|From the Pastors Desk||From the Pastors Desk|
|Redemption||Looking to Eternal Rewards||Lesson 4|
Manchaca Bible Fellowship
|30 May 2004||Bible Lessons
This is Memorial Day weekend. A time when we should remember those who have provided or assured our freedom by giving their lives whether by dying or by living.
There are rows and rows of white crosses, all over this country and the world, in remembrance of those who have fought for our freedom and many of those have given the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live and enjoy our present lifestyle.
A few weeks ago, a young man (well young to me, in his mid thirties) came to the "Y" to swim, while I was there. As a matter of fact, he came for about three weeks before I had the chance to talk to him.
There are a lot of people who come to the "Y" to swim, BUT this fellow really came to swim. Lap after lap, then he would stop only long enough to turn a page of a book that was in a zip-lock bag lying at the end of pool. The book was an armed forces manual entitled "Personal Coach for Endurance Training".
After a little more than an hour of that type of intense activity, he stopped for a moment to rest. When I got to the end of the pool where he was resting, I said to him, "You do quite a work-out, are you training for something?" He said, "Yes, I'm planning to go back to Iraq in a Special Forces unit."
Come to find out, he had returned from Iraq and was discharged only a few months before. When I ask him why he was going back, he responded with..,
"There are some things I can do and do well, and those things are needed for the war. My wife and I talked it over, and the only conclusion we could come to was that I must go back, for the good of my country and for the protection of my little 3 year old girl."
I praised him for his dedication and thanked for going in my place. I also ask if he had ever thought of entering politics, because we could use a few people in that field who know how to serve.
In our conversation, I ask, "If you are going back to Iraq, why are you spending so much time in this intense swimming? It seems to me you should be training in the art of sand castles."
He said, "If I'm chosen for the unit, it will require endurance beyond that of the average fighting solider. There are only a few positions in this unit available, and I will be competing against a bunch of 18 & 20 year olds. If I am going to beat out those young bucks, I will have to work 4 times as hard."
With men of that quality
Wow! It's just a war. I mean, what does it take to have a war. After all, if you can learn to take 50 mile marches at midnight, eat army food, take a shower once a month and shoot the enemy before they shoot you, that's about all that there, is isn't it?
That might be the opinion you would gain by listening to mealy mouthed politicians or empty headed newscasters. However, to gain and protect our freedom requires far more than you will hear on a 15 second "sound bite" on the evening news.
In like manner, our freedom from the slavery of sin takes a lot more than raising your hand or signing a card. No, our freedom or redemption started long before God created the worlds, continues today, day in and day out and is called a war and will reach even into eternity future.
Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;
1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are (present tense) in God.
Revelation 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
It is this age long war against oppression of, domination by and slavery to sin that is the subject of our present study. We are looking at this time-long battle under the general title of "Redemption", or God's remedy for slavery from sin
God did not create mankind as slaves to sin or anything else. God formed the human body from the dust of the earth. God gave that earth bound body wonderful qualities beyond any other created thing of this earth. God also placed within that body something that no other created thing had, whether in heaven or earth.
God placed a life in the body that was unique, it was the very breath of God. For our study, we will call that God-breathed life a soul. Within that God given soul there was the ability to choose its own destiny, we refer to this quality as "volition".
As we know from Scripture, the first humans chose to go with Satan's plan rather than God's plan. Therefore, they no longer had the ability to fellowship with God directly.
At that moment, they died Spiritually and became totally depraved of any Spiritual quality. Man's nature was now "set", and it was totally human, and every action or thought from that moment on was less than divine.
Therefore, every one of these non-divine actions or thoughts brought greater and greater slavery to sin, and its consequences.
If humans were to ever have any hope of a Spiritual relationship with God, every sin, action or thought, had to be atoned, and the consequence had to be fully paid. Humanity was, from that point on, totally deprived of any Spiritual quality. Therefore, no human can atone for even one sin. If a person attempts to atone for one of their sins, they simply are sinning again, even in the attempt.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Every person born into this world, comes into this life as a human, void of any Spiritual ability. Plus, their every action is less than divine and adds to the ever increasing "pile" of sins that must be atoned.
This situation, like the war, is more than complicated. I have tried to think of and have looked for an illustration that would at least demonstrate the format of this God instituted redemption. Then with the format in mind, we would have a reference point, as we examine the intricate details of this eternal plan.
Those who have been at MBF for a while know I fear illustrations like a tornado. To often, we remember the illustration, and totally miss the truth that was supposed to be illuminated by the illustration. God provided, for us, illustration after illustration of Redemption in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
Some time ago, I ran across an illustration that makes a good format for Biblical redemption. I set out to edit the illustration and condense it, but in spite of my best intentions, the more I tried to edit, the less effective the illustration became.
Therefore, I have left the illustration as I found it, with only minor changes here and there. This illustration is true, recent and comes from real life. The person who provided this illustration was a 17 year old fellow.
Procrastinating as usual, 17-year-old Brian Moore had only a short time to write something for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting. It was his turn to lead the discussion. So he sat down and wrote. He showed the essay titled "The Room" to his mother, Beth, before he headed out the door. "I wowed 'em," he later told his father Bruce. "It's a killer. It's the bomb. It's the best thing I ever wrote."
It was also the last.
Brian's parents had forgotten about the essay when a cousin found it while cleaning out the teenager's locker at Teays Valley High School.
Brian had been dead only hours, but his parents desperately wanted every piece of his life near them - the crepe paper that had adorned his locker during his senior football season, notes from classmates and teachers, his homework... whatever.
Only two months before, he had handwritten the essay about encountering Jesus in a file room full of cards detailing every moment of his life. But it was only after Brian's death that Beth and Bruce Moore realized that their son had described his view of heaven. "It makes such an impact that people want to share it. You feel like you are there," Mr. Moore said.
Brian Moore died May 27, 1997 - the day after Memorial Day. He was driving home from a friend's house when his car went off Bulen-Pierce Road in Pickaway County and struck a utility pole. He emerged from the wreck unharmed but stepped on a downed power line and was electrocuted.
Brian seemed to excel at everything he did. He was an honor student. "He told his parents he loved them a hundred times a day," Mrs. Moore said. He was a star wide receiver for the Teays Valley football team and had earned a four-year scholarship to Capital University in Columbus because of his athletic and academic abilities.
He took it upon himself to learn how to help a fellow student who used a wheelchair at school. During one homecoming ceremony, Brian walked on his tiptoes so the girl he was escorting wouldn't be embarrassed about being taller than him.
He adored his kid brother, Bruce, now 14. He often escorted his grandmother, Evelyn Moore, who lives in Columbus to church. "I always called him the deep thinker," Evelyn Moore said of her eldest grandson.
Two years after his death, his family still struggles to understand why Brian was taken from them. They find comfort at the cemetery where Brian is buried, just a few blocks from their home. They visit daily. A candle and dozens of silk and real flowers keep vigil over the grave site.
The Moores framed a copy of Brian's essay and hung it among the family portraits in the living room. "I think God used him to make a point. I think we were meant to find it and make something out of it," Mrs. Moore said of the essay. She and her husband want to share their son's vision of life after death. "I'm happy for Brian. I know he's in heaven. I know I'll see him again someday," Mrs. Moore said. "I just hurt so bad now."
THE ROOM by Brian Keith Moore Copyright 1999 Gibson Productions Used by permission
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files stretched from floor to ceiling, from right to left as far as the eye could see, and had very different headings.
As I walked up to the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read, "People I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then, without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my entire life. The actions of my every moment, big and small, were written in details my memory couldn't match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity, mixed with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their contents. Some brought joy and sweet memories, others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.
A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed." The titles ranged from common, everyday things to the not-so-common, like - - -"Books I Have Read", "Lies I Have Told", "Comfort I Have Given", "Jokes I Have Laughed At".
Some of those were almost hilarious in their exactness such as "Things I Have Yelled At My Brothers And Sisters." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done In Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath At My Parents". I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.
Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I had hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had time in my 17 years to write each of these thousands or millions of cards? But each card confirmed the truth. Each card was written in my own handwriting. Each card was signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To", I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it! I shamed it shut!! Not so much because of the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.
When I came to the file marked "Lustful Thoughts", I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think such a moment had been recorded. A feeling of humiliation and anger ran through my body.
One thought dominated my mind:
In an insane frenzy, I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took the file drawer at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card.
I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.
That was when I saw it. The file bore "People I Have Shared The Gospel With". The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than 3 inches long fell into my hands.
I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all.
The rows and rows of files
Then as I looked up through my tears, I saw Him enter the room. No, please, not Him! Not here! Anyone but Jesus.
I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. The few times I looked at His face I saw such sadness that it tore at my heart. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?
Finally, He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me.
I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put his arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.
Then, He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file, and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.
His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written in blood.
He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards again. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant, it seemed, I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side.
He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on the door. There are still more cards to be written...
Brian didn't have much more lifetime to write those "cards", BUT you and I are still writing our "cards". What do your "cards" say? What will Jesus read on your "card"?
Any one of those "cards" would contain sin enough to send us to a Christless eternity in the Lake of Fire for all of Eternity. That's NOT because God enjoys handing out punishment. The punishment problem is true because it is the law of creation, AND there is where God's redemptive program comes in.
1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness - by whose stripes you were healed.
Hebrews 10:28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well-known to God, and I also trust are well-known in your consciences.
|© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2004|