As we continue into this new year [Editor's note: this article was written on January 10, 1995.], I have been prodding you to think about God's expectations of us. These expectations are important because God's love, justice, and power are real. We will give an answer some day to Him.
We have considered (116) His expectation of us to bow before the authority of the Bible. It is the source of Truth because it is His Word. Everyone will be held to the standard found in its pages because it is the written reflection of the personality of God.
Now, what else does God expect of us this year? Well, if we are going to accept the Bible as His Word, according to His expectation of us, the next most critical expectation is that we will ask that Word to reveal to us how we can get to heaven. When we die, we will face God. It is far better to face Him in heaven, than to be cast into eternal death.
If we ask the Bible to tell us the answer to this question (a question God expects us to deal with honestly, and not religiously), we will notice something very early in the record: we are sinners and deserve the judgment of God (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23). No amount of church attendance, religious performance, neighborliness, ritual-satisfaction (like baptism, observance of Holy Communion, remaining within our marriage vows, etc.) will erase the fact of our sins. The plain truth is that we want what we want, and we do what we want, far too often for God to be pleased with us. And the Bible goes on to say that once we have taken the bit in our teeth in order to do what we want, knowing that God didn't want it for us, there is nothing we can do to compensate.
Husbands often attempt reconciliation by compensation--a box of candy, or a dozen roses, to compensate for an angry outburst, or some other kind of sinful behavior. Wives often accept this--because they are sinners too, and want to be forgiven later when they have sinned. But, God is not a sinner and there is nothing a man can do to compensate for his sin against God. God doesn't seek forgiveness from us through compensation and He will not allow us to seek it from Him on that basis either.
Reconciliation, after sin, is not possible by compensatory behavior. It can only be achieved by the full expression of justice against the sin and the sinner. This is why Christ died. He endured the fullest expression of justice against sin, and He did it as a substitute for us.
Therefore, the only way for reconciliation with God after we have sinned is to come to Him through Jesus Christ. The Bible calls this salvation by grace through faith. It is not a matter of man being good. It is a matter of man being honestly repentant and willing to seek forgiveness because Jesus Christ died in His place.
So, God expects us, this year, to come to grips with what it means to be forgiven of sin so that heaven is our destiny once our tired bodies quit working. Forgiveness will never be given to the person who tries to earn it by behaving a certain way. It will only be given to those who put their faith in Christ.