We now find ourselves nearly one-fourth of the way through 2021, and as we can look around, we see that not much has changed from the previous year. Many continue to be without work, children are in some cases do not have access to a meaningful education, and people are uncertain about what this year will hold for them. Will they find security and happiness? Will their lives go back to “normal”? We have a new administration who has promised to bring things into control. However, the US political parties continue to be at odds concerning what should be done to improve our economy, and daily way of life. Even the transition of power was marked with fear, violence, and a lack of respect for our fellowman.
The pandemic rages on! However, we are given hope that things will get better. Several vaccines have been approved to combat COVID-19 which are proving to be effective, and increased efforts are being made to get the vaccine out to all who desire it. Patience for many of us has been at a breaking point. Fear, doubt, and discouragement permeates our society. It is so important during these exceedingly difficult times to go to the scriptures which are the word of God. Through his word, we can be provided with hope, comfort, and encouragement.
We may ask the question, how much should I be doing to live a life that that would be in accord with my Heavenly Father’s will for me? It would seem to be especially important for each of us to take an honest appraisal of ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5, NASB). This would lead us to conclude that as members of the fallen and sinful race of mankind, we have nothing of virtue or character by which we could be acceptable to God through our own righteousness. From God’s perspective, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) We read in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Therefore, our only hope of coming back into harmony with and acceptance by God is through His grace in providing the way by which He could be just and still be the Justifier of those who come to Him through Christ. (Romans 3:26) Salvation and all the divine blessings can be ours, because of the Heavenly Father’s love in giving His Son to be our Redeemer.—Ephesians 2:8
The value of God’s provided salvation is appreciated most by those who, grasping their own fallen condition, realize their great need for it. (Psalm 34:18) Those who come to Him through Jesus as their redeemer in simple faith and full devotion, do not only enjoy peace with God through His divine favor, but have access to the inner chambers of His grace, and there rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1,2) This “great salvation,” the apostle explains, began to be spoken by our Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him. (Hebrews 2:3) This wonderful gift of God’s love is demonstrated to us in the scripture: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16
What a wonderful expression of love personified. To realize that the grand architect of the universe desired to provide his son as a means to lift mankind out of the curse of sin and death because of his great love, is truly a blessed thing to contemplate. (Genesis 3:15) The type of love that prompted man’s redemption was not phileo or brotherly love, but it was a demonstration of agape, or charity, a benevolent type of love. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) This brief description of why the Heavenly Father provided the blessing which John described, certainly shows God’s sympathetic love for humanity.
This expression, ‘his only begotten Son,’ refers to our Lord from the very beginning of his existence. He was the only begotten Son or direct creation of God. All other things were made by our Lord in his pre-human existence. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth.” (Colossians 1:16) Then, “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.” (Galatians 4:4 NASB) “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) At thirty years of age, he consecrated his life to God and was baptized by John the Baptist. “And straightway coming out of the water, he [John] saw the heavens opened, and the spirit like a dove descending upon him. And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:10, 11) Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit and following his death on the cross, he was resurrected to the spirit nature. During this entire time, he was the only begotten Son of God.
The entire message of God’s plan for man’s salvation is contained in God’s holy word, the Bible. In summary, it includes man’s need for redemption due to the curse of sin and death; God’s love is declared and then is proven by the gift of his Son; our Lord’s willing cooperation is evidenced; the lengths and breadths of his love and redemption are declared to include the whole world of mankind (Ephesians 3:18,19); and the blessings can only be obtained through an acceptance of Christ. Look at Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6; Colossians 1:15-20) From these verses we see that only through the “ransom,” imputing the merit of the blood of Jesus who died on the cross, to sinners, could they be made acceptable to the Father or be received back again into fellowship with him. (I Timothy 2:6) “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (II Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 2:11-18) This refers to ‘atonement’ for sin, as is expressed to us in Romans 5:11, “And not so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
In due time, recovering from the death penalty through faith in Christ and obedience to him, mankind will have the opportunity for ‘everlasting life’ on a restored perfect earth. There will be a promised awakening from death for those who have died. “The hour is coming, … when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God; and they that hear shall live.”—John 5:25; I Corinthians 15:12-25
His kingdom will be an everlasting one. There will be no more pandemics, sickness, sorrow, weeping, poverty, hunger, hatred, wars, or death. We have this promised to us by the sure word of God. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Isaiah 11:9 adds, “They shalt not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain (kingdom): for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” What a glorious prospect! “For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”—II Peter 1:11
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