Futility of Fear, 3

Godreachingwithnailedscarredhand

WHAT GOD WANTS

Isaiah 43

Israel, the LORD who created you says, “Do not be afraid—I will save you.I have called you by name—you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1 GNTCE)

The work of Christ on the Cross was for everybody. Now, it’s true that not everybody will benefit for His work – that pesky free will comes into play here – but without regard to our Calvinist friends and our Arminian friends, the Bible clearly indicates that Jesus died for the sins of all sinners. Here is just a sampling of Bible verses that teach this wonderful fact:

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. (John 3:16 GNTCE)

This is good and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4 GNTCE)

But we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, so that through God’s grace he should die for everyone. We see him now crowned with glory and honor because of the death he suffered. (Hebrews 2:9 GNTCE)

And Christ himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven, and not our sins only, but also the sins of everyone. (1 John 2:2 GNTCE)

There will be suffering and pain for all those who do what is evil, for the Jews first and also for the Gentiles. But God will give glory, honor, and peace to all who do what is good, to the Jews first and also to the Gentiles. (Romans 2:9-10 GNTCE)

There are many, many more verses throughout both Testaments that teach that our Lord died for the sins of all sinners, bar none. We’ll leave the debate on election and predestination to the theological eggheads and stick to the Biblical text.

The fact that our Lord’s work was done on behalf of all sinners and may benefit “all who call upon His name” ought to be a comfort to all sinners, everywhere. Yet there are those who, for whatever reason, feel as though they are beyond help; beyond redemption. There are some who think they are so bad – or the life they lived so heinous – that God wouldn’t waste His time saving them.

Is this possible? Are there sinners that God wouldn’t waste the time or effort in saving? Is a lost soul correct in thinking that there may be salvation for some, but not for him? The answer lies in something Isaiah said to his people:

Israel, the LORD who created you says, “Do not be afraid—I will save you.I have called you by name—you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1 GNTCE)

One old-time Bible scholar remarked concerning this verse:

The more one ponders over this “fear not,” the more pregnant it seems with meaning.

He lives, “I have found you…”

God was addressing His people, Israel, but the stunning thing about this verse is the very first thing God says: “I have found you.” God was using the personal pronoun: He does exist; He is real and He is alive! A “nebulous nothing” or a cold, impersonal force doesn’t say, “I.” Israel at the time they may have read what Isaiah wrote here, was dispersed, discouraged, and depressed. They needed not only to hear the encouraging message, but they needed to know it was God Himself addressing the PERSONALLY!

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, also speaks personally to all who would hear Him – those with ears to hear:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never die. No one can snatch them away from me. (John 10:27-28 GNTCE)

Jesus Christ, the God-Man who died for the sins of all men, speaks to us today, and we will hear Him if we are listening to Him. That’s the thing about our Lord: He never forces Himself on anybody. Granted, He works tirelessly in the background calling sinners into a relationship with Himself:

When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” (John 12:32 GNTCE)

There’s that word again: everyone. Our Lord’s call goes out to everyone, but not everyone is listening; not everyone will hear. Only some; only some will hear and respond.

God exists, Jesus is alive, and the Holy Spirit is working in the world today; working on the hearts of sinners, calling them to salvation. He’s also speaking to your heart today, if you are a believer:

God’s Spirit joins himself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children. Romans 8:16 GNTCE)

He is near, Hebrews 3:15 

This is what the scripture says: “If you hear God’s voice today, do not be stubborn, as your ancestors were when they rebelled against God.” (Hebrews 3:15 GNTCE)

So, God is real and God is alive. God is calling to sinners to Himself; some will respond but many will not. And He speaks to believers all the time. God is speaking to His children. God spoke to the Israelites constantly – through His prophets and His Word. When they paid attention and listened, they prospered. When they didn’t – when they were “stubborn” – they were in a state of rebellion against God and suffered the consequences.

When a sinner refuses to listen to the call of God, he remains a sinner and is lost. When a believer stubbornly refuses to listen to God’s voice, he is, whether he realizes it or not or whether he intended it or not, in rebellion against God! Is that the act of a sane person? Would somebody in their right mind go against the God who pursued them, called them, and died for them? We may excuse the hard-hearted sinner who has never experienced God, but what excuse does a child of God have?

God is near; He speaks, He doesn’t shout or yell or shriek. He simply speaks.

“Here is my servant, whom I have chosen,the one I love, and with whom I am pleased.I will send my Spirit upon him, and he will announce my judgment to the nations. He will not argue or shout, or make loud speeches in the streets.” (Matthew 12:18c-19 GNTCE)

Yes, Jesus is near and He is still speaking, still pursuing saint and sinner alike.

He Knows me, Psalm 139

LORD, you have examined me and you know me. You know everything I do; from far away you understand all my thoughts. (Psalms 139:1-2 GNTCE)

Psalm 139 could be the most theological psalm ever. Read it and you will learn about three of God’s attributes: His omniscience (all knowing); His omnipresence (everywhere, all the time); and His omnipotence (all powerful).

The first few verses of this marvelous psalm speak about the undeniable fact that God knows YOU. God is the great Heavenly psychologist. No problem is beyond His understanding. There is no solution to a problem that God cannot provide to one He knows and loves.

The thing about God’s knowledge is that it is perfect. God knows the words you will say before you do. In fact, God not only knows your words but He knows the thoughts and intents behind those words. He knows your secret thoughts. Does that frighten you? Maybe it should, if you think you are keeping thoughts from Him.

You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power. (Psalms 139:5 GNTCE)

In the Hebrew, the first part of that verse means that the psalmist saw himself “hemmed in” by God. Moffatt translates it like this:

Thou art on every side, behind me and before, laying thy hand on me.

Indeed. That’s how it is with all believers. By virtue of His Son, we warrant God’s care and concern. Do you know what that means? God knows the real you. He knows your heart. He knows your weaknesses. When you stumble along the way, God still loves you; He is still on your side. He will always comes down in your favor, if you love Him and are loyal to Him. When God looks at you, He sees His Son!

You created every part of me; you put me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalms 139:13 (GNTCE)

Think about what that means. God made all people, and therefore He has a plan and a purpose for all people. But only a believer may fulfill God’s good purpose. This is something that cuts both ways. For you, if you are a believer, God’s purpose is a wonderful blessing, both for you and others. Your purpose includes, ultimately, a place in Heaven with Him. But for the unbeliever, God’s purpose is eternal separation from Him.

I praise you because you are to be feared; all you do is strange and wonderful.I know it with all my heart. (Psalms 139:14 GNTCE)

The psalmist is obviously a believer; he is obviously close to God. Knowing how well God knows him and how much He is concerned with him, the psalmist responds in the only appropriate way: praise. That should be our response, too. We see God everywhere; we experience His grace all the time. But the believer should know something else: he was made by God. Deep down inside, a believer knows how special he is. He is unique in all the universe. He was personally put together by God.

He longs for you, Isaiah 43:4

I will give up whole nations to save your life,because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor. (Isaiah 43:4 GNTCE)

Of course, God is speaking to Israel through His prophet. But remember, God’s Word is eternal and there is an application of every passage. God calls us all by name, too; He knows us all as well as He knew Israel. Think about this:

As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. (Matthew 10:30 GNTCE)

He longs for you so much, He knows every detail about you, even the number of hairs you have on your head. He calls you by name. He pursued you and continues to walk with you. He wants to be your friend. He desires to become your chief advisor. He has plans for you and you belong to Him.

“They are my own people, and I created them to bring me glory.” (Isaiah 43:7 GNTCE)

“They,” “my own,” and “I created them” all point to one inescapable conclusion: God has a vested interest in His people. In fact, we could go even farther and say that if you are a Christian, then you belong to Him! Don’t believe it? Here is the apostle Paul said about this very topic:

Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God; he bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God’s glory. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 GNTCE)

What’s true for Israel is NOT always true for the Church, but in this case it is. We who are part of the Body of Christ belong in totality to God. He bought us. He owns us. And yet, in spite of that very fact, some Christians stubbornly refuse to live in fellowship with Him. So His longing goes on.  God called you, sought you out, He pursued you, He saved you, and He has taken up residence in you. What more evidence of His love for you do you need? Who wouldn’t want to have fellowship with a God that did all that for them?

What does God want? He wants sinners saved and He wants to be in fellowship with His children.

 

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