Monday, March 22, 2010

Radical obedience, Part V

3:15 p.m. Today's project is to offer ideas about a balanced message of salvation to offer to the unsaved surrounding us. What is the picture of God that we want to present? We who love Jesus so much, because He first loved us (I John 4:19) want to make sure to share His love, and as a friend mentioned recently, that's the easiest part of the gospel to present to lost sinners who may never have known love from anyone in this world!

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life," John 3:16 tells us, and all humanity until the end of time...but how does this square with the picture of the Lord God in the first few chapters of Ezekiel that we've reviewed, where nothing but judgment is spoken of?

A quick review of the nation of Israel's history with the Lord: He called Abraham in Genesis 15, and again in 17, telling him, Genesis 17:7-9, that He would establish an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his descendants, with all the land of Canaan for their possession. "And I will be their God." From the books of Exodus through Joshua, God led His people to the promised land. Listen to the great love God has for the Jews, Deuteronomy 7:7-11:

The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people. But because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath under which He had sworn to your fathers, has the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh of Egypt.

Know therefore, that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

And He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face.

Therefore you shall keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command you this day, to observe them.

The Lord's love for His people is absolute. The same cannot be said for the people's love for God. Down through the generations, whether ruled by judges, prophets, or kings, the Israelites slipped in and out of idolatry, defying the Lord to His face, until, by Ezekiel's time, their wicked, degraded idol worship surpassed that of the surrounding nations!

Ezekiel wrote during the captivity that God had warned of for generations. God is like a loving, devoted parent who watches as warning after warning goes unheeded until he finds himself absolutely obligated to discipline his child. Israel's choice to flagrantly disobey earned an entirely just judgment.

Yet, God returned His people to their land, by decree of Persian King CyrusWorship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as temple and synagogue worship, was restored.

God's ultimate act of love then took place, as Galatians 4:4 states:

When the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

The good news about God that we have to share is valid, balanced, and convincing! Millions of us are living proof that Jesus saves!

Next: Prayerfully crafting a message for each individual.

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