The past will always come back to haunt us, and it is very powerful. That is why there are many evil people who, in the fading years of their lives, commit suicide. It is because they cannot bear to look back at the evil they did when they had the choice – and strength – to do good. When you have the strength to do good, do good, and do it now. That is the only true investment that you can put up, not just in God’s heavenly Kingdom, but for your twilight years here on earth. The good you do now will be the reward of beautiful memories that you will reap in your fading years. You cannot afford those bad memories: in your twilight years, they will kill you.
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? Rom 2:4
The Bible says that when God created Adam, He formed him from the dust of the earth all right, but then He breathed His breathe of life into Adam, and Adam became “a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).
In other words, God did not create a robot. Robots are beneficial, but they are also dangerous. I read recently that a newly-created robot – an advanced species – killed one of its handlers. It grabbed the man without warning and slammed him onto a metal plate, crushing him to death instantly.
Robots are dangerous because they have no mind of their own; rather, they are digitally pre-programmed to do certain tasks which, if the program has no hitches in it, they perform to perfection.
But when God created Adam, He gave him the greatest gift of all – a will, and a conscience. That means he set him free, free to will and to do. The Bible says that God made man to be like Him: He said,
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Gen. 1:26)
God has a will, He has a mind, and He has a conscience. These are the components that constitute freedom.
When men therefore make choices in life, they do so out of the freedom that God has given them. Of every other creation God gave Adam power or dominion over them. But He did not put anything or anyone to have dominion over man. The Bible says that even angels are there to minister to us!
Man has so much free potential to please God.
Because of the nature of Adam’s sin, the first thing that man is required to do in pleasing God is to repent. Again, that is to be done in absolute freedom. If God ever wanted to have everyone saved by force, He wouldn’t need to do much. He would only have to come down to cloud level and say, “Before I finish what I am about to say…” – and in the blink of an eye, every church would be packed to the steeple.
But God is not like that. He gives us the freedom to choose to repent. He has given us a free will, and He is never going to take it back.
Out of the goodness of God’s heart there comes not law, but grace. God’s love for man is revealed in the freedom that He has given to us. Freedom to repent.
But the universal human cry is: What can soften a man’s heart enough to make him want to repent? That – living a life of repentance – is the greatest miracle of all.
Let us end by looking at the next few verses:
“5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath…” (Rom. 2:5-8)
We do not know much about heaven, and it is probably not for us to want to know all that is hidden up there. At present, though, we are here on earth. What should be of greater concern to us is how we ought to use the wonderful opportunity of freedom that God has given us on this earth to strive to please Him – to please Him by obeying Him.
May God help us. May He help us to willingly, lovingly obey him.
[Dar es Salaam’s ‘Central Park’]
[Genesis chapter 17]
Twenty four years after He had called Abraham (then known as Abram) God told him, “I want you to be perfect”!
Apparently, God is never in a hurry. That’s too bad for we law guys, those of us who want things to happen instantaneously and for people to change at the drop of a hat (while conveniently overlooking the fact that nothing is changing in our own lives!)
So after 24 years God tells Abraham He wanted him to become perfect. God had a perfect reason for that, though. He wanted Abraham perfect because God’s time had arrived to bless Abraham with a spiritual blessing. In the very next year, God intended to give Abraham the son He had promised him (chapter 18).
Now, as an aside here, let me point out that there are many interpretations in contemporary Christianity as to what Abraham’s real blessing or what God’s promise to him really was. The majority are materialistic, with an eye on all that wealth that Abraham had.
Well, let’s just say it was a spiritual blessing that God had promised Abraham. After all, Abraham already had a son, Ishmael, and he loved him like his own self. But Isaac was not just a son. God had spiritual business He wanted to accomplish through Isaac. He never promised Abraham Ishmael. Isaac was therefore a spiritual blessing.
That’s the way God views anything that He gives us. If He gives you a car, God does not see that metal and leather toy that you are so taken up with. He sees something that will be of value to His Kingdom, something that will work for the advancement of His Kingdom; and God’s Kingdom is spiritual.
But, on the other hand, God is not as legalistic as everything we hear sounds. God is spiritual all right, but He is willing to give us all the rope we need to arrive at where He is. He is prepared to give us even things that are totally unnecessary. Not many of us would be that magnanimous!
God allows us to enjoy the things He blesses us with in this world, even though many of them will never see the light of heaven. I am not a rich man, but I have enjoyed my wife’s natural beauty and grace for 20 years, and I am sure God has no problem with that. But the Bible tells us that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven”! (Mat. 22:30)
All these things that God allows us to enjoy down here is a result of the riches of the grace of God. There is no one who could possibly be as free and generous as our God. The “riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering” (Rom. 2:4) are unsearchable!
It was for this same reason that God told Abraham, “OK, I will bless Ishmael also” (verse 20) – even though we know Ishmael would never be included in God’s plan (Galatians 4:23).
Ultimately, though, God wants us to arrive at the place where we can see things exactly as He sees them, which is in the Spirit. Whatever anything turns out in the natural, if it does not come down to us as a spiritual blessing, then it has nothing to do with God’s promise and in that sense it is not of the Kingdom. It might not necessarily be sinful, but still it is not of God’s Kingdom.
In the next section we shall go ahead and see what we begun to discuss above about why God desired Abraham to be perfect and the importance of that to the promise that God was about to fulfill in his life.