Stuck high up in a tree outside my house sits a branch … a big tree branch that snapped off under the weight of last October’s ice storm. This branch sits precariously balanced on another branch and needs to be removed before it falls and does some serious damage. How will this branch come down?
Well, you might think there are hundreds of ways for the branch to fall (and my house to be saved as the branch lands softly in the yard), but really, there are only two ways:
- I bring the branch down through some kind of organized activity.
2. God brings the branch down through His sovereign intervention.
Now just because there are only two basic ways the branch will fall, that does NOT mean that there are not variants inside that plan. Under option #1, I can think of dozens of possibilities:
- I throw a football (like Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite”) and hit the branch JUST RIGHT to knock it down into the yard (missing the house and deck.)
- I climb the tree like an American Ninja Warrior and dislodge the branch and throw it down safely into the yard.
- I hire a professional tree trimming crew to use a bucket truck to lift and set the branch down in just the right spot.
- I get a long ladder and climb to an appropriate spot and use a chainsaw the remove the branch a section at a time (guiding it to the ground with a set of ropes and pulleys.)
- This list could go on and on, but you get the point.
On the side of sovereign intervention:
- A bolt of lighting could strike that incinerates the branch where it hangs.
- A gust of wind could sweep through and blow the branch down
- Another ice storm could weigh the branch down so it falls just right.
- God could just speak to the branch and it floats to the ground.
- This list could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Really only two options exist.
Which will I choose? Well, the divine intervention options sure are attractive! After all, my organized activity is dependent upon my ability to pay a cost, figure out a plan, and execute with skill … and my skills, budget, and mind are all limited! God (on the other hand) has limitless energy, income, and ingenuity. I would FAR prefer Him to intervene … but will He? Does He even want to? Because I am not sure about that, I am probably going to hire the tree trimming company to help me out.
Now, I want to transition this conversation from my backyard to all of our spiritual lives. Our lives all sag under the weight of sin, and are precariously hanging on a moment in this life ready to fall at any time and do some serious damage. How will we be raised up and saved from this body of death?
Well, the religions of the world seemingly offer hundreds of options, but really there are only two ways:
- We work our way TO salvation through some kind of organized religious activity.
2. God steps in and saves us through His gracious work.
Now, there are just two categories, but nearly all religions offer some form of #1 … work your way to God by keeping some set of rules or commandments. This is the plan in Islam, Hinduism … even humanism. It also is the most common understanding of Jews … and even many people who grew up going to Christian churches.
But Jesus actually offered a different way. Only Biblical Christianity offers a “divine gracious work” kind of way. Jesus offered to save us on the basis of His work, not ours … all we have to do is believe in Him, and He will give us new life.
So which will you choose? The “my work” way (depending on our own finite strength, integrity, and devotion) or the “God’s work” way (depending on His infinite power, wisdom, and steadfastness)? And is the God’s work way even a real option? Can I count on it? Does God really WANT to save us after all?
Well, this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, in part 6 of the “New Normal” sermon series, we will be looking at Galatians 2:15-21 together, as we see that justification is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ (and His work on our behalf) … not in our “works of the law.” Hope you make plans to be with us as we explore this most important truth together! If we don’t understand the truth we will look at Sunday, we do not understand what it means to follow Jesus. Make plans to be with us at our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 service (in person and with classes for children, students, and adults). Or, join us online at wildwoodchurch.org/live at 10:15.