I’m guessing that for many of you this question made a memory instantly pop into your head. Depending on your past, this memory could be a good one or a bad one. Either way, this memory probably holds a strong influence over your answer. I confess that for the first forty-five-ish years of my life (I’m 47 now) my answer would’ve been “absolutely not!” Or at least that would be my answer if I was being totally honest. But over the last couple of years I’ve been starting to wonder if perhaps that isn’t true.
Now I must tread lightly here. I don’t want to come across as conceited but I also don’t want to fall into the trap of self-deprecation as a false form of humility. But it’s really easy for me to say that I don’t deserve the blessings that God has granted me. In fact, I’ve got a whole slew of memories from my past that can effectively demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt why I most certainly am not worthy. But this then begs the question: why have I received those blessings? The obvious answer is of course that God loves me. While this is absolutely true, this answer presents a conundrum of sorts. The thing is there are times when I either don’t get blessings or no longer have blessings that I used to have. Following the same logic as the answer to the above, I become tempted to believe that during those times God doesn’t love me. Or, at the very least, doesn’t like me all that much. After all, if good things are a demonstration of God’s love, then bad things (or lack of good things) must be evidence of an absence of that love. And if He loves me sometimes but not other times then these changes of heart can only logically be attributed to me and my actions. I mean who’s kidding who? God is a lot of things but He is definitely not fickle. But therein lies the problem. God’s consistency pretty much debunks the entire logic of this argument. Jeremiah 31:3 says “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” So much for that theory.
Here’s another catch-22: our God is a god of justice. The bible says that “the wages of sin is death” and wages are something that we earn. Spoiler alert! I’ve sinned. Therefore I have earned death. My paycheck is in the mail. But wait! In the very same sentence the bible also says “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Here’s the sentence again, all together: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our lord” (Romans 6:23). How can this be? How can I receive eternal life if my wages – i.e. what I’ve got coming to me - is death?
Some would say that this is why my “earthly body” has to die. The trouble with this thinking is that it basically means that “life sucks and then you die.” It says that I have sinned, that I am worthy only of death, and that I am doomed to a life of toil and struggle. I’m a dead man walking with no more appeals and my sentence is imminent. It says the best I can hope for is that it will be a long way off and not hurt very much. But is that really God’s desire for us?
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do.” In some translations it actually says that we are God’s masterpiece. Now I admit there are times where I’ve read that and thought “is that really the best He could do?” But then again, maybe God knows something about me that I don’t yet know myself.
Ok, so we’re all thoroughly confused. Now what? How do we obtain eternal life while justice is still served? How are we to be God’s masterpiece even though we all fall short and deserve a death sentence? Paul gives us a hint in Romans. In this letter he helps to address this apparent justice/grace paradox. And what it all boils down to is this: we already died. Yep, true story. If you are reading this and have accepted Christ and have been baptized then you, my friend, have died. You’ve received what was coming to you. Justice has been served! See for yourself:
“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may have a new life.” Romans 6:3-4
How cool is that! He goes on to say that while we were once slaves to sin, when we die we become free. That was how slavery worked back then. Technically you were only a slave while you were still alive. It takes the phrase “till death do us part” to a whole new level! In chapter 7 Paul explains it another way:
“By law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if the husband dies she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man. So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” Romans 7:2-4.
And God doesn’t just stop at freeing us from sin. Heck no. He loves us way too much for that. Watch what happens in chapter eight:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He (Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined he also called; those he called he also justified, and those he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30).
Let that sink in for a minute: “those he justified he also glorified.” Paul is referring to you! To me! To all of us! Think about that ramifications of that. We are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus, the King of kings! To be His brothers and sisters! And you know what siblings of kings are called? Princes and princesses. That’s right. You, my friend, are royalty. You, my friend, are worthy.
Now, I dare you to say “I am worthy” aloud right now. Really, say it. Now say it again. Again with more feeling! Keep saying it, over and over. How ever many times it takes until it sinks in. You’ve been predestined. You’ve been called. You’ve been justified. Now I challenge you to accept your title and become glorified.