Welcome to the first Sunday of 2018! God has given us a new beginning of a new year with a new mission focus: SAVING THE LOST BY HIS GRACE AS WE SHARE HIS WORD.
We’ve just begun to read through the Bible chronologically with this new Mission in our sights. Let’s all join in praying that God will give us 100 new souls this year as we share His word with others, and obey our Lord’s command to go make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded us.
This week we read from Genesis 1 to 24 and some of 1 Chronicles 1. This reading covered from the creation to Abraham and Isaac. This is a huge section of human history told in broad strokes that reveal where we came from, who put us here, how we are designed, what went wrong, and how God intervenes to begin a long process toward saving those who want to come to Him.
This book is God’s book. It reveals our story, who we are, and it reveals who God is. We read the creation story, how sin entered the human race and its terrible consequences of death and bloodshed and the wide-spreading of wickedness. There is clearly a track of rebellion against God’s will and ways that consumes most of humanity. But a close reading also reveals that there is a minority track of righteousness too. Some, a few, walk with God, call on His name, and live blamelessly in contrast to the majority around them.
You’ve got to love Genesis 6:8-9 where it says: Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. Noah, like his great grandfather Enoch before him, walked with God.
In his day, Noah’s family were the only ones that God saved. 1 Peter 3:20-21 mentions this and says: “who once were disobedient, when the patientce of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you, not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience, it saves you through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Only eight. That’s a slim minority indeed. Jesus said, “Enter the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction, and many go that way. But narrow is the gate and difficult the path that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Fewer and fewer people today believe that the Bible gives us the true historical account of our beginnings. Genesis 1-11 has become a theological battleground among Bible scholars in the last couple of centuries. I find it interesting that Satan’s words to Eve still echo with effectiveness to deceive. Did God say??? Did God really say He created man in His image and likeness on the sixth day of creation? Then he inserts his lie. Those were not six days! You came from an accident that happened billions of years ago! Thus the snake calls God a liar, and offers to make us wise. Listen to 1 Corinthians 1:18-21. Wisdom of this world won’t save you. Faith in the word of God, and the God of the word will. We are saved by God’s grace through obedient faith.
What we believe about where we came from determines, to a large degree the direction of our lives and where we will end up. God gives us what we need to know about these things and calls us to come to Him. If we can’t trust God to tell us how we got here, how can we trust Him to tell us where we’re going?
This is part of our Saving mission, to first believe God’s word is true ourselves, and then to share it with others to help them become believers. Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who seek Him.
All biblical theology is founded on what we read in the first few chapters of Genesis. God is. God created all things. God made humanity in His own image and likeness. God provided everything we needed for life and enjoyment of Him and His creation. God made everything GOOD. But somehow a spiritual rebellion occurred in the heavens, either before the world was formed or after, we don’t know. We discover this in Genesis 3. The serpent of Genesis 3 appears in the garden that God had created for Adam and Eve. We are given no information about his beginnings, but his words to the woman reveal that the serpent is clearly against God. He calls God a liar. He accuses God as one who withholds good from them. He claims that if they disobey God, they will be like God, knowing good and evil.
The serpent is in rebellion against God. He deceives Eve with his lies. She takes the forbidden fruit and gives some to Adam, who also eats some of it too. Then the serpent seems to hang around and watch the effects until God comes. As God confronts Adam, then Eve, you’d think he’d slither off and hide, but it appears that he either can’t get away, or expects what’s coming.
Satan is a lose/lose character. He’s going down and he’s taking as many with him as possible. Jesus said he is a liar and the father of lies. He’s a thief that comes only to steal, kill and destroy. His name means accuser or adversary, and that is his nature. Peter compares him to a roaring lion prowling around looking for someone to devour. In Job we read about Satan’s destructive powers and his obvious hate for those who are close to God. One of the reasons we pray: lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, is because Satan asks God for permission to sift us and test us. His mission is to ruin God’s image in us and bring us into his own eternal condemnation. Revelation says that he knows his time is short, so he makes war on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
Jesus is a win/win Lord and Savior. He has defeated sin and death in victory and He’s gathering as many with Him as possible. We are called to come to Him and trust Him for His saving grace and follow in His footsteps. We have become sharers of His saving victory! As saved people, we must share His word with others so they can be saved and carry this gospel message to as many as possible!
Are you saved? Do you believe God’s word and trust in Jesus Christ to save you? Have you turned to Him in obedient faith, repenting of your sins and confessing Him as Lord and Savior?
Have you been baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and entered Christ by baptism into His death burial and resurrection?
God wants us to choose Him. He does not drag us into salvation, but invites us to come to Him. God desires that all men repent and turn to Him. We have seen in this week’s readings some of God’s wrath against wickedness and his punishment for sin. But God also made a promise in Genesis 3:15 as He was pronouncing the curse against Satan.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel.”
Those words of God pointed to God’s ultimate saving mission through the seed of woman. That seed of woman is Jesus Christ, who came to destroy the works of the devil. When the heel of God’s Son meets the head of Satan, Satan’s head is crushed and Jesus’ heel is wounded. There was a price to save us. One that only God could pay. The rest of the Bible tells the story of God’s saving mission in this world. This saving mission is given to every Christian.