GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 652 • June 18, 2021
WHAT DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU WOULDN’T HAVE EXCEPT FOR THE LORD?
“Except the Lord had left us a remnant we would be as Sodom and Gomorrah”(Isaiah 1:9). “Unless the Lord builds the house, they who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). There are things we do not have only because we do not seek them from God, in the way He requires (James 4:2). There are things people strive for and cannot get because they are only available in and through Jesus Christ. This present lesson is about five things we could have with Christ and cannot have without him.
I. PEACE IN A HOSTILE WORLD. Eph. 2:14-22, John 14:27
Few things are more precious than peace, especially peace with God among His people. The world’s concept of peace is shallow – the absence of overt physical conflict. But underlying feelings of hostility, enmity, desire to exploit others, etc. can erupt into armed conflict at any time. The attitude of many is “do things the way we want them, allow us to be in control and do not resist – then we will give you peace.” Resentment, feeling that one is being exploited by those for whom “might makes right” is not peace.
Jesus referred to his peace as what he wants and is able to give. “My peace I give you; not as the world gives” (John 14:27) can mean the kind of peace that he himself enjoyed even when under threat of persecution, death, and destruction – ability to be calm and trust God.
Salvation is the special peace that Jesus alone can give. One who is at peace with God through Christ can also be at peace with himself. Whether or not there is peace in the world, or peace between the Christians and the world, the peace of God that surpasses human understanding will guard his life and mind, his soul (Phil. 4:6-7).
We cannot have real peace apart from Jesus because nobody but Jesus is wise enough to understand needs and satisfy the desires of others. Nobody but Jesus is unselfish enough to sacrifice himself to supply real blessings for others, and nobody but Jesus can inspire others to feel that way.
II. SECURITY IN AN INCREASINGLY UNSTABLE WORLD.
Lack of peace and militant social and religious forces cause instability and insecurity. Political disturbances – we do not have the Communist “cold war,” but we do have rogue regimes that threaten democratic governments. Religiously motivated threats (currently from radical Islamic groups – Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas are terrorist societies rooted in Islam. The “Gay Lesbian Transgender” movement threatens to destabilize society everywhere. The apparent disintegration of marriage and the home removes one of the basic pillars of civilized society.
Physical destruction of the world is within the power of man. At least in part. Climate, pollution of the atmosphere and physical resources, even the food supply are all vulnerable. A nuclear holocaust is an ever-present threat. How can we feel secure in such conditions? We can be morally and spiritually secure, even if the world around us is falling apart. I intend to preach soon on the question, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). The answer is: remember that the Lord has not changed. He cares for the righteous and will preserve them when He calls the others to judgment.
Why can we not have real security without Jesus? Is anyone powerful enough to restrain those who desire to hurt others. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). This does not mean I can do miracles or do the impossible, do anything I set my mind to. It means that I can endure and be patient and trust – and be content – without losing hope, no matter what may be happening to me or in the world..
Based upon what Christ has done, and his promise that he will be with us always, even to the end of the world, we need not be afraid of what others can do to us (Heb. 13:5-6). Jesus can and will change the hearts of people so that they will love rather than hate, help rather than hurt. He upholds the world with the word of his power (Heb.1:2). He holds the world itself together (Col. 1:17). Think how secure the people of the world would be if they were held together by Him.
III. HOPE IN A TIME OF FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY.
Hope is always for something yet to come, not something one already has (Rom. 8:24). Present circumstances, if stable and peaceful, can support one’s hope that they will continue into the future. Even when circumstances are not good, not stable or peaceful, the promises of God in Jesus Christ give one hope for a better future – certainly for eternal life in heaven. There can be no hope apart from absolute truth (John 8:31-32, Rom. 3:4). Hope cannot be based upon error, mistakes, inconsistency, and relativism. Hope is not only desire, it is expectation – certainty, confidence.
The words of Christ and the God he has shown us in his words and actions, and in his person have proved true in every test. Nothing has failed of anything he ever said or promised. We can believe that everything will yet be fulfilled just as he said. These things cannot be said of anyone else. Therefore we say, without Christ we have no hope, no confidence, no assurance that no matter what happens the outcome will be just as he promised.
IV. SALVATION FROM THE RESULTS OF OUR OWN FAILURES, MISTAKES, MISCONDUCT – OUR SINS.
The results of sin may be uncertain physically, but they are certain spiritually. One may or may not suffer physical consequences of his sins and errors, his misdeeds. The wicked do seem to prosper – it causes some consternation for Christians, for those who consider themselves to be righteous or are trying to be righteous ( Psalm 73). Thieves and liars, adulterers and murderers may not be caught and punished – it may give us some guilty pleasure when they are, and it may cause us some anger and hostility when they are not. But the wages of sin is spiritual death, and God will impose the penalty at some time – if not in this life, certainly in eternity (Rom. 6:23, Gal. 6:7-8. Heb. 10:16-18).
Forgiveness is the only thing that can prevent spiritual death and eternal damnation. When the Lord forgives a sin, the spiritual penalty for that sin is removed, not to be brought against the sinner again (Heb. 10:16-18). Aren’t we glad to know that we are not lost irrevocably and damned eternally with no hope or remedy when we have committed a sin?
Without the sacrificial work of Jesus there could be no salvation, no forgiveness of any sin (Heb. 9:22, 10:1-4, 12-15).
The spiritual penalty of death will be paid for every sin and every sinner. There is no escape from the justice and righteous retribution of God. Every sinner must either have an acceptable substitute – a vicarious sin offering – or pay the debt for himself, in full. The only available and acceptable substitute for the sinner is Jesus. “He is the propitiation for our sins – for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
V. THE PROMISE AND PROSPECT OF ETERNAL LIFE IN HEAVEN WITH GOD.
The promise made by the Lord is clearly defined, and just as clearly restricted ( John 3:16, 1 John 2:25. Titus 1:2 and 3:7). Jesus is preparing the place for his people, and Jesus will return for them to take them there (John 14:1-6). Remember, Jesus is the way to God, the only way – nobody can get to the Father and His heaven except by Jesus Christ (John 14:6, 1 John 5:11-13). “This is the record: God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life… These things I have written to you who believe…that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence we have” (1 John 5:13-14)
CONCLUSION: We know what we have if we have Jesus, and what we cannot have if we do not have him. With him we can have all God promises In Christ all God’s promises are yes, true, fulfilled (2 Cor. 1:20). As the song says: Without Jesus we can do nothing, be nothing, and have nothing. Without Him we are drifting and dying. With him and in Him we live.