|Volume 20 Number 4 April 2018||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:24-25 NKJV). God-given religion throughout the ages has always called upon mortals to refuse and to choose. Mother Eve did not refuse the temptations of Satan, and consequently, she chose to disobey God (Genesis 3:1-6). Even today, faced with manifold temptations in every direction in the ungodly world (2 Peter 2:5; 1 John 2:15-17), the child of God must refuse to succumb to temptations (1 Corinthians 10:13) and choose to abide in the Word of God (Romans 6:17).
The very journey to salvation requires one to refuse every sin of which one may be guilty. Following a Bible-based faith (Romans 10:17), a person must repent of past sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30). Repenting is refusing to any longer be characterized by sin. The child of God can no longer be categorized as a sinner (i.e., someone who habitually sins) because Christians no longer live the way they did formerly before obeying the Gospel. “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9 NKJV). The phrase “does not sin” is present tense in the Greek, which usually refers to a continuing action. Hence, though the child of god may commit “a sin” from time to time (1 John 1:8, 10; 2:1), sinning is not his lifestyle any longer. He has refused to continue a sinful lifestyle.
In addition, every person who would be saved must choose to obey the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17). This includes confessing or acknowledging before others one’s confidence that Jesus Christ is the Son of God—the Savior (John 8:24; Romans 10:9-10). Further, a person must choose to be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
Next, the new Christian needs to choose to learn God’s Word (Matthew 28:19-20; Hebrews 5:12-14) and apply it to his or her life (Ephesians 5:8). God the Father has chosen us from before times eternal (Ephesians 1:4; Romans 5:8), and we need to choose Him as well to have the forgiveness of sins and the valid hope of going to heaven.
It is not enough to refuse sinful practices (Matthew 25:18-25). We Christians must be proactive (James 4:17). We must bear spiritual fruit (John 15:1-8).
What is it in your life that you need to refuse? Have you made a choice to become a child of God, and are you maintaining your relationship with the Heavenly Father? Categorically, each of us must refuse and choose.
The God of Second Chances
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
There are certain things in life that can occur where there is no possibility of a second chance. Once someone steps off a 10-story building, there is no turning back, no second chance. Once a person puts a firearm to his head and squeezes the trigger, there is no going back, no second chance! It is sobering to realize that “there is but a step between me and death” (1 Samuel 20:3). Some choices never permit a second chance! How often, Dear Reader, did you do a certain thing and then later wish you had a second chance? Second chances seldom are reality. However, when it comes to one’s spiritual life, there is a sense in which many do have a second chance. Why? Because God is the God of second chances. Consider the following.
Firstly, The Expressions. The Bible is inundated with words that speak of God’s longsuffering, patience and willingness to give His crown of creation a second chance. The Psalmist so eloquently penned, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86:15). To a rebellious, sin-filled group of God’s people, Micah affirmed, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18). How could anyone ever forget the words of the apostle of second chances? He penned, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Of course, the hope of Jeremiah was the hope of all mankind, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). Expressly stated, God is the God of second chances!
Secondly, The Examples. Example after example, the Bible is saturated with illustrations of God extending a second chance, yea even third and fourth chances, to undeserving people, just like you and me. King David is certainly a case study in the realm of second chances. A man who had every opportunity to do right, yet he failed miserably and sinned against God. Consider David’s sins of adultery, lying, murder and deceit in his relations with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). Even after this long catalog of sins, God extended mercy in allowing David a second chance. In this narrative, God extended mercy by sending Nathan the prophet, by giving David an opportunity to repent, by accepting David’s repentance and then by extending forgiveness to him! Talk about amazing grace! Possibly no greater example of God’s longsuffering is anywhere seen more clearly than in the Minor Prophet Jonah. After Jonah failed to follow his marching orders, God prepared a vehement wind and a vicious whale to help Jonah remember what is truly important. Even from the belly of that great fish, God heard Jonah’s cry (Jonah 2:1-10). After Jonah was vomited on dry land, the Bible declares, “And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time…” (Jonah 3:1a). God gave him a second chance to fulfill the mission. Usually in life opportunity only strikes once, but with God, often opportunity comes again, because God is the God of second chances!
Lastly, The Exception. Even as merciful and longsuffering as God is, there is a limit to second chances. The apostle Paul warned of what will happen when a person continues to reject God and His Word (Romans 1:18-32). Three different times, the phrase “God gave them up” appears in this text. At some point, second chances will be gone forever! When a person insists on living life as he or she chooses, instead of the way God demands, God will eventually let a rebellious soul die according to that one’s stubborn will. In fact, a person can become so stubborn and obstinate that it is impossible to come back to God (Hebrews 6:4-6). God does everything within His will to bring a person to his knees (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9), but the fact remains, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Eventually, there are no more second chances!
Sadly, sometimes it is too late! There will come a time when second chances will be no more. Thank God that He extends His love, longsuffering and forgiveness to us today. Yet, please, Dear Reader, do not take His compassion for granted. Jesus was clear when He said, “…they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut” (Matthew 25:10b). Make certain today that you are in favor with the God of second chances.