Friday, March 18, 2011

The Truth – We Need to Be Ransomed – 1 Tim 2:3-7

This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (RSV)

There are many times when I’ve want to know what God’s will is for my life. I’m sure I’m not alone in that desire. I would like to know what I should be doing, if this job or that is where I should be working. Some wonder if the person they are dating is God’s will for a mate. Wouldn’t it be cool if God were to tell us verbally what He wants us to do whether it is a big decisions or little? Do you ever wonder why He doesn’t? (OK, there are some people who do believe that God directs them exactly like this but with a few exceptions this is not the way God usually worked.)

I think He doesn’t direct us in the minute details of our lives is because He wants us to lean to make decisions that will bring glory to Him without having to spell it out for us. He has given us many directions on how to make those decisions. All we need to do is read what He has already said. For instance, He desires everyone to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

His first will for us is that we become saved. He doesn’t want anyone to perish. Ezek 33:11 Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?' (NIV) Just as He pleaded with Israel, so He pleads with every living person today to turn to Him for salvation before it is too late. He is patiently waiting for people to turn from their unbelief and turn to Jesus for salvation. Each of has a number of days on the earth but we don’t know how many they are. Ps 39:4 "Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.” (NLT) The big problem with many is that they think they can take care of salvation later but the end of life sneaks up on them and they lose their chance.

God wants us to come to a knowledge of the truth. The truth is that there is only one way to heaven. In today’s relativistic believe structure, there isn’t any acknowledgment of truth. Relativism says that my truth is what I believe, your truth is what you believe, and both are valid even if they contradict each other. However, relativism doesn’t allow me to believe that there is only one truth, which logically disproves the validity of relativism. This makes it hard for people who have grown up with this faulty logic to accept God’s truth. Relativism essentially allows my opinion, however faulty, to trump the truth.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (NKJV) There is no getting around this truth. Christianity hangs on this truth and a few others. Pull any of these foundational blocks out and Christianity crumbles. Paul builds on this block as He explains that Jesus is the mediator between God and us. Why do we even need a mediator? It is because God is holy and we are not. There is no way that sinful man can stand before God and mediate for himself or anyone else. Job knew it quite well. Job 9:32-35 He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God's rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot. (NIV) Since God became a man in Jesus, Jesus can be our arbitrator or mediator. He took all of God’s wrath upon Himself so that God’s rod is removed from us. We don’t have to be in terror or frightened by God anymore because Jesus is our mediator. We can come boldly to the throne of grace and receive mercy (Heb 4:16) because Jesus shed His blood on the mercy seat in the heavenly realms. Jude 24 says that Jesus is not only able to keep us from falling, but to present us before God without fault and with great joy.

Many religions set up imposing hierarchies between their adherents and whatever god or gods they worship. They often have one person at the top who speaks for God and tells everyone else what his god is like and how they should act in accordance with what this mediator says. Over time, he and his successors write down the instructions and make changes as their god supposedly reveals new things to them. Some offer sacrifices or perform rituals on behalf of their followers, without which, the followers would be lost. However, Paul says that Jesus is the only mediator and He gave Himself as a ransom for us. We don’t need any other human beings to mediate or to be priests or intercessors for us. We have Jesus. So anyone who says that we need an earthly mediator or system to reach God is a liar and is not mediating between you and God but is in fact keeping you enslaved to Satan.

When Adam sinned, he sold all of his descendants as slaves to Satan. I was held captive by sin and a subject of Satan’s kingdom. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the ransom price, the shedding of His blood, so that all I and all mankind could be free from sin and no longer Satan’s slaves. Mark 10:45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (NASB) Today, we see people kidnapped as well as pirates holding ship and crews for ransom. The concept isn’t new. A price must be paid before the kidnappers or prates will release the prisoners.

The strange part of Christianity is that the kidnapper, Satan, didn’t set the ransom price but God did. Our ransom is compounded by the fact that as we lived in sin we offended God, the one who wants to see us freed. When God set up the Jewish sacrificial system, He set the pattern for forgiveness and paying the ransom. Heb 9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (NIV) So Jesus, living a holy and sinless life is the only one who could provide a once-for-all sacrifice that not only atones for our sins but also pays the ransom price to free us from Satan’s dominion and sin.

The Old Testament prophets showed bits and pieces of this wonderful plan as God unfolded it to them. In Mark 1:15, Jesus said the time has come as He started His ministry. He said the kingdom of God is near and that we should repent and believe. This is God’s testimony that the time finally arrived when Jesus gave His life so that each of us can be free from Satan and sin if we accept that Jesus paid the ransom for us.

Rom 16:25-27 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (NIV) Would you like to be established as a free citizen of heaven ransomed from Satan’s dominion? The eternal God has made know to us by the prophetic writings that we must believe and obey Jesus if we want that ransom applied to our lives. This ransom is available to all people in all nations.

Turn to Jesus in faith that He has paid the price. Trust in Him alone to save you. Be willing to obey Him to demonstrate that your faith is true. Repent of your sins and confess that Jesus is your Lord and you will be saved. (Rom 10:9)

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