The Distilled Bible / New Testament
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To the family of God in the capital of the world:
All the hopes and dreams of history are now fulfilled in Jesus Christ. I want to explain all this to you face to face. Your faith is already famous, and I want to deepen and strengthen it. Of course, I always receive great spiritual benefit when I minister these immense truths.
Salvation for all. Salvation supplied by God. God giving to man all that He demands from man. This is the good news. As men are, we are all lost without excuse and hope. We all have abused the blessings of life and have degenerated into twisted beings worshiping passions (some have fallen further, but we are all falling). Mankind's condemnation is just. The indictment is full: filth in the mind; perversity in the body; brutal selfishness in every relationship of life.
Even the best of men are included in this indictment. They, too, often ignore basic truth and presume on God's generosity. God is the impartial Judge, knowing all men's secrets. No amount of religious activity can change or hide the facts of the heart. A new birth is required. Regeneration is offered.
Even a personal history steeped in the religion of the ancient Scriptures does not avoid the issue of genetic irrelevancy. It is the blood of God, shed on the cross, that will hide one's sins. Humility and peace with God! In all of history, nothing else has worked. This is the music of the Old Testament. This was the experience of the fathers of our Faith. There is no difference.
Peace in the presence of the holy God.
God's Son is our salvation. God's Son is our safety.
Look how history is completed. Adam introduced sin and death. Jesus reversed the experience and His sinless obedience is credited to our account. We are permitted to identify with His experience.
We die to our old thinking and enter a new life with the mind of Christ when we come to faith. Baptism pictures this: death, burial and resurrection.
The reality is much more that a ceremony; it is real. There is a new frame of reference, new energizing ambitions. New joy!
Understanding this brings a wonderful assurance of salvation. Temptations and struggles will be experienced, but there is a new force within. A new heart; a new uplifting emotion. The tragic endless circle of human history is broken. Now there is the eternal circle of salvation and victorious life.
NO CITIZEN IS EXEMPT FROM LAW. But dead men and women cannot be touched with any penalty and therefore there are no laws written for the dead. Death even removes the law of marriage! Certainly religious rules and ritual have no hold on the dead.
But! We who are dead, are also alive. We arose with Him. He died out death. We live His life. And it is a reality that affects all our emotions and actions.
We revere and honor the Ten Commandments.They convict men of sin and remind us of our feeble frailty. Our innermost being is alive with passion to please Jesus, and so we earnestly desire to honor God's holiness in all things.
But honoring the Commandments does not, cannot, provide assurance of salvation. The awareness of his new thinking and emotions is the basis of assurance. This energizes the body, the weak flesh, to walk with God. The whole Christian life is freedom and assurance.
Yes! The Father hears the believer's cries and the Spirit whispers peace and victory. Victory now, and perfect victory at the resurrection. Until then there will be heartache and sorrow, but not without the comfort of the Spirit of God and the explicit promises of God's Scriptures.
So, the Gospel of Christ answers every question of life and implants perfect peace.
NOW ABOUT THE RACIAL AND RELIGIOUS TIES OF HISTORY.
I love the people of my heritage. But no nationality or religious affiliation particpates in the securing of God's pleasure. God's hand in the history of my people was meant to (and did) bring the entire world to the door of salvation. It was not the end in itself (it could not be).
One prophet said:
I will embrace and love the unclean. The ungodly will be My people!
Only a few from the blessed nation will ever be saved! God would have to wait forever for more to humble themselves to the point of renouncing racial advantage. The new birth God promised is revolutionary.
It is a great miracle of generosity that any of these advantaged people are ever saved.
Then there are the ignorant, unGodly nations. By grace they have now found the knowledge of salvation. But the advantaged who have learned to glory in their race and studied observances, are missing the prize, which is Jesus, Savior of the world.
I pray and pray for my people. If only their genius could be joined to knowledge. But they live in the past, and their concerns are, too often, argumentative evasions--not honest inquiry. They should know that a heart of repentance and faith is what God requires. "Yes" is what God wants to hear. Eternal life is the God's response. For any, for all; Christ is salvation.
And this "Yes" is desired from all mankind. But since it is based of facts, people must have those gospel facts. Messengers are required.
That's right, no one can be saved without delivered knowledge. Just the hearing of those facts does not save, but when accepted by the surrendered will, saving faith always results.
For centuries my nation heard these promises of salvation for all, but pride prevented belief. The sovereign will that God has given every individual must be willing to repent and accept.
God loves my people. And many of them love Him. Many have accepted the way of universal faith. But, most are lost. Their spiritual condition is very, very sad indeed. What pathos: their condition actually opening the gates of Heaven for the heathen. Double mystery! when their sorrow is turned to salvation's joy the world reaps again.
May my words influence many other Jews to seek and find God's truth. What a thought of joy! What a unique opportunity to turn their historic advantage to the fullest blessing of all mankind. Everyone can acknowledge this.
This too, must be faced: any nation or people, can lose blessings thorough apostasy.
True blessings cannot be inherited.
Any generation can lose that which was enjoyed by the former.
But!! Once lost, blessings can be restored!!
This is Israel's hope. They oppose God now, but His love is eternal. The Gospel flowed from their disobedience; but, because of this Gospel, they are included in hope, just like the whole world. They have actually (by their rebellion against Jesus) opened the door that is beckoning to them!
Only the infinite attributes of the eternal God of love could so arrange to shower benefits upon enemies and redeem the castaways of the world--while never forsaking equity and justice!
No one could have anticipated this!
No man would have initiated this!
NOW WE HAVE CHRISTIAN CONGREGATIONS. Dedication to our Lord is a very personal matter. It begins with a realistic self-evaluation and a willingness to serve in a congregation. Here is the opportunity to reject evil and embrace love in every situation and relationship of life. We are to live in peace and leave all retaliations to God.
The committed Christian is a good citizen of any country. He pays taxes and all obligations. (He is quite aware of a great debt to all mankind, since Christ died for every person). Someone must give love and holy dedication to this world, and it is we who know the God who created all and loves all..
Our congregations must be filled with charity. Members should never criticize another's opinions. Just assume that each is doing his or her best and that they are the property and responsibility of Christ. Spend all your energy assisting the member you feel is weak. Then you, yourself, will be above criticism. Dedication to congregational peace is the work of maturity, and will be accompanied by great personal tranquility.
Unity is the responsibility of the strong. If the weak are offered strength, peace and congregational health will result. People of all backgrounds and conditions should find a generous welcome in the assembly. I think you understand.
I am thrilled to state this revolutionary idea of spiritual democracy. I know it is God's will. It is embedded in the great Good News I preach all over the world.
Because I have given myself to pioneer work, I have not yet visited Rome with your already established church. But, I do hope to come. For now, I must take financial help to the believers in Jerusalem. (Gentiles helping Jews!) Then, I plan to see you. (There are some grave difficulties that face me in this purpose.)
Rome has much of my heart! A beloved Cenchrean businesswoman, is delivering this letter to you. My two protectors, when I lived in such danger here in Corinth, are now in Rome. Other fellow workers (and relatives) are also in your city. I remember all and love all so much. I wish I could kiss each one.
I deeply resent those heretics who would split congregations by pretending to teach sophisticated secrets. I pray you will be content as "simple" believers; the Gospel is our great "secret;" and power!
A son in the faith and others are here with me. Their thoughts are with you also. The entire Corinthian congregation greets you.
I commit you to God.
He is the Author of this Gospel which accepts all men just as they are, and, through the new birth, places them on an equal level before Him--and in the congregation.
ęcopyright 1998 Roy E. Greenhill, All Rights Reserved