Thursday, July 21, 2011

You Owe Love To One Another!


You Owe Love To One Another!
                                                                                                           
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1Peter 4:8)
If you owed me one million Kenya shillings, there is a way in which we would relate. If you are an unfaithful debtor you would be trying as much as possible so that we do not meet! If you are a faithful person then you would try as much as possible to repay back the money. You would give me promises and would as much as possible try your best to honor them. Do we relate with other Christians as if we owe them anything? We all know of the verse in Romans 13:8 that tell us very clearly that we are to “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”(Rom. 13:8). Now if we owe each other something do we conduct ourselves as if we have what belongs to them? We have been very clearly told the debt that we owe every Christian whether near or far, whether you know him or you don’t. It is your duty to remember that love is required of you by every one of those who the Lord has saved whether mature or old and so you should do everything possible to repay it sincerely and constantly.
The entire duty of Christians to each other is summed up in one word – love. Brotherly love is repeatedly spoken of in this letter (CF. 1:22; 2:17; 3:8; 5:14) and in this passage we will be able to see how it is maintained and enforced. We will also see how brotherly love is manifested among believers later on in the gifts of the Holy Spirit we have been given. The love being discussed here is more limited in its range in that it is not for everyone but to be directed to the brethren since we are told keep loving one another earnestly. Therefore, it’s more comprehensive in its elementary principles. This is because we are not discussing love for all men but only love for the brethren. The end of love is to bring goodness and joy to the person who is loved. Love seeks to deliver its object from ignorance, error, sin and sorrow and seeks to make its object to fully enjoy the salvation that is in Christ.
1.     How do we maintain brotherly love?
Brotherly love is of the uttermost importance because we are called to it by the words – “above all things, have fervent love among yourselves”. Fervent love is that intense love that is rid of all coldness or lukewarm and is instead active and hot like fire. This is the love that cannot be hindered by anything to accomplish its purposes on its object. A Christian, who dearly and fervently loves the other, seeks his welfare and will not stop at anything short of that. One would be willing to suffer for the other. The intensity of this love is like the one that the Lord Jesus had when the Bible records that being in agony He prayed more ‘earnestly’
The love that is fervent has that constant continuance. Moreover, it is the continuity like that which marked the prayers of the early church when Peter was arrested by Herod because we read that the church prayed without ceasing for him. This is life-long love that even death is not able to extinguish. Therefore, it is that extensive, permanent love that we are urged here to maintain for each other.
Above all things, have fervent love among yourselves.” That we are to have it as the statement reads means that we are to take hold possession of it – we are not to give it away or let it to be taken from us by whatever situation or circumstance for whatever reason. We to remain loving and caring for one another, even when there seems as if there is no reason to love. We are always to love without tiring or waning in love. Our love ought not to grow cold but instead we are told to see to it that our love is growing in its extent, intensity, continuity and in fervency so that we are all maturing in the manner of love for one another.
Imagine a person who has just been saved and has not known the Christian love – how will he learn how to love? It is by being loved and so being given the reason to love.  He will love as he will see others love since he is a spiritual child. Through the ministry of the gospel, the reason why we are to love others is because God first loved us (1John 4:19). The one characteristic of children is that most of their learning takes place by imitation and so many of the experiences are not taught by word but by observation. Therefore, we are to love those who have recently joined us and so teach them by intuition how to love.
How are we to maintain this command?
It is by  showing this brotherly love to all. Our love for one another ought to be conspicuous to all, not just private. Let the world know that we care and love one another in such a way that they will not be able to drive a wedge between us. Our adversary the devil knows very well how to scatter the sheep of Christ. However, we are to resist the devil not privately but together so that all men shall know that you are the disciples of Christ (John 13:35).
We should not be ashamed of one another, especially when in suffering. It is very likely that when one is trouble we might say, I don’t want to be identified with that one because he is HIV positive. I don’t want to be identified with that one because she lives in a slum. I don’t want to be seen with so and so because he doesn’t dress smartly. Remember that these are temporary situations that the Lord shall wean us all. Soon we will be at a point where there is no need for us to worry about what we shall eat or drink for we shall not hunger nor thirst in the presence of the Lord. We should not let water quench Christian love. Instead, let the world say “Behold, how these Christians love each other.”
We are to realize that the love that is well spoken by the unbelievers is attractive to them and so serves to evangelize without words. A loveless church will attract no one because it is rather than being a haven of peace and tranquility it becomes a den of enemies. It is by love that a church is established and built because love is the perfect bond (Col. 3:14).
Take this example, you are married, there are these young people here who will soon want to marry. It is your duty to show them that marriage life is not ‘hell’ as Classic Radio presents it to be. They say that marriage is hell, and it is indeed hell because they do not have God. However, marriage is as sweet as the life in the Garden of Eden was for those who are married. This is not to say that there are no difficulties but that the difficulties are sorted out in view of eternity. Please invite the young and unmarried brethren to spend a night with you so that they may learn one or two for the future.
It is love that makes the Christian faith living and active because without it, though one might have faith that commands mountains to be moved or to vanish, that faith is dead. This is because it is love that edifies both the Christians and the non-Christians.  Faith works by love and one who has love is sure to have holiness because love fulfills all law.
2.     How do we make sure we love?
Firstly, we need to remember how much love we have received from God in saving us. The salvation we have from God is so great that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
So what does it mean that ‘love covers a multitude of sins?’ Many have misinterpreted this verse to mean what their deluded minds want it to mean. They say that with love one can be justified! If this where the case, then salvation is by their merit and yet we know that no one will be acquitted by God on the account of what he has done since no one is able to fulfill all the legal demands of the law. Salvation comes only by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only one able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him (Heb. 7:25). He is the One who has died to pay the ransom price by His life and death on the cross.
The fact of this statement, ‘love covers a multitude of sins,’ is used as the motive for our love for the fellow brethren. Note that it does not read, ‘love covers the multitude of sins’ but a multitude of sins. We need to ask, “whose love is it that covers a multitude of sins?” and “Whose sins are they that are covered by love?” We also ought to ask what is it that love does in reference to sin when it covers it? Consider the origin of this quotation in Proverbs 10:12, Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. The effect of the opposite of love is strife but love overlooks such small offenses.
Offenses against one another are bound to come. Brethren, as long as in this body and in this world we will sin against one another. If these sins against one another are not covered, what is the result likely to be? But fervent and sincere love gives no opportunity to offenses. The beginning of strife is like the letting out of water from a tank. Because then contentions will be extended and perpetuated. There will be divisions in the body. Individual edification will be materially interfered with. The Spirit of love will be grieved. The church will become impure and divided. Roots of bitterness will spring and the glory of God and His Christ in His Bride will be obscured. “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! ... For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore” (Psalm 133:1, 3. Where there is love there is peace, and unity and joy.
If there is a duty that the Lord left us to do, is to love one another since He Himself gave up His life in order to show His love for us although we did not deserve it. Our love for one another is therefore a sure proof that we belong to Christ. It is love that truly reveals that we belong to the Lord who freely and graciously loved us. Furthermore, it is through love that we reveal other graces in our lives. For example, bearing with one another is only possible because of love. Peace is only cultivated where there is love. Humility and meekness are grown in the garden of love. Kindness and compassion are only known because of love. Unity is possible only where love has been established. Joy is kindled and manifested in the field of love. This is because love is the first-fruit of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
We are to put on love as part of the garment that forms part of the robe of righteousness that the Lord has so graciously given us. Our love is not in word but in action and truth. Love is of God and so if we belong to God, if His Son lives in us, if His Spirit inhabits His temple in our hearts, then we are to love the brethren with the fervency that only comes from the Lord. To say that you love God and fail to love the brother is to concede to be a liar who is so deficient of truth that he is destined to hell. How can one claim to love God who he has never seen yet hate his brother who is so near him? That would be the worst of hypocrisy!
It therefore goes that the love of the saints keeps on growing and increasing and stretching  in both depth and endurance as the Holy Spirit of God works in us to give us “the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph 3:18-19). Clearly  it is the love of God that lifts and stretches our love for one another since it is God’s love that is communicated to us. We love because He first loved us and gave His Son. We love because Christ loved us even to die for us while we were still wallowing in the mire of sin.
As every gift and talent is sharpened by practice so is love. We are to practice love both consciously and unconsciously because it is our new nature to love. In this verse we are told what loves does to others – it covers a multitude of sins. Remember that love does not delight in evil. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1Cor.13:6-8). This is to say that you do not have love for a person if you take pleasure in finding and exposing their faults and sins with a purpose of ridiculing them. Unless by love one is willing to forgive up to the umpteenth time then there is no love. Love and forgiveness are twin-sisters because love does not keep a record of offenses but freely forgives every time forgiveness is sought because we have been forgiven a bigger debt. We are to be willing to forgive those who slander us and eat with them. We are to be willing to fellowship with those who have wronged us and cultivate greater and meaningful fellowship because it is not our feelings or emotions that guide us – it is Christ’s principles in His Word. Since we are walking by faith and not by sight, we are to show that we belong to Christ by being as gracious as Christ has been gracious to us - although we can’t we are to try.
The other way of making sure we love is service to our fellow men. This is what follows in the following verses that we will consider next. But still I can say now that love is not theoretical – it is practical and is manifested in our service to others. Christ took the towel and the basin to show the love we are to have – not one that pay lip service but one that serves others, even when they are as unwilling to be served as Peter.
How are we to serve others?
We are to serve them in the manner that the Lord has blessed us. What the Lord has given us is what we are to give. We are to extend the same hand our Lord and Master has extended to them. We can be of great service to Christ by being used as His instruments. We are therefore to love by giving. Giving advice and counsel to others. Especially rebuke and correction is so lacking in the Christian circles today, because we are also being affected by post-modernism. We are not to see a brother commit sin and behave as if we did not see. That is hypocrisy and is lack of concern for the other brother. We are to admonish one another (Romans 15:14).
Love seeks to deliver its object from ignorance, error, sin and sorrow and seeks to make its object to fully enjoy the salvation that is in Christ. We are to constantly ask ourselves how have I shown love to my fellow in helping him come out of this or the other sin? You are told by the Apostle of  love that if you see your brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life (1John 5:16). Please do not turn your head away when you see your brother in error on in sin but instead love him by seeking his welfare through pointing out sin to him that he would not be condemned in sin but have life.
You know your brother who has not been grounded on truth, it is your responsibility to seek to deliver him from the ignorance. Explain the Scripture passage to him. Seek every opportunity to share the Word of God, the pure spiritual milk so that your brother may grow thereby. Sometimes you are unable for one reason or another to share a particular passage, then get a book that would be profitable and give out.
Ask yourself, how have I helped my sister in Christ to trust in the Lord more, to enjoy her salvation more deeply and to walk with the Lord more closely? Have shown her how Christ is precious? Have I been helpful in pointing out the promises of the Lord? Let us remember that our enemy the devil prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. Therefore, we are to everything possible to protect them from the devil and the evil world using spiritual means and the full armour of God, which are mighty in pulling down strongholds.  How good and pleasant it is when brethren live together in harmony and unity. It is God honouring because God Himself commands a blessing there.

Friday, July 15, 2011

THOSE APPOINTED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVE


THOSE APPOINTED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVE

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. (Acts 13:48-49)

How many times have you heard the gospel preached? How many times did you hear the gospel preached before you believed and was saved? Is it the hundredth or the thousandth sermon? What impact has the preaching of the gospel produced in your life? Whenever the gospel is preached, the people who hear it respond in two ways – there are those who reject and keep on rejecting it until their death and this is to their own damnation. And yet there are others who hear the preaching of the gospel and believe and so they are saved. All the others are a variation of these two basic responses. Therefore, after I have preached this sermon there will be two responses from you, either you will believe and so it will be profitable for you or you will disregard it. Through the centuries that the gospel message has been preached, these have been the two basic reactions.

1.    There are those who believe
There are people who respond positively to the message of the gospel and are therefore saved. They accept the truths of the Bible and so the Lord draws them to Himself to give them some more truth.so far we have witnessed a good number of people believing the gospel message and are added to the number of the church.
So may we consider this message to be found in Acts 13 and find out why people respond like this. We  are considering the conversions found in this book. So you ask me, pastor is it say that there is no conversion in chapter 12? Yes, there is a conversion in the twelfth chapter because we read in verse 24 that ‘the word of God increased and multiplied.’ This is a reference to the Word of God bearing fruit and producing conversions. These believed the Word of God and so it had lasting effects on them. So we are as well considering the events leading to this momentous event where the Word of God is multiplying converts.
In chapter 13 we are in the church in Antioch, a church that is increasingly becoming the centre of Christendom as we found out last week. And here Luke seek to answer the question of how the church became catholic. You realize that although a number of Gentiles have been saved until now – the Ethiopian Eunuch and Roman Centurion, Cornelius, still Christianity then was very Jewish. Therefore, there was a need to change the old order completely. There was a dire need to have a new wineskin for the new wine. It is for this reason we are back to the church in Antioch because looking at their members we can see the sort of Faith they had and the resulting church that we would call catholic.
By catholic, I mean a church that universally evangelizes to accept anyone without distinction. That is, - it is universal without being Universalistic. There are those who believe that Christ died for everyone and so everyone without exception will be saved – these are the Universalists. We are instead looking forward to a church that evangelizes to everyone without any discrimination or bias – this is a catholic church.
Therefore, we are told that there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers. This means that there were those who received new revelations from God as part of the Scripture and those who taught this truth, applying it to the lives of people as I am doing now and there are those who received the new revelation as well as taught it like Paul.
However, what is the background of these people in order to prove that the Antioch church was very fast becoming catholic. Some of the leading members of the church were , Barnabas, who was a  Jew, and a Levite from Cyprus). Simeon who was called Niger (he was Black from Africa). Lucius of Cyrene  who was from North Africa. Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch. So he was a  foster brother of Herod who had beheaded John the Baptist. He was a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch. And  Saul, a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin named after the first king of Israel. As you can well see, there was such a mixture in the church and all these brethren belonged to the same body of Christ in Antioch.
Moreover, The church started in Jerusalem and went on to different regions. (Acts 13:1). They reached to their locality and to the uttermost parts of the earth as we are all called. So apart from gathering people from all sorts of background, the church was also extending to different parts through the preaching of the gospel. The Antichian church was a very missional church and now they were on a time of prayer and fasting seeking the guidance of the Lord in as far as the spreading of the gospel was  concerned and the Lord told them to set apart Saul (a Jewish name) also called Paul in Greek and Barnabbas apart. You realize that it was now convenient for Paul to use his Greek name because he was in the area where it was Greek spoken.
The church in Antioch took seriously the Great Commission that they took time to pray and fast for God’s guidance. And when God gave them the guidance they acted promptly and sent out Paul and Barnabas and by doing this the Holy Spirit sent them. Is it amazing that when it was the Holy Spirit sending when they were commissioned by the church?
They sent out the duo to preach who travelled far and wide and God gave them opportunities of ministry in different parts. And the Lord gave them had the opportunity to preach to a leading Roman proconsul called Sergius Paulus, a very intelligent man. The Roman proconsuls were officers invested with consular power over a district outside the city, usually for one year. Originally they were retiring consuls, but after Augustus the title was given to governors of senatorial provinces, whether they had held the office of consul or not. The proconsul exercised judicial as well as military power in his province, and his authority was absolute, except as he might be held accountable at the expiration of his office.
After much opposition from Jew called Bar-Jesus, who was a false prophet, sought to take Sergius away from the faith. However, Paul by the power of the Lord pronounced a judgment of blindness on him. This was to stop him from interfering with the work of the Holy Spirit and in effect the proconsul believed, both because of the teaching of the gospel and the power that worked to cause blindness on this magician. 
Then they proceeded with the journey and at place called Perga in Pamhylia, which is now in modern Turkey, John Mark, Barnabas’ cousin (Col.4:10) whom they had brought from Jerusalem decided to leave them for his own selfish interest. So that later Paul was so opposed to going with Mark that the two missionaries parted ways as we will find out in chapter 15.  Then the Lord sent them to another place called Antioch toward Pisidia, just like their home church and had an opportunity to preach one of Paul’s most elaborate sermon.
Would you notice and compare Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 with Paul’s preaching in chapter 13 and you will draw a lot of parallels between the two sermons:
·         Both gave a quick summary of the history of Israel showing that God chose them to be His covenant people.
·         They both gave special focus to God’s covenant with David and his house leading to Jesus who was descended from him as the Messiah in fulfilment of the promise.
·         They both show that the coming of Christ was in fulfilment of the prophets. They both emphasis the life of Jesus on earth, His death and burial and the fact that He did not decay in accordance to the Scriptures.
·         They both preach from the Old Testament referring to the Psalms with Paul even identifying the second Psalm in 13:33.
The crown is their great claim with Peter saying,
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know-- this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. For David says concerning him, "'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; (Act 2:22-23,25)
The preaching made the Gentiles to see some hope at the end of the tunnel so that they begged for more and they stayed long enough to preach in the synagogue the following week when there was such a big crowd that Luke used an overstatement that the whole city was gathered to hear him preach! As a result, they Jews rejected the gospel while the Gentiles believed.

Why is it that some believed?

The answer is provided in verse 48, where we read that, “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”People do not believe because they decide or chose. A person believes for the reason given in this verse, that God in the eternity past chose for Himself a people for salvation. This is what Paul Himself wrote in Ephesians, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love” (Eph 1:3-4).
They were those that the Father gave to the Son to atone for as Christ Himself puts it in John 6:37,39,-44 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” There is only one reason why people who are so sinful and by nature opposed to God would believe, it is because they were appointed to eternal life. No one can come to trust in Christ except the Father draws him to come to Christ. Look at the way the Apostle of the Lord, Peter says, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1Pet 1:1-2).
No one can benefit from the atoning work of Christ who has been the elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and no one who has believed in Christ who is not sanctified by the Holy Spirit so as so to obey the Word of God. “Therefore, those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified. (Rom 8:29-30)
The very same group of people whom God foreknew are  very same ones who He predestined. Then at the right time in their lives, God by His Spirit and His church sent a preacher who brought the gospel invitation to the sinner and then the sinner believed to as to be justified and so await glorification. Is it not amazing that those who are called by God and have believed the gospel message are as good as in heaven? It is God who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, (2Tim 1:9).
You notice the passive voice used in the heading as drawn from verse 48. This implies that God is the agent, for He is the only One who is able to grant eternal life (Matt. 25:46; John 10:28; 17:2). In the Greek, the form ‘were ordained’ is a passive participle in the perfect tense. The perfect tense denotes action that took place in the past but is relevant for the present. In the past, God predestined the salvation of the Gentiles. He also ordained and determined the particular persons who were to believe. Clearly they would only come to the eternal life when they put faith in Christ.
So when the Gentiles who were in Pisidian Antioch believed in Christ Jesus they successfully appropriated blessing of eternal life for themselves. This clearly illustrates the two sides of the same coin: God’s electing love and man’s responsibility to believe in Christ. This is what we read repeatedly in the Bible as already pointed out in John, those who are drawn by the Father must come to Christ:
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
(John 6:37, 39, 44)
 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed,…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil.  2:12-13)

2.   There are those who reject the gospel
Throughout the Bible, we see those who reject the gospel some silently and others so strongly that they result to violence against those who identify with Christ. Chapter 12 takes us back to Jerusalem where the apostles are gathered and overseeing the Work of their Master taking place all over Palestine from a central place. Then Herod the Roman proxy king, so opposed to Christ, His people and His message, started killing the disciples starting with one of the leading apostle called James. After beheading James son of Zebedee, to the amusement of the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter as well to excite the Jewish party further. However, the Lord comes in answer to the prayers of the church in Jerusalem, and delivered Peter by His angel frustrating Herod’s wicked plans so that he finally murdered his owns pawns! Then an incidental event occurred among the people of Tyre and Sidon. Because they depended on the king for food, they did not want his displeasure and so they sent a delegation to Herod. When they got an audience with him, they praise him so much that he took the position of God, seeking glory for his own. The result was that the Lord killed. This is a warning for us not to ever make an attempt to seek to take from God His glory. So Herod died and worms ate him. This made the people to fear and so then we read that the Word increased and multiplied.
The Jews are again brought into the picture in chapter 13 we are introduced to Bar-Jesus who claimed to have a direct connection with God! He was a false prophet and this is evidenced by the fact that he was opposed to Proconsul Sergius Paulus believing. These are the people that Paul describes as those who oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. (2Tim. 3:8). These are evil people and impostors who will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2Tim. 3:13). Sadly they do not want to down to hell themselves, they want to draw others to the pit of mire with them. Thankfully, the Lord is powerfully faithful that for those He has appointed to eternal life, those who have believed, no one is able to pluck from His hand as He has said.
The Jews rejected the gospel when they heard the gospel message from Paul. No matter how much Paul reasoned with them they would not listen. He pointed to the Scriptures that they well knew:
“we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this He has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, "'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.' (Act 13:32-33). Second Psalm was a well known to every Jew. They sang it and loved to talk about the coming Messiah and all looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. Sadly they had a mental messiah that they wanted, not the One the Lord God had promised. They knew that He was going to be a descendant of David and Paul proved to them. So, why is that that they would not believe when the Old Testament Scriptures were so clear?

Why is it that they would not believe?

Could it be that they had not heard the gospel? NO! They had heard it well preached by the master-expositor, Paul of Tarsus intelligent and learned, an Apostle by all means. And Paul Himself preached nothing but the gospel, as He says in verse 32. But they had not been appointed to eternal life. This is why Paul cries out to them in saying that,
I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, (Rom 9:2-6)
They had all the blessings and privileges of redemption – adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, the promises, the patriarchs and Christ Himself! Yet because these ones here were not appointed to eternal life could not believe. The truth is that not every Jew was elected as Paul says in verse six that not all who are descended to Israel belong to Israel – because the true Israel are the elect, those who will be glorified and sit to fellowship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit forever who are the true of God.
Would you notice then that no one is saved because of circumstantial privileges and blessings? I do not read anywhere in the bible of a son who was saved because of the Father’s faith. This is why I do not understand where our Presbyterian brethren get the idea that children of believers are counted as believers and so members of the church automatically. John Calvin himself says that there is such a thing as the children of the church in his commentary on Acts in chapter 8 trying to justify the paedo-baptism.
You cannot be saved because your parents are believers for you cannot depend on another person’s faith, no matter how strong their faith might be for your salvation. Asaph cannot depend on my faith. Your daughter cannot depend on your faith for salvation. In effect, we are to pray that the Lord might be pleased to save our children. We are to pray that they might be interested in hearing the gospel preached to them. We are to bring the younger ones to the church and for the older one’s encourage them to come and also pray for them have interest and love coming to church.

Why is it that this gospel message is true and we ought to love it?

It is because as I have pointed out it what the whole Bible teaches. Throughout the Bible you will find that people were saved because the Lord chose to save them when He did because in the eternity past He appointed them for eternal life. The work of salvation is only outworked where the Lord has already been. The dry bones that the Lord told Ezekiel to prophesy to came to life because the Spirit of the Lord was at work. Lydia as will find out, believed because the Lord opened her heart to believe. It is because the Lord planned our salvation that we at some point in our lives we are drawn to it.
It is because then salvation will be wholly of the Lord as Jonah learnt bitterly while in the belly of the fish that God will be praised. David says this same thing in the third Psalm. In effect, all glory will be given to God. If we are to give God His credit in wholly saving us then we will more delight in Him and seek to honor Him by being obedient to Him, by listening to Him and by seeking to lead others to Him.
It is because then evangelism will be meaningful and fruitful. How could we go to preach when we do not whether there are those who will ever believe. The sovereign choice of the Lord in appointing men for salvation does not leave them with orange luminous line so that you would know that the guy over there has been chosen by God for eternal life. If that were so then we would not have reasons to evangelize. So please come on Saturday at 2pm for evangelism if this is so true to you!
It is because the lives of our children, our spouses, brothers and sisters as well as relatives, friends and colleagues are at stake and we are supposed to love them. For example, There is no true Christian who will ignore a person at the verge of death when he is able to do something to save that life by taking the injured person to the hospital or calling an ambulance. If this is true of doing something to save this life that will die anyway, how much more should we be willing to give to the life that has no end?
When we acknowledge that we did not save ourselves nor can we save others, then we would be more earnest in seeking the Lord to save others. This desperation will lead us to be more earnest and zealous both to evangelize and to pray. Because the same God who is the Saviour has appointed means, in which He will save. He has given us instructions on our responsibility for our own salvation as well as salvation of others.