What is God's primary intended result of people hearing and responding to the Gospel of His Own Son, Christ, so that they can be put on a new course in Christ, as a new creature in Christ? The answer, very simply, is for them to be given a new connection in Christ - a new connection without which people are spiritually dead and in the dark. In the rest of Paul’s God-breathed words in 2 Corinthians 5, we will look at a new connection in reconciliation, a new connection in the ministry of reconciliation, and a new connection in righteousness.
People must know that Christ died on the cross and why Christ died on the cross. Christ died for sinners so that sinners could die to their sin and live for Him. Now, how should that truth affect how we see people and how we see Christ? And how should that truth affect our understanding of the change that must take place in a sinner’s life for him or her to live for Christ? In the next two verses, we see a new outlook on life and a new origin of life.
I affirm and elevate the sovereignty of God in evangelism and salvation. However, God uses means to His end, and in His mysterious providence, He delegates real responsibility to us in decisions we must make to be His faithful witnesses. In that calling, we must understand how He compels us beyond, “Because I said so.” We must be compelled by the conclusion of why Christ died for all He came to save, beyond simply sparing us from God’s wrath - beyond merely keeping us out of hell. The Apostle Paul helps us here in what he wrote to the Corinthians, as he was defending the legitimacy of his God-given, Christ-centered ministry. Clearly, what he said about himself and his team, regarding their compulsion and conclusion, applies to all Christians.
"Be true to yourself.” That is a popular message sweeping the globe with the ferocity of a wildfire. Ironically, among most people on the planet, the only One that does not have the right to be true to Himself is God - not the God of the Bible, anyway. Any god that says to us, “Be true to yourself,” is acceptable, but not the God that says, “Be true to Me.” If God is true to Himself, how serious, then, is the issue of us turning from God’s way to our own ways - in essence, turning away from God to ourselves? Can He stay true to Himself and let us live? After our rebellion, can He stay true to Himself and offer us repentance and redemption, instead of retribution? We will see the answer in this verse of Isaiah. We will see the wonderful, joyful, answer in understanding iniquity and in understanding atonement. We must understand the extent of our problem to then understand the impact of God’s solution.
“All of us like sheep have gone astray” - many may hear that and jump to thinking that, like sheep then, we just don’t know any better. Yes, it is foolish to stray and dangerously separate from God, but as the shepherd doesn’t judge the sheep for moral sin, why would we think God would judge us for moral sin, just for wandering off without knowing better? The problem, of course, is that, unlike sheep, we do know better. As we continue with Isaiah, we see in his next statement two elements that are essential to understand, in order to understand the moral problem of our straying: intention and rebellion. And how grateful for God's mercy we should be.
We Christians must understand how to think about and talk to people in the each-to-his-own mentality that many are clinging to in the militant individualism and moral relativism that now largely defines this American culture. In this series, we will see in God’s Word that God’s call in His Gospel deals directly with this drumbeat of self-determination. We start this series with the first of three messages from Isaiah 53:6. In this message, we look at Isaiah’s assertion that we all have gone astray. And we will follow along with Isaiah’s imagery of lost sheep, looking at two key points: the separation in straying and the foolishness in straying. And we should finish with a fresh appreciation for being found.