Before talking about today’s Scripture reading, let me welcome you to the first of what will be a total of 30 devotional readings and writings (Monday to Friday for six weeks) that supplement the current Tri-State Fellowship teaching series called “Cross Words.” These writings are timed daily to hit at 6:00 each morning, and I remind you that you may have them delivered automatically to your email.
The Reason for Cross Words
Of course, what we mean by cross words are those Bible and doctrinal terms that are connected to the work of Jesus Christ in dying on the cross of Calvary to save us from the debt of sin. But before we can begin to delve into these terms, I thought it appropriate to take one written session to be reminded why the cross was necessary.
So, Just How Bad are Things?
The answer – worse than you can even imagine … as bad as it could possibly be. It is a death sentence.
The Great Epistle to the Romans
The Apostle Paul’s premier writing is the book of Romans – a message that describes in greatest detail all which God has done through Jesus Christ to make us acceptable to Him in His perfect kingdom and presence. In a word, to be His presence, we must be perfect – righteous. We need righteousness – and that is the theme of the Book of Romans … as it says:
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Paul begins to describe this salvation in chapter 3, verse 21 and following. But first, Paul writes from 1:18 to 3:20 to prove that all mankind is totally lost and without hope – condemned by sin. The style of writing throughout this section is of a prosecuting attorney presenting a foolproof case of condemnation against the accused criminal – all mankind. You may have heard some preacher at some point say that, when sharing the Gospel with someone, you have to get them lost before you can get them saved. Well, that is a kind of simplistic statement, but it contains a lot of truth.
My wife Diana comes from a largely Pennsylvania Dutch family background. And it is from her grandfather that I heard a term I had never encountered before: “Nix Nootz.” This was a way of most often describing a child who was misbehaving, but doing it in a sort of cute and endearing way. Unfortunately, that is how many people believe God looks at our sins and our all-too-human condition … a sort of “boys will be boys” way of it not really being THAT big of a deal! After all, they’re just human!
But as you read through this passage, you see that there are no excuses. Mankind is lost in sin. It is not even a matter that, well, some folks just haven’t heard the truth very clearly, so they should be acceptable and excusable if anyone is! But the answer even there is a solid “no.” The creation shouts out that there is a God to be sought after and to be known and obeyed – leaving them also without excuse.
There are no excuses whatsoever. Man in his own state and condition is totally, utterly, impossibly lost and condemned to death and separation from God. In theology, this is what is termed “total depravity” … which does not mean that every person is as bad as they could be, but that every person is lost and possesses nothing in themselves of righteousness that might give them any merit with God.
Simply stated, man is lost … needing “cross words” to find a connection of salvation with God and any hope for eternity. And that is what we are going to talk and write about over these six weeks. (If you read today’s Scripture in your own Bible or translation, be sure to look under this attached Scripture reading for the first of the daily puzzles.)
God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Here is the daily puzzle where we will regularly identify a couple of words every day… for a total of 66 cross words altogether. On April 22nd, the missing letters will be filled in to spell something for which YOU may be a prizewinner if you can be the first to identify what it says.
Our words for today:
Wrath – This speaks of God’s anger toward sin. As Christ took our sins upon himself, God’s wrath executed a judgment of them upon the cross.
Curse – No, not saying something wrong … this means that sin entered the human race through Adam’s rebellion, and the curse of death has passed down to everyone (except Christ), making us unacceptable in that state to a perfect God.