You’ve probably gotten them in the mail, or maybe email now. Emblazoned in the title of the email or on the cover of the envelope is news of an exclusive offer that’s only available if you take advantage of it now! That’s right, the company can only hold this offering for so many days before they take this opportunity away – so respond by getting their credit card, or buying that car, or booking that flight immediately or you’ll lose your chance to take advantage of that exclusive offer forever. Which we all know means either until the next company makes a similar offer or the advertising cycle rolls around and the company sends the offer out again.
The purpose of most exclusive offers is to make you feel special and entice you to buy something you might not have bought otherwise. There’s something special about being “in the club” when you sport a cheap gym bag with your name and the organization’s name on it – one of the exclusive offers I get frequently. As you might guess, most of those offers aren’t really “exclusive” because they can be copied by others and repeated by the original company. As Barnabas and Saul were preaching on their first missionary journey, they made a truly exclusive offer. “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39)
The method that Barnabas and Saul used as they shared the gospel of Jesus on their missionary journeys was to begin sharing the good news of Jesus among the Jews. What would inevitably happen is that people would begin responding to the gospel and the Jewish leaders would object and throw them out of the synagogue, whereupon they would take the message to the Gentiles, until they got run out of town. As they preached this message to the Jews, Saul touched on an issue that he must have felt in his life as a Pharisee: how can I be free from sin. He had followed all the laws. He had done what he was supposed to do, and yet knew that he had not been set free from sin. When Jesus found him, though, that changed and he recognized freedom from sin and justification with God. His message is not a hypothetical commentary on what might be, it was his journey. When he spoke to the Jews in Pisidian Antioch, he knew that concern that good Jews would have and he let them know that they only hope they had was in Jesus. He had experienced it. He knew there was no other way.
Paul’s message to Jews, that there was no other way, rang true back in the first century. Many today would dispute the idea that there is no other way to obtain forgiveness of sins and justification with God. It’s fashionable to talk about how there is wisdom in different religions and, since all of us really worship the same God, one source of truth is as good as another. If we follow Christ, though, we understand that there is no other way to come to God. Forgiveness of sins comes from Jesus and no other. You cannot earn forgiveness from God by following any set of rules – it’s a gift from God. We are set free from the power of sin and justified by God. It’s a gift from God, not a condition to be earned by following a religion. The offer from Jesus is truly exclusive. You can’t get forgiveness and freedom from sin anywhere else. It’s an offer that’s available for your lifetime, but the joy you experience when you have freedom from sin means you’ll want to take advantage of it as soon as possible, or “now.” And the best part about this offer is that Jesus paid the price. That’s right: the cost is $0 down and $0 per month. Your life will change in exciting ways when you take advantage of this offer from God. Ok, that was a little “pitchy,” I know, but the truth remains that only through Jesus will you gain forgiveness of sins and power over sin. There is no greater life than walking with Him.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of forgiveness and freedom from sin. Let me live each day in the joy of that forgiveness. Let my life reflect that freedom to others so well that others will want to follow You too.