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Do You Really Need a Savior?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 26, 2021 12:01 am

Do You Really Need a Savior?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 26, 2021 12:01 am

The message of Christianity is the message of salvation. But there are many people in the world who see no need for a Savior. Today, R.C. Sproul answers an objection raised by those who claim that Jesus is irrelevant or unnecessary.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind. If I had no love of Christ, the sheer understanding of His righteousness and the righteousness of God would drive me to flee to Him with all of my energy, because I would understand the simple conclusion that there is nothing in this universe I need more than a Savior. And yet there are millions of people who believe otherwise.

Dr. R.C. Sproul is addressing the common objections to the Christian faith this week. We'll get to his message in just a moment. But first, Chris Larson, our president and CEO here at Ligonier Ministries, has dropped by the studio, and Chris, we continue to be amazed at how God is awakening so many people to their need of a Savior. And I understand you've brought with you an incredible example of that today? Lee, an inmate, wrote to us recently expressing how God used a radio broadcast of Dr. Sproul's to save not only his life, but also his soul.

Listen to this. He writes, I am an incarcerated man doing a life sentence here in the Montana State Prison. I am a wretched sinner who is presently housed in solitary confinement for my actions on the prison's general population and for being a high-ranking member of a gang. I am facing several years in solitary confinement for disciplinary and affiliation purposes. It is likely that I am facing more charges as well.

The only properties I am allowed at present are books and a radio. Life was looking very bleak, and I began to despair of life and was contemplating suicide. Because I grew up in the system and was a state-raised child being abandoned by family at the age of eight, I've had no outside loved ones or support structure. I'd become very lonely and could find no reason to carry on in this long sentence. I had tuned my radio to family radio and listened to a message by Dr. R.C.

Sproul while I was braiding strips of ripped sheets and planning to hang myself, because I'm confined to my cell for 23 hours a day. I heard the gospel of the ministry of reconciliation through the person and finished work of Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the sole ground of salvation. It all made sense to me, and as a result, the grace and love of God through the Lord Jesus Christ has been shed abroad in my heart.

I have been set free. I thank God and pray for this ministry, and listen now, every day, God is so merciful. He writes, Thank you for your faithfulness in the ministry of the gospel of Christ and for your time, grace and peace. That's Brett writing from the Montana State Prison, Lee. In solitary confinement, and his story, Chris, is not unique.

We've heard from several men like this. We are receiving hundreds of letters every month here at the ministry, and that pace is only quickening. And so we're continuing to grow our response team to make sure that we can serve God's people behind prison bars. And God is doing an amazing work in the prison facilities in these United States. And so we're continuing to press on this outreach and want to just do more and more in the months and years to come. That is an amazing story of God's grace, Chris.

Thank you for sharing that with us. And as we turn to Dr. Sproul's message today, we realize all the more that everyone is in need of a Savior. So we continue now with our study of the most frequent questions and objections that people raise about Christianity. One of those most frequent objections that I hear and have been documented is the objection after we have carefully explained the essence of the Christian faith and have tried to give a reason for our confidence in the existence of God and so on. The objection that is raised is simply the statement, so what? What's the big deal?

Who cares? Now those responses are usually tied with the following statement that I have heard literally hundreds of times in my life. I've had people say to me, I don't see the need for religion. I accept, R.C., that you find some significance and meaning and happiness out of your devotion to Christ and the things of God and so on, but that's not where I am. That's not a part of my everyday life.

You know, I know friends who have gotten religion, and that's cool for them, but I personally don't feel the need of it. I try to live a good life. I try to do what's right as I understand it. I'm not overburdened with some sense of guilt. I'm not preoccupied with my shortcomings. We're all imperfect, and I just don't get it.

I don't see why you need it. And I try to answer that in a brief way, in a succinct way, an indirect way. I say, well, let me try to explain to you why I think I need it and why I think that if you're anything like me, you may need it too. At the heart of our convictions about the things of God is the first assertion that God exists and that the God who exists is holy, that that God is perfectly righteous. He is altogether good and altogether just. Now, I would grant to you that if He is not good, if He is not righteous, if He is not just, not only do we not need Him, we don't want Him. I wouldn't waste five seconds of my time and energy trying to persuade people to devote their lives to an unjust God, to an unrighteous being. That I would equate with Satan worship.

Those who are interested in worshiping evil, let them go to the occult. But I would not commend anybody to giving worship and adoration and devotion to one who is not good. But I say to my friends, I say that that's the first proposition, that God is good.

The second proposition is I am not good. Now, this flies in the face of the culture because just as 95 percent of the people in our culture say they believe that God exists, I don't know the exact percentage, but it is the majority of people in our culture believe that human beings are basically good. They're willing to grant that no one is perfect and that all of us have made mistakes. But in the main, in general, basically, fundamentally, we're good. Yes, there may be some bad apples.

There may be people who commit murder and rape and that sort of thing, but the average person in America does not commit violent crimes. We're basically good. And so if you're basically good and God is good, what's the problem?

Well, the question is this. Are we good enough to pass the holy judgment of God? Because if Jesus of Nazareth taught anything, He taught emphatically and clearly that every single human being at some point in the future will stand before the righteous judgment of God. Now, I don't know about you, but the thought of my standing alone and naked before the perfect tribunal of God terrifies me.

If I had no love of Christ, the sheer understanding of His righteousness and the righteousness of God would drive me to flee to Him with all of my energy, because I would understand the simple conclusion that there is nothing in this universe I need more than a Savior. Now, the idea that we don't need a Savior, that we don't need Christ, that we don't need religion, so to speak, is not new at all. This same kind of question, this same kind of objection was raised in Jesus' day to Jesus Himself. And I want us to look at that account as we find it in the New Testament in the gospel according to St. Luke. In the 18th chapter of Luke, beginning at verse 18, we read this narrative.

Again, it's Luke 18, verse 18. Now, a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Now, we notice here that this rich young ruler, this young man who was a ruler, he was a leader in the community, presumably an educated man, he didn't come to Jesus with the question, so what? He at least had enough interest piqued in his mind to probe a little more deeply into this message that Jesus was teaching. And he says to Jesus, first of all, Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? He was interested in this idea of eternal life.

He didn't dismiss that as irrelevant. He wants to live forever. And he heard about this teaching of the possibility of having eternal life, and he asked the simple question, what do I have to do to get it? And what does Jesus say? Jesus answers this question with a question. He says to the man, why do you call me good? Notice that before Jesus answers the man's question, the man's question, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Before Jesus even addresses that question, he addresses the terms of greeting that the young ruler made to Jesus. Again, remember when the man came to Jesus, he said to Jesus, Good Teacher, and then proceeded immediately to his question.

Jesus stops him in his tracks and says, hold on, wait a minute, wait just a minute. Why do you call me good? It's as if Jesus were speaking to us in the 20th century and to our opinion polls that celebrate the foundational goodness of ourselves, and would stand up today and say as loud as he possibly could, why do you call yourselves good? Or why do you call me good? No one is good but God.

Now listen carefully. Jesus is not saying here, young man, I am not God. I'm not Emmanuel. I'm not God incarnate. So it's completely inappropriate for you to call me good because only God is good.

And I'm not God. That's not what Jesus is saying. Jesus knew where the young man was coming from. And Jesus knew that the young man did not know to whom he was speaking.

Jesus understood that this young man assumed that Jesus was just another teacher, a good teacher perhaps relatively considered. But Jesus immediately focuses on the issue that is the barrier to eternal life, human goodness. And he understands at the very beginning of the discussion that the young man did not understand what goodness is.

The young man wanted to focus on the requirements for obtaining eternal life. Jesus doesn't completely ignore that. But he wants to get the young man to see at the outset that the big barrier to eternal life that you face and that I face is our lack of goodness. But this man came assuming a view of goodness that was wrong. And Jesus challenges it and lays it bare in the subsequent discussion.

Let's go on with the discussion. So Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is, God. You know the commandments. Do not commit adultery. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honor your father and your mother.

Now again, what is Jesus implying here? So do you want to go to heaven? Obey the law. Live a good life. Be good. And you'll have eternal life.

You don't have a thing to worry about. Because what Jesus is teaching this man and what we need to hear from the lips of Jesus is the only thing that will satisfy a good God at the last judgment is goodness. That only the good will have eternal life. Now if you think you don't need Christ, you ought to be squirming by now unless you have a hugely exaggerated concept of your own goodness.

But you're right. It's going to take goodness to get you into heaven. And Jesus says, you know the law. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. And what does the rich young man say?

Whoops. Uh-oh, I'm in trouble. I steal. I've killed somebody. I commit adultery.

I don't have a chance. That's not His response. Instead, it's almost audible that He breathes a sigh of relief, and He says to Jesus, all these things have I done for my youth. Jesus, is that all it takes to get into heaven is to keep the law of God? Not to kill, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to covet, not to bear false witness?

I've kept all those laws since I was a little kid. And so Jesus said, well done, thy good and faithful servant. Enter now into the kingdom that God has prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

No, no, no, no. Jesus doesn't challenge it directly. He's much more subtle. He said, oh, I see.

He kept all the law. There's just one thing you lack, just one thing, one small little shortcoming on your part. Go sell all that you have, take up your cross, and follow Me. It's as if Jesus were saying, and notice I said as if Jesus were saying, right, your evaluation of yourself is correct. You have been a model citizen. You've been upright and righteous in dealing with integrity.

Just one little shortcoming here, one thing you have failed. Take up your cross, go and give your possessions to the poor, and come and follow Me. Now obviously, I'm combining Jesus' statements here in Luke to those that are made in other gospels.

And Luke's version simply says, go and sell your treasures and so on. But the point that Jesus is making here is the man wasn't quite as good as he thought he was. He lacked something. Now before we get to what it was that he lacked, let me try to read the mind of Jesus here for you.

I don't want to be presumptuous, but I'm speculating this is vintage sprawl. I mean, the text doesn't say this. But I think what Jesus could have said to the man was, oh, you haven't stolen, you haven't committed adultery, you haven't killed. I perceive, young man, that you weren't there the day I preached the Sermon on the Mount. You missed that sermon when I explained to the people there that the law of God that says that you must not steal, and you must not kill, and you must not commit adultery cannot be understood in a simplistic, superficial way.

Because I explained to the people at the Sermon on the Mount that the full extent of God's prohibition against killing, for example, means that you cannot be angry at your brother without just cause and that you cannot hate your brother. And that even when you lust after a woman, you have broken God's commandment against adultery. Maybe you haven't committed the actual act of adultery since you were a boy. Maybe you've never robbed a bank since you were a boy, and maybe you've never actually taken somebody's life since you were a boy. But if you look carefully at what the full import of the law of God is, you haven't kept any of those commandments that you say that you've kept since you were a child.

You haven't kept them since you got out of your bed this morning. But that's not what Jesus did. He could have done that and could have shown this young man that his understanding of goodness was pathetically simplistic.

Instead, he takes a more dramatic tack. Notice that when Jesus rehearsed the law with the young man, he started with what we call the second table of the law. Now he goes to the first table. What's the very first commandment in the Ten Commandments? Thou shall have no other gods before me. And it's as if Jesus said to this young man, Oh, you keep the law of God? You're good? Well, let's just go down the list.

Let's start with number one. Thou shall have no other gods before me. Because Jesus knew where that man's heart was. Jesus knew what that man worshipped and what that man lived for. It wasn't for God. It was for possessions. And Jesus said, OK, you going to keep the law? Let's see if you'll keep the law.

Go and get rid of all your possessions. And the Bible tells us that the young man shook his head sorrowfully and walked away. He missed the kingdom of God. He missed the crucial point that what he needed more than anything else was goodness that he did not and could not possess in and of himself.

The gospel of Christ does not teach that God negotiates goodness at the last judgment and that God just simply waives the requirement. The good news of the gospel is that God himself supplies the goodness that you and I do not have to everyone who will receive Christ. And that he gives to us the very righteousness of Christ if we trust in him. When somebody says to me, I don't need Christ, I want to weep because unless that person is perfect, and I know that person really doesn't believe that they are perfect, they need Christ. They need Christ more desperately than they need anything, more than they need air, more than they need water, more than they need food, more than they need shelter, more than they need companionship with other mortals in this world. They need Christ. There is nothing more relevant to unjust people than the gift of the righteousness of Christ, who alone can satisfy for me and for you the demands of a perfect and holy judge.

Let me review it. If God is righteous, and you are not righteous, and he is going to judge you according to his righteousness, you need help. And the good news of the gospel is that help has arrived. He is our help in times of trouble because he comes bearing the thing that we need the most. He comes offering his righteousness, and he will give to you as your possession in the sight of God if you cling to him and to him alone. The good news of the gospel is that help has arrived. It can be a mystery why some people feel their need for a Savior while others do not.

But as we heard Dr. R.C. Sproul say today, placing faith in Christ as our Savior is not just another option we are free to reject. Christ is our only hope. We're glad you've joined us today for Renewing Your Mind. Stay with us because R.C. will have a final thought for us in just a moment. The message we've heard today comes from R.C.

's series, Objections Answered. In eight lessons, he answers common questions like, What about the innocent native who's never heard the gospel? Why is Christ the only way?

And does God exist? We'd like to send you the digital download of the complete series. Just contact us today with a donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries. Defending the Christian faith can seem intimidating. That's why we want to equip you with this series. And when you contact us today, we'll also include Defending Your Faith. It's a 32-message series that equips you with biblical knowledge and sound logic. You can request both series online at renewingyourmind.org. Our staff is at home celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, so this is an online offer only.

Again, the website address is renewingyourmind.org. Now, here's R.C. again. In our quorum deo thought for today, let me say to you, dear friends, that you may not want Christ. You may not want to be bothered with religious things. But, dear friend, you need Christ. You know you're not perfect. You know that you're not holy, and you know that God is holy. And the biggest problem you will ever face in your existence is how to reconcile that problem. And what Christianity is all about is that righteousness has been achieved by somebody else for me and for all who put their faith in Him. God provides what you need. If you despise that, you lose everything. God provides what you need.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-17 07:21:47 / 2023-07-17 07:30:11 / 8

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