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  • From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove

What does God say about the heart of the matter?

The whole Bible points to the fact that God wants a family to live with for all eternity, Eph 1:5, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” He is looking for volunteers, Jn 3:16, “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.” He doesn’t want just any family; He wants a family that loves each other with the same kind of love He has already demonstrated to us, Jn 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” But, no one can be forced to love another person. Love has to be freely given and therein lays the key to the problems we live with every day. For a person to be able to love freely, they have to have the choice to either love or walk away. So, God is not creating His family; He has created us and is allowing each of us the choice of loving Him, by accepting Jesus as our savior, thus becoming part of His family, Matt 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Loving Him means we want to keep His commandments, 1 Jn 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” And, we don’t feel they are oppressive, but instead, they bring us His peace and joy.

Free choice gave us the opportunity to sin and we all have, Rom 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” which means we are not able to come into the presence of our perfect God without fearing for our lives, Ex 20:19, “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” We fear being in His presence because we feel naked in our sins, Gen 3:11, “And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” We already know God is the most righteous, Job 4:17, “Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?” And, so, we need a savior to remove our sins before we can boldly go before our God, 1 Jn 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is why God showed His love for us by sending Jesus, our savior, to remove our sins, Rom 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t wait for us to figure out how to remove our sins, which is impossible. He freely offers to take them from any person who asks, Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Only our savior can remove our sins, giving us the joy of eternity with God. What do we have to do to be saved? Nothing, except accept Jesus as our savior, Rom 10:9-10, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” So, the heart of the matter seems to begin with our decision. We have to confess we have accepted Jesus as our savior. Why is this confession part of the process of receiving salvation? Our confession becomes a rather important decision point, one that brings home the seriousness of the decision we are about to make. This is the moment we are no longer willing to accept a lukewarm relationship with God because we know being lukewarm will not lead us to His family, Rev 3:16, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Our confession means we want to know what God wills for our lives and we want that for our lives. If we’re going to have a good relationship with our spouse, we need to talk to them, ask them questions, really care about what they say they like and dislike. Then, we need to demonstrate our love by responding to what we have learned. Our relationship with God is no different. His Word is filled with the answers to these two fundamental questions; what does God like and what does God dislike.

God wants humble people, who love Him, as He has loved us, 1 Jn 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” People who willingly choose to ponder the path they are walking. People who think about their lives and then respond by removing the things they know He dislikes, Prov 4:26-27, “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” God wants us to walk away from evil. When we wander, He wants us to feel something is wrong, and He wants us to correct it; this feeling of guilt is brought to us by the conscience He placed within us.

Our confession serves to light the fire within us and this fire makes others curious, leading some to read His Word and learn about the promise of an eternal life through Jesus, Jn 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” This illumination brings new life to the Old Testament, as we begin to see Jesus in every book. The once harsh and demanding words, which pummeled us as we tried to understand them, soften as we see the light of His testimony hidden in plain sight for all who are willing to see it, Matt 13:16-17, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Jesus is telling us how much the prophets would have loved seeing Jesus, as those who watched Him teach. We can’t look Him in the eye today, however, He left us His Words, and we will be without excuse if we choose to ignore their value, 2 Tim 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

All controversy regarding Christianity is vanity. These controversies are nothing more than our trying to prove we are smarter, smarter than other people, and ultimately, smarter than God. The true spirit of worship allows that none of us are perfect and none of us has complete knowledge of the mystery of Christ. So, when we have differing opinions on any topic in the Bible, we need to be willing to reason, first with God and then with each other. Reasoning means we genuinely want to find the truth, not prove we already know it. All reasoning needs to be done in a spirit of love, demonstrating our humble search for God’s truth.

The heart of the matter proves we have a choice. We are not slaves. God is love, 1 Jn 4:8, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” and He wants us all to love each other. Do we really need someone to tell us it is wrong to bully people, to steal from people, to make fun of people, to harm people? God wants one family, not people trying to divide themselves into groups to make themselves somehow special. We are all special in God’s eyes. It is amazing to see this world through God’s eyes; as He sees His children abusing others, while our God sheds a tear for both, Jn 11:35, “Jesus wept.” From the viewpoint of eternity, it is hard to know who is being harmed more, the abused or the abuser. Once we make the decision to love God, we can no longer abuse anyone. All we want to do is love everyone, the way our savior demonstrated His love for us, Lk 23:34, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” He did this while nearing death on the cross. Once we understand this, we can begin to forgive and love the way Jesus does. Jesus is the heart of the matter!

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