Monday, February 11, 2013

Ex nihilo

"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12 

A Latin phrase meaning “out of nothing”, ex nihilo is commonly used in reference to the Judeo/Christian account of creation.  Literally, “out of nothing, God created.” God created everything.  John 1:3 tells us that “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Only God can make something from nothing.  Still, history reveals that man has seemed determined to do that very thing.

In the 17th century, English scientist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton devoted no small amount of time and research into the proto-science of Alchemy.  A major objective of alchemy was discovering that means of turning base metals, such as lead, into silver or gold…effectively taking that which had little to no worth and turning it into that which was most valuable.  Essentially, they longed to create something from nothing.  Ex nihilo.  By the way, it didn’t work.

Works-Righteousness…doesn’t work
As I was considering Newton and his contemporaries, and their quest to turn not-gold into gold; I considered the attempt of so many to do the same thing with their own righteousness.  So many times across the last twenty-five years of ministry I have heard people say “Yes, I expect to get to heaven.  I’ve done good things in my life.  I’m a good person.  I haven’t killed anyone, I never stole anything, and I’m not out having affairs with people.”  They are striving to turn not-gold into gold.  Ex nihilo.  Out of nothing…to make something.  It doesn’t work.

Our BEST self-righteousness…our best timeline of not committing sins…nothing we can ever do of ourselves could ever make us good enough to earn eternity in heaven.  The nature of sin still remains in us, and we cannot cure it.  We cannot kill it.  We cannot counter-act it.  We cannot compensate for it, and we cannot ignore it.  Something must be done.  But what?

Only the blood of Jesus pays the price for sin.  We need to be washed from the inside out.  We receive Jesus’ gift by faith and believe on him for the cleansing we need.  That’s it.  There is no other way.  I had a professor in seminary say that “if there exists any other means whereby a man can be saved from sin, any way at all, then Jesus was senselessly sent to the cross.”  We cannot GOOD-WORK our way to heaven.  Jesus’ blood is the only way.

What Then of Good Works?
So, if good works are useless toward earning the favor of God, should we cease to do good works?  As the Apostle Paul might say: “May it never be!”  It is precisely because we were ransomed by the blood of Jesus that we are to live our lives doing good.  Good works become our offering of worship.  It is in doing good that we glorify God and show ourselves to be his faithful followers.  Romans 12:1 says: “Therefore I urge you, bretheren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”  James 2:18 reads: “But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." 

So, we adjust our thinking from having to “measure up, lest we perish in hell” to “do good and glorify our God.”  No longer are we practicing Spiritual Alchemy, but following the instruction of Ephesians 4:15, we are “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ…”

Almighty God, how we strive to be ‘good enough’ for your mercies, yet fail.  Remind us this day that our salvation is a free gift, and our lives lived for you are a gift in return.  Work within us the will to do good and right, that we might glorify your Holy Name, through Jesus our Lord, Amen.

Submitted By Kerry Patton

Devotional Archive