The fact that the world is somehow ‘broken’ is a recognised fact. A flick through a newspaper will show that the world could be so much better than it is. Injustice, war, crime, theft, fraud, oppression, slavery, genocide and dictatorships are ever present companions in this world. The question that all political, economic, philosophical and religious thinking has to answer is how do we fix it?
Education! Say many. But the universal education of the population has achieved little of what was thought. Education was going to abolish poverty, make crimes a thing of the past and push society to greater heights. True, education is vastly preferable to ignorance but it can’t fix what is broken.
Democracy! Say others. If only! The world has more democratic governments than ever before but utopia is still out of reach. Democracy is a god that has failed us.
Atheism! Imply some. If only there were no religions then ‘right thinking’ men and women could live about their lives in peace and harmony. Bah, I say, are atheists really better people? Are they more moral? More tolerant? Less prone to lying, cheating, stealing, abusing authority? I think not.
Good manners! Chivalry is dead, honour a forgotten concept, sportsmanship long gone, a sense of responsibility is dead. If only we had these like we had them in the past. And while these things would do some good they aren’t the be all and end all.
Justice! If only criminals were hung and the law was enforced with an iron fist. Again, although preferable to our current system crime would still pay. People would still choose to break the law.
All these things make up civilisation, all of them (except atheism) are good things, excellent things, concepts which are rightly valued and fought for.
But they tackle only the symptoms of mankind’s real problem.
“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
Matthew 15 v 18 - 19
Jesus accurately diagnosed the root problem facing all of humanity: sin. We are all under the curse of original sin – when Adam sinned as the representative of humanity we all fell with him. We’re not sinners because we sin we sin because we’re sinners. As such sin is the cause of all problems facing man. Our hearts are geared towards sin and evil.
You cannot educate sin out of a men, you can instil good manners in him but you cannot turn his heart to righteousness, you can have the democracy you want and people would still sin.
“As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one;”
Romans 3 v 10
We live in a fallen world, full of fallen people – sinners whose hearts are in bondage of sin, incapable of good.
“Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.”
Luke 11 v 39
As Jesus says we clean the outside of the cup but inside we are full of greed and wickedness. And that is what civilisation does – it cleans the outside, it makes us look good, it stops us from doing ‘obvious’ evil, it inhibits us, slightly.
But it does nothing to clean the inside of the cup. It does nothing to cure the sin in our heart.
What is the solution then?
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4 v 12
And that name is Jesus Christ; it is only in his atoning sacrifice on the cross that we find the salvation from sin.
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”
Romans 3 v 22 – 25
Jesus was presented as a sacrifice for sin. In his death on the cross as the perfect, sinless, God/man he took the punishment for our sin and in doing so provided a way of salvation from the curse of original sin.
What must I do to be saved?
“Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2 v 38
What does the Holy Spirit do?
“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”
Romans 8 v 5 - 11
As Paul writes ‘those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God’. That is why good works will never earn you salvation. Because as a sinner man does not submit to God, any good works he does do are done with the wrong motive. But the Holy Spirit makes us ‘alive’ again. Willing and able to love God and obey his commands.
Will this fix the world?
Yes! Jesus’ death on the cross defeated sin and Satan once and for all. The time is coming when Jesus will return and the current world will end to be replaced with a new heaven and a new earth with no sin and no suffering.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
Titus v 11 - 14
The salvation offered by Jesus’ death and resurrection cleans the inside of the cup. It is the only way through which the world will be fixed.
And that is of great encouragement. For salvation is wholly dependant on God not man. So whilst all man made system fade and fail we can be confident in the promises of God and his power to carry out those promises.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Revelation 21 v 1 - 8