By S.J. Black
More often than not, on weekdays I leave my office at five o'clock and go to pick up our boys from their school that is not very far up the road from my office. The situation we currently have is wonderful because the boys' school is only five minutes from the house so we often have time to play in the front yard when we arrive home each day.
This past Friday, we were playing baseball in the front yard while we were waiting on my wife to make it home from work. While we were playing I had noticed a little black and white dog running around in a yard on the other side of the street but did not think too much about it. When you are dodging baseballs aimed for your head you honestly don't have time to think that hard about other things.
After we played for a while, we noticed that "Mommy" was coming up the road towards home. As she reached the stop sign to turn into our street the little black and white dog dashed out into the street and my wife just barely managed to miss the poor little fellow.
When my wife pulled into the garage the little dog came across the street and started playing with us. We started looking at the dog's tags on his collar and discovered that his name was "Gizmo." Also on Gizmo's tag were his owners' phone number and address that turned out to be just a couple of streets away from ours.
We called the number on the tag and left a message. When we did not receive an answer back for more than thirty minutes we decided to put Gizmo in the car with us and drive him home. Upon finding Gizmo's house we learned that a neighbor was watching him because the owners were away for the weekend. We were just glad that Gizmo made it home safely. If he would have continued running loose, a car would have hit him since he seemed clueless to the truth that cars can kill you when they run you over.
On the way home from Gizmo's house I started thinking that he is the perfect picture of so many people who are lost in this world and who don't know Jesus as their savior. They travel down the roads of life, seemingly without a care in the world and unaware that there are things out there bearing down on them. If they do not see the truck headed straight for them named "hell", they will likely never know what hit them when they find themselves doomed to spend eternity separated from God.
There are many theological debates that I come across out there. Some are important because there are many poisons creeping into "the church" these days that are masquerading as "Christian" theology or teaching. We are commanded to be watchmen where some things such as the "name it claim it" type 'gospel' and other heresies are concerned.
However, what I wonder is do we sometimes miss the forest for the trees? While some are debating things like the timing of the rapture, people are out there dying each and every day who do not know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Don't get me wrong; I love a good debate as much as anyone else about topics such as the timing of the rapture. But I wonder if we don't get our priorities right from time to time.
Even worse than debates about some non-essential issues and doctrines are the times that we get caught up in speculating how the end-times events are going to play out. Shouldn't it be sufficient to know that we are for certain living in the last days? Shouldn't we use this as motivation to get out there and reach the lost in this world because we know time is short?
Unfortunately, many folks are too busy trying to impress others with their knowledge in debates and speculating. Worse are some of the ministries that will do anything for the sake of "hype" in order to gain more publicity. I keep waiting for some so called prophecy websites to start writing about how allegedly accurate some of Nostradamus' predictions were if they thought it would get them a dollar or two worth of donation.
With this thought in mind, perhaps it would be useful to spend some time reviewing some very core or absolutely essential doctrine that one must believe in order to qualify as a Christian.
Years ago when I was in high school I attended a small Baptist church. The preacher was focused on evangelism and reaching the lost for Jesus. He shared with us over and over again a plan called the "Roman Road to Salvation" so that we would know how to share the Gospel with others we might come across in our daily walks.
In short, the Roman Road is a plan to lead someone through several verses from the book of Romans. It offers a clear way to communicate a person's sinful condition and need of a Savior or a concise plan to share the Gospel if you prefer. Though the Roman Road plan is different and a bit longer, it is similar in purpose and spirit to "the 4 Spiritual Laws" that are shared in the Know God section of this website. (Note: the link to this section is at the bottom of the page if you scroll down or click on the blue word in the proceeding sentence.)
These concepts or bullet points brought out in the Roman Road plan are incredibly important. With some of the carnal "theological" debates and so forth out there these days, it seemed a good idea to review some of the great concepts that the Roman Road for salvation brings to light. I have found that this plan is not only a good way to share the Gospel but it is also a good way to check ourselves to see if we are in line with the very fundamental doctrines on which there can never be any compromise. As a believer, I have found this plan every bit as useful for keeping myself on the right path as it is for sharing with the lost.
The first stop on the Roman Road is the truth that we are all sinners. None of us ever has or ever will live a life that is completely free of sin. The verse for this point is Romans 3:23;
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"
Now that we know we are all sinners, someone might wonder what the consequences of sin are. This is the second stop on the Roman Road and we find the answer to the question about the consequences of sin in Romans 6:23;
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The consequence for sin is death, both physical and spiritual death. Without Jesus' atoning work on the cross, we are all destined to spend eternity separated from God. This is the place or furnace of fire where Jesus said several times in Matthew chapter 13 that "there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
So far we know that we are all sinners and that the consequences for not dealing with our sin nature via accepting Jesus' sacrifice on the cross will be terrible.
The third stop or verse on the Roman Road reiterates that God has provided a way for us to deal with our sin nature once and for all and that it is a gift, not something that we could ever earn for ourselves.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
In Romans 5:8 above, God not only tells us that Jesus died for us but in addition the verse tells us that "while we were still sinners." That to me is a powerful concept to grab hold of. Jesus knew we were sinners and knew we would sin, but He loved us so much that He willingly died to provide us a means of salvation. This also means that today is the day of salvation. You do not need to "clean up your act" or whatever before you can claim Jesus' completed work on the cross. If we had to get our act straight first none of us would ever be saved. Jesus' work on the cross completely atoned for our sins if we accept His sacrifice in faith.
Our fourth stop on the Roman Road at Romans 10:9, teaches us how to claim this sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross:
"That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
Grace is such an awesome concept that just really blows my mind. I can completely identify with Paul some days when he wrote things such as "O wretched man that I am..." in Romans 7:24. And yet in spite of our sinful nature and trespasses against God, if we simply believe and confess in faith then by God's grace we can be saved from an eternal death in hell. It really is that simple; all we have to do is believe in Jesus and his work on the cross. All other academic or "theological" junk out there is just wasted time when folks are dying and going to hell.
You do not have to belong to one denomination or another, our next stop on the Roman Road states:
"For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." Romans 10:13
The only thing that makes a difference regarding salvation is whom do you know, trust and confess for your salvation. That is it! Don't ever let anyone tell you that you have to belong to his or her flavor of man made religion to be saved. To me it is actually the opposite and preaching some of the religious dogma out there today can actually keep you from the next stop on the Roman Road to salvation: Determine today that you want Jesus to be the Lord of your life.
"For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36
If you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savoir, I would have to ask why not?
Is your pride keeping you from admitting that you are sinful and in need of salvation?
Have you not "answered all the questions" you have about whether or not God exists or if the Bible is true?
Try reaching or calling out to Jesus in faith. Jesus said that if we seek we will find what we are searching for; we will find Him along with abundant Grace!
If you don't know Jesus as Lord and Savior, do you feel Him speaking to your heart? If you do then today is the day! Not tomorrow, not next week or when you finally clean up your act. None of us are assured one more breath so tomorrow, next week or whenever might be too late.
If you would like to make Jesus the Lord of your life, visit our Know God section of the website. At the end you will find a suggested prayer that you can pray to receive Christ before it is too late for you. It does not matter what you pray to be honest, but the suggested prayer will give you some ideas.
After the suggested prayer there is a link to some great information about how to start growing in your faith, or how to start living your life for Jesus.
If you already know Jesus as your Savior or plan on receiving Jesus as your Savior today, then Praise God. You should already be able to relate to the final stop on the Roman Road or if you begin today to truly seek Jesus you will understand it soon.
Romans 5:1-2 "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
This final stop of the Roman Road speaks about the peace we can have in our lives if we have a true relationship with Jesus. Does this mean every day of our lives will be a bed of roses? Does this mean we will never face trials because of some amazing prosperity raining down on us like some of the 'health and wealth gospel' proponents teach? No, not at all, sometimes bad things happen to even the most sincere of Christians.
But after we are saved, if we are growing in Christ then we know that we have a hope of future glory along with grace sufficient to survive whatever life throws at us on any given day if we are truly abiding in Christ.