When my children were very young, we used to do family devotionals that were designed to illustrate biblical truths in fun and creative ways that were both engaging and impactful for kids.  A few of those, that were particularly good at accomplishing that goal, are still emblazoned upon my children's memories even now many years later.  One, in fact, we were just recently talking about over dinner.  Here's the scenario:

          We gathered the kids at the bottom of our staircase and I stood all the way up at the top.  The challenge that I gave to them was to get all the way to the top of the stairs (where I was) without touching any of the steps.  My youngest, Owen, who was pretty small at the time, missed the point of the instructions and comically just started making his way up the stairs.  My older two though, took this as an opportunity to show off their strength and agility and began attempting to scale anything they could think of (baseboards, handrails, etc.), but soon found they weren't up to the challenge.

          The solution to the issue (as you may have deduced) was for me to simply walk down the stairs to where they were, pick them up, and carry them with me up to the top.  You may have also deduced that the illustration of the lesson was how we, as fallen and broken beings, can be reconciled to and reunited with our Lord in Heaven.  Salvation, like my children's staircase dilemma, is impossible apart from a work of someone else (Jesus)...and yet, far too often, and in far too many ways, we, like my children attempting to scale the stairs by any means possible, fool ourselves into believing that there is some other way that we can do it ourselves.

          The clear teaching of scripture and the reality of life experience declare in one loud and unified voice that we don't have what it takes.  As Cody so aptly taught us on Sunday, what meritorious act on your part are you going to put forward before a perfectly holy God?  Maybe you are an above average giver?  Maybe you faithfully attend every church sanctioned event?  Maybe you serve others every chance you get?

          Please understand, it is a good and God-honoring thing to be generous with our time and resources, to faithfully and passionately pursue God, and to love and care for our fellow man, but none of those things have the power to save sinners.  If they did, there would be no need for Jesus.  By his very existence in history, Jesus is proclaiming to all men their deep need for him.  You don't need to be a theologian to understand that Jesus wouldn't have descended his throne in heaven, took on flesh, lived, suffered, and gave his life upon the cross, if he didn't have to do so.  That just makes sense!

          Good works are always meant by God to be an outward sign, to both ourselves and others, of the inward change that occurs as a result of our salvation, not as a means to accomplishing it.  It is by the fruit which it bears that a tree may be known (Matthew 7:15-20).  You'd never expect to walk up to an apple tree and find oranges, pears, peaches, or any other type of fruit.  No, every time, a healthy apple tree will produce apples.

          Every week at the Journey, we teach and preach from scripture.  The passage may change, the context may be different, the application may vary, but the message is always the same.  If you've been coming long enough, and pay close enough attention, you'll likely notice we aren't very creative.  We give you the same lesson every week, just wrapped up in different packaging, and the reason we do that is because that same message (the message of the Gospel) is the story of the Bible...from beginning to end.

          If God would inspire the writing of 66 books, all telling the same story on every page, and then inspire the collection of all of those books together into one really big book, which together still tells the same story; wouldn't it probably be safe to assume that he REALLY wants us to get the point of that story???

In Grace,
Chris Morris

If you missed this week's sermon (or just want to listen again), follow the link below to listen. Or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.

Part 30 - The Forgiveness of Sins

Questions discussed in this sermon:

1.  How can we as a church stay focused on the Gospel?
2.  Why does Paul reference so many Old Testament passages?
3.  Do you feel as though your sins need forgiven?

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