So, Saul (Paul) is confronted by Jesus and asked why he is persecuting the Lord. Then, He is told that Jesus is selecting Him personally to take the Good News (Gospel) to the non-Jewish nations (the Gentiles). Jesus goes on to say that He is sending Paul To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, (Acts 26:18). In the last lesson we had a look at this darkness and Light, and the power of Satan and the power of the Lord.
Let’s look now at why Jesus wants people freed from darkness and the power of Satan. It is so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me (Acts 26:18b). Think about it for a moment. Here is the definition of a totally selfless act. Jesus died a horrible death on the cross so that we could receive forgiveness; He didn’t do it for Himself, He did it for us. First God creates humanity in perfect union with Himself (Gen. 1:27). Humans rebel against His care and love and give their dominion over the world to Satan (Gen. 1:28, 3:6, 1Tim. 2:14). God comes as a human and sacrifices Himself to buy humanity back from their slavehood to Satan (1Cor. 15:5). And God bought us back willingly, for He desires us to be with Him and enjoy Him in all things (1Tim. 2:4, Hos. 6:6).
It is this willing self-sacrifice on the part of our Creator that is the most astounding aspect of our entire relationship with Him. He was not coerced into it; He was not taunted and jeered at, and then out of reluctance, made the sacrifice; He was not bought off; He was not cajoled into it; He was not forced into it. No, He did it freely and willingly. That’s how much God loves us. That’s why we define Agape love as “giving the best you have without regard to the consequences to self.”
Let’s back up just a tiny bit here. The sacrifice was made so that we could receive forgiveness from Him. Forgiveness for “living outside a relationship with Him” (This is the definition of sin). Just think about it for a moment. We rebel against our loving God and live in relationship to Satan. God’s law says that the result of living outside a relationship with Him is death (Rom. 6:23)—that is, total separation from Him for all eternity. And He doesn’t want that for anyone, so He becomes a human and dies on a cross to buy us back out of slavehood. That’s Agape!
Not only did He buy us back, but He has made all who will accept this free offer to be His child, in total right relationship with Him once again, with all the rights and privileges of any child (Rom. 8:17). He pours out His Agape into every one of his children (Rom. 5:5), gives us the awesome power of His Spirit so we can live in His will (Eph. 1:19-20), and puts the mind of Christ in each of us so that we can think His thoughts and act on them the way He intends (1Cor. 2:16). This is astounding. Imagine, God takes a fully broken human with nothing in him/her that even remotely resembles His first design for humans, and rebuilds them from the ground up.
Ah, but there is a catch. And that is that this rebuilt human has to first want to be rebuilt. This we called being born again (John 3:3). Then the newly rebuilt human must begin a life-long pursuit of his/her relationship to the One Who did the rebuilding. God doesn’t make us new just to make us new. He makes us new so that we can grow ever closer to Him and enjoy His presence and His blessings. Remember, God is complete in and of Himself and doesn’t need a bunch of “needy” humans to look after in order to be complete. He looks after us willingly because He genuinely enjoys our company and genuinely enjoys helping us to become everything that we are capable of becoming.
Don’t sell God short. He’s not out to “get” anyone—that’s Satan’s tact (John 10:10). God is out to help anyone and everyone who will call upon the name of the Lord (Acts 22:21). God doesn’t bring bad things into our lives so He can turn around and bring good out of them (Rom. 8:28, James 1:17). That would be the act of a schizophrenic monster. No, when Satan does evil to us directly, or via his minions, or via the people or things of the world, God is ever ready to reverse their intent and bring good to us. This is a promise that we can and should stand on in absolute certainty.
All those who become God’s children absolutely do receive a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me (Jesus). This is not just a place off at the fringe of the “heavenly crowd.” It is a place of all power and authority, seated with Jesus at the right hand of God! (Col. 3:1, Eph. 2:6). It is from this position of power and authority that we are to operate—not from a “humble, old sinner saved by grace,” position. We are not to operate from a “hat in hand,” begging position. We need to remember that God made us to be His children with all the right of His kingdom (Rom. 8:17, Heb. 4:16). We need to get up every morning and say, ”Never forget, you are a child of the King!” And for the rest of the day, we need to operate that way. Not with a haughty attitude, but with one of great thanksgiving and praise to our God who is so loving and caring and looks after us so carefully. We need to operate from a position of ultimate power, yes, but with a grateful heart that allows God’s love to flow out to those around us. Never forget, you are a child of the King! Act on it.