LEAD REDEMPTIVE LIVES
We live in a fallen and sinful world. It is made up of matter and matter deteriorates. Let me repeat what I wrote in my Preamble. The cosmos is aging and fallen beings and spirits are also managing it. Man is not the only one that fell out of grace, so did the devil and his angels. He and his companions landed on earth and have created havoc ever since. They sow the weeds, shake the mountains, disturb the seas, destroy the landscapes and blame the Creator for their evil handiwork. They have convinced the creature man that God is punishing man for disobeying God. God is good and merciful and is not willing that anyone should perish (II Pe. 3:9). Man without God and without Christ is prone to become a child of the devil and do his kind of destructive work (Jn. 8:31-47). Nature has already become the devil’s tool and so have many human beings.
Man can save himself and others by leading a redemptive life. The writer in the Letter to the Hebrews gave us this example of redemptive living, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-3). Satan parades as an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14) and prowls about like a lion to devour (I Pe. 5:8) even a good man like Peter can fall (Lk. 22:31-32). He trapped Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1-6) but failed with Jesus the Christ (Mt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-12). “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). Any one that desires things not rightfully ours is being enticed by the tempter (Mt. 5:27-30).
What has been quite revealing to me is the fact that God demands that man must play a redemptive role. God has provided for us Moses, the Prophets, Jesus the Christ and the Apostles, but the spreading and sharing salvation are in man’s hands. Christ has closed the distance between God and man, but who will close the distance between us? The answer is very simple. We must settle our differences ourselves here on earth. A man came to Jesus and demanded, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus asked, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? Watch out! Be on guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Then Jesus told the Parable of the Rich Fool who lived only for his possessions and died before he could enjoy his wealth (Lk. 12:21). In case of grievances, Jesus recommended that we settle our disagreements before we reach a judge or a jury (Lk. 12:57-59). Jesus also used a worldly judge who knew when to hand out justice where it was needed (Lk. 18:1-8). God does not accept our gifts, if our relationship with our brother is not in tact (Mt. 5:23-26). Jesus left us no alternative when he declared, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins’ (Mt. 6:15).
God is just and for that reason, He cannot overlook man’s transgressions. Transgressions have a devastating and fatal affect on man and his environment. If it is not corrected or changed, the system will collapse. What good is it to say, “The Lord has forgiven me for drinking alcohol,” but take no corrective measures to free myself from liquor? We may be forgiven for driving on bad tires, but who will be accountable if we kill somebody? I know, my brother was ten when a truck killed him and so was my best friend. He too was only ten years old. We may be sympathetic with men who strand their wives with children and leave unwed-mothers at the mercy of the state, but where will this end and who will pay for their unlawful liberties and transgressions? God’s conditions demand that we correct our lives and environment before they become irreparable. The Creator has put us in this world to manage it and not abuse and destroy it. He endowed us with the ability to know the difference between good and evil (Gen. 3:22). We, Christians in particular, have the Spirit in us that is greater than the one in the world and we ought to stop listening to the one of the world that keeps on marring our status as children of God (I Jn. 4:4-6).
The greatest wrong that we have done to ourselves is to excuse ourselves from messing up our lives and then regard it as an act of God to keep us humble or teach us a lesson. I am the victim of a serious accident that has left me 75 percent disabled for 63 years. I know that it was not God’s will, but human error. No God would do that to a human being what happened to me, but human mistakes and uncorrected problems will. God cannot be God if He lets us get away with uncorrected mistakes. And please do not rest on that lame excuse, “the Devil made me do it.” The Devil has no power over man. All man has to do is resist him and he flees. Of course, he can talk you into believing that he does, but that would make him rather dumb. It is more up his alley to make us think that God will not really take the trouble to punish us for our blatant behavior. If that is the case then remember Adam and Eve. And it was not God punishing them, but by disobeying His Word, they punished themselves.
The Promises are still open wide and there is no second chance. God is the God of the living and not of the dead (Mt. 22:32). The Biblical personalities made their choices while they were alive, and many times they acted on very meager faith. These were not perfect people. If they lived among us, some would be in jails or even executed. The Lord God did not hand salvation to them on a silver platter. Everyone repented, made amends and returned to live and be governed by the conditions of the Promises. God’s invitation still stands, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword” (Isa. 1:18-20).
The “God will fix it all” attitude many Christians share just will not do. The idea that grace through the sacrifice of Christ makes up for everything is untenable. It is tenable for the person that returns to live by God’s conditions; for, Christ will take care of the sins that we have committed in ignorance with those who have passed on (Lk. 23:43). Man cannot continue in sin and expect grace to save him. It is when a person is in Christ that he or she abstains from sinning (Ro. 6:1-7). If one does transgress, one does not wait for the sun to set to rectify the mistake (Eph. 4:26). The moment one does know what was done was wrong then it becomes sin and must be corrected (Ja. 4:17). The correction must take place between humans before God will accept human remorse (Lk. 12:57-59)
God created everything good and turned it over to man when it was good. He provided man with conditions to help him live and mange his affairs; therefore, man is without excuse if he fails. He will be held accountable for every action and even for every careless word he has spoken (Mt. 12:36). The idea that man does not know himself, God does not accept. God endowed man with the ability to find the truth that can set him free (Jn. 8:32). If the mind fails man; then, only God can have mercy on him, like the case of the mad Gerasene (Mk. 5:1-20). Otherwise, Jesus made it easy to find truth, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (Jn. 14:6-7).
Christ did not only provide redemption but also a way to lead a redemptive life. A redemptive life helps others repent and lead redemptive lives themselves. Contrary to the idea that man has come of age, his un-redemptive life proves that he is still a baby hooked on milk and not on the solid corrective food of life. Instead of dealing with issues that would lead to repentance, man soothes himself with topics that justify his perverted behavior. Even good Biblical preachers spend precious time on many old prophecies, predictions and topics that have no bearing on the outcome of man’s salvation. Jesus insisted that not even the laying on of hands and the casting out of demons could substitute for leading a redemptive life. Too many have been side tracked by the rapture, the tribulation or the millennium. Regarding the rapture, this writer lived in Poland when World War II broke out. He lived under three brutal governments. All his people were persecuted and many died; but not a one was raptured or spared. Strangely enough, the rapture idea started in Europe. Is it not a bit presumptuous to think that Americans will escape the hand of judgment? No matter how much we are told that we have been justified by faith or saved by grace, unless we change our ways, we will likewise perish. And that is the solemn truth that can set man free.
As matters stand, the Promises are still on some distant shore. For me, the dream was to cross the mighty ocean, escape the turmoil of my homeland and live in peaceful America. I had to do more than dream. I had to be processed, board a huge ship and be admitted through immigration. The boat itself had a captain, a chart and guidelines. I too had to help out several hours per day in cold storage. Violators were not allowed to disembark in the Promised Land. That is how it is with the Promises or the Kingdom of God. To get there, we must repent, correct our ways, board the chip, trust Captain Jesus and obey his guidelines. Above all, let Him worry about us getting to the Promised Land. He knows the way because He has taken that journey before. As far as we are concerned, let us fill our lamps with oil, keep them lit, lead redemptive lives and leave the scheduling of our departure from this world entirely to the Lord. No longer do we need to perish because of a lack of knowledge (Ho.4: 6). We can turn to the Lord for wisdom found in His Word that charts our destiny into the Promises (Ja.1: 5). And the one promise that matters the most is the one that welcomes those that have been kind and helpful to others that may not agree with us (Mt. 25:40).
Let me leave you with two hints from Jesus and one from Paul as to how one can lead a redemptive life. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers”(Mt. 7:21-23)! “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk. 6:32-36). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God was making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Cor. 5:17-21).
“The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved” (Jer. 8:20).
Jesus predicted his own rejection in The Parable of the Ten Minas (Lk. 19:11-27). “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ But the subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.” Two of them doubled their king’s investments and were rewarded. The third one had this reason for not investing, “I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.” He was severely punished; in fact, he was killed. The lesson was and still is: all men are subject to cause and effect. What we do predestines our destination.