Monday, May 21, 2018

The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.” Ephesians 3:6 (MSG)

Stand on the same ground before God . . . same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus . . . accessible and welcoming to everyone”!  Sounds great, right?

That’s why we have this Scripture text: No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (MSG)

Wow!  The Good News is not like anything anyone has seen or heard before.  Wow!  No one has ever imagined anything like the Good News before.  Wow!  God has arranged it for those who love him.  Wow, and double Wow!  Sounds great, right?

But, does everyone who claims to love God and teach His Good News really understand how wonderful it is?  How about the following?  The Bible teaches us that God revealed His full revelation to man in the first century through inspired apostles and prophets.  He tells us that folks gladly received Peter’s sermon and were baptized with God adding them to the saved (Acts 2:41-42, 47).  Why was this gladness expressed?

1. Is it because they were taught that God’s adding meant all their past sins were forgiven, but they must now live perfectly before Him? They are told that one sin in their life after being added destroys their relationship with God. According to this logic, they are removed from the saved and returned to the unsaved?  They are bound for hell until they repent and ask God for forgiveness of that sin?  Only then does He add them back to the saved?  They remain in the saved until their next sin?  They live in this state of uncertainty, not knowing for sure if they are saved, or unknowingly not saved?  The assurance of being saved is reserved for the judgment where they are surprised if they are saved?  Until that time, the nagging thought is that they will hear “depart” rather than “Well done.”  Is that what Ephesians 3:6 and 1 Corinthians 2:9 offers?

2. Is it because they were taught that the person is added by God to the saved, but perfection must be their goal since it is demanded by God? It must be obtained and maintained to spend eternity with Him? Yet, sin, in all its subterfuge plagues them.  The believer knows the slightest infraction will return him to an unsaved state.  Ah, but the good news he has received holds out hope.  He knows he will never be perfect, so there is a gap between what he is and what he is supposed to be.  Whatever percentage that “gap” is, he must have it filled for him by God to gain heaven?  He can’t fill it due to his imperfections (sins).  So, he has been told that his “gap” insurance is dependent upon God who by His GRACE will supply the percentage needed to fill that chasm?  The nagging question following him through life is, “Will that percentage be too much and God’s grace not enough to fill it?”  What if he needs 40% of God’s grace, but God will only allow him 39%?  Assurance is not a gift which he has the privilege of enjoying!  Discouragement, hopelessness, guilt, and depression are his constant companions.  The judgment will finally reveal whether God’s grace is enough because he did or didn’t deserve that much of it.  Is that what Ephesians 3:6 and 1 Corinthians 2:9 offers?

3. Is it because the person is taught that once God has added him to the saved, the difficulties of remaining in God’s grace during his Christian existence is solely dependent upon his works? He is given more do’s and do nots than the Law of Moses contained. These are both written and oral.  Things expected are controlled by the group he belongs to that believes it is the way, the truth, and the life.  His life is made miserable by attempting to keep the written and unwritten laws which he must memorize so he doesn’t break any.  If it isn’t hard, it can’t be the Good News!  If he moves and places membership with another assembly of the saved, he must make sure those same laws are observed by them.  If not, even in one thing, minor or major, he must steer clear of that group.  To join it would be disastrous to his soul!  Even when he believes they are in tune with the Good News, there might be one thing he doesn’t know about which they are engaged in!  He must be on guard 24/7, attempting to uncover and expose any digressive point.  His eternal salvation depends upon it!  His joy melts away, eaten by a cancer called suspicion.  Being on guard against all imperfection develops into an acute negativism.  His only comfort is that he is faithful.  Even in that false hope, the nagging question that remains with him is, “Am I really faithful or just fooled by Satan’s lies?”  Is that what Ephesians 3:6 and 1 Corinthians 2:9 offers?

Those two passages speak of an entirely different Good News than what has been previously outlined.  It is the one that people seek but are detoured from because Satan convinces them that what they have been taught is God’s Good News.  Did God send Jesus to die to make us “rejoice,” or to be depressed?  Is the joy and relief we experienced right after God added us to the saved just a momentary experience, and that small burst doesn’t last?  Some so believe.  Are any of those conditions in 1, 2, or 3 possessed by you?  If so, you’ve not discovered the real Good News of God!