“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Judgment and God’s Compassion (Doy Moyer)
2) Maintaining the Christian Life (Doug Pennock)
Judgment and God’s Compassion
When Abraham was told about the destruction of cities known for unrepentant wickedness, he didn’t rejoice in that, but begged for them to be spared. When Jonah confronted a city of wickedness (and repentance), he pined for their destruction. Who are we more like?
Common to both accounts is 1) the absolute right of God to be the Judge, and 2) the compassion and lovingkindness of God to save. God judged Sodom because “their outcry has become so great before the Lord” (Gen. 19:13), and it was clear there would be no repentance. Yet, though Lot hesitated, the angels took the hands of Lot and his family and led them out, “for the compassion of the Lord was upon him” (vs. 16). Lot recognized that this magnified the lovingkindness of God because his life was saved (vs. 19). In the midst of judgment, God showed mercy and compassion. He has the right to both.
Jonah, on the other hand, was angry that God spared Nineveh, and his reasoning is interesting: “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity” (4:2).
Again, God has the absolute right to judge, and sometimes because of unrepentant hearts He judges. That will always be His right, and His alone. Yet through His compassion and lovingkindness, He offers opportunities to repent and be saved. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4)
This is the gospel message. Judgment is coming, but salvation is offered by God’s grace.
Paul preached, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30- 31).
Peter taught, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
Why repent? Because there is yet judgment coming due to wickedness. Failure to repent means being caught up in the judgment: “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5).
Yet why repent? Because of God’s compassion and lovingkindness offering salvation. In His wrath, He remembers mercy (Hab. 3:1). In His mercy, He provides hope (Rom. 5:1-2).
Some have great difficulty reconciling these two facets of God, but Paul brings both together in Romans 2. To deny that God has the absolute right to judge is to fail to recognize 1) the unfathomable glory and holiness of God, and 2) the horrific nature of sin. God does not want anyone to perish (2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-4), but evil is so horrific that it cannot go unpunished. It’s interesting that many unbelievers will speak of “the problem of evil” and ask, “Why doesn’t God do anything about all the evil?” He has, and He will. That’s why God brings judgment. Yet it’s also why God offers salvation through Christ. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
People want evil to be duly punished, but many never accept the fact all have participated in evil (Rom. 3:23) and repentance is God’s compassionate prescription for averting that judgment. No one has to suffer eternally for it. Sadly, many have come to expect mercy without repentance. It doesn’t work that way. Still others get angry at God because He would dare judge at all, as if God has no such right. What they don’t get is that whether or not they like what God does or who God is has absolutely no bearing on whether or not God exists. Failing to repent because of anger toward God does not wipe away that failure to repent. God still judges, and God still offers salvation to the repentant. Why fight that? “Therefore repent and return….”
We began by asking, “Who are we more like?” Jonah is not held up as an icon of faith in Scripture. Abraham, on the other hand, is. This is not to say that Abraham was perfect, but his faith, even in the judgment events, is well seen: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”
Yes, He has, He does, and He will. Only God can determine the timing of judgment. Ours is to hold out the hope of the gospel so that as many as will may repent and follow the Lord. By granting repentance, God shows His mercy and grace. Let us never think lightly of this offer.
— Via Mind Your Faith, June 21, 2016
Maintaining the Christian Life
Like our car needs maintenance to keep it running smoothly, we as Christians also need regular maintenance to keep us on the road to salvation. This should come in the form of regular worship of God and regular bible study. If we don’t do the former, what is the real object of our faith; and if we don’t do the latter, we will not grow as Christians and will invariably go the other direction and lessen our faith or even lose it entirely.
1 Peter 2:2 tells us “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word.” As a newborn baby desires its mother’s milk, so we should desire the word of God that we may grow into a full and mature Christian. The newborn needs mother’s milk in order to survive and so we as Christians need a steady diet of the word of God in order to survive.
Satan is forever tempting us to turn away from God and fill our hearts and minds with worldly concerns that will drown out the word if we do not continually replenish the supply. If we keep our hearts and minds full of the word, Satan will not be able to choke out the word (see the parable of the sower in Matthew 13) and we will be able to withstand better the temptations that he throws our way.
Jesus, when He was tempted by Satan (Matthew 4), answered every temptation with scripture (“it is written”) and so we can do the same when he tempts us to stray from the way of righteousness and to sin. By being filled with the word of God, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and can speak the oracles of God and give answer to those that ask of the hope that is in us (1 Peter 4:11; 1 Peter 3:15). This takes constant bible study and we should make a daily habit of looking into God’s word for the wisdom we need in this life.
What of worshiping God? Are we one of those that thinks it is okay to stay away from the assemblies of God’s children (the church) and try to worship God on our own? Hebrews 10:25 says: “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” God expects us to assemble ourselves together and has given us the church of His dear Son as the means whereby we may do so.
We assemble as the church of Christ (which is made up of its members and not a building) to worship God as He would be worshiped. We worship Him only in the way prescribed by the New Testament, not taking away from what we should do nor adding anything to what we find in the scriptures. This is how God must be worshiped in spirit and in truth (John 4:23,24). If we worship Him in any way that the scriptures do not authorize, we are not doing so in a way that is acceptable to Him and received by Him. (See post: “The One True Church.”)
So, if we are able to worship with the saints on a regular basis and learn to study accurately the word of God, we are able to maintain ourselves as Christians and stay true to the faith. We should also practice good works regularly as God would have us do and not let them slip, doing good to others as we have opportunity (Galatians 6:9,10). Of course we must be in Christ in the first place by following the plan of salvation and being baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins. (See Plan of Salvation above and under categories.)
May God bless and keep you until next time.
— Via Living the Godly Life, November 23, 2015
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)