The author of Genesis gave us a very clear message in the first two sections of this book. Genesis chapters one and two speak of Gods good creation – all things exist because a good and holy God wills this to be so – “and it was good”. God's intention in creating humanity is that, in our relationship to to him, we are to image him, be his representatives – his ambasadors.
Genesis 1:27-28 (NIV)
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
God's design for us has not and will not change. Even now, this is our purpose:
Represent God – 2 Corinthians 5:20a (NIV)
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors...
Fill the earth with other image bearers – Acts 1:6-8 (NIV)
So when [Jesus and the disciples] met together, [the disciples] asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Are you at this time going to gather and reign over your people?) 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
In Genesis chapters three through eleven we read about how, in our sinful, self-centered defyance humanity is unrelenting in its rejection of God.
Genesis 6:5 (NIV)
The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
Genesis 6:11 (NIV)
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.
Romans 3:10-12 (NIV)
... “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
So is there a solution or does God leave me to face the judgement? Is there a solution our will I get what is fair? – the reward that follows me putting my faith and hope in me.
The Good News here is that God has not abandoned us to face the judgement alone. God's plan is restoration. In the middle of our self-willed, God-defying helplessness we find the perfect opportunity for God to show love. Last week we saw God making amazing promises to a man named Abraham. God would:
give him decendence without number (ultimatly we know this is really all those who are saved through Jesus)
bless him (find him righteous)
bless all the nations through him
God chose the undeserving pagan Abraham as the one who would be the overt starting point of his rescue. God chose Abraham to experience God's salvation and God's call to the mission.
Joshua 24:2-4 (NIV)
Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the River and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants...
The Bible is full of examples of God's electing call to those who may not fit our cultural thinking – we see this both in the O.T. and the N.T.
The people of Israel
Deuteronomy 7:6-8 (NIV) – Moses speaks to Israel
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. 7 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Isaac/Rebecca – Jacob/Esau
Genesis 25:23 (NIV)
The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”
Paul – Immediatly after Paul's conversion Ananias was sent, by God, to minister to Paul
Acts 9:15 (NIV) -
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
Those who have received Jesus
1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Ephesians 1:11-13 (NIV)
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
Those who find Jesus as their only hope do not do this against their will, rather God opens their hearts to their desperate condition so he is received with joy and belief. We see an example of this in Acts.
Acts 13:48 (NIV)
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 (NIV)
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
Philippians 2:13 (NIV)
for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
God's plan is that his creation is restored to its original design – sin is no more and God's people live lives that that, now more fully than ever are consumed by him in worship, in love, in living dependently on him, in mission... God's salvation is not a culturally religious tradition, it is a self-shattering call on your life to think as one who's life is not their own.
Big questions always come up when “election” is discussed – I understand this. The concept of God being the One who must actually pull me out of my sin because he takes action toward me strikes at the heart of how I want to think about myself. I want to think that, in the end, it is my self-determined, independent decision to accept the offer of Jesus, or not – if I accept then glory, if I don't THEN I deserve the consequenses. What I don't want to admit is that without God's intervention I deserve the consequenses.
The concept of election election should drive us to our knees. We who do not deserve death have received life. Godk's gace toward me should absolutly “rock my world”. I was once without hope and now I live!
It seems that God works in ways we don't understand. We MUST NOT presume God will accomplish his will in a way that follows human logic.
We should be desperatly praying, and desperatly living for Jesus. God is moving his creation back to its original design – he has NOT left us, he has NOT left his creation. As those who have received mercy, we are called to the God's mission – being those who spread the message of Jesus. Again and again I come back to this profound verse:
John 15:7 (NIV)
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
God is looking to do his work through us...