What is your most treasured possession? Our independence is a treasured possession, perhaps the most treasured possession, because our freedom allows us to have and enjoy so many things in life. Did you know that God speaks of His most treasured possession? After He rescued the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, He said to them, "If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession…and a holy nation." (Exodus 19:5)(His covenant also allowed anyone who turned from false gods and acknowledged Him as God and Savior to come under this covenant.) The all-important word is IF – IF they would obey, fully. They readily said they would. But only 40 days later, they made an idol, a golden calf, and worshiped it instead of God. This type of rebellion was all too typical for Israel. And are we any better? Day after day, I promise and intend to obey the Lord, fully. Day after day, I sin against God – an impure thought here, an unkind word there, a selfish act again. Our history, like Israel’s, is full of disobedience and failure.
But there was one Israelite who did keep this covenant, fully. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. And because Jesus of Nazareth is also God in the flesh, the Son of the Most High, what He did counted not just for Himself but also for you and me, for all people. This was God’s plan all along in singling out Israel, that from those people would come the Christ, the one Person to be the Savior of ALL. Do you see what this means? God wants to claim *you* as His treasured possession! Put your trust in Jesus, who lived the IF that you and I cannot, and know that you are loved by God. And now, IN CHRIST, YOU ARE FREE TO LIVE AS GOD’S HOLY PEOPLE! "As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:12,13) ...What would our country look like if we lived this way? I say again: IN CHRIST, YOU ARE FREE TO LIVE AS GOD’S HOLY PEOPLE, radically impacting the world around you, for His glory, that more and more would know Him as Savior.
There’s a tendency to avoid eye contact with judgment. Growing up, when I’d get into trouble and get scolded, I’d always look down rather than up into the eyes of the one rebuking me. How much more so is this true of divine judgment! Just as Adam and Eve tried to hide in the Garden of Eden, we’d rather not face God when He addresses sin. But remember that GOD WARNS YOU TO SAVE YOU. Check out Jude’s letter, verses 5-16. Those are some of the harshest words you’ll read in the Bible. God gives examples of those who led others astray and were condemned and those who abandoned the faith and were condemned. In general God is warning of those who use God’s love to justify living life in ways that God says are wrong. This distortion of God’s love defies God’s sovereignty and it denies Jesus as Lord.
God’s strong words against false teachers also convict us. Have you at times been indifferent to the Word of Christ, treating it as a nice message, but not something of great importance in the moment? Have you at times used God’s grace as a pass for your sinful pleasures, denying Jesus as the Lord of your life because you prefer being the lord of your life? When you abuse God’s grace and deny Jesus as your only Sovereign and Lord, you reject the only One who can save you from sin. So GOD WARNS YOU TO SAVE YOU. His warning is meant to protect you from the deceitfulness of sin and the deception and influence of false teachers. Behind God’s warning is His love to call you to and preserve you in His grace. May His warning increase our desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior.
Nothing compares with God’s Word and the Gospel it proclaims. Martin Luther summed it up well: 'To you who believe and hold to the Word of Christ – heaven is open, hell is shut, the devil is imprisoned, sins are forgiven, and you are a child of God. That is what this book teaches you – the Holy Scripture – and no other book on earth.' These blessings, yours through faith in Jesus, meet man’s greatest and deepest need. Do you see why God calls us to "contend for the faith"? (Jude 3) We do so by proclaiming God’s Word (so that as many as possible may believe and be saved) and by standing firm on what He says (so that we don’t lose what He has freely given us in Jesus). This calls for vigilance and discernment, carefully listening and watching for any addition to or subtraction from God’s Word, guarding against error. If we fail to do so, we run the risk of losing the Gospel, which means losing everything.
So God prompted Jude to warn us about those "who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ, our only Sovereign and Lord." (Jude 4) To minimize the seriousness of sin and the necessity of the cross is an assault on the primary message of God’s Word and the primary need of our soul. To deny that Jesus is true God and true man is an assault on God’s revelation of Himself and an assault on His plan to save us from our sins. And to deny that the Bible is the true and trustworthy Word of God from cover to cover is an assault on Jesus’ lordship, because it is through His Word that He rules our hearts and lives. So rise up and CONTEND FOR THE FAITH, holding firmly to the message of salvation in Jesus.
Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
Daniel is the Staff Minister at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, El Paso TX.