REMEMBER THE ACRONYM GMGJF
Dear friends in Christ,
A paramedic talked about a young man he was called on to treat. He said, “I was transporting a drunk twenty-something who nailed a big tree. He was messed up pretty bad and very drunk. I asked him where he had been partying. He told me. I asked how the crowd was. He muttered, “So many hot ---” as his voice trailed off. The paramedic said he went unconscious, his vitals tanked, and he died. How would you like the words he used to be the very last words off your lips?
A health care worker said she was working in a geriatric ward. She said a woman was so old and frail she looked dead already. She motioned that for the worker to come to her. The worker put my ear next to her mouth and she quietly said, “I just wanted to say ‘goodbye’ to someone.” The worker said, “It broke my heart.” She died a few days later.
One of my favorite people that I see at one of the nursing homes I visit is a man whose name is Warren. He has progressively gotten more frail as the years have passed. He grew up as a Lutheran in Minnesota. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II. He spent many years serving our country. Every time I see him I ask him, “How you doing, Warren?” His reply is always the same. “Still breathing!” he says. He loves the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus!” I asked him how he got to Georgia. He came here to be near his son and his family, but he says no one comes to see him. I don’t know if that is true or if he just can’t remember.
For many in nursing homes, life is waiting to be over. Many that I see have lost their memories. Yet the reality is we are all headed in that direction.
I believe the number one goal of my ministry is tell people there is a heaven and to let people know Jesus is the way there. My responsibility is to teach people that if they were to die at any time, they can be certain of eternal life? To do so “Remember the Acronym ‘G M G J F.’”
Let’s start with “G.” No, this one is not God, at least not yet. This “G” stands for grace - God’s grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast.” There is only one way to be saved and that’s by grace. The word “grace” is a precious word. It sure is special to the Christian; it should be for everyone. It means gift. A gift is free. If I have to earn a gift then the gift is really no longer a gift. Paul made that clear when he wrote, “And if it is by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
If you think that heaven is something you have to work and something you think you can deserve, then it is no longer a gift from God. Heaven is by “grace – God’s grace!
That, sadly, makes sense because “M” – man - is a sinner. I suppose this offends people when I use the word “man” like this. This is not about gender; it is about species. Humanity - not male/female! I am talking about people. It doesn’t make any difference if you are male or female, young or old, all people are sinners. (Romans 3:23-24) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
“Nobody’s perfect.” Who hasn’t said that? No one is even close! Many times I have said to classes or included in sermons the thought that if God put a recording system into your brain and recorded your thoughts Would you want them played back to you? Ugly thought, isn’t it? We are sinners, aren’t we?
And think how one sin leads to another and another and another! Adam and Eve are a good example of a bad example. They listened to Satan; they gave a lot of thought about what Satan had said to them about knowing good and evil. Before long they were no longer content being who they were. They began to think God was not fair to them by withholding access to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They committed the ultimate act of defiance. They ate. Then the effects of sin kicked in. They were afraid of God. They hid from God. They refused to accept responsibility for what they did. Adam blamed his wife and God for giving her to him in the first place. Eve blamed the Devil. The sins piled up like an avalanche picking up speed barreling down a mountainside. One sin leads to another to another.
Every time I go see the doctor, I go through a door turn left and walk down a hall. I go to the second hall turn right and go down that hall. There at the end of the hall I see it - the scale. I take a jacket off if I am wearing one. I take off my shoes. I take off my belt. I go into my pockets and get my cell phone, my keys, the change that might be rattling around, my wallet. I take my watch off. I try to unload as much weight as I can. I even ask if I can give all the samples they need to give before the weigh-in. Does it help? Nah! They used to have one of those balance scales. I kept telling them it weighs at least five pounds too heavy. A couple of weeks ago I went again. They replaced it with a digital scale. That one doesn’t work either. The news is always bad.
Yet, no news is worse than the guilt we bear for the sins we commit. Yet if we committed just one or if we commit a million or even a billion, it’s all the same: “The wages of sin is death.”
But we have gotten so accustomed to them. We see others do them too. We rationalize. It becomes the norm. We see it in others. Everyone does it. But you know what? Everyone dies. The wages of sin is death. Man is guilty.
We consider the next letter, the second “G.” This one stands for God. God is perfect. If he were not, then he wouldn’t be God.
As an experiment, the great scientist Isaac Newton stared at the sun reflecting in a mirror. The brightness burned into his retina and he suffered temporary blindness. He hid for several days behind closed shutters, but that bright spot would not fade from his vision. If he had stared a few minutes longer, Newton would have been permanently blind. The receptors that govern eyesight cannot withstand the full force of unfiltered sunlight. No sinful human can withstand the majesty and perfection of our God. God wouldn’t be God if he were anything less.
Jesus said, (Matthew 5: 48) “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” A perfect baseball player makes all the plays and never makes an out. A perfect student get 100’s all the time and doesn’t bug the teacher. A perfect person never sins! Anyone here like that? If you say you are, you are a liar. All are disqualified!
Along with demands for perfection comes the God who is perfectly just. Sins are to be punished. The letter to the Galatians, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." If anyone relies on getting to heaven by being perfect, there is nothing but trouble and frustration. There is more than frustration. It is a dead end. Any violation means to be cursed. It means damnation.
There is a story about a Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray who once informed a man who had appeared before him in a lower court and had escaped conviction on a technicality, "I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and that there you will be dealt with according to justice and not according to law." There will be no slipping through a loophole with God. With God there are no Miranda rights or slip ups with the application of the law. There is no letting sin slide. There is no glossing over it. God the perfect judge judges all sins perfectly. No split decisions! No bribes. Total and perfect justice! “It is a dreadful thing to fallintothehandsofthe living God.” God is Holy; God is just.
But don’t stop here. God is perfect in every respect, and this sets up what appears to be a baffling contradiction. He loves too. He loves perfectly. (I John 4:8) “God is love!” How can God be holy and just and love at the same time?I am convinced that a computer that has those premises and tries to figure that out will blow a mother board. Listen carefully. The solution is found in “J” – Jesus!
Who is He? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He is called the Word. Later in the chapter it says that the “Word became flesh.” That’s Jesus. Jesus is God. God came in the flesh. Why? To be the solution to the dilemma - how God can be holy and just and love at the same time.
He came to live holiness for us. (Hebrews 4:15) “We have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin.” Did you hear that? “Yet was without sin!” He didn’t come simply to prove he could live perfectly. He came to live on our behalf.He honored God the Father with his obedience - for us. “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” It is hard to believe and hard to say, but we have a perfect record. Jesus met it for us.
What about the sins that needs to be punished? He took care of that too. Our sins were laid on him. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. He suffered for us on the cross. He was even forsaken by God. Then he said, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” and he bowed his head in death. He died our death. He paid our wages for our sin. Not one was left behind. Not just for you and me but for everyone. Jesus didn’t just pick some sins or pick some people to die for. The world’s load of sin was on him! He paid for all.
How does it all become yours and mine? It is already yours. The letter “F” stands for “faith.” Believe it because it is true. You were not left out. No one was. People leave themselves out when they say, “I don’t believe it; I don’t want it. I don’t need it.” Yes they need it! Yes, you need it. It is done. It is yours by faith.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith!” I noticed that we have some very brave and generous parents in our church who have purchased cars for their teens. From what I hear not a single teen has turned down the gift from their parents. If they did I think their parents would have called an ambulance.
The gift is yours of forgiveness and life. All has been done for you to have it. Believe it. Nothing is more sure than when God gives a gift.
Remember the acronym!
“G” for grace – God’s gift
“M” Mankind – it has to be a gift because not a single person deserves it
“G” for God – perfect God of holiness and love. He demands it and provides it though...
“J” Jesus – who was holy for you and was the sacrifice for your sins. It is all yours through…
“F” Faith – Believe it. Jesus did it all.
This is basic training and the very core of Christianity. These are the basics of your salvation.