August 31, 2010

Discerning What You Hear Part 2

An Interest in Unity and Peace

Over and over again in the verses I noted above and throughout the Bible, God instructs us to beware of useless arguments, those who cause needless strife, and quarrelsome teachers. The aim of God’s revelation to mankind is to draw us closer unto Himself and to each other.
In the final hours of Jesus’s life, He prayed that we would be one as He and the Father were one and that we would be given to Him for eternity (John 17:10–26). It is amazing to think that our Creator loves us enough, despite our continued brokenness, to ask for us! Jesus doesn’t desire to be with us—He desires us to be with Him. He doesn’t want to be like us—He wants us to be like Him. He doesn’t want us to simply be crowned with glory and honor—He crowns us as Image Bearers because He wants us to be involved in giving Him glory. Jesus wants us to be united with Him in this way.
But Jesus wants us to be united together as well. How much of the New Testament is written exhorting believers to be of one unified body and purpose? Why is love greater than faith and hope? Why does God use humans to reach other humans? Think about this: In Romans, Paul teaches us that people will not be saved apart from the use of other human beings.

For "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"
Romans 10:13–15

God makes it so that we have to be involved in the work of kingdom building and soul saving. We don’t do the saving, but we are His instruments of proclamation! Why? Because He wants us to be in the unity of community. Real community. Christ-centered community.
The story of Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11 is awesome because it demonstrates the incredible responsibility and privilege that God gives to us. The Bible teaches that Cornelius was a God-fearing man. An angel comes to him one day and tells him to send for Peter because he is not yet saved and needs to hear the gospel of Christ from Peter in order to be saved. The angel is right there! Why doesn’t he tell him about Jesus and everything that has already happened for the salvation of mankind? God chooses to patiently use the time and distance considerations of having to send for Peter, Peter traveling, and everyone waiting until the end of Peter’s presentation to save Cornelius and his whole household.
What if Cornelius had died? What if Peter had died? Aren’t these the arguments we hear today when people argue that there must be more than one way to God, because of all the people in remote parts of the world who will never hear? This story, and the rest of Scripture, teaches us that God is sovereign. He has a plan, and He will save those whom He has chosen to save, and He will do it the way He designed it to happen. God doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t need a plan B. He knows what He is doing, and trusting that is called faith.
God uses us, and He wants us to be involved in each other’s lives as Image Bearers. He cares about peace and unity. A Christ-centered, biblical teacher will be one whose message focuses on the Word of God and, in doing so, ultimately brings unity and peace to God’s family.

Tomorrow, we will look at #3.

With you for His Glory

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