Saturday, April 6, 2013

BACK TO BASICS


The Gospel is a call from God to get back to basics. It is a call for us to disentangle ourselves from the red tape of our home made religions. It is simple. We are to ‘repent and believe in the Gospel’ Mark 1:15. If this is how we get right with God why would we want to complicate things? Well, as human beings we believe that a labourer is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:7; 1 Tim. 5:18). Instinctively we seek payment for work done. Hold that thought. Now read the following, ‘The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ Romans 6:23. We see, then, that each of us has earned death already. However, the Gospel (i.e., the Good News) is that God has a gift for all who will receive it. Here is the hard part, the bit where we need to get back to basics. It is a very humbling thing to receive a gift, especially when that gift is the greatest gift anyone can receive. What is God’s gift? It is everlasting life now and in the future, i.e., on the renewed earth which is Heaven instead of what our life’s work deserves, i.e., death which includes everlasting torments in prison which is Hell (John 3:16; 5:28-29).

God’s call to His people to get back to basics runs throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament there was a period involving the ‘sacrificial system’ in which the work of Christ was prefigured. ‘According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.’ Hebrew 9:22. Some trusted their salvation in sacrificial act itself rather than in who and what the act depicted. There is a refrain in Scripture in which God says, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’ (See e.g., Psalm 51:16; Hosea 6:6; Matthew 12:7). A group of Pharisees did not like the fact that Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. So He said to them, ‘Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”’ Matthew 9:13. His call to get back to basics is illustrated in the following, ‘He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ Luke 18:9-14. To be justified is to be declared right (i.e., righteous) with God by God. It is not the one trusting in his sacrifices or works that is declared right with God but rather the one who recognises himself a sinner and as such seeks mercy from God. This is true Christianity, the religion of Abraham the father of believers (Romans 4:11). ‘He believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness’ Genesis 15:6; cf. Galatians 3:5-6. ‘Know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham’ Galatians 3:7-9.

Get back to basics and be blessed with Abraham!

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