Thursday, October 21, 2004

So Now the Good News

Robert's "Lawlessness" article demonstrates clearly from Scripture that people, including you and me, have rejected God's ways and Law in favor of doing things our own way.

Going your own way, though it is glamorized by Satan, leaves you separated from God--unable to have a relationship with Him because of your sin (rebellion against Him, His Law, His ways). This gap between God and man, as Robert illustrated, began in the garden of Eden, but you and I are no different than Adam and Eve in the choices we've made. We've all stood there at that tree, either entirely deceived (like Eve) or knowing what we're doing and choosing wrong anyway (like Adam). Either way, we've all chosen against God and stand condemned before Him, consigned to eternal separation from Him, without hope of connecting with Him. He's HOLY, righteous and perfect! We're like Isaiah, of a people of unclean lips. What can we do?

This is the good news: Jesus came to reconcile us to God. He's the promised Messiah of the Tanakh (Old Testament), the Son of God in the flesh, the only acceptable, blameless, perfect sacrifice once for all for the sins of all men.

Isaiah 53, the "Suffering Servant" passage, is all about Jesus, written hundreds of years before His birth as a man. Notice how the bad news and the good news are presented together: we all have gone astray, but the Lord has laid on Him, Jesus, the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

He bore our sin on the cross, which means he took the wrath of God poured out on the sins of the world--so that we could be with Him. So that we could be presented clean and pure, like a bride on her wedding day is presented to a groom--instead of being ashamed in our filth.

That is the good news in a nutshell: that God cared about us enough--even after we totally rebelled against Him--to send His only Son to reconcile us to Himself.

Matthew 21:33-44
"Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time." Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures:
'The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes'?
"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."

God sent the Prophets to preach righteousness and call people to repentance. He sent His Son to gather the hurting under His loving wings. Will you be broken by falling on your knees and surrendering your ways and your life to the Lord, or crushed at Judgment Day, if you have not repented and followed Jesus, the Holy One who gave Himself for you?

2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

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