Saturday, August 1, 2015

What Word is Going Forth?

For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. 
~ 1 Thessalonians 1:8–10

As I read this passage my mind was directed to the sins of our society and what my witness before it looks like, what the witness of my church, your church, looks like.  Is the word of the Lord sounding forth or is it a watered down, twisted version of our own human wisdom?  Have we capitulated in our duty as men and women of faith in living the gospel?  If indeed we have been saved by the gospel, are we really living it or have we poisoned it with our sin?  Have we departed from the word of the Lord and infused our own word, the word of man?

I guess we need to start there, with the gospel.  So let's go for a short walk. Just what is the gospel?

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3–4

It starts with the fact that man is born in sin (Psalm 51:5), separated from communion with their Creator and His Son Jesus Christ (Isaiah 59:2).  Every one of us is devoid of the Holy Spirit of God. You see our first parents sold the entire human race into sin (Romans 5:12) when they chose to disobey God's command to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” ~ Genesis 2:16–17

And die we did!  Humanity plunged in an instant into enmity with God.  It didn't take long for that hostility to work itself out in brother murdering brother. Cain lusted after approval and slew his brother.  Yes, his brother, of the same race, the same lineage, the same mother and father.  And today?  The issue still remains sin in the heart of man and nothing less (Jer 17:9).  So God the Father in His Divine Sovereignty and Omnipotent wisdom sent His Son to live the perfect life. Yes, the life man was no longer able to live apart from redeeming grace.  This Jesus not only lived for our righteousness but died for our transgressions, of which there are too many to number.  He was indeed raised to new life on the third day and taken up into glory.  My friends, without His shed blood applied to our sin no matter how much we desire heaven as our end it is not happening apart from repentance of our sin and placing our faith in Christ's work on Calvary and His work alone.

This is the word of faith we are preaching,

That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 
Romans 10:9–10

and when that occurs we are brought near and the enmity is over while peace is ushered in.

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 
Ephesians 2:13–16

Is that you my friend?  If so, how glorious!  If not, how terribly sad!

So, back to the passage that got my brain thinking.  Is the word of the Lord sounding forth from our lips?  Is the work of Christ evidenced in our speech? Does the power of the Holy Spirit come out in our actions?  You see, we are not here to play church and just gather on Sunday's eating donuts and drinking coffee, smiling at each other through lives of hypocrisy.  This glorious gospel is powerful! (Romans 1:16)  Powerful enough to change our sin torn, wicked hearts into hearts of flesh that are moved by the gracious gift of our Redeemer. We now weep for those things that He died for and those who are still enslaved to sin.  We understand because we were that man! Therefore we speak boldly but with grace.  We now hate those things we used to do, and the world still does, because our disposition has been entirely changed.  We are made new! (2 Cor 5:17)  

Have we turned from idols?  Or have we deceived ourselves by a false gospel? Have we bitten the hook that the gospel is all about us, our best life now?  Have we drunk the poison that we just need to be a bit more moral, a bit more philanthropic, a good neighbor, attend church when we can, think nice things about others, allow for all people to do as seems best to them and not judge them, profess we believe in Christ but never really admit our own sinfulness?  Have we indeed made ourselves THE idol?  Have we placed our intellect above that found in the inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God?

Oh church of the Living and True God, are we waiting for God's Son, Jesus Christ, from heaven? Are we filled with joy that we will not experience the wrath to be unleashed?  Are we warning others of the wrath to come?  Or have we closed our mouths so as not to rock the boat?  My brothers and sisters, who opened their mouth to point you to salvation?  Who risked ridicule to tell you that you were lost in sin and damned for hell?  Will we stand idly by and say, 'Not my job, preacher man can do that!'  It is only by grace that God sent His mouthpiece to us who are the called, the elect of God.  Will we obey the command to tell others? 

We are all called to be watchmen.  Wrath is coming.  Personally and quite possibly widespread upon this world.  Will He be a Lion or a Lamb to those we come in contact with?  Is the word of the Lord going forth from us or have we chosen to hide our lamp under a bushel?

How beautiful are the feet of those 
who bring good news of good things! 
~ Romans 10:15 

He must increase,