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What is the Most Important Issue in America?

“FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST: FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERYONE THAT BELIEVETH; TO THE JEW FIRST, AND ALSO TO THE GREEK.” (Romans 1:16-18)

INTRODUCTION:

            What is the number one issue facing America today? Do you think it is the repeatedly inconsistent foreign policy set forth by the current administration over the last 6 ½ years? Is it the scandals that have occurred on an almost daily basis with the present administration? From the misrepresentations concerning the affordable health care act, the IRS targeting scandals, the non-response of the United States to the danger and ultimate death of the American Ambassador to Libya and the resulting failure to give any information regarding why there was no support for the American citizens caught in this act of terror. Perhaps you think it is the failure to support Israel and the opposition asserted by the present administration to Israel; perhaps you think it is the policies facing our nation with regard to the belligerent position and attitude of Iran, or, even more recently the misguided wrongheaded incredibly unbelievable assistance apparently given to the Russians to acquire approximately one half of United States uranium. Actually it is none of the above. It’s far worse!

 

The most significant problem facing this nation today is not political! In the first three Chapters of Paul's letter to the Church of Rome, he sets forth clearly and succinctly the most important problem facing America today. It is the most important problem facing the world today. It is the reason that the world is the way it is at this very hour. The apostle Paul describes the fact in these first three chapters of the book of Romans that there are “none righteous, no not one"; there are “none who seek after God”; “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". In his letter to the church at Ephesus Paul describes the fact that all those apart from Christ are dead in their trespasses and sins and “are by nature children of wrath". The Bible is the most contemporary up-to-date book in the world. It is written by the one who created the world and “who works all things after the counsel of his own will". The most important problem facing America today is still the same problem that faced the world when the serpent deceived Eve and she ate of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the Garden and disobeyed God and caused Adam to do the same. You may not believe it, but it's still same. It is none other than sin!

 

The same apostle Paul sets forth in his letter to his young protégé Timothy that “in the last days perilous times will come". No one knows the day and hour in which the Lord Jesus Christ will return to receive his bride, but many believe that there are many signs today that point to the end of the age. Jesus himself says that we are not to know the date and time of his return, for only the father knows this. Nevertheless, we are to be alert, watchful, and praying, and indeed we are “to provoke one another to love and to good works and even the more so as we see the day approaching".

 

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that we should "strive to enter in at the straight gate, for straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to eternal life and few there be that find it". He contrasts this with the wide gate and the broad way which leads to destruction and the crowd that enters in thereat. Christians should not be concerned with what the polls say. Christians should not be concerned with what the crowd is doing. We serve the living God who has “redeemed us with the precious blood of Jesus”. He is our king. He is our master. He is our heavenly father. He loves us with an everlasting love, and it is his word that must be our only “rule of faith and practice”. A brief look at the first chapter of Romans reveals to us 3 things. First, The Wrath of God is coming on all who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:18 says “the wrath of God has been revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. In other words the wrath of God has been revealed against sin. Second, the just shall live by faith. It is only the righteousness of God which one may receive as a sheer gift by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that allows one to live. Third, is God's power that enables one to “to flee from the wrath to come." God’s power is the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ which is God's power unto salvation to everyone that believes to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

 

I.          THE WRATH OF GOD

            In the 18th verse of the first Chapter of Paul's letter to the Church of Rome we are shown that the wrath of God has been revealed. It has been revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. It is this wrath of God that is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness which presents mankind's greatest problem and need. The entire first three Chapters of Paul's letter to the Church of Rome shows us explicitly and without equivocation that "all have sinned." "There is none righteous, not one. “There is none who seek after God." "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." In Paul's letter to the Church of Ephesus in the second Chapter, we are explicitly told all men are “dead in their trespasses and sins”. Indeed, in the first three verses of that second Chapter the Word of God concludes that all men are "by nature children of wrath!"

 

            Everywhere in scripture we see that God's Word tells us of his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. What is the meaning of the term "the wrath of God"? It means God's hatred of sin! The Lord God is Holy and therefore cannot mix light and darkness. The wrath of God is the antithesis of God's love. In the third Chapter of the Gospel of John Jesus reveals that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." This revelation of God's love is immediately contrasted with God's wrath.  Jesus says that "God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes on him (Jesus) is not condemned. But he that believes not is condemned already because he believes not on the name of the only begotten Son of God”. (John 3:17 – 18) In John 3:19 we are told that "this is the condemnation that the light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil”. Thus, the ultimate contrast is that the wrath of God is coming upon all those who love darkness more than they love light. These are they who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. These are the ones who are walking in darkness because they love darkness more than they love light. Because light and darkness cannot mix we are told that they will perish. It is this wrath of God – this judgment against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness which is the greatest problem facing mankind. Clearly, this is not political programs, social injustice, increased defense spending, or any other man-made policy or program. It is the wrath of God that men need to flee! John the Baptist is recorded as having said to some of those who came out to hear him "who told you to flee from the wrath of God?" The only way to flee is to receive the righteousness of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            Therefore, because the wrath of God is God's hatred of sin, we also are told in this portion of God's Word that the wrath of God "has been revealed". How has it been revealed? We see God's wrath revealed first in the third Chapter of Genesis where God tells Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the Garden or they would die. Eve was deceived by the serpent and she and Adam ate of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the Garden that God had told them not to eat from and death entered in. They died spiritually and God tells them in the third Chapter of Genesis the consequences of their disobedience. In Genesis Chapter 2 verse 17, we read that God had commanded Adam that "of every tree of the Garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die." As a result of having disobeyed God the Lord God told the woman "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." To Adam, the Lord God said "because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying "you shall not eat of it" cursed is the ground for your sake, in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you. And you shall eat the herb of the field, in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return." (Genesis 3:16-19)

 

            We see that even the state of nature reveals God's wrath. "Thorns and thistles" are the result of the fall; in the 8th Chapter of Romans we are told that the creation itself fell, and in the twenty-second verse of Romans 8 God's Word states "for we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now". Of course, the ever present constant reminder of man's disobedience of God's Word and the result of sin is death. In the fifth Chapter of Romans in verses 12 through 17 we are told explicitly that" in Adam all die but in Jesus is the free gift of life eternal". God has also revealed his wrath in the global flood recorded in the seventh Chapter of the Book of Beginnings, Genesis. In the sixth Chapter of Genesis we are told that "the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Therefore God determined to punish sin but "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord". The evidence of the global flood and God’s punishment of sin remains everywhere on the earth. This is revealed. Anyone who believes the facts that are revealed can see that God has poured out his wrath on all of mankind in the global flood. The Old Testament prophets also repeatedly told Israel of their sin and called Israel to repent or be punished. The Cross of Christ reveals the wrath of God as Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones states in his commentary and exposition of Chapter one of Romans that "there is nothing – there is nothing in history anywhere – which in any way approximates to this as a revelation of the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." Jesus received the Wrath of God for everyone on the cross.

 

            Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones continues his exposition by pointing out that the cross of Calvary's hill is this great revelation of the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men by setting out the following:

                        "God's hatred of [sin], his abhorrence of it, his determination to punish it, his righteous demand upon it, was such that Christ had to come to this world - not to tell us that ' God is love' – God had said that repeatedly through the prophets and others: that was already known – but to bear the wrath of God against sin. God must punish sin. The Cross proves that, the Cross would never have happened but for that.

                        Now you see that what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane is so important and significant. There is our Lord in agony, sweating drops of blood, and saying,' if it be possible, let this cup be passed from me!' What is the cup? The cup is the death upon the Cross and what he endured there. Why does he ask that? Because he knew what it would mean to him. But he submits, and says, nevertheless, not as I will, but thy will [Matthew 26:39]. And the cup did not pass back, he had to drink it to the very dregs. What was it? It was God's punishment of sin. And it made him cry out,' My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?' [Matthew 27:46] What was happening at that moment? He was experiencing the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. There was never such a revelation of the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, as that which took place there." (D. Martin Lloyd-Jones Exposition of Chapter One Romans        the Gospel of God pages 348 – 349) Finally, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ also reveals God's wrath. In Acts Chapter 17 Paul told those who were in Athens that God "now commands all men       everywhere to repent." Paul gave them the reason why they were to repent because God has appointed a day "in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained, whereof he has given assurance unto all men that he hath raised him from the dead"! So Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones in his exposition on Romans Chapter one points out that this "is a proclamation of the fact that the world is to be judged in righteousness, that the wrath of God is to be revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, and that Christ is the judge. The resurrection is a declaration, therefore, of this tremendous doctrine of the wrath of God." Finally, God’s word tells us in Paul’s first letter to Thessalonica that “you turned to God……to serve the Living and True God and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

 

II.         THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH

            In verse 17 of the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Church of Rome God's Word points out that something else has been revealed. It is that "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, the just shall live by faith." What is needed to escape the wrath of God is also revealed. We are told that it is nothing less than the righteousness of God. It is the righteousness of God which is by faith. Faith is a sheer gift from the Lord God to those who he has called. The entire third Chapter of Paul's letter to the Church at Philippi points out that we can “place no confidence in the flesh”. No confidence in our own works. In that third Chapter Paul points out that he had an excellent record but "what things were gain to him he counted loss for Christ." The purpose being that he might be "found in Christ not having his own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of God by faith, the righteousness which is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." God's Word tells us that Christ knew no sin. Yet he became sin for us, "that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." It is this righteousness of God that is revealed to be the only way in which one can flee the wrath to come. It comes only through the gift of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a free gift. The just shall live by faith and only the just or the righteous by faith shall live.

 

            Faith involves belief, "for without faith it is impossible to please God for one must first believe that God is and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11: 6)  It involves being persuaded or convinced as you see in Hebrews 11:13 and it involves action. Faith is not just saying that one believes in the Lord Jesus Christ but actually trusting in him. One cannot just say that he or she believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and then go on living like everybody else. When God called Abraham to leave his country, Abraham "got up and went!" So it involves action trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone said "upon a life I did not live, upon a death I did not die, another's life, another's death, I stake my whole eternity." Are you trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation? If not, why not do so now?

 

III.        THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST

            In this first Chapter of Paul's letter to the church at Rome God's Word states that "the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." In the Greek the word for power is "dunamis" and it means dynamic. It works! It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. It is God's power to give one saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is God's power to give one the only escape possible from the wrath of God that is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Thus, the only way for one to "flee from the wrath of God" is to have the righteousness of God. No man has righteousness of his own. God is righteous and he requires righteousness. The righteousness which God requires is perfect obedience to the law. That is why the Bible says that there are “none who are righteous not one”. No one obeys the law perfectly, although God has said "be thou perfect, even as I am perfect." God's Holy Word tells us that "whosoever shall offend in one point of the law is guilty of all." He hasn't just merely stumped his toe, he's ruined! He is dead in his trespasses and sins. He has no hope apart from Christ.

What is revealed in the Gospel of Christ is the righteousness which God bestows as a sheer gift through saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. In the fullness of time, God sent forth his promised son, born of a woman, who is described as "the Word become flesh". He is the eternal living Word of God. In the Gospel of John we are told that "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." "In him was life and the life was the light of the world." He came into the world for one purpose only. He came to bear the wrath of God for you and me. He came to give his life a ransom for us, and all who would place their trust in Christ alone for their salvation, and surrender their will to the Lord's will through true repentance. Jesus himself “bore our sin in his own body on the Cross that we might be dead unto sin and alive unto righteousness and with his stripes we are healed”. He “became sin for us”, even though he knew no sin, “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”. This righteousness which God bestows as a sheer gift is given to those who come to Christ by faith. This is a perfect standing as if we had obeyed the law perfectly. God reckons us righteous. What occurred is that God took our entire sorry record, from birth to death, and put it on the Lord Jesus Christ and made him sin because that is what our record was – sinful, and when we place our faith - our trust - in Jesus Christ alone, God then takes Christ's perfect record and credits it to us! Therefore, I can stand in judgment day dressed in Christ's perfect record! We appropriate this by ceasing to trust in our own record and placing our trust and relying solely on the Lord Jesus Christ to save us by virtue of his record and his death for our sins.

 

            Have you done that? Has all of your family done that? If you have not, be aware of the fact that God's wrath has been revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. It’s terrible. It places the objects of that wrath in Hell forever! Forever never ends. The Bible describes it as the place where the fire is not quenched and the worm dies not. Surrender your will to the Lord's will in true repentance and place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. Christ came to make us holy and “to purify for himself a peculiar people zealous of good works”. If you know members of your own family or others who have never surrendered their will to the Lord's will in repentance and placed their trust in saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone tell them of Jesus who is mighty to save, and “able to save to the uttermost” all those who place their trust in him alone for their salvation. If you can't talk to them, pray for them and write to them of God's great power unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, namely, the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only Christ and His righteousness is the answer to the greatest problem/ issue facing America and mankind – today!

 

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ that great shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his site through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom the glory forever and ever amen.

 

Your friend and brother in Christ,

Daniel (William Gray)