In this verse the Lord lays out very clearly what’s our responsibility and what’s His. For starters, this relationship can’t happen until we have that “coming to Jesus moment”, a time when we finally stop, admit our sinfulness, repent, and turn back to Him. He says that at that moment He will restore, renew, and revive our old self into a new one that is worthy of carrying His Message to others. But there is also a warning in this verse, a caution to not allow compromise to creep into our message – however enticing it is – to merely win the approval of man. As Zechariah 3:7 tells us, we are to continually walk in His ways and keep His requirements…not what we think others want to hear.
Hope…there’s a big difference between what the Believer and non-Believer thinks about this word. For the non-Believer, it’s about wishing for something which may or may not occur. In contrast, to the Believer, hope is based on their faith of a living God with assurance to what He has promised in His Word. In addition, this eternal hope is found in their trust and confidence in God’s Son, Jesus Christ…their Lord and Savior.
God’s glory came to earth…His transcendent and infinite greatness, the sum of His perfection took the shape of a tiny baby born in Bethlehem. God’s peace came to earth…the gift of reconciliation with our Creator came to us in the form of the Gospel Message, the Good News of salvation. God’s favor came to earth…His Good Will was lavished on us while we were yet far from Him, His Good Pleasure not to see any lost. Isaiah best sums it up, “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
For some of us, we’ve had the experience of being spared from death. Maybe it was in a serious car accident, or a critical illness, or some other dire situation that happened. But what we do know is we should of died, but God instead showed us mercy. And when we look back with gratitude and thankfulness for what God did…we can start to appreciate the awesome power and sovereignty of our Lord. And as the writer of Psalm 56:13 declared, “For You have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”
We all have a past…those B.C. years (Before Christ) when we were far away from God. But for some, their “But when God” conversion is a radical encounter. Saul had a similar divine appointment on the road to Damascus when his idea of God was turned upside down. His radical conversion was a 180 degree turn from his past…showing that with God anything is possible, and that no one is beyond the reach of our Heavenly Father.
What does the Gospel mean to you? I’ve been thinking about this all week in preparation for a meeting this Sunday. To me, it boils down to Religion vs Relationship. It’s the difference between ceremony and connection, liturgy and linkage, ritual and relationship. For Religion is mostly man-made, piling on the things we can’t do…while a Relationship with Jesus Christ is about freedom. It’s about freedom from sin and death and freedom from the Law we can never keep. But the biggest difference between Religion and Relationship is this…Religion can’t save you. Only Jesus Christ who lived a perfectly sinless life has the ability to bring you into His glorious Kingdom and eternal life…it’s only through Jesus that you can make your way back to God.
God has the power to punish mankind…yet He refrains from doing so. Romans 2:4 tells us it’s the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience that stops Him from giving us what we deserve…quite simply, Hell and eternal separation from Him. His mercy and long-suffering are blessings we need to consider and seriously think about then, for God’s patience can last only so long…and sooner or later His judgement will come.