By Dan Richardson
Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014
Email Dan Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy (2 Chronicles 36:15-16).”
It seemed to happen overnight. As soon as the righteous king Josiah died, the people chose other kings who did evil in the sight of the LORD. Why a sudden shift in devotion? The reforms under Josiah’s reign were short-lived because they were initiated from the top.
Reform from the top rarely produces lasting results. While good government will legislate morality (it punishes thieves and murderers), it is unable to change hearts.
We know the human will can experience lasting change because many people have experienced it. While we can’t see the actual change of heart, we certainly notice its effects.
Change happens when one stops mocking and starts listening. Does the message of Christ bother you? If it does, it is working. It says, “you are a law breaker and you can’t save yourself.” That is an offensive message for sure. But the more important question is, “Is it true?”
Jesus said if you show unjust anger towards someone, you committed murder of the heart. He goes beyond our outward actions into the depths of our thoughts. If you have unlawful sexual desire, you are guilty of adultery of the heart. If you ever had a day where you forgot to worship the LORD, you committed idolatry by making something else the center of your focus and devotion (Matthew 5).
Those views are not mine. When I read the news, I hear of fine men and women working together to make the world better. But my view is different than Jesus’ view. He sees things different because He is different. Good deeds don’t erase bad ones (Galatians 2:16).
The most beautiful words recorded could be those spoken by Jesus on the cross. There He hung, bleeding from the lashes and nails.
Onlookers mocked Him. What does He say? He looks at them and prays, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:24).” The Father answered.
Instead of giving them what they deserved, the LORD allowed them to live long enough to hear of the resurrection and the Gospel, and agree with the Roman centurion, “Surely this was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54).”
Saving love covers a multitude of sins when it is received through the message of the Gospel. Yet, when one refuses to listen and even despises the message, the only remedy is a change of heart.
The word of the Gospel offends because it is at war with our sin. Thankfully, it is powerful enough to change a stubborn heart. The Gospel is the remedy for those who receive it.
Godly Heritage Quote of the Week
“Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia.”
—Mayflower Compact, 1620 (source: www.britannica.com).