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“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT)
This is good and pleases God our Savior. He wants all people to be saved and to learn the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4 GW)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)
GOD WANTS US TO CHOOSE LIFE!
How different this statement is from what most of the world believes, yet how basic God’s love is for those who have been bathed by the Holy Spirit.
Mention a saving faith in Jesus Christ, and many, if not, most non-believers quickly claim that God, the creator of the universe, is a “cosmic killjoy,” who “cramps their style.”
They’ll say He offers little or nothing for their lives. By the way, wasn’t He that “old dude” from the Bronze Age that gave us a bunch of rules and regulations, like waiting until marriage for sex (like, that’s going to happen!), and you can’t get drunk or party hearty, and He doesn’t much like gambling, either.
Add to that He’s not politically correct. He hates gays and lesbians, is very judgmental, and, worst of all, His followers are bigoted hypocrites and judgmental do-gooders, who insist on imposing their beliefs on everybody else. They’re like ISIS without the face wrap.
That’s a 180-degree misstatement of the Bible, but we shouldn’t be surprised. The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV, that “[T]he message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Add to that the words of the prophet Isaiah regarding the world’s rebellion against
God: “They have refused his teaching and have said to his messengers and prophets: Don’t tell us what God has shown you and don’t preach the truth. Just say what we want to hear, even if it’s false” (Isaiah 30:9-11 CEV).
In other words, those who are steeped in the world’s wisdom will not understand God’s message of salvation nor will they respond to it.
THAT’S WHERE WE COME IN.
Our job is to share the testimony of Jesus’ life-changing work in our lives. The ultimate “proof” of His love for us is how He reworks us from the inside out to conform us more to the life and character of Jesus.
As the apostle Paul explained, “I am certain that God, who began the good work with you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6 NLT). The apostle John said: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 ESV).
God offers salvation to everyone who accepts it, but that offer — and our acceptance of that offer — must be on His terms, not ours. S. Michael Houdmann, founder of Got Questions Ministries, said it this way: “We must come the way He has provided. We cannot create our own paths or come to a holy God based on our own efforts.”
The Lord has provided one way, and one way only, to reach Him. It is through belief in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior. No other way. Not through Muhammad, not through Buddha, not through Moses or Elijah, not through Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva, and not through Joseph Smith’s Mormons.
Not through our good works and charity, not through incense and crystals, and not through our “inner spiritual selves in oneness with the universe.”
Through Jesus Christ and Him only.
Jesus made it clear: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 GW). Later, the apostle Peter, filled with God’s Holy Spirit, added this: “Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone” (Acts 4:12 CEV).
WE ARE AMBASSADORS for the Gospel.
We read in 1 Peter 3:15 CSB: “[B]ut in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
My friends, how can we be the ambassadors for Christ — “salt and light” to the world — if we who have heard the Good News barely register its meaning in our hearts? When God tells us to choose life over death, He wants us to jump full in for the Gospel, just as He has given all to reach us.
God has given us free will — which includes the freedom to make bad choices, harmful decisions, destructive pathways — that includes the freedom to choose Him and His offer of eternal life with Him! In Genesis 2, right at the beginning of the Bible, God announced to Adam when Adam was the only human around that he could eat the fruit of any tree in the Garden of Eden save one.
“Your choice, Adam,” God said. “You may not eat from that tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; but if you do eat from that tree, on that day you will certainly die, and the special relationship you and I enjoy today will be destroyed” (Genesis 2:16-17, author’s adaptation).
In a pivotal scene in the Bible, known as The Fall, we see Adam and his wife, Eve, standing by that same tree that God told Adam to avoid. What were they doing? Talking to a serpent (Satan), who was encouraging them to disobey God. How? By casting doubt on whether God really said they would die (Genesis 3:1).
Yet, exercising the free will their Creator gave them, Adam and Eve joined together to believe the serpent over God. What a terrible choice, but they exercised the free will God had granted them.
GOD PURSUES US STILL, encouraging us to make a wiser choice; in fact, to make the only choice that will reconcile us to Himself.
In his book, Knowing God, British-Canadian theologian J.I. Packer writes that God, in setting his love on human beings “has voluntarily bound up His own final happiness with theirs”; that is, that God has purposed to bind His complete happiness with our happiness, which can happen only when we are reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ.
Jesus, the Christ of God, who came into the world to die for our sins, told us the Father did not send Him into the world to condemn the world but to save it through Him. That truth is the exact opposite of the falsehood the world believes.
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned,” Jesus said, “but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-17 NIV)
The choice is ours to make for our own lives, but God has made it clear that He wants us — longs for us — to choose a relationship with Him.
To choose life. L’chai-im!
PRAYER: O LORD, our Heavenly Father, how we have sinned against You in our rebellion and faithlessness. How patient You have been with us and still are. How loving and merciful You are. Yet, LORD, we know You also are just and will judge us with a righteous hand according to our deeds and misdeeds. On Your mercy we come, confessing our sins and praising Your holy name. Thank You, Father, for giving us Your Son to die for our sins, so that we, believing in Him, can be reconciled to You. Thank you, merciful Father, eternally. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.