Showcasing a Great Salvation
As you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thes 2:11-12)
A story is told of an old man who went to a ten year old boy and told him the secret of getting into Heaven. He took him into a room where an enormous two sided scale was placed in a corner. On one side was a stone that weighed half a ton. This stone represented the boy’s sins.
The old man told the boy that he must pick up five sparrow’s feathers every day and come and put them on the other side of the scale. He said, “By the time you die, if the feathers outweigh the half ton, you’ll get into Heaven.”
You may think that sounds crazy but, for many people before they become a Christian, this is the way they live. They believe that if they have done sufficient good deeds by the time they die, these will outweigh their sins. However, the wonderful, liberating, truth is that:
Christ died for our sins. (1 Cor 15:3)
Paul reminds us in Ephesians:
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith… it is the gift of God-not by works so that none can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
No amount of good works, done over a million lifetimes, could ever match the weight of the saving love of God in Christ Jesus.
So, does this mean that Christians can live any way they please? Some do live in such a way that would indicate this. However, The Bible clearly teaches that once we are saved, an outward sign is that we live in a manner worthy of our calling to salvation. The apostle Paul was so adamant about this that he wrote to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians about it. For example, we read:
... so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:10)
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2)
In other words, there is outward evidence that we are saved. Our harsh words, self-centredness, pride and impatience with others don’t make it on to the list of evidences. No prizes for guessing why! If Paul was so adamant about this, should not we take heed and make sure that the manner in which we live showcases to the world the wonderful, great and mighty salvation of God?
Live in such a way that makes it easy for others to believe in Christ
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:5)
I was reading an article recently where the importance of truth was being discussed in relation to communication. It said, “Imagine what it would be like living in a society in which no one expected the truth. How could a person discern what is accurate and what is a falsehood? On what basis could a person make important decisions if there was no expectation of the truth?
"Life would be chaotic without the norm of honesty.” (Why Truthtelling Is Important Article / Produced by TOW Project).
‘Truth’ is mentioned many times in Scripture; in fact, it occurs 235 times in 222 verses of the King James Version of The Bible. The fact that it is mentioned so frequently indicates that it is important to God and important for us if we want to draw closer to Him. Jesus Himself spoke of truth on several occasions for example:
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31,32)
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
Truth can produce the following:
The opposite of truth is lies. Like truth, lying is spoken of in The Bible. Of the seven sins in Proverbs 6 that the Lords ‘detests’, two of these are lies.
he detest.. a lying tongue. (Proverbs 6:16,17)
he detests… a false witness who pours out lies. (Proverbs 6:16, 19)
A lie can cause long lasting suffering in many fronts. For example it can result in the following:
Someone has noted that...
There is a destructive power behind lying. There is creative power in truth.
Curiously, the Hebrew word for ‘truth’ is ‘emet’ and it is spelled with the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The rabbis came to the conclusion that:
‘truth upholds the first and the last of God’s creation, and everything in between.’ (Jonathan Cahn)
We each have a choice to make in our words, thoughts and actions. Let’s strive for truth in all of these.
Love's First Mention
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
In one of the most well-known passages in the Old Testament we see Abraham offering up his son Isaac. In this story, there are striking similarities between Abraham and God:
• Abraham was willing to offer up his son for sacrifice: God was willing to offer up his Son as a sacrifice.
• Abraham placed the wood of the sacrifice on his son’s shoulders: God placed the wood of the cross on His Son’s shoulders.
• Abraham laid his son upon the wood and bound him to it. God laid his Son upon the wood of the cross and bound Him to it.
There is a particular reason why this story is special. There is a principle or rule that some people use for studying and interpreting Scripture called ‘The law of first mention”. This principle says that, to understand a particular word or doctrine, we must find the first place in Scripture that word or doctrine is revealed and study that passage. It is thought that the Bible’s first mention of a concept is the simplest and clearest presentation; thus it is based on that ‘first mention’ that subsequent occurrences of the concept or doctrine are interpreted. So, if we want to understand a theological concept, it helps to start with its “first mention.”
It is in the passage where Abraham is offering his son Isaac for sacrifice that we have the first mention of ‘LOVE’.
Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love - Isaac - and go to the region of Moriah." (Genesis 22:2)
It is wonderful to note that the first mention of LOVE in The Bible is a father’s love for his son: not the love of a husband for his wife, nor a mother’s love, nor the love of a child for a parent, but the love of a father for his son. Before the dawn of time, the Heavenly Father loved His Son. His love was eternal, from ages past.
However there is one main difference between Abraham and God : Abraham lifts up the knife of sacrifice but is stopped: God lifts up His knife of judgment, but it is not stopped.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have life eternal. (John 3:16)
Friends, if our Heavenly Father made this great sacrifice, a sacrifice of love for us, He must love us very much. Let us live today in the awareness of that love.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
(The Love of God by Frederick Lehman)
Choose this day whom you will serve. (Joshua 24:15)
Life is full of choices. Most of our life is governed by choices we make or even choices others made for us when we were young.
My mother’s siblings made a choice in early adult life to emigrate to Canada. My mother chose to stay in Scotland. The choice she made has affected my whole life.
In the Bible, we frequently read of choices. Abraham and his nephew Lot, were bound by family ties and fellow travellers to the land of Canaan. However, Abraham chose the high places, far away from worldliness and evil while Lot chose to dwell on the plains, the gateway to sin.
Caiaphas was the High Priest and head of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. He made the decision to hand Jesus over to Pilate in order that he might be crucified. Nicodemus, however, also a member of the Sanhedrin, spoke out in defence of Jesus (John 7:51) and took his stand with Jesus when he, along with Joseph of Arimathea, took Jesus’ body away for burial after the consequences of Caiaphas’s choice had been accomplished.
In Matthew’s gospel, we read the story of a rich young man who, after hearing Jesus’ call to follow him reacted mournfully:
“But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.” (Matthew 19:22)
Contrast this with the extremely wealthy tax collector Zacchaeus who, upon encountering Jesus said,
"Look, Lord! Here and now, I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Luke 10:8)
Both were very rich men, but they apparently made very different choices in relation to Jesus.
Like all these individuals, throughout life we face choices, and our decisions will either lead us into a deeper relationship with Christ, or further away from Him. Billy Graham once said, “You choose sin. You practice sin.” It’s also true that you choose holiness and you practice holiness.
Today we will all make choices, make sure yours are good ones.
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