To Bring us back to God - "Sunnyhill" Herne Bay Evangelical Free Church

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To Bring us back to God

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To Bring us to God

Text:

1Pet.3:18 "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God..."
Eph.2:13 "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."


Reading: 2Sam.9:1-13 & 2Sam.19:24-40


Introduction
If you were asked to say what the gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified was all about what would you say? How would you answer?

To put this another way, what is it that really makes this message "good news"?

You might want to answer with one or more of the following elements:

  • Pardon for sins

  • Being declared "not guilty" before God

  • Having a quietened conscience

  • Experiencing  inner peace

  • Escaping hell as a destination

  • Knowing deliverance from the enslaving power of sin


And of course these are all wonderful benefits that are involved in the good news of Jesus Christ. Yes, but...

I guess the vast majority of the human race would love to enjoy such blessings as these – there is nothing particularly spiritual about not wanting to spend eternity in hell after all only a fool would deliberately choose that!

And yet great swathes of people go on rejecting the good news of because of something else. First and foremost you see the gospel is about God and men and women, just like our first parents Adam and Eve, simply don’t want God interfering in their lives. So a gospel that begins and ends with God is, for so many, a big turn off, a big no-no.  The reason is men and women don’t love God, they never have and they don’t want to love him in the future.

The first and greatest commandment, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." has not the slightest appeal for them.

You see what the natural man is interested in are the benefits and not at all the Benefactor. At best God is simply absent from a person’s daily thoughts; at worst they think of him as a demanding tyrant and a kill-joy who is itching to get them. And it stays that way until the Spirit of the Living begins his life-giving work in the soul.

The Bible’s teaching is altogether different. The Bible tells us that It is not God who is the problem but the problem is mankind’s separation from him.

For the Christian message to be good news this problem must not only be recognised it must be resolved. And this is precisely what it does!


Don’t Leave God out of the Equation
To have our sins forgiven but not be brought back to God’s loving embrace would only be half a gospel and the best part would be left out.

For the person enlightened and quickened by the Spirit to recognise his true spiritual condition what really counts are not the blessings on their own; such blessings would be poor fare without being brought to the One who blesses.

Inner peace and a quiet conscience that were accompanied by no intimacy with God would be more akin to the peace and quiet of a graveyard: real, yes, but lifeless.

The reason why this is so is because of the way in which God created us – we have been made in the image of God and designed to live in relationship with our Creator. Because of this design we can find no ultimate satisfaction and rest for our souls in anyone or anything else. Men and women have tried and go on trying to fill the aching void within but instead of turning to the One who is the fount of all blessing. But when something or someone takes God’s place in our lives we turn into godless idolaters.

When the Spirit begins to stir us not only do we want to enjoy pardon for our sins and to know a peace in our hearts (as indeed does any sensible person) we also begin to aspire to know God and we begin to long to be brought back to him. This is a longing that God himself generates because he wants to satisfy that longing in the lives of his people and it is in the gospel that he tells us just how!

The words of our twin text tell us about it:

1Pet.3:18 "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God..."
Eph.2:13 "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."


Both these verse speak to us about Jesus and his death for sinners and this time we are told that his death is the means whereby we are brought back and brought near to God.

God works for his own glory in all that he does – there is no higher good that he could serve than that. His glory is honoured and praised when guilty sinners are restored to a right relationship with himself through his absolutely astounding loving and gracious compassion. As we are brought near and, rejoicing in our salvation, delight ourselves in him he is glorified and we are fulfilled and satisfied.

This is the very heart of the gospel!


The OT Prepares the Ground
The Old Testament contains a number of signposts that all point towards this same thing, this same blessing of nearness to God, or relationship with God.
Abraham, the father of the faithful, is referred to as "a friend of God".

God spoke with Moses "face to face, as a man speaks to his friend."

In the OT we find that there are such things as the Tent of Meeting, the Tabernacle and the Temple all places where God met and promised to meet with his people.

We find in the religious life of the nation of Israel regular annual festivals were written into the diary with the obligation to attend and celebrate in God’s presence.

Moses and the elders of Israel as they set out on their journey away from Egypt towards the Promised Land were called to go up the mountain where they were able not only able to feast in the presence of God but they were  also enabled to safely behold the LORD.

These are all little tasters – a foretaste of what God intended, a foretaste of what Christ would bring about by means of his death upon the cross, the just for the unjust.

The law of Moses importantly contained the command to love God:

Deut.11:1 "You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always."


The Book of Nehemiah refers to a believers as

Neh.1:11 "servants who delight to fear (the LORD’s) name,"


And this theme of delighting in the LORD is further developed in the psalms where we are exhorted to look exclusively to the LORD:

Ps.37:4 "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."


Believers are also described by their desire and practice of "delighting to fear the LORD", "delighting in the LORD God Almighty", "delighting in his word", "delighting in his righteousness" and that with joy and gladness.

These things hold no appeal to the natural man still held captive in his sin but to the man or woman in whom the Spirit is at work there is no greater joy imaginable than to know the Father and Jesus Christ whom he has sent.

The ability to do these things is not to be attributed to a person’s individual psyche, it is down to God and secured for us through the death of Christ whom he sent for us.

We are never to imagine that somehow Jesus forced the unwilling hand of his Father to accept us back – no! The Father was the One who sent the Son to facilitate just this return.


Two More OT Examples of what it means to be brought back or brought near
We read about these men earlier in the service – I wonder if you remember much about them.

Firstly, Mephibosheth. He is mentioned by name in five different chapters of 2Samuel with most information being given in just two of them 2Sam.9 + 2Sam.19

Secondly, Barzillai and his son Chimham whose story is mostly recounted also in 2Samuel 19.

  • Mephibosheth

He was Jonathan’s son who was crippled in his feet due to having been dropped as a child of 5 years of age. David had wanted to show kindness to Saul’s house for Jonathan’s sake and when he was told about Mephibosheth he sent for him.

Now when Mephibosheth arrived he feared for the worst but must have been amazed at the way David welcomed him. He wasn’t only given back his family’s lands he was given the privilege of eating regularly at King David’s table. In fact David treated him so well that he was just like one of David’s own sons.

What a picture that is for us. This is an illustration of what it is like to be brought back to be brought near. Mephibosheth didn’t do anything to deserve his welcome but was treated well on account of another and that is exactly like us with God.

Time went by (perhaps as much as 13 years) and David had to flee the capital to get away from his son Absalom who was trying to take the throne from him. Mephibosheth’s servant Ziba went to David and told lies about his master – the next meeting between David and Mephibosheth would be an interesting one!

When David was on his way back to Jerusalem after the Absalom threat was over he wanted to know why Mephibosheth hadn’t gone with him when he’d been forced out and Mephibosheth explained just what had happened. He expressed his wonder at how good David had been to him in the past and didn’t expect any more. David receives him again and is generous to Mephibosheth one more time but listen to the latter’s response, it really reflects the attitude that marks the believer in the NT to the wonderful grace of God that brings his back too:

2Sam.19:30 "And Mephibosheth said to the king, "Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home.""


The true believer isn’t out to try to line his own pockets always focusing on his own personal interests rather he is caught up with his Lord and his interests. In other words the Christian is concerned with the glory of God. He might not always be as caught up with this as he might like but again and again he returns to this and his returns mark his better moments!

  • Barzillai

The second example is concerned with Barzillai and his son Chimham. During that same time when David was having trouble with Absalom Barzillai had met him and provided some much needed help that encouraged David and his men. Not long after David had met with Mephibosheth he again was met and encouraged by Barzillai. David was keen to take this man back to Jerusalem with him so that he might honour him but Barzillai declined pleading old age – he was then 80 years old. Instead he asked David to welcome his son Chimham – David readily agreed declaring:

2Sam.19:38, 40 "Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do for him whatever seems good to you, and all that you desire of me I will do for you.... and Chimham went on with him."


In this example we have the same truth. A man is welcomed not for anything he has done but because of the work of another. Chimham is blessed – travelling on in the company of the King to enjoy the honours he will bestow.


Our NT Blessings of being brought near
The greatest blessing we can ever enjoy is not related to things or to mere ideas but to personal relationship with our God. And this is just what Jesus has secured for us by his death and this restored relationship with God lies right at the very heart of the gospel.

Having been brought near by Jesus’ death we now have access for us to the Father and what an access it is:

Eph.2:18 "For through him we  both  have access in one Spirit to the Father."


We’re no longer held at a distance and barred from worship but we can come and we can come with boldness because of our Saviour:

Eph.3:12 "in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him."


And our boldness is to be joyfully employed:

Rom.5:10 "Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God."


The writer to the Hebrews takes up this idea of boldness. Having been brought back to God by our Saviour we need have no qualms about pressing on:
Heb.4:16 "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Later he tells us not to throw away this confidence because there is great reward attached to it!

What wonderful blessings are ours in Christ and specifically because he died for us! Let us make sure that we don’t miss out. But let us never forget that the Benefactor himself is the greatest of all our blessings!


To God be the glory.

Amen.


 
 
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