Hearing the Promise of Forgiveness in Christ
There is a common negative response/question/comment that I often hear from those outside the covenant family when I approach them either intentionally with the gospel, or if it comes up in conversation. They tell me that they cannot attend church or deal with the Christian faith really in any way because of some sin they committed earlier in life, or because of some difficulty they experienced with the people of God at some point in time in the past. I leave the truth of these things to the Lord, yet we all can probably think of real life conditions where these events did happen to others or even ourselves. So how do we react when neighbors or friends make analogous statements to us when we invite unbelievers to the house of Jesus on His day? In today’s prayer and worship help we’ll think a little bit about a way to respond to that excuse, which is honoring to God as well as to the individual, who for whatever reason is reticent to join with us in worship at the house of the Lord.
For me, when I hear something like that, not always, but ordinarily when I’m reminded of it I like to go back to events, things that really happened in history, and especially specific examples of folks in the Bible who went through similar things that this particular individual may or may not have dealt with. There is truly nothing new under the sun so it makes sense to go back to scriptural testimonies to show how the Lord reacted to comparable circumstances. People need to know that regardless of their place in the world God has not forgotten about them. He has a plan, a purpose, an end in mind for their lives. That is obviously, as Paul says, a glory to the saved, and scary to the lost. We do need to remember that our overtures to come hear the preaching of the word is because our hope is that they will come to true faith in Jesus Christ. We don’t invite people to church so that their lives would be improved. Now, we do think the gospel does that, but we aren’t interested in making their life now the best they’ll experience, no, instead our focus is the Lord’s focus, so that they would be reconciled with their Heavenly Father and know true felicity in the Son of God. These things will be added to them for sure. However, that is not why we evangelize.
Our view is greater than what happens on the Earth.
Two verses especially that are pertinent to this discussion can be found in somewhat of an odd location. As you know on Wednesday nights we have been going through the book of Jeremiah and over the past several weeks its been judgment after judgment after judgment. God’s got a problem with a lot of nations and they are going to hear about it. Yet we learn so much about who Jehovah is in the midst of this time. Even as the Moabites, the Philistines, and others are deservedly receiving their reward for how they treated Israel and Judah we hear testimony of how God has not forgotten His covenantal promise to Adam and Eve in Geneses 3:15 nor His word to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. Here are the two that I had in mind:
“‘But afterward I will bring back the captives of the people of Ammon,’ says the LORD.” — Jeremiah 49:6
“‘But it shall come to pass in the latter days: I will bring back the captives of Elam,’ says the LORD.” — Jeremiah 49:39
As we looked at this chapter last week for Wednesday Night prayer meeting it struck me how applicable it was to the world we live in today. Any time we see this phrase “latter days” in prophecy we are to think immediately of the new covenant blessings which are to come in the Messiah. A question we need to answer is that do we trust that these promises are still active and alive? If the descendants of Lot’s rape by his daughters are eligible for the gospel mercies how much more so are Americans, Germans, the French, and men and women from every idolatrous and scandalous nation under heaven’s watchful eye? The response should be yeah and amen! Here we see something about the nature of what we talked about at the beginning. There is no sin so terrible that Jehovah has not made sure to clarify that he will forgive it in His Son. It is unfortunately the case that the Church has sinned in many ways, both institutionally and relationally. That is no reason why the body of Christ cannot be repaired through the same application of grace given to the individual transgressor of God’s holy law. We’ve seen the Lord do miracles in the lives of saints and denominations. How did that happen? By the faithful efforts of men and women who believed and knew the promises of the gospel.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time in the prophet Jeremiah, especially as we wind down towards the end. I want to invite those in the Bethany community (whether members of our church or not) to feast on these demonstrations of the love of God for sinners specifically as they are a great help to those who are far from God. Despite deserved judgment the promise our Bible makes is that no Edomite or Elamite can be too far gone to not be brought back into the kingdom. Hear the word given to Edom and Elam and know the LORD is good, and see the free offer of grace and come, welcome to Jesus Christ. Find your forgiveness of sin and place in His sovereign kingdom. Turn away from the idols which keep you in bondage and be at rest in the fullness of Christ’s sufficient love in His satisfaction at the cross.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
Here’s a word to confirm:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church