Imagine yourself right now driving across the A-11 from Barcelos to Braga. The trip doesn’t last very long, and before you know it, you are already in Braga, approaching the toll booth. Maybe you passed the time talking to a friend or yelling at the kids to be quiet. Maybe you spent the entire trip alone, dreading the meeting that you were about to attend. Maybe you are fleeing from some responsibility by trying to escape it all. Maybe your going to spend a bunch of money at the mall and all you can think about is the fact that you hope there are good sales.
You start seeing the signs alerting you to slow down, which, if you are like most people, you either ignore – maintaining your speed, or you accelerate. Then both before and after the speed limit signs, you see some another sign. It’s a simple sign. Blue with white letters.
What does it say?
Your trip is ending. There’s not much time left and the road that you have been traveling on belongs to the government. They have decided to tax you for simply using the road. The government taxes everyone for using that road. There are no exceptions.
Therefore, because you are on that road, you have to pay. And soon.
The authorities, to facilitate payment placed signs warning drivers that they would have to pay a toll just ahead. When arriving in Braga from Barcelos there are several lanes you can enter to make this payment, and most of the time, only one is open and one person sits at a booth and collects the payment.
He is very rigorous. It is his job, and he intends to do it. He asks you for your ticket to prove that you entered in Barcelos and are now exiting in Braga. It is the proof of how far you traveled on the road and he asks you for payment depending on the length of your travel.
Preacher, really. What’s this got to do with me, and what’s this got to do with the Bible? Let’ look in the book of Romans to find out.
(Keeping in mind our journey from Barcelos to Braga. Don’t forget the signs. Don’t forget the toll-master. We’ll get back to all of that.)
Starting in chapter 3:10 which reads, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Spiritually we are all on the A-11. We all travel on this road. Some enter in Barcelos, some in Póvoa, some in Martim, but just as Romans 3:10 says “all” we all travel the same road of life. We begin our journey at birth and remain on it until the moment we die by exiting, either in Braga or Guimarães, or some other city. Every day (or kilometer) that passes, we accumulate more and more debt.
Because it’s really got a whole lot more to do with what we do while traveling on this road, more than just the traveling itself. At some point in time, we all drive faster than we should, or we throw trash out the window, or we drive in such a way that it endangers other drivers.
At some point, everybody breaks the law, whether it be man’s law, which God has ordained, or His own law that we find in the Bible. “For all have sinned…” And when we sin, he sees it. Spiritually speaking, when we throw trash out the window, when we run someone off the road because with our erratic driving, none of it goes unseen.
None of us are perfect drivers. We inherited these instincts from our parents. It is what Paul meant when he wrote the following in Romans 5:12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Paul elaborates in verse 19 of the same chapter when he writes, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
So, we’ve all got this debt. We’ve all got these fines that are constantly being accumulated, the longer we travel on this road of life.
And, although it may not seem like it now, just like the trip from Barcelos to Braga, compared to eternity our life passes very quickly. Before we know it, the trip and our life is over.
Then, when our life ends, our sin, our fines, our debt…must be paid. It is unavoidable.
But, you may ask, who collects this debt? Who ensures that everyone pays? God. In this case, the toll master. He takes your ticket and adds up all of your fines and asks for immediate payment.
But before we get to the payment, think with me for just a minute about the signs that were mentioned earlier. The Great Toll Master, the Creator of the universe, placed those signs in our path warning us of the impending payment. He placed signs in our way telling each of us to slow down.
Out of rebellion, most of us either speed up or just ignore these signs. We ignore the preachers saying, “Prepare payment!” Please let me pause here in my analogy and point out that all of us that are born again, believers in the Lord Jesus serve as these warning signs. We should be telling our loved ones that the toll booth is just ahead, and they are going to have to pay. It should be your message each and every day. Child of God, when was the last time that you warned someone that they needed to “prepare their payment.” When was the last time that you told someone that they owed a debt to God that they themselves could never pay? Notice the next time you are on the A-11, there’s always at least one “Prepare Payment” sign, on either side of the road. You’re supposed to be that sign. I’m supposed to be that sign.
But, let’s get back to the other signs that tell us to slow down, that represent God’s commandments not to sin, or not to litter. Those signs, God’s commandments not to sin, are normally ignored, too.
One person may say, “Everybody drives that fast. It’s no big deal.”
Another may say to himself, “That’s a joke. That’s stupid. I don’t need to slow down.” And still another, “I’m in a hurry. I’m not slowing down until I have to stop.”
Yet, for some, along the way from Barcelos to Braga, they realize when they arrive at the toll booth and look at what they actually owe from all of the fines that they don’t have enough money to pay it all. They realize that they will never have enough to pay for all of the things that they have done along the way – all the lies, all of the deceit, the adultery, the stealing…whatever it may be. We’ve all come short.
What happens if you can’t pay for those fines that you have, or if you don’t slow down and try to break through the barrier? You’re apprehended and thrown in prison. The same is true with God. The first part of Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death…”
What that means is that our punishment for our sin and the inability to pay for that sin is death – both physical and spiritual. It is punishment in an eternal prison.
Now, imagine if there were someone along the road from Barcelos to Braga that would be willing to ride in the car with you all the way to the end. He would call ahead to the toll booth operator, his father, and personally pay all of your fines and debts for you. From that point on, he would teach you how to drive, how to treat others, how to live the way that man should live.
Well, there is such a man, and His name is Jesus. He wants to pay for your sin. He wants to give you a gift. Romans 6:23 in its entirety reads, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
So, what’s your decision today? Receive this gift or reject it?
Remember, the trip doesn’t last long.
The signs are quickly approaching. “Prepare Payment!”
Without Jesus you have no hope.