Oh, What a Relief It Is!
Plop, plop. Fizz, fizz. Oh what a relief it is!
If you were around in the sixties you will immediately recognize this little jingle as the advertising slogan for Alka-Seltzer. I’ve never been a huge fan of Alka-Seltzer. I’d much rather take a tablet or a spoonful of something rather than gulp down a whole glass full of icky tasting bubbly water. But Alka-Seltzer does promise relief, and that’s how I think we all feel now that we’re leaving Romans 9 behind us. So, beginning this Sunday we will make the transition from the Pepto Bismol sermon series (Romans 9) to the Alka-Seltzer sermon series (Romans 10). I’m calling this set of sermons the Alka-Seltzer series because it promises relief. And relief from the upsetting things we have dealt with should be a welcome change.
Romans 9 talks a lot about God’s sovereignty. And God’s sovereignty tends to upset us. Romans 10 talks about man’s responsibility. This may be a little easier to handle in some respects, but there are still some things here that might make us cry out for relief. In particular is the issue coming up this Sunday—when it comes to salvation, your righteousness doesn’t matter.
This isn’t easy for us. In fact a recent survey found that a full 80% of church members in this country believe you can get to heaven through your good works. The emphasis in Romans 9 is on God’s mercy. Mercy is not something we earn. It is not something we’re entitled to. And that makes it hard to accept. The righteousness that saves is not something we earn either. Righteousness comes through faith, not through works.
Here’s the difference between righteousness by works and righteousness by faith. Some people know they have failed. All they have left is the empty hands of faith. But there are others who still think in terms of what they’re entitled to. They don’t need mercy. They think God owes them. Here’s the difference. Works says, “My life proves that I count.” Faith says, “Christ is the only reason why I count.” Works says, “I deserve everything that makes my life worth living.” Faith says, “Mercy gives me everything that makes my life worth living.” If your heart is bound up with yourself and your own worthiness, that’s why God seems remote and uncaring and why you’re tense and angry and insecure.
We are better off having Jesus than we are having a good track record. The Bible says, “Whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” If you live by your own works, you must always fear being exposed and shamed. But when you shift your confidence over to Christ, you can admit the truth about yourself. You don’t have to live in denial. Repentance isn’t threatening. That’s because your sense of worth is based on what Christ has done for you.
What a relief that is!