Monday, June 2, 2014

Sacrificed On Purpose -- Part 1

image used under Creative Commons license,
photo by Jody Lehigh on pixabay
From last Monday's post for Memorial Day to Wednesday's post From Todd about those who have sacrificed in the Word, we continue our theme of sacrifice.  In different ways, we need to be appreciative of the costs to these people  who gave their lives, in one way or another, for what it cost to give us physical and spiritual protection.

All those sacrifices are important.  But there's another that's far more important.  One that gave us choices. We'll get to that in a bit.  First, let's go back to the beginning.  There are some doctrinal points that lay the groundwork for what we're going to say.

Hebrews 9:26 (KJV)  For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Think about that verse.  It highlights some things that are the underpinnings of our understanding of the Cross and its importance to us.

How many people do we meet that want nothing to do with God for reasons that sound good?  They don't understand how He can allow pain and suffering.  And, worse, think He does, not because it exists, but because they feel it's aimed at them?  The reality that they miss is that there's an alternative.

Think of a beach or swimming pool.  The law requires signs stating it's unsafe to swim without a lifeguard present.  No, having a lifeguard present doesn't fully decrease our ability to get in trouble. But it drastically increases our ability to get out of trouble if we have a problem.  But, when we look at the Old Testament, many see consequences, not warning signs.

What tends to disappear first from our spiritual memory retention is the fact that every time someone gets in trouble with God, there have been warnings -- like an algebraic equation.  Do X and Y will happen.  Stick your hand in the path of an electric saw and it's likely to get cut off.  That's not a vengeful God, it's a Creator who set up the way things work to function in the best possible way. And, having given us the gift of free will, He now warns us that deviating from certain rules will get us results we're not going to like.  But it depends on our choices.

Perhaps equally important, maybe more so, there's a provision to deal with bad choices.  At the beach or pool, we don't just see warning signs.  There's also the lifeguard staff to actually deal with problems.  If we ignore that, we can choose what we think, say, and do, but the responsibility for the results stays with us.  Go in the water without a lifeguard present and our actions indicate we're taking full responsibility for our actions.  Contrast that with life.  Many act as if building the pool is the problem, not the swimmer's choice to jump in when proper precautions aren't available.

We're given not just free will, which itself is an amazing gift, but a solution to misusing it.  Take a look.

John 15:13 (KJV)  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

The man in verse 13, of course, is Jesus Christ.  Let's go back to our swimming example.  We think it's smart to pay attention to the lifeguard's warnings.  We do what we're told if the lifeguard is working on saving a life, especially ours.  Yet, when it comes to spiritual life saving, we question if there is a lifeguard, who He is, whether He's really a lifeguard or just another swimmer, etc.  Very much like some deny "original sin" being passed on to future generations, yet taking no issue with any other traits being passed along genetically.  But that's another discussion.  Let's get back to the foundation of John 15:13.

Isaiah 46:8-10 (KJV)  Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

There it is.  "Declaring the end from the beginning" says a whole lot.  It speaks of laying out how things are intended to go.  And warning of less pleasant results if we vary from how things should be. Our spiritual genetics have had generations of us doing things that went against how things were created to be.  Despite the warnings.  Which made a Savior necessary and led to John 15:13.  And, if that's not exciting enough, there's more!

John 16:23 (KJV)  And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

That's coming, too.  And it all hinges on "in that day:".  We look to a time when our comprehension and abilities aren't limited by genetics damaged by sin.  Our capabilities will be at a level where God doesn't need to assist us in understanding things below the real basics.  It's why evangelism isn't any more an invasion of privacy than telling someone that you can help them find the one person who loves them more than anyone else could or would.  Or telling them how to get free housing that's way beyond their income level for a period they don't yet know is possible.  Are you ready for those things?  We'll talk more about that, next time.

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