Mark 16:1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. ESV
So much in modern Christianity point people to themselves to determine whether he or she is forgiven. This may come in the form of works. Have you sent your kids to private Christian academies or home schooled them? How about spending enough time in churchly activities? Are you successfully combating sin in your life or are you still struggling never able to gain the upper hand?
It may come in a feeling or some other self exam of searching it out. Do you feel close to God at all times? Do you remember a drastic lightening bolt conversion? Can you rehearse for us where you were, the time of day and date this happened?
At times listening to these type of sermons or Christian conversation one wonders what Jesus lived, died and rose for. It can even be worse when one thinks that Jesus only died for a few rather than all. What objective measurement can we use to determine whether we are one of the lucky ones for whom he died?
"For God has already forgiven you your sins 1800 years ago when He in Christ absolved all men by raising Him after He first had gone into bitter death for them. Only one thing remains on your part so that you also possess the gift. This one thing is—faith. And this brings me to the second part of today's Easter message, in which I now would show you that every man who wants to be saved must accept by faith the general absolution, pronounced 1800 years ago, as an absolution spoken individually to him." C. F. W. Walther, The Word of His Grace, Sermon Selections, "Christ's Resurrection—The World's Absolution" Lake Mills: Graphic Publishing Company, 1978, p. 233. Mark 16:1-8.
Jesus perished for the entire of humanity. Why are not all saved? They refuse to believe. This may take the form of denying that one is all that sinful. Many preachers exist which will lead you to believe you have the ability to perform works worthy of God’s admiration. This will create secure sinners who may think they only need a dead and risen Jesus for a time or to fill in what they fall short on.
Others are perhaps more honest when they say they are not through living yet. Which is to say they are not finished living for themselves only. They want to push it off long enough to get some more sinning done. This is also taught to them that to be a Christian one has to be self righteous, strait laced, do not drink, smoke or chew, nor hang around those that do. They observe Christians who think the only good work that needs doing is to brag on how they used to be and now are much better. Those around them can tell a different story of course.
Romans 4:23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. ESV
That is the radical nature of the Gospel. As one of my favourite bible teachers, Dr Norman Nagel, says “It is the done didness of the Gospel that saves us.”
In the Name of Jesus. Amen. †