"There is no way I can ever repay you" are words commonly spoken when
a family member, a friend, or even a caring stranger, does us a kindness
of importance to us. Many are the kindnesses in life that we cannot
repay; so we merely seek to respond in kindness toward another in an attempt
demonstrate the gratitude we have for the kindness received. The Psalmist posed the question: "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me" (Psalms 116:112)? The obvious answer to this is; "We cannot repay him for our indebtedness is too great." We can, though, render unto him our loving service to demonstrate that our gratitude is sincere.
HE DID IT FIRST
It's too late for us to love him first, he has already done that (1 John 4:19). It's too late for us to serve him first, he's already done that (Matthew 20:28). It's too late for us to give our lives for him first, he's already done that (1 John 3:16). The apostle Paul wrote: "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).
The Son gave his life for us... each of us. The Bible directs us to focus on Jesus, "who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9). He lived a sinless life, then offered himself as a sin-offering for us. The innocent truly died for the guilty. The prophet Isaiah said it would happen: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:5-6). Jesus did not take our guilt. He did not become guilty of our sins in any way. He did take our punishment. This was permitted by the grace of God as a means of permitting God "to be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26). It has been said that "when God wanted to create, all he had to do was speak; but when he wanted to redeem, he had to bleed". This is true, and Jesus did it for us. Peter reminds us, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1Peter 1:18-19). This is the "price" Paul was speaking of when he wrote, "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1Corinthians 6:20).
The fact that it is too late for us to do these things first does not mean that it is too late for us to do them. The point is not made to discourage us, but to motivate us to respond in a positive way to kindnesses which we have received.
WHAT HAS HE DONE TO PROVE THAT HE CARES?
God the Father has proven it by sending His only begotten Son into the world. The passage that is called the "golden text" says, "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). When we consider the horror of death on the cross, and the love the Father has for the Son, the gift given takes on even greater meaning, which causes us to respond in the words of Paul, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15).
The Son temporarily gave up his home in heaven (John 17:5), and came to this earth to fulfill the Father's will in rescuing us from the certain doom of a sinful life. Jesus "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man" (Philippians 2:7). Jesus willingly surrendered what millions are striving to gain, a home in heaven! Paul wrote, "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2Corinthians 8:9). He was rich in glory (John 17:5), but he emptied himself of that, took upon him the flesh of man (John 1:14), and experienced the poverty of physical deprivation (Matthew 8:20) in order for us to experience the riches of spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). This is not the end of the story. The greatness of Jesus' sacrifice is even more marvelous than his willingness to serve, or even to live in poverty.
We do not want to leave this point without stressing, as strongly as we possibly can, that JESUS DIED FOR EACH AND EVERY PERSON THAT HAS EVER LIVED, IS LIVING, AND WILL EVER LIVE. The personal application of the death of Christ must be made, lest we fail to see and know what the Lord did for us as individuals. John wrote: "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1John 2:2). The apostle Paul saw himself as an example of the degree to which the grace of God will reach, and expressed it in 1 Timothy 1:15-16. He wrote: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting". Paul truly felt the personal application of the suffering of Christ. We should, too. He wrote to the churches in Galatia that "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
FURTHER INDICATIONS THAT HE CARES
The fact that the crucifixion took place nearly two thousand years ago, and we know about it today through the message of the Bible, is a strong indication of God's care for us. If his attitude was "Let's do it, and whoever can find out about it on their own can be saved" we would yet be without hope. But this didn't happen. The Bible has been preserved providentially for us so that the truth of what Jesus did would not be lost. This is the very nature of the word of God. Peter wrote: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1Peter 1:22-23). The author also declared, two verses later, that "the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word by which the gospel is preached unto you". Men have sought to destroy the Bible but have failed. God will not permit it to happen! Because he cares!
The establishment of the church which is the kingdom of God is another indication of the care that God has for us. In the church, we are able to know the joy and strength of a family relationship (Mark 10:30) and the protection of heavenly citizenship. Paul wrote: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25). The church is made up of the saved; the people who have been saved by their obedience to the gospel of Christ. It is in this church that we glorify God (Ephesians 3:21). "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1Peter 5:6-7).
Questions for Lesson Five
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