Divine Initiative

“The man I ate dinner with tonight killed my brother.”

These words were spoken by a stylish woman at a Prison Fellowship banquet in Seattle, Washington. She told how the man had murdered her brother during a robbery, served 18 years at Walla Walla prison, then settled into life on a dairy farm, where she had met him in 1983, 20 years after his crime. Compelled by the love of Christ, Ruth Youngsman had gone to her enemy and pronounced forgiveness. Then she had taken him to her father's deathbed, prompting reconciliation.

At the same banquet that night, the forgiven murderer’s voice cracked as he addressed the assembly, “Christians are the only people I know that you can kill their son, and they'll make you a part of their family. I don't know the Man Upstairs, but He sure is hounding me.” *

You and I are essentially guilty of murder, for it was OUR SINS that made the death of Jesus necessary (2 Corinthians 5:21). Yet, it was also for OUR FORGIVENESS that Jesus died that cruel death (Ephesians 1:7). We “killed” the Son of God, but through His atoning sacrifice, we can be forgiven, become a part of God’s family (the church), and receive the gift of eternal life (Acts 2:38-41; Romans 6:23)!

Barry Newton has written, “We were the ones who broke the relationship by sinning [see Isaiah 59:1-2]. And yet, it was God who took the first step toward healing our relationship. Furthermore, although he was entirely without guilt, Jesus bore our penalty for sin by suffering an ignominious death upon the cross.”

“God made the FIRST move! God placed greater value upon restoring our relationship with him than avoiding suffering an injustice. And so, Jesus died for us.” **

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us… For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8,10).

When WE were the offenders, GOD made the “first move” toward reconciliation. In fact, reconciliation to God is ACCOMPLISHED through Jesus Christ. All we must do to be reconciled to God and thus receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life is to ACCEPT His offer on His terms.

Through Jesus Christ, we may be reconciled to God when we place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).

The problem of sin that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2) has been addressed and removed in the cross. It was accomplished by God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18).

Won’t YOU accept His offer?

David A. Sargent creekwood@comcast.net

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