The Other Mechanism
Greetings Narrow Gate,
I pray that you and yours are well. I continue to miss our fellowship and look forward to when we can gather again to praise the Lord.
Today we'll continue our look at scriptures that reveal what Easter is all about. We will continue to look at three questions to reveal answers from today's scripture:
1) Why do we need Jesus? Why Jesus?
2) What happened on the cross? What does our passage for today reveal about the cross.
3) Who is Jesus?
Our scripture today is from Ephesians 2:1-7. Paul is the one speaking, and he is talking about our salvation. Let's begin with Ephesians 2:1-3, NIV.
"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath."
Paul is beginning with the natural state of mankind, the original condition, which is where we are dead in our transgressions and sins. This is the default condition of all men and women on earth. Default here, in it's newer definition, which means: a pre-selected option adopted by a computer program or other mechanism when no alternative is specified by the user or programmer.
In other words, our default condition is that we are the walking dead. We are dead in our flesh, our original sin nature. We would be stuck here, if it were not for that other mechanism (not a computer program), but Jesus Christ.
All of us walking dead, living, but no future, moving around with no real purpose, except the same future as Satan's and the sad purpose of just more sin. What a pitiful existence. Who would be leading us in this existence, why none other than the prince of the kingdom of the air, Satan.
This is our default setting for all of us. Each and everyone of us is in this state of being dead in our sins. This is where we sin with our minds and our bodies, gratifying the cravings of the flesh. I lived like this till I was thirty years old. I would have continued living this way if I had not been married to woman who gave her life to Christ. Instead, I met, the other mechanism, Jesus Christ.
Until this time though, living my sinful life, not even realizing that I was sinful, delightfully ignorant of sin, I was the perfect definition of being the object of God's wrath. I was against God. Whether I chose to be or not. Because this was my default setting.
Here is where I believe many people get confused and don't realize that this default setting of us being dead in our sins is permanent. Permanent, unless we make a choice to change our setting, by going to that other mechanism, Jesus. Just like changing the settings on our phones, we must change the setting of our hearts and minds to our Jesus setting. We have to do this for ourselves, no one else can do this for us.
We have to consciously change our life setting from default to Jesus. This means that we have to choose Jesus Christ. If we don't choose Jesus, our life stays on its original setting which is our sinful nature. Sadly, many people are going to hell, not realizing that by their not choosing Jesus, they have acquiesced to hell. I wish this surprise on no one. Ephesians 2:4-5,
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved."
Imagine being rich, not in money, but in mercy. How would you share all of you mercy? By giving it to everyone? This is just what God did. Jesus died for each and every person that has ever lived or will ever live. Our salvation is activated when we believe, when we put our faith in Jesus, when we give our heart to Jesus. Jesus' work on the cross took place over 2000 years ago, yet I gave my heart to him in 1988. This means that God was extending his grace in Christ to me before I was even born, and then also, while I was dead in my sins, a member of the walking dead. I was saved in 1988 when I chose Jesus.
Jesus' work is a finished product. A sacrifice for one and all, once and for all. But you and I each still have to make our personal decision for Christ. We each have to make a choice. We have to choose Jesus over whatever mix of sins and false idols tempt us. There is no sidestepping this choice, if you do avoid choosing, you've chosen sin because it is our default choice. It doesn't matter about church attendance or that your granddad was head of church council. We choose Jesus or our default never changes. When we do choose Jesus:
We are alive with Christ and our sin is dead. Romans 6:3-8,
"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him."
When we are baptized in faith to Jesus, we Join him in his death and sufferings. But we also join in his resurrection from the dead as we come up out of the water. We are alive, alive with Christ. But we are not just raised up. Ephesians 2:6-7,
"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus."
So we are not just raised up, but we are seated with Jesus in heaven. No, not the standing room only section, there is no SRO section in heaven. We are all seated with Jesus. I won't need my doughnut pillow there! Can I get an amen?
Why do we need Jesus? Without Jesus we would all still be slaves to our sinful nature with no hope for freedom. That's a desperate situation, one with no hope.
What happened on the cross? Jesus died for our sins while we were still dead in our sins. When we believe in Christ, we die with Christ, our sins die to Christ. But something else beautiful happens as well, we are raised to live with Christ.
Who is Jesus? Jesus is God's expression of kindness, mercy and grace to us. Jesus is also that other mechanism, that allows us to choose something other than our default setting of sin. He is our Savior.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC