Yes! There Is Good News!
Bill Rollins has been publishing each week a column in the local Elk Horn, Iowa paper for the past several years.
Note the original publication date on each blog post
Note the original publication date on each blog post
The covenant that a man and woman make with each other as they take their vows before two witnesses is typically called a marriage covenant. This is, for all intents and purposes, a covenant of “relationship.” The two parties vow to love and honor each other, forsaking all others in faithfulness and to do so “as long as you both shall live.”
This event with these words binds the two together in holy matrimony so that a new beginning in their relationship can take place. For although the two may have known each other for quite some time, the vows and commitments made on that day allow the two to start to build a relationship unlike any other found between two human beings.
The Bible teaches that the church (i.e. the called out ones) will become the bride of Jesus Christ the Savior. We began considering this topic a couple of months ago and it is now time to ask the question of all of you reading this article; are you, as a child of God, as one who seeks a relationship with your Redeemer, ready to make a commitment to Him, to love and honor Him, forsaking all others and being faithful to Him in all of your ways?
This truly is serious stuff!! To make a commitment to God is indeed the most serious decision one will ever make in their lifetime. It is more than choosing a life time partner in marriage.
“Wait a minute, Bill; this is just supposed to be a nice little article filled with good news – what is all this about a most serious decision? Can’t I just live my life and dabble in the idea of Christianity at my own convenience?” Perhaps we should ask God the Father and His Son about this.
Jesus put it this way in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Does that fit your lifestyle? Or how about Jesus putting a prerequisite on discipleship in Luke 14:33, “… any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
And then there is Paul; a man who would give up everything so as to be found preaching the gospel. Here is what he says in Philippians 3:7-8, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Now this was a man who was serious about his relationship with Christ!!
Paul goes on to say in Philippians, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Are you married? What is there that you wouldn’t do for your spouse? Sometimes God asks for difficult things to see if we are serious in our devotion to Him.
In our previous article, we were discussing the importance of making a covenant with God. God, indeed, takes covenant making very seriously.
We were looking into the covenant that ancient Israel made with God in the wilderness of Sinai after He brought them out of bondage to the Egyptians. After meeting with God in Exodus 19 and then having the Ten Commandments spoken to them in chapter 20, Moses becomes the intermediary and relays the terms of the covenant to Israel in chapters 21 through 23. In these chapters we find such laws as idolatry, servitude, assault and battery, kidnapping, murder, protection of property, social responsibility, false witnessing, denial of justice in court, keeping the Sabbath, keeping the annual festivals and, finally, trusting in God to establish them in the promised land.
Most of these are laws that any civilized nation would desire to have in order to have an orderly society. Israel had just come out of bondage to an oppressive government. There was so much for them to learn. One of the wonderful things God was giving them was the blessing of a day off from labor – the Sabbath! In Egypt, they would have had to work seven days a week without any time off. What a gift this Sabbath rest was for them.
In chapter 24:3 we read, “Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the instructions. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
The making of this covenant would be sealed and ratified by the parties with the presentation of a sacrifice of a burnt offering. Interesting enough, the blood of these sacrifices would be the agent used finalizing the deal.
And then Moses did this, “Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Do the words Moses used in this ceremony ring a bell with you?
Some 1600 years later in an upper room in the city of Jerusalem Jesus had His disciples gathered together for what would be His final Passover with them. “And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it He broke it and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.’” (Mark 14:22-24)
Moses was rehearsing an event that would have everlasting effects upon the entirety of the world. Moses words were a harbinger of what was to come. Just as the first Passover in Egypt, where the blood of a lamb brought salvation to Israel, was truly a rehearsal for the salvation of all of mankind in that upper room, hours before Jesus Christ would shed His blood and place His signature on the new covenant God was making through His Son. Are we to take that covenant seriously? Did God take that covenant seriously? Jesus ratified that covenant with His blood – how are we to ratify it?
More to come!!
t seems to me that there are many people who consider themselves Christians and yet they do not take this notion seriously. Let me suggest to you that God does take it seriously – very seriously!! Let us take a look at one example from the Bible.
When we read through the history of Israel, we find that they were a rebellious lot. And yet God, in His mercy and compassion continued to work with them. Why? Because they had entered into a covenant with God. I am sure you remember the story of how God brought the children of Israel out of bondage to Egypt. They
came through the Red Sea and into the wilderness and settled for a while near Mount Sinai. In Exodus 19:4-6 we read this, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Moses went down the mountain and told the people what God had said. Their response; “We will do everything the LORD has said.” God took this answer seriously – the people did not. It did not take them long to rebel against God. In short, Moses went up the mountain, spent 40 days with the LORD and when he came back down with the two tablets of stone (the 10 commandments) he found the people were in the midst of an orgy, worshiping an image of a golden calf.
Oh, they called the calf by the correct name of God, “Yahovah” and they applied to it the miracles they saw in coming out of Egypt.
But they had quickly forgotten the second commandment, “You shall not make for yourself and idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” God was not pleased!!
But I get ahead of myself. Let’s go back to Mount Sinai before Moses received the 10 Commandments. (Ex. 19:10-25) The people were to consecrate themselves and on the third day they were to stand before the mountain. God would signal for them to meet with Him, “Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.” And so on that morning there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud and a very loud trumpet blast – the people trembled. The sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder and even the mountain trembled.
God then gave to His people the Ten Commandments verbally. The voice of God frightened the people to where they thought they would die. They desired that Moses be their intermediary and so Moses approached God. We find in Exodus chapters 20 through 23 a very concise but complete list of laws that God gave to Israel as a precious gift and then in chapter 24 we read about the confirmation of this covenant. Verse 3: “Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and His laws. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.’ And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD."
It is quite interesting to read what Moses did next but we will have to wait till next time. May the good news of God’s law enlighten you all.
Romans 2:4: “Do you show contempt for the riches of His goodness, tolerance and patience, not knowing that God’s goodness leads you to repentance?” In our previous article, I made a bold statement: I said we might be showing contempt for God by not understanding our need for repentance when compared to the goodness of God.
Just how do we see our repentance? Some 40 years ago I was brought face to face with the law of God. A good friend and co-worker tried to show me a few things from the word of God. I had never read the bible and knew nothing of what he was trying to tell me. He asked me if I knew that there was something called the Ten Commandments and of course I knew about these ten.
He then asked me if I had ever read them. Well I suppose that in my earlier life as a student in a parochial school for 12 years, I had seen them and well, yes, maybe I had read them. He then proceeded to ask me if I had a bible in my home and if so would I turn to Exodus 20 and read them. Well it turned out that I did have a bible and after finding Exodus 20 I read the Ten Commandments.
I had been taught, in that parochial school, about the commandments of God but when I read them for myself I realized that I had to turn my life around and begin to walk toward the great God and Creator of all things. Yes, my life began to change. However, it took me an additional 2 years, almost to the day, to understand the concept of repentance. Two years of talking to God. Two years of arguing with God. Two years of pushing God away from me. But God was gentle. He was patient. He was kind. He showed His love.
And yet I had never realized the concern that God had for me a sinner.
Somehow He wanted me to be one of His children. I had never been one to join a group. I tried boy scouts but left after a short time. I was asked to visit several service organizations but couldn’t get myself to feel comfortable in joining. But this was different. This was God, the one who ruled the universe, wanting me to be a part of His family – how could I continue to refuse? This was larger than anything I had ever encountered.
I talked to my friend and co-worker and told him of my thoughts. I asked him to tell me what I should do with this new revelation of mine. He went to the scriptures and showed me Acts chapter 2. You see, there was a group of “religious” people who had gathered to hear the Apostle Peter deliver a message and that message “cut them to the heart.” Peter spoke of the prophet Joel and how he had prophesied that God was going to pour out His Spirit on all people. He told them of this Jesus of Nazareth who performed many miracles. He told them that this Jesus had been resurrected from the dead. And then he said this, “Therefore let all the house of Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Their response? “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter was quick with the reply, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) Pretty simple? Maybe; but quite amazing.
I needed to hear that and so I responded!!
Yes! There is Good News!
by Bill Rollins
original post date: September 21, 2019
There are so many things that will lead us to the goodness of God and this
understanding has, for the most part, been our aim these past few years in
these articles. The “good news” of God springs forth from the goodness of God. But let me ask this question: what does the goodness of God lead us to? Once we recognize that God is good and that this is for us “good news,” do we have an obligation set before us to do something?
If I were to say no at this point, the why should I bother write another article? We might as well be as the rich fool in Luke 12:19, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”
The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (2:4), “Do you show contempt for the riches of His goodness, tolerance and patience, not knowing that God’s goodness leads you to repentance?” I believe Paul is saying that if we do not understand our need for repentance when compared to God’s goodness, then we are showing contempt toward God! Wow, let’s take a closer look at this; none of us wants to be found in contempt of God. I have heard it said by some, “Well,
I’m really a good person. I do some good things in my life and when hung in the balance they outweigh the bad.”
This is not the attitude we want to have. Isaiah puts it this way, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are as filthy rags.” (Is. 64:6) We do not have any true “good works;” God perceives them as filthy!!
Allow me to put it this way: a man stands in a court of law found guilty of brutally beating an elderly woman. His lawyer has shown the judge that the man has done many good things for others in his neighborhood and so the judge says that because his “good acts” outweigh this one bad one he is allowed to go free. WHAT? We would all call this a travesty of justice.
Out God is a God of justice. But because He is good and shows us His goodness each and every day, we also see that He is a God of grace. He calls us to repentance. He desires that we recognize our faults and our sins against His “holy, righteous and good law” (Romans 7:12) and so repent. Repentance is not defined as sorrow for a wrong but is defined as a turning around and away from our transgressions as so turning toward God.
In any rational society (and God is rational) there can be no such thing as mercy and grace without having justice and there can be no such thing as justice without law – no law, no justice; no justice, no need for mercy. God has a system of laws and so a system of justice. He will judge the guilty; i.e. all of us! But God is a gracious God and so will extend His mercy and grace to those who repent – to those who accept they have a sinful nature and turn from it.
For God so loved the world that He gave us His Son, that whoever believes in Him ….
Yes! There is Good News!
by Bill Rollins
original post date: September 13, 2019
Have you ever considered that you are beautiful in God’s eyes? We have been looking at the 45th Psalm and considering the application of these words to the end time “wedding supper of the Lamb.” In verse 11 we read these words, “The King is enthralled with your beauty; honor Him for He is your Lord.” My Bible translation did not capitalize the several words in that verse, but if I apply them to our Savior, our King, and the one I am betrothed to Him, then I honor Him with capital letters.
He is my King and my Lord, and it amazes me to consider that He is enthralled with the beauty of His bride, the Church; of which I am a part. His love for me is unbounded for He laid down His life for me that I might live.
I mentioned, several weeks ago, that Sally and I were going to a wedding. God willing, we are home now as you are reading this article. God willing, we had a safe trip to and from the Salt Lake City area. And God willing, the young couple has been joined together, as one, to begin a beautiful marriage.
I did not perform the service for them, but they asked me to give the message on the Sabbath Day before the wedding. If you have been following along these past 4 weeks, I am sure you realize what topic I was teaching about. Yes, the wedding supper of the Lamb and the beautiful template our human weddings become as they picture the ultimate wedding of the future.
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory, for the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:6-7) Has there ever been a bride more beautiful than on her wedding day? “And I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’” Rev. 21:2-4
Yes, weddings are special occasions. They are prepared for and rehearsed. It can be quite fun to be a part of one. But just consider the above quote; the ultimate wedding will be the harbinger for a time like none other – God will dwell with His children. He will do away with the final enemy – death. Tears will be wiped away, no more crying, no more pain or suffering.
And then there is the last line in Psalm 45:11 “Honor the King, for He is your Lord!” Amen and amen!!!
Bill Rollins resides in Elk Horn, IA, with his wife, Sally, and has pastored the Church of God of Omaha, NE for more than 35 years.