from our rector, Rev. Dr. R. William Dickson:
This past Sunday I referenced in my sermon at the 10:30 service a brilliant article by Dr. Ashley Null, an article entitled “The Falconry of Thomas Cranmer’s Comfortable Words.” It is a masterpiece and I commend it to you enthusiastically. In my sermon I quoted Dr. Null who stated,
“Here, as it were, is the Anglican equivalent of the Four Spiritual Laws embedded in its very first vernacular liturgy.”
I spent some considerable time in my sermon talking about the inner gospel logic of Cranmer’s Four Comfortable Words and how the first was a fitting context for our consideration of Isaiah 55. But it has occurred to me that perhaps I should provide a bit of background to the reference. Here tis.
In the year 1952, Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ wrote a simple gospel tract which became one of the most widely disseminated tracts of history. It was called “The Four Spiritual Laws.” It has been translated into roughly 200 languages and in the year 2013 over 1.5 billion copies of the tract had been distributed all over the world. The genius of the little tract is in its clarity and simplicity.
Law One: God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV).
[Christ speaking] “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Law Two: Humanity is sinful and separated from God.
Therefore, if we are separated from God we won’t know God’s love or experience his plan for our lives.
Humanity is Sinful
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
People were created be in fellowship with God, as seen in the story of Creation, but instead we often stubbornly choose our own way instead of God’s way. This attitude of rebellion against God (or even of passive indifference) is called sin.
Humanity Is Separated
“The wages of sin is death” [in this context meaning a spiritual rift between us and God] (Romans 6:23).
People try to reach God in various ways, even through religion, but they inevitably fail because humanity is sinful and separated from God.
Law Three: Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for sin.
Through Him we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.
He Died In Our Place
“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
He Rose from the Dead
“Christ died for our sins… He was buried… He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures… He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).
He Is the Only Way to God
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me'” (John 14:6).
God has bridged the gulf that separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.
Law Four: We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
If we accept that Jesus Christ has saved us and that he is Lord, then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.
We Must Receive Christ
“To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
We Receive Christ Through Faith
“By grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Faith is trusting in God, belief from the heart.
When We Receive Christ, Our Lives Change
We are “born again” – John 3:1-8.
The transformation is likened to Christ’s death and resurrection – Romans 6:6-11.
We become a “new creation” – 2 Corinthians 5:17.
We Receive Christ Through Personal Invitation
[Christ speaking] “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in” (Revelation 3:20).
Receiving Christ means trusting Jesus with your life by opening the door of your soul to him. Trusting Jesus means turning away from your own self-will (repentance) and instead allowing God to work in and through you. When we humbly admit that we need him he forgives us for seeking autonomy and begins to show us his way of love.
Intellectually agreeing that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died for our sins on a cross and rose again the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is not enough, belief is a choice made by courageous faith (not by emotion).
How To Receive Christ
Christ enters our lives when we ask him to. It’s that simple.
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
God knows your heart so go ahead ask him to be Lord of your life in your own words. If you get stuck for words, try this prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”
If anything about this famous gospel presentation is surprising, intriguing, disturbing, or exhilarating, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . I’d love to know what you think.