john newton combinedJune 15, 2016

There is plenty of sin to go around for all of us. As we look at the human tragedy in Orlando, FL, the talking heads in the media and the politicians are making all kinds of hay to fit their agendas both to the left and to the right. It is only natural for us to try and fix the blame upon someone for such a terrible letting of blood.

This was just as true at the time of Christ as it is today. Jesus was familiar with the current events of his day though the news delivery service was much slower. When Jesus is confronted with an atrocity committed by Governor Pilate upon some Galileans, Jesus reads the hearts of those who brought this account to him for his evaluation. Those who confronted Christ with this bloodbath presupposed the Galileans who suffered such a horrible death must have been guilty of some terrible sin of greater consequence than themselves. We know this is true because Jesus is quick to turn their eyes off presupposed sins of others and challenges them to take an honest look at themselves.

Luke 13:1-5   1There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

We are all sinners. It is easy for us to defer our sin and hide behind the perception we are not really as bad as somebody else. The tower which fell upon the heads of unsuspecting bystanders also gave rise to the opinion:  “Wow, those people must have really ticked God off for eighteen souls to be wiped out in a single blow!” Jesus says “Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”  Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death;…” And we are all guilty of sin; Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Our society is fascinated with God’s procreative gift and how many ways it can be twisted and distanced from His original intent and purpose. Yes, God will judge sin in this regard. But He will also judge the liar, the thief, the drunkard, the reviler, and any other rebellion which is contrary to the image of God in which we are created.

 1 Corinthians 6:9-11Know 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, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 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.

Regardless of our sin background, Jesus can save us. John Newton, the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”, was captain of a slave ship and was responsible for the death, injury and slavery of countless Africans. Yet, God in his mercy saved a repentant John Newton. Saul of Tarsus consented unto the stoning of Stephen and had authority from religious leaders to arrest and to imprison Christians and yet Jesus saved him. John Schofield, lost in the drunken lifestyle of his culture, was captured by the grace of God in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and God heard my prayer of repentance and faith and saved me.

It is very easy in this day of mass media and the twenty-four-hour news cycle to see the sins of others in living color and sometimes in real time. May God help us to lift our eyes off mankind’s perpetual failure and look to the One who has overcome sin, death, hell, and the devil. May these tragedies help us to look within first to make sure we are in a right relationship with our God and then may we bow our knees and pray for others. May God help us to speak the truth in love to a lost and dying world.

John 3:16-21 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Only Because of God’s Grace,

Pastor John Schofield