“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.
When I asked Dee to marry me, after she agreed we started making arrangements. But one of the most important steps was to obtain a marriage license. We had to have it approved by a judge with signatures by a court official and a minister that made it official and binding. In essence we sealed the deal of our marriage.
I’ve been using the tenets of the Roman Road gospel as the basis for most of my seven-post series, with a few other important Bible principles sprinkled in. This sixth post about “Sealing the Deal” is the absolute most important contract we will ever encounter. I want to stress again its vital importance.
The deal is between two parties, just like the written one here. It, however, is not with a human person, company, or government entity. It’s between you and God only. No one else is involved in the transaction, although there are those standing by our sides, perhaps not physically but in spirit, cheering on the deal. Then we can readily imagine a great roar of approval, perhaps applause, and even a great deal of angelic singing in heaven after the deal is complete.
So, let’s move on to the precursors and specifics of the deal. We’ve talked about some of them in previous posts:
- Recognize our sin. We talked about this in two posts. The first post, “A Veil Over Our Hearts”, is where we determine to do right, but the path to doing right is veiled from us. We don’t even recognize that we have sin getting in our way. My second post, “Help, I Need Somebody”, is the realization that “we need somebody, not just anybody”, but the “somebody” is still not revealed to us. Paul uncovers the barrier directly to us in plain words in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The recognition of sin as a barrier to God is our first step.
- Understand the wages of our sin: I referenced it in the post “Unwanted Wages”. Paul in Romans 6:23 stated, “For the wages of sin is death. . .” This isn’t just a physical death, but scripture is clear that it also includes a spiritual death. This death, according to the Bible, results in an eternity in hell with eternal pain and suffering. We all want the best for our lives, right? Acknowledging that we don’t want to live in pain for eternity is the second step.
- Accept the gift of God: We talked about this gift, or offer if you will, in a previous post, “An Offer We Can’t Refuse”. After we acknowledge the wages of sin written about in the first part of Romans 6:23, we immediately observe the wonderful gift that God is reaching out His hand to offer us. Here’s the offer, “BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God didn’t leave us long to ponder the dire consequences of our sin before He immediately made us aware of His offer of the gift of eternal life.
- The nature of God’s gift: The gift offered to us is eternal life “in Christ Jesus our Lord” that we just talked about, but how and why did it come about? It came about, as Paul wrote in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ bridged the gap that we couldn’t bridge ourselves.
- Sacrifice for our sins: We often talk about the sacrifice of soldiers who die defending the freedom that we have in America. They’re held up as heroes, and rightfully so. But Christ’s sacrifice was exponentially greater. His sacrifice on the cross was for everyone, not just Americans, so that we all can have the freedom Jesus mentioned in John 8:32, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus then said a little later in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.”
- Proximity of the two parties entering into the agreement. Before getting married Dee and I met together often, took classes with our pastor, made the decision to get married, then sealed the deal with a signed marriage contract and wedding ceremony. In the same way God draws near to us, or wants to draw near to us, or enter close proximity with each of us:
- “See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20
- “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8.
- “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble”. Psalm 46:1
- “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
- Taking action to enter the relationship. At one point I needed to take the step, as scared as I was, to ask Dee to marry me. I really didn’t know exactly how she was going to respond. In the same way, it’s scary to take a leap of faith to trust God, who is so foreign to most of us, and ask Him to enter a personal, intimate relationship with us. We’ve learned from the Bible, however, that God is very close, and just waiting for our invitation. Romans 10:13 states, "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:9 states, “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.” When I was a young Christian, I didn’t know the impact the name of Jesus really had. I now understand the great power taking the action of confessing His name has in my life and the lives of others. It makes me want to proclaim His name more and more.
So, “sealing the deal” of beginning a relationship with God can be somewhat intimidating. Most of us already know that fact by the response we get from family members and friends when we tell them about Jesus. Some of them have said to me, “Arlen, I don’t want to hear about that.” They think I’ve gone off the deep end into religious fanaticism. If so, I’m in very good company. Paul and the apostles met with the same opposition. But the Bible verses about the “broad” and “narrow” roads spurs me on. We’ll talk more about that in my final “Steps to God” post.
See you next time,