AN INVITATION TO BE GOD’S PEOPLE
THE WORLD AT last is the scene of a grim and awful tragedy—in it we see everyday misery, hatred, pain, strife, disease, and death in various inconceivable manner. And man can only blame himself for that.
As the prophet Isaiah emphatically declared: “The land suffers for the sins of its people. The earth languishes, the crop wither … The land is defiled by crime; the people have twisted the laws of God and broken his everlasting commands. Therefore the curse of God is upon them” (Isa. 24:4-6, Living Bible).
No doubt, man is guilty of breaking God’s holy law. Consequently, he lies under the sentence of death (Rom. 5:12), on hold until the day of execution (Rev. 21:8), unless he obtains a pardon from God. But God is love. Even if men deserve the inexorable severity and stern justice for their various offenses, God graciously has provided a plan of pardon based on the gospel.
Yes, God is displeased, to say the least, with the pride, the lustfulness, the arrogance, and the haughtiness of man, but we also see His mercy in sending His Son (Acts 4:10-12) to make an atonement for man’s sins—to pour out His life’s blood to satisfy God’s broken law—thereby making it possible for sinners to be reconciled to God.
Hence, what is the Savior’s invitation to all men for them to share in God’s mercy? The Lord Jesus Christ passionately declares: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved. Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:9, 7, New King James Version).
The invitation of the Savior is clear-cut and open-armed: “enter by Me”. Note too that the invitation is for “anyone”, meaning, open to all irrespective of nationality, color of skin, status in society, or educational pedigree. The promised consequence is also conclusive: “he will be saved”.
One cannot comply literally to Christ’s entreaty to “enter” in Him, for He is in heaven at the right hand of God (Ps. 80:17). To hearken to Jesus’ call is to be a part of His body (Col. 3:15) which is the Church (Col. 1:18), the name of which is Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation). Those who heed His call, by their membership in the Church Of Christ, are the real beneficiaries of His salvific death.
Remember, Christ’s shedding of blood indicated that penalty for sin has been paid; a life has been sacrificed in behalf of the sinners who should comply with God’s way of absolving man of his transgressions. Neither man has power to alter nor the right to change the biblical terms of salvation.
But why the Church of Christ? According to the parable of the Lord Jesus, to what is the kingdom of heaven or the Church Of Christ being compared? The parable expressly relates: “And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.” (Matt. 22:1-3, NKJV).
We find the kingdom of heaven illustrated in this parable about a king who prepared a sumptuous wedding dinner for his son. That this son is Christ will not be disputed. Sad, but it also pointedly speaks of the way people are indifferent to the message of invitation—how they respond to it. Many guests were invited—the king even sent messengers to notify everyone that it was time to come—but all refused.
How much is this like that of the world today? God has sent His servants—messengers in the name of Christ (II Cor. 5:18-20)—to call all men to repentance, as far as they could reach them. At a minimum, people should have taken seriously the honor of the invitation. Woeful, that in many cases, they have been ignored. The business and profit of worldly concerns hinder many from accepting God’s invitation. For the most part, man would rather follow the conveniences of this life.
People have been too busy with their worldly employment and professions to hear the message of salvation—the invitation means nothing to them. Knowingly or unknowingly, many spurn God’s overture because of indifference or lack of interest and through sheer rebelliousness by knowing full well God’s will (I Tim. 2:3-4), yet still despise the richness of His grace.
Some, not knowing the righteousness of God, have sought to establish their own as what Apostle Paul testifies: “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” (Rom. 10:2-3, NKJV)
People brazenly do this today, when they hope for salvation on terms different from those taught in the Holy Scripture. They can pretend, but they cannot make it a reality—God can’t be fooled.
There are those who will even present to Jesus the works they have done in anticipation of being accepted but will rather find themselves rejected and driven away as the Savior vividly asserts: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt. 7:21-23, Ibid.).
Not all who sound religious are really godly people according to the Lord Jesus. They may refer to Him as Lord, but still won’t get to heaven because the decisive question is whether they obey the will of the Father in heaven. Furthermore, many think that just because they are good parents to their children, or good neighbors, these deeds will be counted as their righteousness before God. The truth is, some may have religiously followed the golden rule of not doing to others what they don’t want others to do unto them, but still won’t be among God’s chosen people.
Still, there are those who are trying to obtain salvation by vocally professing their faith but without works to prove it as Apostle James emphatically affirm: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:14, 17, 19, Ibid.).
Unmistakable is the judgment to anyone who purportedly has faith and is a Christian but he isn’t proving it by works—that kind of faith can’t save. It is dead, insignificant. Deeds and actions of obedience must back up one’s faith. In effect, faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all—it is useless.
Genuine faith in Christ is faith coupled with obedience (Rom. 1:5). Those who believe, obey, and lead righteous lives—without precondition—are the true chosen of God.
However, it must be impressed in everyone’s mind and heart that being chosen means a privilege as well as a responsibility. It is central from the beginning: “This is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and, you shall be My people … that it may be will with you’” (Jer. 7:23, NKJV).
Truly, being chosen carries both responsibilities and blessings as described in the biblical covenants with God. Believers who respond to God’s invitation and become members of Christ’s body—the Church Of Christ—will be counted among God’s chosen, His own special people (I Pet. 2:9-10) who will obtain His mercy of salvation come Judgment Day to enjoy the sumptuous feast with Jesus in His holy kingdom. *
-RICHARD J. RODAS
Pasugo God’s Message
Copied from PASUGO GOD’S MESSAGE/JULY 2012/VOLUME 64/NUMBER 7/PAGES 1-2