I wonder if some parts of life could be reduced down to “two pictures”. For example in U. S. politics – maybe a picture of George Washington & Abe Lincoln. Then in theater – a picture of Judy Garland & John Wayne. Then in your family – maybe a couple favorite pictures of your kids at a cute age. I have a favorite picture of my two sons age 5 & 8 where they are COVERED in mud - one happy & the other sad. The second favorite is of my daughter age 6 (with family) at the Grand Canyon edge 3 feet behind them.
Would it be possible to reduce the Bible down to just “two pictures." Two concise passages that show God’s nature & policy & plan for humans? In the Old Testament I would choose that sobering passage spoken direct to Moses at the time of the 10 Commandments. “The Lord, The Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7 That has content & depth beyond any other – in fact it may be the summary of the whole Old Testament. That would be picture #1 for me. Then in the New Testament we have Jesus giving a lengthy discourse which concludes with, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18 Picture #2 for sure.
Now it is sad that people today too often have a “picture” of God & His plan that disconnects humans from Divine accountability. And the common false picture of God makes Him our invention, just all loving with many roads to heaven – any path will do, or no path at all. We are all O.K. as we are. But the Exodus & John “pictures” above reveal a very different and Biblical concept of the living God. He is merciful, & gracious, to those who love him . . . but holds sinners responsible for their sin AND remembers all of it, visiting consequences of rebellion even to people’s posterity. (Yikes – that’s not in today’s liberal religious agendas. See link 66 “The Blessing and the Curse.”) The LOVE of God is shown in the GIFT to this world of Christ as the Lamb of God & the solution for sin & its consequences. An old divine, Louis Talbot said this: “His love & mercy are made manifest not in that He overlooks sin – but in that He died, the just for the unjust – on Calvary."
As I reflect back on my favorite pictures of my cute children, it occurs to me that those boys all covered with mud, is actually the way God sees all humanity (Romans 3:23). And my cute daughter 3 feet from the edge of the Grand Canyon is typical of all natural souls – “tottering on the brink” one heart beat from eternity (see Luke 16:26 & context “. . .between us and you a great chasm has been fixed: . . .") For anyone interested in God’s “picture” of salvation, please consider these thoughts from the Apostle Peter:
-- Peter 1:23 “You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;”
-- Peter 3:21 “Baptism, . . . now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” This reference may be a bit controversial, but that can be a good thing.
-- 2 Peter 1:4 “. . . he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.”
And for a “picture” of the future glory of the Christian’s destiny see Revelation 21:1-4. Another old divine offered this: O Ye who would enter the glorious rest; and sing with the ransomed the song of the blest; the life everlasting if ye would obtain; ye must be born again. Choose Jesus. He is alive. And be blessed in time & eternity.
For other Gospel-notes go to: www.gospelnotes.net * * * * Fred J. Stone * * * *