The Gospel is Near

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, August 25, 2015 0 comments

by Bill Seng

“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is the word of faith we are proclaiming.” ~Romans 10:8

Paul laments the lack of faith exemplified by the nation of Israel. They were the chosen people who were given the laws of God so that they would follow him whole-heartedly. He proclaimed to the Gentiles how they should have realized the simplicity of faith as God was in their midst. Was it a matter of God’s command that Israel departed from his ways, or did Israel have a change of heart? To answer this question, let us first ask the question, “How is anyone able to willfully follow God?”

It is a matter of whether God determines that someone will believe or if it is a free choice. We have already examined some very challenging passages regarding this topic, but why is it so important that we understand how people become children of God? After all, it doesn’t make us behave any differently, does it? I will let you ponder the latter question, but regarding why it is important, we are discussing the very nature of God. It is God’s nature that defines him and is therefore how we know who God is.

As discussed earlier, I am opposed to the notion that there is a strict predetermination regarding individuals inheriting eternal life. When I say a strict predetermination, I am referring to the choice already being made for you. It is not a matter of the fact that God knows who will and will not decide to follow him; he knows because he said so. The problem with this is not some emotional whim that this is not fair. If God is the Creator of all things, who are we to question whether or not he is fair? No, the bigger issue is concerning whether or not God predetermines everything. Did God predetermine that Adam and Eve would eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? If he did he is the author of sin, and we know that God is not the author of sin. He cannot be tempted, he does not tempt, he does not encourage sin, and he does not sin. These are all Scriptural characteristics of the God of the Bible.

But the other side of the argument is that mankind should be incapable of making the decision to trust God if sin corrupts human nature the way the Bible says it does. Before continuing this thought, let it be known that this is a very complicated subject and I reference you to my previous posts in the past few chapters of Romans to get a better idea of where I stand with this topic because I am going to skip over some of my reasoning and Scriptural references here. Mankind, in its sin-cursed state, is incapable of following God because it has been separated from him in a relational sense and does not know him as a result. What is left with mankind is the fruit of original sin, which is the knowledge of good and evil.

It is so interesting to think that the first sin that mankind would commit was one that would provide the road map to salvation. Had it been a sin to eat from the tree of life, mankind would have eternally lived without God and without any knowledge concerning what God’s goodness looks like or the devil’s wickedness. It would have been horrible.

Instead, God had left a law on the hearts of human beings that we call the knowledge of good and evil. How can a person willfully turn to God? If Genesis is true we all have an inherent knowledge of good and evil. God’s nature is good. When we experience goodness, true we can rebel against it but we cannot deny its reality. Likewise with evil. It takes a lot of effort to convince oneself that that which is good is evil and that which is evil is good. In the eyes of the believer such people are clearly deranged.

Through the life of Jesus Christ, all people can see God’s goodness, whether that was as an eyewitness or as a person who has read or heard the Gospel. Isaiah the prophet prophesied, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4). 1 John 3:16 states that we know what love is because “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” He set the standard of love and defined in real time what is good. How can one even just read the life of Jesus Christ and conclude anything but that he was a man of perfectly good character? And it is at the beginning of John’s Gospel that he makes it clear that anyone “who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Indeed, the word is near you just as it was the ancient Israelites. The Holy Spirit beckons to your soul and desires a relationship with you. Are you like one of the ancient Israelites, who instead decides to follow the gods of this world? Or do you battle against the seductive call of this present world that desires to consume and destroy you, because you clearly see the truth that has been made obvious to those who simply choose to acknowledge what God has already done?

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