Devotional - Seek A Balanced Gospel

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. – Psalm 84: 11 (NLT)

    Man has been trying to recreate God in his own image since the dawn of creation. That is essentially what the unsaved do. They may claim agnosticism or atheism but it comes down to not wanting to give up the throne in their lives to God. So they recreate Him to fit their lifestyles and their sin. The same holds true within the church circles. Jesus has made it clear that not everyone who says Lord is entering the kingdom of heaven. The people He used as examples for not making it had clearly believed they spent their lives working for Him. I say this because it is vitally important that our doctrine is correct and that we are following the true Gospel – lest we be led down the broad path to destruction.

    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Matthew 7: 13-14 (NIV)

    I think sometimes we get things backwards and we think there is safety in numbers. The logic being that so many people couldn’t be wrong – yes they can. One of the latest trends I see is to present a single facet of the Gospel as being the entire Gospel. This trend is marked with a fierce defense of the stance and a dismissive attitude towards differing opinions. The two obvious extremes are what I call the cute and cuddly gospel and the barbed wire gospel. In the cute and cuddly, everything is roses and cherubim. You never talk about sin or repentance, the cross or the blood. It is essentially a self help or motivational speaker carrying a Bible. We can lump the prosperity heretics in this group as well because they use the cute and cuddly to sell God to the highest bidder. The barbed wire gospel is the opposite. Everything is fire and brimstone. Everything is sin and judgment. There is no love in their Christ and the people who sit under this teaching walk in limited power; under condemnation.

    As we head deeper into the end times however, the distortions are becoming more difficult to deal with in their sophistication. You see a “love only” message being preached now which focuses solely on grace. The problem with a love only message is again, our conduct becomes secondary to the forgiveness of that conduct. It does give people who are not as deep theologically, the sense that sin is ok because after all, God loves us and will forgive us anyway. Obviously this is being largely accepted by swaths of Christians because it tickles the ears. Who wouldn’t rather hear about love and grace over sin and repentance! But the point is that it remains unbalanced. How important is this? Here is how Paul described it to the Ephesian elders when he said goodbye:

    Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. – Acts 20: 26-27 (NKJV)

    The whole counsel of God is what kept Paul innocent of their blood! Seek a balanced Gospel beloved. The key verse today is a microcosm of balance. In it there are fantastic promises of God including his aforementioned grace. But also in this verse is the condition that needs to be met. We don’t like to talk that much about conditions but God talks about them throughout His Word.

    No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6: 8 (NKJV)

    This is required. These are not suggestions from God. Jesus is not our advisor – He is our Lord! What about all of the calls for obedience in the Bible? Clearly God desires obedience.

    As we dive into the key verse for today we first find that God is our sun. The sun is the source of all light, warmth and life for this planet. That is what God is for believers. We walk in a world that is filled with darkness.

    Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    and to guide us to the path of peace.” – Luke 1: 78-79 (NLT)

    It is the light of God that led us out of that darkness. As our source for light, we now have His Spirit living inside of us and now it is our turn to be the light of God for the dark world. People should see God in us. Light penetrates darkness and dispels it. That is the role we are supposed to have as believers. Far too often however we allow the darkness to snuff our light out in this world. We can either hide the light within us or mingle too closely with the darkness of this world. There are lives in the balance and we need to take our responsibility more seriously as children of the light.

    God is also our source of warmth. As dark as the world is – it is equally cold. Unforgiving and uncaring; we live in a world that seeks self-gratification and rewards selfishness. When warning about these end times, Jesus taught that even the love of many would grow cold. You cannot turn on the news without seeing this prophecy play out on a daily basis. But like the sun can warm the coldest day, the love of Christ warms the hearts of believers. In the midst of turmoil we feel His peace. In the midst of anger we feel His calm. In the midst of injustice we know His fairness. As with light, we are supposed to bring this warmth to the people freezing in the cold of this world. We are supposed to love the unlovable, tend to those no one else will. I have written before how when Jesus healed the lepers, He made it a point to touch them physically because He knew no one else would dare. THAT is who we are supposed to be as Christians – willing to reach out and touch those the world refuses to draw near to. Too often however we can get our spiritual haughtiness going. We can confuse the righteousness of Christ for our own. When the followers of John the Baptist complained that people were going to Christ to be baptized, John correctly responded that he must decrease so that Christ could increase. That is the same formula we need to follow in our lives if we are to truly impact those that so desperately need the warmth of God’s love. We need to decrease and Christ needs to increase in our lives. Remember that someone showed you the love and warmth of God when He was drawing you. Now it is our turn.

    The sun is also the source of life on this planet. Without it, nothing can grow. Without God we cannot expect to grow Spiritually either. In relation to the lost world, we need to remember that we do not actually save anyone. We bring people to the foot of the cross and let God do the work. We live in a “show me” culture that demands proof and wants to see the fruit of efforts immediately. God does not operate like us however:

    What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. – 1Corinthians 3: 5-7 (NIV)

    God provides the increase. God is the sun. God is the source of all life. Our role is to represent Him and allow Him to give the increase. Back to the key verse we see that God is also our shield. The obvious correlation is that God is also our source of protection and defense in a world gone mad. Does this mean that Christians are exempt from calamity? Hardly! It means that the God we serve does not leave us unequipped. We have the armor of God but so few choose to equip it and use it. He has given us His Word to protect us but we need to know what it says and apply it to our lives. When the three Hebrew boys were set to be thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down to the image of Nebuchadnezzar here was how their response to him began:

    Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. – Daniel 3: 16 (NIV)

    We do not need to defend ourselves to you! God is our shield! God is our protection! Too often we find ourselves trying to defend ourselves to a world system that thinks what we believe is utter foolishness. Just let God be God and allow His shield to protect you.

    While those were the two things God is for us, now the Psalmist presents two things gives to us – grace and glory. The most amazing gift of all is the grace of God. The fact that God loved us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son to die on a cross so that we could be reconciled unto Him! His grace is completely unmerited. There is nothing we can ever do to earn it – we just need to accept it. His grace covers the worst pasts you can imagine. Look at the past of Paul! His grace has no time limits. The thief on the cross received his grace moments away from death! There is nothing you can do to work your way out of His grace. The Bible says that none can be plucked from God’s hands! His grace means we are no longer slaves to sin. It means that we no longer are under the penalty of the law. It means that we do not need to walk under any condemnation. It is all-encompassing and not understood enough. The power of Christ resides in the acceptance of His grace and the execution of our faith.

    Grace is intricately tied to glory. In fact, glory always follows grace. The glory God gives us is His own in eternity. His grace solves our problem here in this life and His glory is found in the next life. When we accept Christ we accept His grace and it leads to the assurance of future glory:

    Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. – Romans 8: 17 (NIV)

    What marvelous promises from God. Yet there remains one more in this verse. God will withhold no good thing from us! What a God we serve! He is not mean or tyrannical. If there is anything that is available to us that would be good for us – He will not hold it back. Hallelujah let’s move on…wait a minute. The verse didn’t actually end there. When you are presented with a one facet Gospel you can likewise rest assured that the Gospel did not end there. There is more to the verse. There is more to the story. God is a great God. He makes us these promises and He is not a man that He should lie. But we have a role to play as well beloved. I know that grates against a lot of people who think that they have boiled the Gospel down to one point or another. This fantastic verse concludes with the caveat – those who do what is right.

    I know the feel good Christianity that is sweeping this country will balk at this. I understand why. There is a reason why Paul warned Timothy to guard his doctrine. There is a reason he said that people will turn aside to myths that tickle their ears. No one wants to hear about how they are a sinner but everyone loves to hear about grace. No one wants to hear about how they need to crucify their flesh, pick up their cross, and die to self daily but everyone loves to hear about the love of God. Why? Because the grace and love of God requires nothing from us except acceptance. But sin, repentance, and dying to self all require a change in what we do and who we are. The truth is when you peel away all of the fancy sermons and the slick marketing – people want the assurances of God and hold onto their sin at the same time. They want as the opening paragraph said, to recreate God to fit their own image of what God should be. Give me all the love and the grace but don’t ask me to give up the club. Don’t ask me to forgive that person who wronged me. Don’t ask me to marry my boyfriend if I am going to live with him.

    God does not operate like that. You know why? Because the very things we so desperately try to hold onto are the very things that will end up destroying our lives. God knows it and wants to help deliver us from them. He isn’t trying to take anything away. We already know that He will not withhold any good thing from us – if we are doing what is right. Why this relationship? Because it is in the act of doing what is wrong that we bring heartache into our lives. God is saying that if you want to see all the blessings and promises manifest themselves in your life you must first do what is right. This is not about condemnation beloved it is the essence of true faith. We believe what God said so we are going to try our level best to follow it and not look for the quick and easy way out. I thank God for His love and His grace but I also thank Him for loving me enough to tell me the truth about the very things I like to do which will contribute to my undoing. Seek a balanced Gospel and you will find that all aspects of God are working for your good.

    Reverend Anthony Wade – September 19, 2012

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