Is It Good News?

Sunday, March 26, 2017, 2:34 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in the Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 40:1-11 (NASB).

Speak Tenderly (vv. 1-2)

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

God’s grace to us is amazing! Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), left his throne in heaven, humbled himself, came to earth, took on human flesh and died on a cross for our sins. When he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf. By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, we can be delivered out of slavery (addiction) to sin, and be given new lives in Christ Jesus, born again of the Spirit of God, to be lived to God and to his holiness and righteousness.

A Voice Cries (vv. 3-5)

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

So, what does it mean to have God-given faith in Jesus Christ? Well, it means that we are divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives. And, what is God’s will? Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). This is the essence of the gospel of our salvation. Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us on that cross so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21).

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). In other words, we are not saved from our sins merely to escape hell and to have the promise of heaven when we die. Jesus died on that cross so that we could be radically transformed of the Spirit of God away from living our lives to sin and self, to walking with God in his holiness and righteousness. To be holy means to be set apart (unlike, different) from this world, because we are being made into the likeness of Christ. As well, righteousness is to be equated with morality, uprightness, honesty, and purity, which God has imputed to us who believe in Jesus.

So, having faith in Jesus Christ is not repeating some words after someone else in a prayer after which we are congratulated that we are now part of the family of God and that our eternal salvation and heaven are guaranteed us. Jesus said that his sheep listen to him, they know his voice, and they follow (obey) him. He said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (die in our sins). But, if we lose our lives for Christ and for his gospel (die with him to sin), we will have eternal life with God. And, Paul reiterated this when he said that if we walk according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (Jn. 10:27-30; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

Will Stand Forever (vv. 6-8)

A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

So, what is this saying? It is saying that what is of this world, i.e. what is fleshly and worldly, is temporary, and like grass, it will wither. It has no eternal value. We, as humans, without Christ, are destined to perish in our sins. So, if we hold on to the things and the sinful pleasures of this life, we will perish with them. If we think we can continue in our sins and still have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth, then we need to think again. That is not what the word of God teaches, but it is what fleshly humans would like us to believe. All that is of this world will one day pass away. So, we shouldn’t be “hanging our hats” on the things of this life. John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

So, what can we count on? We can count on God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – to do what he says he will do. We can depend on his Word, which will never fail us, and which will stand forever. So, we need to stop listening to humans, unless they are telling us the truth, and we need to listen to what God’s word teaches us, because our eternity depends on it. If we say we love God or that we know God, but we don’t do what he says, we don’t know him, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with him (1 Jn. 2:3-6). If we continue in HIS word, then we are truly disciples of HIS (Jn. 8:31-32). And, we have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first (Heb. 3:14-15).

Good News (vv. 9-11)

Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

So, what is this “good news”? The “good news” of the gospel of our salvation is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Paul was given a commission by Jesus Christ to spread this good news. He told him that he was sending him to open blinded eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18). The good news here is that Jesus died to turn us away from lifestyles of sin, and away from the power that Satan had (or has) over our lives. And, he died to turn us to God and to his truth and his righteousness, and to his power in our lives to deliver us out of slavery to sin and to bring us to wholeness in him.

If the “good news” to us is merely that we have been delivered from the punishment of our sin so that we can go to heaven when we leave this earth, but we are still left in slavery to sin, that that really isn’t good news, is it? Why? Because that means we have believed a lie, because if we are not delivered out of slavery to sin, that means we are still dead in our sins, and thus we don’t have the promise of heaven or the escape from eternal punishment. For, if we deliberately keep on sinning, “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Heb. 10:26-27).

The “good news” is not only that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, but that we don’t do this in our own strength or willpower. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws us to him. Even the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God. He even grants us repentance, and he gives us the ability to obey him. This is a spiritual work of God’s grace in our lives from beginning to end, and yet we must cooperate with that work of grace by submitting to our Lord and Savior, and by following his lead, and doing what he says, yet all in the power and working of his Spirit within us who gives us all we need in Christ to live godly and holy lives unto him. So, we need to yield the control of our lives over to our Lord, and allow him to do his work in our lives, in making us like Jesus.

When in The Stillness / An Original Work / September 26, 2011

When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.

While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.

Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.

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