That should have been me
God reveals his Divine attributes to us in this physical world in various ways. For example,
he reveals his Divine trait of His eternality to us in ways our finite minds can understand by means of creating infinite space to gaze into to realize the concept of something without end (stars give us a means of measuring the eternal blackness of infinity). In the present topic, the gravity of God’s attributes of divine mercy and justice (as defined last week as “withholding from us what we do deserve”) cannot be fully appreciated unless we see the results of his withholding mercy from people as brought to its full impact in verse 22, 23. We who accept his mercy will fully realize it’s meaning by seeing what it looks like when God withholds his mercy from those who receive God’s full wrath at the end of the world. I can only imagine that this will be on line with what Noah witnessed of God’s wrath on the world (from his window as he was safe inside the Ark), or Lot’s viewing the ash heap of his wife when they fled Sodom and Gomorrah having just been personally removed from its destruction. We should exclaim “But for the grace of God, so goes I” or “that should have been me, save for the mercy of God”. For which we will exclaim all the more with the heavenly choir, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” After all, isn’t that the goal of our creation and salvation, eternal worship of the glory, wisdom, grace and mercy of God? We exclaim; “Not to us, but unto your name be glory.”
Only the remnant will be saved
Rom 9: 19-33 Use this link for the NIV or use your favorite version of the Bible, highlight vs22, 23, 26, 30, 31, 33b. For the context of the quotes Paul uses, see the following verses (for vs 20,21 see Isa 29:13-16) (for vs 26 see Hosea 2:18-23 context of the kingdom age in the new covenant) (for vs 27 -29 see Hosea 1:10 and Isa 10:20-23) and (for Vs 29 see Isa 1:9-20 emphasis on vs 20) and (for vs 33 see Is 8:14 self righteous Jews and 28:16 anyone who would come in faith). These stories bring out that God does not arbitrarily choose people without foreknowing the choice of their faith.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who chooses those who trust in me. I know those who will believe and they will not be put to shame. I offer salvation to all, both Jew and Gentile. I know who will choose to respond to my grace, and that they are just a few of the vast number of my people. I will include even the heathen into my family because they do not resist my offer by their lack of faith. If you would not resist my grace by unbelief, I would make you into a vessel unto honorable use.
I AM the God who saves those who rely on my mercy. I have given my grace and my mercy to all in dealing with their sinfulness so that they do not have to worry about trying to appease my wrath but to rejoice in me for giving it to them freely. Eternal life is not about earning it but receiving it humbly as a gift of love that only I can give. All that is left for you to do is relish each day in me because of it. I am waiting for you to respond to my invitation but only for so long. If you hear my voice, do not harden your hearts against my love. I will not wait forever. My invitation is for every human being, but only those who hearken to and not resist my drawing can respond in faith.
I AM the God who makes people righteous by their faith. I call all men to believe my testimony and to receive me by faith. There is no way you can appease me by your good works, and your attempts at obeying my perfect law. Whether you are a Jew or Gentile, you need to receive my pardon by faith. You Gentiles have a difficult time believing in a God of love who created the world. You seek knowledge and try to establish truth from within yourselves. You Jews try to establish righteousness by your own stubborn abilities and clinging to your heritage. But you are both wrong. Only by believing the simple testimony of my word can you have life in me forever. Why is that so hard? Because you have to admit that you are lost without me.
The God of Mercy offered to all.
As Paul asks “Where is boasting then?” His promises and election are not based on our faithfulness for there is no man, Jew or Gentile who can be faithful to merit God’s mercy anyway. Jesus brought a message of dependence upon a relationship with God as empowered by him in this life. The Jews were/ are hung up on obedience to the Law to obtain righteousness for themselves thus they stumbled over and rejected the very one whom they were waiting for. (They got who they prayed for, but he wasn’t what they expected.) God wants the relationship but they wanted a formula. They were trying to earn salvation; God wants to give it freely as long as we will confess our inability. They were trying to appease an angry God; whereas God wants to enjoy fellowship in the worship of those who just want to love Him back. So God turned to the Gentiles to offer free salvation and as Paul found receptive hearts wherever he went, the Gentiles were humbled and rejoiced because of the privilege of receiving acceptance and forgiveness by faith alone. I am not preaching an “Easy believism” but also not one based on obedience to law either, as was what the Jews were hung up on. Faith which is given to us by the prevenient grace of God needs to be proven in your life by the various circumstances that God, the author and perfecter of your faith, allows to prove it and to bring it to maturity and completion in him. Our responsibility if you can call it that, is to simply let him and not resist his grace.
One commentary put it this way: “It is not a question of whether or not we are among God’s elect. That is a mystery known only to God. He offers us His salvation by faith. The offer is made to “whosoever will” (Rev. 22:17). After we have trusted Christ, then we have the witness and evidence that we are among His elect (Eph. 1:4–14; 1 Thes. 1:1–10). But first we must trust Him and receive by faith His righteousness which alone can guarantee heaven.” To which I say, because no one comes to the son unless the father draws him, if you feel the drawing of the Spirit to come to Christ, then do not neglect it, do not reject it, do not put it off – Act on it and receive it now. Do not be like Cain who was warned by God to change his thinking and yet acted out on his murderous feelings anyway, or the people of Noah’s day who had 120 years of mercy before the rains came down, or Pharaoh who had numerous opportunities to repent and let God’s people go but changed his mind and hardened his heart. Rather, Respond in faith, confess your sinfulness and neediness and then receive free pardon in Christ while there is still time (Rom 2:4). Do not harden your heart when you hear the Spirit invite you do not resist and do not be complacent and do not put it off.
Oh sweetheart, I am not a sinner
There is the story of one of our missionaries who was told by his aunt that she had become a Christian. When he tested her regarding her idea of what becoming Christian meant, he queried, “What did God do with your sin?” To which she replied, “Oh sweetheart, I am not a sinner”. Obviously, this woman is not really a Christian yet. Until we acknowledge how lost we are, we cannot experience forgiveness and salvation, You cannot be found, until you know that you are lost, and you cannot be saved until you know you need saving. Nor will our lives show a changed life toward society afterwards. There is a story of a man from a village who could not swim and who was being washed down a river. There was only one man in the village who was known to be a strong enough swimmer who could save him. The people kept yelling at him to jump in and save the drowning man but to no avail. Finally the man did jump in and brought the drowning man to shore. All the people railed at him for waiting so long, to which he responded, “Until the drowning man realizes that he cannot help himself he will keep on fighting, it is of no use of me trying to help him when he struggles and he can possibly pull me down too.” Don’t be like Pharaoh; when you know you are lost, and you hear God’s Spirit calling out for you through the word, don’t resist, let him save you before he stops offering. Salvation is simply letting God save you. Like I always say; “His mercies are new every morning”, but we just do not know how many mornings we have left.
More to come,