“All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled unto God.” (II Cor. 5:18-20).
Taking responsibility is seemingly very difficult for many people, in fact, some will go to considerably more trouble to avoid responsibility than it would be to accept it and go on from there. However, to blame someone or some thing apparently in their mind allows them to experience satisfaction with themselves, This (may I term it,) “blame game” often ebbs into religious practices. Of all places one would think that a Christian would accept personal responsibility for some malady or shortcoming, but alas, that is not the case. This lays the foundation of this piece, in the most important area of one’s life, if lost who is to blame?
IF I AM LOST I CANNOT BLAME GOD
Some have reasoned that the very existence of sin is God’s fault. If sin were banished from the world then the possibility of error would be extinct. Has it ever occurred to such people that this would do away with choice making us robots rather than free men? Presently we have the choice of doing God’s will or rejecting it. God does not make us serve Him, but gives to us a choice and allows us to reason on the consequence of obeying or walking the way of transgression. The lesson is one of most ancient history. God placed the first man and his mate in the Garden of Eden with a choice before them. Every tree in the garden they were permitted to eat of, but, there was a single tree that they were forbidden to partake. If they should eat of it the consequence—death would follow. Once Adam had eaten the forbidden fruit, he attempted to blame God. Said he, “the woman whom THOU gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” (Gen. 3:12). And more than that God has provided a way of salvation, which liquidates sin giving us hope. That means we do not have to be lost. Our text says, “all things are of God,” referring to the scheme of redemption (creating us anew). God without any outside counsel or aid devised a plan by which human beings can become “new creatures.” Notice the previous verse, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (Vs. 17). Therefore, a man may choose the spiritual realm to which he belongs. He may dwell in the realm of the WORLD or he may enter the BODY OF CHRIST. God declares that entering the body of Christ means that all things are new, have started over, the slate is clean, he is now acceptable to God. If I decide that I will not become a “new creature” (a figure borrowed from Jesus expression to Nicodemus Jn. 3:3), then I cannot blame God. The choice is mine—I can (I must), make it. When I do the consequences are on my head and I cannot blame God. Since you can make the choice why not make it to day and avoid being eternally lost? A verse that everyone is acquainted assures us as well as any that the blame for being lost cannot be laid at the feet of God by any human being. Jesus stated it in the plainest manner, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16).
IF I AM LOST CAN I BLAME CHRIST?
“God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ…God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,” so states our text. We immediately know that God’s plan for saving the human race called for Jesus Christ as the go between from God to man and for man back to God. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”(I Tim. 2:5). Jesus is spoken of as “the man” in the passage because it is not His Deity that brings people back to God but his humanity. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” (Heb. 10:5). That is why Jesus could say, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save.” (Lk. 19:10). Jesus came to earth to offer Himself in sacrifice. There was not and is no salvation apart from His sacrificial death—JESUS CAME TO DIE. Sin demands a penalty or something to satisfy the debt. The debt for sin is death; “ the wages of sin is death.” Jesus’ death is the satisfaction. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation (that which satisfied God), for our sins: and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (I Jn. 2:1-2). Peter in an earlier sermon proclaimed, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we mist be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Men have sought and do seek salvation through various means. Some rely on a supposed god, their good works, morality, education, and philosophy. And on and on goes the list, but the search for salvation is a vain one unless it centers in Christ Jesus the Lord. One thing for sure the means of salvation has been provided by God through Jesus, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:6-8). Therefore, if I am lost how can I blame Jesus Christ. He did for me what I could not do for myself.
IF I AM LOST I CANNOT BLAME THE APOSTLES
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead.” Ambassador is defined as “an accredited diplomatic agent of the highest rank, appointed as the representative of one government to another. A personal representative or messenger.” Such an office or work was appointed the Apostles by Christ. They were commissioned to take the Gospel to the lost. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Then we are told, “So after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” (Mk. 16:15, 16, 19, 20). Reading the Acts of the Apostles we see that they carried this out in their lifetime as well as recording it in writing allowing it to be of use to men for all time. The Apostolic writer commented on this showing us that there is no blame to be laid upon the Apostles. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witnesses, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Heb. 2:3-4). The Apostles did their work and did it well often suffering greatly even to dying as faithful envoys carrying out their appointment. If I am lost I cannot blame the Apostles.
IF I AM LOST I CANNOT BLAME THE WORD OF GOD
Speaking of the connecting link for man to obtain salvation the Apostle says of himself and his brother Apostles that God “hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation,” (Vs. 19). Men can talk about Jesus speaking to their heart, about the Holy Spirit moving upon them and any other thing that meets their fancy or fantasy, but inspiration speaks of God using His Word (preached or written), to effect conversion by drawing men back to Him. The word of God (Gospel), “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1:16). God’s power to save men is not in vain—it accomplishes the purpose He had (has), in mind, and the power He exerts is the word of truth to save any and all men. James spoke of it to the twelve tribes as “the engrafted word which is able to save your souls.” (Js. 1:21). Later he referred to it as “the perfect law of liberty” assuring them that the man doing it would “be blessed in his deed.” (Vs. 25). Is there a man that desires knowledge of salvation? Does one wish the foul deeds he has done to be pointed out? Can a man who needs to know how to correct his life learn how this is to be done? Once that point is reached what is one then to do? Hear the word of truth, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Tim. 3:16-17). These things being said if I am lost I cannot blame the word of God.
IF I AM LOST I HAVE ONLY MYSELF TO BLAME
The Ambassadors for Christ, beseech and beg us ”in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” There is something that each individual must do to obtain salvation. Redemption then has a personal responsibility that all of us must accept. There is something I must comply with, obey or do to save my own soul. As before stated God and Christ have done for us what we could not do for ourselves, but we are expected to do what we are able. The critics that deny there is something to do openly acknowledge, no more, they preach that we must believe. Well, Jesus in response to the question, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” Replied in a way that none could misunderstand, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (Jn. 6:28-29). One can shout from now until the Lord comes that “believing is not a work.” But, the fact is it is a work—something a man must do. Listening to the first Gospel sermon the people understood they were incomplete although they believed that “God had made that same Jesus, whom they crucified both Lord and Christ,” asked “what shall we do?” Think now, what were they to do? Inspiration says, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38). Would they have had their sins remitted if they refused to do what they were told? I think NOT. On his way to Damascus Saul of Tarsus realized he had been travelling the wrong road by persecuting the church of Christ, “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord what wilt thou have me to do? (Acts 9:6). The instructions were immediately given, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Question, what was he told to do? “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16). If Saul had refused to be baptized or do what he was told would his sins have been washed away? Were his sins washed away before he was baptized or before he did what he was told to do? Methinks that would NOT have been the case. There is a vast difference in doing a work we have devised and depend upon for our salvation and doing, obeying or complying with a commandment of God. There were those in the days of revelation that devised a scheme of salvation causing them to refuse to submit to God’s plan to their own determent. “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Rom. 9:2-3). The righteousness of God has been revealed in the Gospel of Christ (See Rom. 1:16-17). An ignorance like the people spoken of is displayed by many a preacher today when they speak about the works of James in the second chapter of his writing. These works are the things commanded by God. If we fail to comply that is a demonstration that our faith is vain or useless. We can believe but failing to do will damn our soul eternally. On the other hand (and preachers generally are correct) in saying that we are not saved by our own works, but by the grace of God (Eph. 2:8-9). However, being saved by grace does not cancel out our part in our own salvation, as there are things each and every one of us must do. If I am lost I am to blame. Allow me to add we cannot blame our parents, children, husband/wife, friends, environment, circumstance with which we must deal, or our brethren and sisters in Christ, nor some malady in the church. Look in the mirror and you can see without a doubt the one responsible for you not being saved. Forget the “blame game” and face up to your responsibility. If I am lost there is none to blame but me.
Barney Owens 1708
“I do the very best I know how, the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing it to the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me will not amount to anything. If the end brings me out all wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.” -A. Lincoln