Humanities’ big problem in the first instance is not Economic, it is not Social, it is not Political, and it definitely is neither the Republican party nor the Democrats. Even though, all of these areas are real issues that need resolutions. We need to work hard to fight poverty, social injustices and political turmoils. No doubt. However, these are secondary issues of humanity. The first thing we must ask ourselves is “have we addressed our God problem?” Of course we can chew our gummy gum and walk at the same time. Absolutely! That is to say, we can still address both without abandoning the other. I am right there with you. But I still insist that we put one ahead of the other, lest we lose it all. Purpose and destiny in life are important. But I have a question for us, how about the ultimate destiny and ultimate purpose in life? If we gain the whole world but lose it all in the end, what is destiny? Which comes first?
The gospel is “good news” in so far as we understand what the bad news is. I remember talking with someone who had doubts about her salvation. I asked her a simple question, “tell me what brought you to the Lord?” I believe the Lord is the God of means as much as the God of ends. Thus he uses all sorts of ways to bring us to face our real problems. He is the God of Providence. I came to the Lord’s house, because I didn’t have a place to stay. My parents and I had to spend two days at the airport, because we ended up losing connection with our sponsor. We basically were homeless in a strange place with a strange people (with $60.00 in our pocket which was the only amount allowed at the time). My father and I grabbed a telephone book, and began to call all familiar Ethiopian names: Abebe, Abera, Demeke…using a $6.00 MTI phone card that appears to charge you few cents even for trying to dial numbers (footnote: cellphone was not available at that time.) Then one call leading up another, we ended up at Ethiopian Evangelical Church. To tell you the truth, I began to go to the church because that was the humane thing to do to those people who provided us shelter, food and had shown us a God kind of love to us strangers. That was all. But then something happened. My father had begun to change right before my eyes. He now begins to say things like ‘God is Good to us. He brought us here.’ Yes I strongly believe in the sovereignty of God, not because it is some theory that I hold. I believe it because when I came to this country, not only I had no plan on being a follower of Christ, but I planned to study Medicine and not theology. We were supposed to live in New Haven, Connecticut and not in the Bronx, New York. All of these, however, are not the reason why I truly came to the Lord. These were only God’s providential means. We must not confuse the means with the gospel. I came to the Lord because something absolutely super natural had happened to me. I became born again. I was converted. I was regenerated. Now, all of a sudden, I began to understand that God is my problem. Not because he is such a moral monster who likes to bully around humanity. No, I found out that I hated Him. I did. I really Hated Him. John Wesley says the same thing as to when he came to the Lord. I loved the idea of God. The church thing. The singing. The whole Kumabaya, I loved it. But have I heard the gospel? Now we all don’t have to have this same experience. But we have to recognize our guilt before Him. Every sin is personal to God. David after he committed murder, adultery, and a cover up operation of the highest order- that involves several people to sin against God- he said “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight (Ps. 51:4)” At the outset, it sounds so ridiculous. He defiled a married woman, killed her husband and corrupted his officials. How could David dare to say “You and only you have I sinned against?” However, when you realize what he meant, you understand the depth of David’s repentance. Every sin is a personal defiance of God. Before we commit our offenses against other people, we sinned first against God. Before David slept with Bathsheba, he first willfully sinned against God. That is why, God reserves the right to forgive our sins because He is the one whom we all sinned against.
God the Judge of all mankind: God’s Wrath and Justice
You have not yet heard the gospel, until you are confronted with Him as the judge. we see this in several places in the New Testament. When the Jew heard that Jesus is now Lord and Christ, the people began to tremble and say “Brothers, what shall we do? (Acts. 2:37)” When Paul concluded his sermon at the Areopagus he said “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. (Acts. 17:30-31)” Paul preached the gospel to Felix about faith in Christ and “righteousness, self-control and the coming judgement; Felix was alarmed and said ‘Go away… (Acts. 24:24-26)”
He can not be your lover, before you realized that you are his enemy in need of His forgiveness, in His own ways, by His own ordain means. That is to say, He prepared for us a way of reconciliation, through his ordained priest, who sacrificed his own body as a ransom substitutes for our offense before this Holy God, so that we call His Father our Father. Thus, the bad news is that we are at enmity with the creator of the World since Adam and Eve exiled from the Garden. This is our madness. This is where humanity went insane, by joining a rebellion party against the creator in the Garden of Eden. We thought we dethrone Yahweh and follow the serpent (Eph. 2:1-2) so that we can find our autonomous existence irrespective of God. Ever since, a rebellion exists in every person’s heart. As such therefore, sin is not in the first place a breaking of certain-arbitrary rules. That is not (Eph. 4:17-19; 1 John 3:4, et.al.). Sin is a rebellion against God. It is a disregard of the creator. It is telling Him that he has little to do with our lives. That is why the Psalmist declares “the fool says in his heart there is no God”. When you read that in its proper context, it is not atheistic at all. The fool did not mean to say there is no such a thing as God. Rather the fool says God has nothing to do with him. Now that is idolatry. Now that is what sin is. It goes on to say the fool does not seek God.
God cannot be our salvation, if we have not understood ourselves as his enemies at first. What this means is that the person has not yet come to understand that he is a sinner. Paul rehears a very dark narrative of humanity outside of Christ in Romans 1:18-3:20. Humanity without special revelation of God rebelled against God even though God revealed himself in the created order. When God graciously provided a means to reveal himself in a special way to Jews, they too rebelled against God. So humanity continues to rebelled and there seem to be no solution for our God problem. But praise God, he prepared a way for us. The gospel is a message of reconciliation. Sinful humanity now can be justified before this holy creator through the ransom sacrifices of His own Son presented on our behalf as a substitution. Now this is the good news!
God the Redeemer of all mankind: God’s Love and Mercy
He displayed his love in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. This is what separates true Gospel message from the counterfeit gospel message. A counter gospel message goes like this, “is your problem economic? Come to God and you will be rich. “Is finding a purpose in life a problem? Come to God, you will have purpose. “is your problem hopelessness? come to God you will find hope…etc. In all of these examples, the problems are something other than God. The scripture never once addresses the gospel that way. The gospel is a message of reconciliation. He is our enemy, the holy and righteous Judge of all. He is both our judge and our redeemer. We all answer to Him at the last day and trust Him as our savior. However, once we have come to be justified, that is declared before him righteous on the basis of Christ sacrifices, we have now come to enjoy three benefits of justification: namely peace with God, access into this grace, and Hope of the glory of God.
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