September 3, 2015

God’s Incredible Plan

Hosea 6:1–7:16, Acts 2:42–3:26, Job 15:21–35, Revelation 12:10-11

The Bible message can be summed up in four words: creation, fall, redemption, consummation. God created people in His image; those first people fell into sin; God is at work to redeem sinners; and in the end all will be brought to a satisfactory and eternal conclusion. While the last stage will occupy the most ‘time,’ the second one takes the most pages.

God goes to extreme measures to deal with sin so sinners can be redeemed. Two verses point to some parts of His redemption plan and to Jesus Christ: “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.” (Hosea 6:1–2)

Many think that to be right before God, we must do good deeds, or at least do the best we can, but that is not the covenant God makes. He says He does the saving and our response should be according to the undeserved blessing He bestows: “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.” (Hosea 6:6–7)

Offering our sacrifices to God is futile. Instead, He made a sacrifice for me. I cannot earn or deserve His blessing, only respond to what He has done.

Job knew that, but his ‘friends’ were not so astute. In speaking about a wicked person, one of them said, “He will not be rich, and his wealth will not endure, nor will his possessions spread over the earth; he will not depart from darkness; the flame will dry up his shoots, and by the breath of his mouth he will depart. Let him not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself, for emptiness will be his payment. It will be paid in full before his time, and his branch will not be green.” (Job 15:29–32)

This sounds right, but in saying it in the way he did and in the timing of it, this ‘friend’ was accusing Job of being a wicked person and this is why he was having problems and suffering losses. This was not true.

God’s people might suffer under His hand, but His reasons are not to punish but to heal. My condemnation and punishment was put on Christ. It is through Him that I am blessed, not judged and condemned.

This is illustrated by God’s grace actions in the NT. Peter and John spoke to a lame beggar and he was healed. Peter explained it by pointing to Jesus: “And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.” (Acts 3:16) The man did nothing to earn this blessing. God bestowed it and he responded by leaping for joy!

Peter quoted Moses (who also pointed to Jesus). He knew that something besides a list of commands was needed to save people from their sin. He said, “The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.”

Peter continued, “And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (Acts 3:22–26)

As I read this, the Lord reminded me of an important principle. I have a tender conscience and tend to look on the dark side of myself far too much. When I read of the sins of those in the Bible, I identify with them, even with the worst of them. However, God has blessed me with faith, forgiveness, and new life. After confessing any actual sin, I should be thinking about His grace instead of how rotten I can be.

My spiritual enemy knows my temperament. The NT identifies him as my accuser, but also speaks of his fate. “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Revelation 12:10–11)

My negativity is important regarding the seriousness of sin, but the positive is far more important — the blood of Christ and faith in Him have given me forgiveness and eternal life. I need to reject all habits that let the devil push me into dwelling on sin and instead rejoice in what Christ has done. He created me in His image and redeems me in His grace. My eternity is secure because of His incredible plan.

No comments: