by Ed Stevens
Many forms of bribery have been practiced, all of which are criminal. Any attempt of a condemned criminal to secure favor from the judge or pardon from the Governor or President for a price would be BRIBERY. If the price offered were money or service in works the principle would be the same. Whether the criminal made the offer himself or had someone do it for him, it would be the same.
The only honorable hope of a condemned person escaping the execution of the penalty is that a FREE PARDON be granted. Any other course would add crime to crime. A promise to reform or an actual reformation would not pay the penalty for the past crime.
Now whether we like it or not, whether we will hear it or not, God's Word says: ALL ARE SINNERS - CRIMINALS — before God's court. Romans 3:23. The penalty for sin is DEATH — separation from God. Rom. 6:23; Matt. 27:46. Our relation before the court of heaven, as sinners, is the same relation that a condemned criminal sustains to the Governor.
Any attempt on the part of a sinner to get right with God by anything he can DO, or has done, is an attempt to BRIBE GOD ALMIGHTY! Doing works of any kind as a means of obtaining salvation only adds sin to sin. Getting water baptized, joining "a church of your choice", the confessional, penance, etc., cannot make peace with God. To have another pray for you will not buy salvation. Reformation, no matter how thorough, will not remove the penalty for sin. There is no salvation by right thinking, by conduct, by doing good to others, nor by "the golden rule".
The only hope for salvation is that God in His love and grace will grant a FREE PARDON — and that is just what the Bible teaches us He offers to do. But God being just and holy must have grounds upon which to pardon guilty sinners, for one of His unalterable laws is, that SIN MUST BE PUNISHED. A way, simple yet wonderful, He has decreed whereby A FREE PARDON can be offered to all guilty sinners. One man could bear the temporal punishment of another man if the judge so decreed, but before God no sinful man can bear the sin-penalty for another man, for he has his own sins to bear. But "God sending His own [sinless] Son in the likeness of sinful flesh condemned [judged] sin in the flesh" for all mankind. Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:9; II Cor. 5:21. On the cross God's love and justice met and in "His great love wherewith. He loved us" found a way to freely pardon those whom justice has already condemned. John 3:16; Eph. 2:4.
In I Corinthians 15:1-5 the gospel (good news) is declared "wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved ... how that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS according to the scriptures; and that He was buried; and that He rose again the third day, according to the scriptures; and that He was seen . . . ".
God's offer of free salvation in Christ is made to all, no matter how much or how little they have sinned: "Whosoever WILL let him take the water of life FREELY." Rev. 22:17. There is nothing left for us to do but to HEAR and BELIEVE the good news of God's love and grace. John 5:24. To add our "dead works" (see Heb. 9:14) to the "finished" work of Christ "who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree" (I Pet. 2:24), is, we repeat, a criminal attempt to BRIBE our Sovereign God!
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not by yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship created unto [not by our] good works which God bath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:8-10). Please read also Titus 3:5; Gal. 2:16, 21; Rom. 4:5.
Come, just as you are, acknowledge your sinful state and accept "the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of God's grace". Eph. 1:7. Having accepted this free pardon in Christ, then believe all is done, that you are free, safe, forgiven, in permanent possession of "everlasting life" — alone through Him; and give Him alone all the praise. Give Him the honor and place He deserves in your life, "for you are BOUGHT WITH A PRICE"— Christ's death on the cross in your stead.
Read your Bible and know from Acts 2:47; 5:14; 11:24 that "the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved", thereby becoming "joined to the Lord". Learn from Rom. 12:4, 5; I Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 1:22, 23 that being saved you became instantly a member, with all believers everywhere, of Christ's one true church, a spiritual organism — "the church which is His body". Seek the fellowship of those who walk in this truth. Commune with the Lord in prayer and bring others to an acceptance of His wonderful salvation.
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