Many have seen Cowboy Lee use his whips to present the Gospel. This tract is a written record of that presentation. Comes in a pack of 25.
“HIT THE TARGET
…You can’t afford to miss it! (Part 1)
Romans 3:22 – 24
Missing the target can be serious business! My Dad was a professional rodeo cowboy. He drew the applause and admiration of young and old alike when he’d ride “Chico,” his white horse, to the center of the arena and perform trick riding, fancy roping, horse catches and “bullwhip” artistry. He was the center of attraction wherever he went. Of course, he was my hero, too. In due time, when we were but small children, he made my brother, sister and myself a part of his “show.” This was very exciting but very serious business. You see, as a part of the routine, we held small pieces of paper in our fingers and in our mouths to be trimmed, bit by bit, by Dad’s bullwhip. Then, the tables turned and it was our turn to perform. Dad would get on his knees and hold paper in his hands and mouth for us to cut it out, in rapid fire, with a whip in each hand! That meant that we could not fail to “hit the mark” – a miss by a fraction of an inch could mean the loss of an eye or serious disfigurement to the face. This was serious business but not so serious as when a person misses God’s “target!”
You see, according to the Scriptures, God has placed a “target” before the human race and said, “Hit the target if you want to go to Heaven.” The “target” is what He calls holiness or righteousness. This, by brief definition, is the sum-total of all that God is, commands and approves. God says, “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14), and thunders, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16; cf. Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7)!
The Target Missed – verses 22 – 23
The sad thing is that the human race, “in Adam” (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:22), missed the mark. It is a real and humanly insurmountable problem. The test of time, human history, the Divine Physician and the Presiding Judge of the Court of the Universe (See my previous lesson –”God’s Righteousness”) have all proven the “whole world guilty before God” (Rom. 3:19). God says, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:22-23). This declaration sends the clear message to all that it matters little if one sins little or many times, in secret or debauches himself in the streets. There are many varieties and degrees of sin and sinners. Some have tried to keep the commandments of God from their “youth up” (Lk. 18:21 cf., Jas. 2:10; Gal. 3:10), while others are ignorant of both God and His demands on their life. The point is that while there are differences in the extent of sin among men, there is no difference as to the fact that they all missed God’s target.
In God’s eyes “there is no difference.” The presence of one sin is evidence that a person is a child of fallen Adam, procreated in Adam’s “own likeness, after his image” (Gen. 5:3). He is, like his father, naked before God. The best he can do is to attempt a covering of self-righteousness consisting of “fig leaves” (Gen. 3:7) and “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). But this is not allowed in the presence of a holy God. If he is ever to be saved, he must admit his nakedness; let him acknowledge himself a sinner. He must throw himself on the grace and mercy of God to receive a royal robe of Divine righteousness. He can claim nothing by his own worth or merit. He has missed the target.
Even more disturbing than missing God’s target is the fact that the sinner is destined to keep on missing the target. The phrase “come short” is in the Greek Present Tense. (The Present Tense is linear action, the tense of progress. The idea of time is secondary; it is rather a consideration of continuing action.) This simply means that the sinner, left to himself, is constantly falling short of God’s holiness/righteousness. Target missed!
The Target Hit – verse 24
The target is “the righteousness, which is of God.” It is provided “freely,” as a gift. God’s righteousness is credited to the sinner’s account at the moment they believe God’s testimony concerning Christ’s payment for sin. Theologians call this the “Doctrine of Imputation.” Imputation is an accountant’s financial term and means to “credit to the account of someone or something.”
In Roman’s 4:1-11 God’s work of imputation is illustrated in the salvation of Abraham. (See verses 3,5,6,9,10,11 where Greek–(logizomai) is translated as “counted,” “reckoned,” and “imputed.”) Imputation is the loving act of God whereby He credits perfect righteousness to the believer in Christ. This act is further explained in 2 Corinthians 5:21 where God says, He made “Christ to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Good news! Jesus Christ hit the bull’s-eye on behalf of every weak, ungodly, enemy of God who would believe God’s offer of forgiveness and salvation. “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).
Christ is the hero! He is the celebrity! He did the work of redemption! The work of redemption cannot be fully understood or appreciated unless it is placed into the context of the slave market of the ancient world. The Greek word redemption, apolutrosis is a compound word. Apo is “out from” and lutrosis “to set free from the slave market as the result of a price paid.” The guilty slave to sin is set free because Christ paid the redemption price. The wages of sin is death. Christ paid the price. He “blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His Cross” (Col. 2:14; Rom. 5:9; Eph. 2:13; Col. 1:20; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). This work was done entirely “freely by His grace.” Grace is God’s spontaneous generosity: expecting nothing in return. This results in the believing sinner’s justification.
Justification has to do with the imputation of God’s righteousness and, like imputation; justification is an act of God. It is the decision of the Judge of the universe wherein He pronounces the guilty, but believing sinner, to be absolutely righteous. He is acquitted in the Court of Heaven! Target hit! In fact, what God does is more than to pardon or forgive the sinner. Remember Saul the Sinner? He received the righteousness of God and became Paul the Apostle. He counted his former confidence in the flesh as dung and hit the bull’s-eye! He “won Christ.” He said he was “found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9). God goes beyond pardon and forgiveness and gives the believing sinner a perfect standing and position as though they had never committed sin! He “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6)! Target hit!
Now dear reader, let me appeal to you to make these two truths a reality. When you came into this world you did so as a child of Adam. In him you missed the target. There is “no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Jesus Christ took your place. You couldn’t hit the bull’s-eye of God’s holiness through your own efforts, but by the grace and mercy of God the Father and the substitutionary work of Christ His Son, He hit the bull’s-eye for you. With this, God is well pleased! Since this is true, Christ is “able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). If you have not come to Christ in faith to save you, why don’t you do that now?”