus Christ and are quickly turned to fables. They pick and choose the Scriptures they are comfortable with and reject or twist the rest, and thereby fashion a god of their own making, a false god, a false Christ, and a false gospel.
It was important to take note of these false teachers and to make the assembly of believers aware of them and their false teachings. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17-18).
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Ephesians 5:6-11). The position of the early church was not to receive these teachers of lies into the assembly, nor to give them a big hug and try to reform them, but to have no fellowship with them and openly reprove them, that they might not gain advantage nor foothold in the assembly, and perhaps be ashamed and repent.
The apostle Paul was very zealous for the truth in preaching it and defending it, so when the church at Galatia began to move away from the purity of the gospel via false teachers that had entered in among them, he warned them in his epistle saying, I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:6-12).
It should be noted that these were not just the writings of the apostle Paul, but the revelation of Jesus Christ. Peter would affirm this also saying, And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:15-18).
Yes, deception would be a prevalent theme of the last days. We are told many times, let no man deceive you (Ephesians 5:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 1 John 3:7), but we are also told, Let no man deceive himself (1 Corinthians 3:18). How often it is that we want so hard to believe something that is not true, or, to believe something other than the Scriptures. This puts us in a situation where it is very possible to deceive ourselves. And this is far easier than one might think for the Scriptures say, The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). The fact of the matter is that our heart and mind are not a reliable source to discern between good and evil as they have been ravaged by sin. Let us not think that we can trust our own heart, rather, Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
We are never encouraged to look within ourselves for the truth, rather we are admonished to Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil (Proverbs 3:5-7). We are warned to lean not on our own understanding, our own thoughts, and our own ways but rather to forsake them. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:6-8).
There is coming a day when many will have to stand before Christ who deceived themselves into believing they were ok with God, and will hear those frightful words, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23).
These thought they were servants of the Lord, but were never born again children of God, and were cast out. Many have a problem with this, that God would send someone to hell, but let us understand that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, not for people. The devil has been a rebel against God since the beginning, wanting to be his own god. When people follow the devil in this same rebellious path, rejecting God's Word, they are showing they would be more comfortable with Satan than with Christ in eternity. They loved the pleasure of sin and living a life contrary to the Word of God, without Christ in their life, so why would they want to live with Him in eternity? "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved" (John 3:19-20). The fact of the matter is that they would be quite uncomfortable in heaven. Therefore Christ, because of His great love, has repeatedly warned them of what is coming, and so should we.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Corinthians 13:5) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Our dilemma is that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Let us not say we have no sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way (Isaiah 53:6). As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Romans 3:10-11). But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6).
Our problem is that no sin can enter the presence of God. We are told that there is not any thing that defileth (Revelation 21:27) that shall enter into heaven, and sin defiles. We are told, "from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man" (Mark 7:21-23).
The prophet Habakkuk said, Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13). The soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:20) for the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23). Death is the payment for sin, and this is not physical death that every man faces, but the second death, eternal separation from God in hell. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).
The Psalmist asked the question, Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully (Psalm 24:3-4). But, Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin? (Proverbs 20:9) The answer, clearly, is none, for all have sinned (Romans 3:23). Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4), and the Bible states, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them (Galatians 3:10).
The commandments are holy, and just, and good (Romans 7:10) and The man that doeth them shall live in them (Galatians 3:12). But who on earth has lived up to them? The whole duty of man is to Fear God, and keep his commandments (Ecclesiastes 2:13). Many keep most of the commandments most of the time but will inevitably fail in some of the commandments some of the time bringing the guilty one under God's curse of death. The Scriptures are very clear, For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10). Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight (Romans 3:20).
All men have sinned and are therefore lost and are in urgent need of salvation and this is where God's wonderful grace comes in. For all those who will trust and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive Him as their Saviour from sin shall receive the free gift of eternal life. He alone took our sin in His own body on the cross and paid the full payment thereof that we might be freed of sin. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). He kept the law for us and bore its curse so we might be saved through trusting Him.
The Bible tells us, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is nothing we could do to redeem ourselves from our debt of sin before, during or after our coming to Christ for salvation so boasting is excluded.
Salvation comes not by anything we can do but by what Christ has already done for us on the cross. If we could be saved on our own merit, Christ died in vain, and the cross is the greatest tragedy this world could ever know. However, the cross made it possible for helpless sinners to come to God through faith.
But where can we find such faith? We are told, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). The Bible tells us we can be born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you (1 Peter 1:23-25). This is why the devil works so hard to corrupt the Word of God.
Furthermore, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1 Corinthians 1:21). Precisely what preaching then are we to believe if we are to be saved? For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is the preaching of the cross, THAT is the good news for mankind, the gospel of our salvation. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).
This is what the apostles preached for the salvation of all. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Not only did He die for our sins, but he rose from the dead for our justification whereby we might receive the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17). Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:5-7).
Christ bore our sins and in exchange, He gives us the robe of His righteousness. I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10).
The payment has been paid in full and the price of our redemption has been accepted by the Father. Christ "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Romans 4:25). God raised Him from the dead whereby He shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days (Acts 1:3). Because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, we might have the "hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2). God "raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." (1 Peter 1:21) This is the most proven fact of history, and there has been no other who has been able to conquer our great enemy which is death. Buddha is in the grave, Krishna is in the grave, Mohammad is in the grave, along with every other cult leader of the world.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..." (1 Peter 1:3). Without the ressurection of Jesus Christ from the dead we would have no hope, but now, "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9). There is a judgment day coming. We can be sure of that for "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18). God "will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
Sin will be judged! And the only hope for mankind today is Jesus crucified for sinners and risen from the dead. What blessing and hope and assurance we do have in and through Him whom God raised from the dead. Only in Christ Jesus we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7). In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Jesus said, Ye must be born again that is born of the Spirit (John 3:7-8), for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:9). But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).