2000-02-17 - Disobedience & Grace
Rom 11:28-32 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. 32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. (NIV)
Most of us try to win big things, or complete major projects one piece at a time. We think in stages and steps that are needed to accomplish a task. If we try to do too much all at once, those plans often come crashing down like a house of cards. I used to play some pool. Learning to set up the next shot with the position of the cue ball was important. Learning to think three or four shots ahead was next. Once I had begun to work at that level, my play improved dramatically.
But what we see here is not shot after shot being made. The balls are being struck and moved around on the table for one final shot that will sink them all. The moves are being calculated against an opponent who is trying to unravel all of Creation to usurp control of it from the Champion.
God, as the Champion, has even placed His favorite target for blessing off to the side and allowed it to appear to be out of favor, in order to bring other targets into position. If the Jewish nation had recognized Jesus as their Messiah, we gentiles would have lost out on the opportunity for the gospel to be spread through the Roman Empire to the world. But God in His infinite mercy and grace used Israel as the channel through which the Lamb of God would be sacrificed to satisfy the sin debt of humanity, once and for all time. Because He did not let them see Who He was, Paul and his contemporaries turned the world upside down with the greatest news mankind had ever known.
The good news proclaimed was that God had paid the debt we could never have paid, and He had opened the doorway home to Heaven. Their is a toll at the doorway - it will cost you your life. But since you can not keep your life eternally, and you are gaining eternal life in exchange for the price of the toll, it seems to be very much in your favor. You gain what you can not lose, in exchange for what you can not keep. What does God gain? He gains fellowship with us and worship from us for all eternity.
One day, the final shot will be made. Indeed, the cue ball could be rolling as we speak. The Lord will separate the sheep of His pasture from the goats, in the blink of an eye. Those who have humbled themselves, who have willingly turned over their hearts to the light of His love and grace, will be swept from the stage. None of us would have even considered this kind of strategy, but it is the only way to make it work. Israel had to refuse their Messiah, to allow the rest of the world to have the opportunity to know Jesus as Savior. The pain of being refused by the apple of His eye must have been difficult to bear. But no less painful than coming to earth knowing that, in order to save His bride, the church, Jesus would have to be beaten and crucified as a common criminal. Until His last breath, He could have called all of Heaven's angels to save Him from the pain and the unknown of separation from the Father. It was His unfathomable love for us that gave the Lord the courage to drink that cup to the dregs at the bottom.
Rom 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" 35 "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (NIV)
And so the next time you stumble and fall, know that God can use that seeming complete failure to complete His plans. In your sin, He will teach you a little more of His love, mercy and grace, and renew the peace in your heart and mind that is yours as His child. Israel stumbled, Peter stumbled, all the disciples fled save the women and John. If these things did not happen, the gospel would not have gone out to the gentile world and we might not have our opportunity for salvation. Jesus used that fear and those moments of disobedience to His call, to move the pieces into place to open the way of salvation for all of humanity.
Curious as to how you can learn more about this open door and the free gift that is yours for the asking? Just write us. We'd love to answer any questions you have.
Lord Jesus - while we may stumble and fall, You knew beforehand it would happen. You use even our foolish, headstrong moments to teach us and accomplish Your plans. Thank You for Your grace that covers even our willful moments - and Your forgiveness that comes simply by asking from the heart. Amen.
Grace & Peace,