His Love Compels Us

Monday, September 29, 2014, 4:11 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “I Sing of His Mercy.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2 (NIV84).

But For Him

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

To fear the Lord means to have and to show respect, awe and reverence for him in what we do, think, and say, and in our attitudes, as well. It means we love him, are devoted to him, and we are committed to following him wherever he leads us. Involved in this is care and attentiveness to our own spiritual lives and relationship with him, to where we are continually in a frame of mind of prayer, listening to his voice, and obeying him whenever he speaks to our hearts. We are faithful in service and in our affections towards him, and in our love relationship with him to where we do not entertain in our minds or follow after other gods of this world. As well, we are steadfast and unwavering in our faith and commitment to him, and we are resolute and determined to obey him even against all opposing forces coming against us. We honor him for who he is, and we do not take him or his word lightly. He is our all in all, and our refuge and strength at all times.

Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to encourage others to come to know Christ and to follow him in obedience and surrender to his will. Yet, we are not merely trying to win people over to our religion or faith in the sense of wanting them to follow the same religious practices as us. No, what we have is not a religion, but it is a LIFE! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God the Son, came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are tempted, yet without sin. He walked this earth in righteousness and holiness. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and ministered his grace and healing to the lonely, hurting, sorrowful and sinful. He preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and death to sin in order to gain eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25).

He was despised, rejected, ostracized, hated, persecuted, taunted, mocked, beaten and hung on a cross to die, although he had done no wrong. Yet, when he died, our sins died with him. When he rose from the dead, he conquered death, hell, Satan and sin on our behalf. He did not die merely so we could be forgiven of our sin and have the promise of eternity in heaven, though. He died so we would die to sin, and so we would live and walk in his righteousness and holiness (See Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24 & 1 Jn. 1-5). He died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). This is the essence of the gospel. Yet, this is not being taught much anymore. True grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives while we wait for his return (Tit. 2:11-14). True grace does not give us carte blanche (complete freedom) to continue in willful sinful lifestyles.

Be Reconciled

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 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. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

If we are in Christ Jesus, by God’s grace, through faith, we are new creations. Our old lives of living for self and sin are gone, and our new lives of freedom in Christ, forgiven of our sins, bound for heaven, and walking daily in his righteousness and holiness have come. This does not mean we now live completely sinless lives, though. But, it does mean that we have chosen to leave our sinful lifestyles behind us, and we have chosen, by God’s grace, to walk daily in his righteousness and holiness, in the power and working of the Spirit within us. This should be the lifestyle of all followers of Christ. We should no longer live for ourselves and for what we want out of life, but our entire life focus should now be on Jesus and on what he wants for our lives. Yet, so many people who profess the name of Jesus Christ today do not live like they believe this. So many professors of faith in Christ still live like they did before they ever received Christ as Savior of their lives. This should not be!

Our salvation is from God. Amen! We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our salvation (See Eph. 2:8-10). It is a free gift of God’s grace to us, yet it must be received by faith – a faith that shows itself genuine by us dying with Christ to sin, and by us being resurrected with Christ to new lives in Christ, free from the control of sin over our lives, and free to live godly and holy lives in the power and working of the Spirit within us (See Ro. 6-8). God reconciled us to himself through Christ’s death on the cross for our sins. This means he opened the door for us to return to a harmonious relationship with him. He settled our differences through Jesus’ shed blood for us on the cross so that we can be changed from being enemies of the cross to ones who are united with Christ in death to sin and alive to him in righteousness.

Paul wrote these words to the church; to those who professed faith and belief in Jesus Christ. He implored them to be reconciled to God. So, one or two situations exist here. Either he was speaking to those whose relationship with Christ was by profession only, and that there never was any genuine change of heart in their lives toward God, and/or else he is speaking to Christians who were reconciled to God, but had forgotten that they had been cleansed of sin, and had slipped back into some of their old patterns of sinful behavior. Either way, he was reminding them of what it means to be saved from sin, and he was imploring them to change their hearts and minds away from living for self and sin to obedience to Christ to walk in his holiness. He was strongly encouraging them to be restored in their relationship with God, and to cease living just like the world around them.

Not in Vain

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

So, what does it mean to receive God’s grace in vain? The Greek word kenós – translated into English as “vain” - means: “empty, void; hence, worthless ("null"), amounting to zero (of no value, profit) – see http://biblehub.com/greek/2756.htm.

What I believe this means is that there can be those who have made a confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, but they were never truly reconciled to God by genuine faith in Jesus Christ, because they never allowed the Spirit of God to transform their lives away from living in sin to living by faith in the power of the Spirit - in living godly and holy lives, free from the control of and slavery to sin. They thought if they just “believed,” that they had their ticket into heaven, and that God’s grace was a free license to continue in sin without penalty and without guilt, while still claiming the promise of heaven. And, it is probably because they are being taught this by church leaders who are no longer teaching death to sin and walking in Christ’s holiness. So, their “receiving” of God’s grace is void, worthless and null. Basically, they never truly received his grace, and thus they are not saved.

Yet, as mentioned above, I also believe this can apply to those who did genuinely come to Christ in faith, and they were reconciled to God through Christ’s blood shed on the cross for our sins, but they have since gotten caught up in the trappings of this world and have wandered off to follow after other gods of this world, and so this is an appeal to them to be reconciled to God, as well, because, although they had genuinely received God’s grace into their lives, it is now empty in their lives and of little value or profit, because they are ceasing to apply God’s grace to their lives, and they have gone back to living for self and sin. So, the appeal is for them to be reconciled to God, i.e. to confess their sin, to turn from it, by faith, and to return to a harmonious relationship with our Lord so that they are no longer acting like they are his enemies, but they are walking with him in unity to his will and purposes for their lives. This is called revival, and in revival God will restore his church.

I Sing of His Mercy / An Original Work
Based off Psalm 32 / April 10, 2014

Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven
By the blood of Jesus Christ.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does
Not count against them; freedom found.
When, in silence, I did not confess
My sin to You; had no strength.
Then I owned up to my sin and
You forgave and cleansed me within.

Therefore let the godly pray to You;
Draw near to You; grace they’ll find.
They will not be o’ertaken by afflictions,
But in Christ peace abounds.
Lord, You are my hiding place.
I find my refuge in You secure.
You protect me from all evil.
You give songs of vict’ry in You.

Lord, You teach me to walk in Your ways;
Counsel me in love, I know.
Help me to not be stubborn and
Unwilling to follow in Your truth.
Thank You for Your love and mercy.
I put my trust in You always.
I rejoice in my Lord and
I sing of Him throughout all my days.