Archive for July 8th, 2013

Three Needs Met

July 8th, 2013

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 1:18-20

Many of my missionary colleagues came to faith and maturity in the West, and in the West we have a specific bias that the greatest need we have is peace with God through Jesus Christ. This is true, I believe, and it is the central core of the gospel, but not the only emphasis. And neither is it always where people start in their journey to God or where their felt needs are.

In this passage above, God addresses three needs, not just one. The first is the forgiveness of sins, and our sins are an affront to Him, separating us from God, a fact well attested to in Scripture. Anyone who does not understand that and seek the forgiveness in Christ cannot be saved. But this is not the only need and neither is it all that God addressed.

He addressed two other needs as well, the needs of a blessed life, where there is bountiful supplies and success in life, and the need of protection from danger or power over the evil one. God saves us from sin, but He also gives us a better life on earth while we await our future heavenly inheritance. And He protect us from the spiritual onslaught of attack by hostile and demonic forces.

In the West we have had a bad experience with Prosperity Theology, which has normally abused Scripture, so I normally do not associate myself with its claims because I find it no much more than an attempt to attract people to the gospel with the allure of wealth and health. It reduces what people truly are to mere money making and pleasure receiving machines, and misses the point of the purpose of God, to win the world to Christ, becoming the heart of the new nature of the believer, the new creation in Christ.

But, at the same time, I do find in the Bible promises from God to bless His children, and it bears out in history that for people coming from darkness to light, for people who become Christians, the economic road is normally upward. There are exceptions, when the economic structures in their lands were hopelessly corrupted by greed, violence, bribery, and under-the-table dealing. In those settings it is better to be a poor man with integrity that a rich one who has compromised his Christian faith.

Yet for the most part, when people come to Christ, they find a new discipline is part of their life, In the fullness of the Spirit they are more focused and think more clearly, they do not rush into judgment from a sense of panic, and they are responsible, hopeful, hard-working, and faithful friends – all good traits to be successful in life. They live above addictions and go about their work with the confidence that God is working for them, and He is! We have a heavenly Father who watches over our lives, who promises help and protection.

And many in the world are captured by the fear of the demonic. They live vulnerable lives, at least on the inside, and want to know if there is some One who is greater than these enemies who loves them and promises protection. God does!

Are there times when God’s people have been attacked and have lost money and their livelihood? Of course, and there is where we return to the first point, that our greatest need is forgiveness and from that forgiveness we have an eternal home and a new purpose in life, a new reason for living, to bring honor and glory to Christ. So if we go through Job-like experiences, we still rejoice over our faithful God, trusting Him to always be with us.

But even then, the economic scene is not forgotten in Scripture for it promises, “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will rise again” (Proverbs 24:16). In God we have a reason to live above fear, to live confidently in our forgiveness, in His blessings on our life here on earth, and in the protection He gives us against our enemies. So, we should live in joy and confidence daily. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

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