One of the guarantees of this life is that there will be troubles. We will suffer afflictions that cause us to grieve that are both internally and externally generated. External events can cause us grief, such as the loss of a loved one, and we can cause grief within ourselves through stress, worry and anxiety.
But there are two types of grief as we see explained in this section of scripture. There is worldly grief and there is a godly grief, and the outcomes of each of these is quite different.
Likewise, in Christ we have a comfort that is not available to the unbelievers of this world. People who are suffering seek comfort because they want the suffering to cease. But the comfort that comes through the knowledge of Jesus Christ goes deeper than any comfort that the world can give.
“ 17 Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”
One of the most fundamental teachings of Christianity is that in Christ we are born again as a new creation in Him.
Christianity is about a journey. It’s about finding the way to God through Jesus Christ. And every journey starts with a beginning; a first step.
In Jesus Christ we start that journey through repenting and seeking Jesus Christ as our Saviour. As we then walk with Him we go through the processes that re-create us out of the image of mankind, bound under sin, and into the image of Jesus Christ who is the image of perfection; the image of God. It is in that process of re-creation that we are born again as a new creation. So let us look at this new creation and the process of being made a new creation in Jesus Christ.
As a Christian I have heard this question posed many times by non-believers who believe it is a plausible argument for the non-existence of God. It is a question that smacks of hypocrisy because those who pose it do not believe in God in the first place. They say, “If God is good why do people suffer,” or some variation of this such as good people suffering, innocent children suffering or just the fact that the world is full of suffering.
But the argument itself suffers from one fatal flaw. The question is wrong because It is based on a false premise.
The underlying premise of this question is that God, who is all-seeing and all-knowing, is the God of this world where people live and suffer. And that is where the argument falls apart, as we see in this section of scripture.
One of the first principles of coming to Jesus Christ is the principle of repentance. Repentance relates to changing your life by turning around and away from the things of this world to the things of the spirit.
The word “repentance” is translated from the Greek word “metanoia” which literally means to change your thinking. And when we change the way we think, we automatically change the way we behave because all behaviour commences with a thought.
So then, if we are to learn how to walk properly with Jesus Christ, we need to change our behaviours and this is preceded by changing how we think. This is the focus of these few verses we are looking at today.
Israel stumbled. They fell from the grace of God. They became hard of heart and stiff-necked not willing to bow before the true God but turning aside to false gods and to gratification of the flesh.
They chose to seek a form of self-righteousness through works of law rather than following in the footsteps of their father Abraham who was righteous by faith in the mighty working power of God.
So they stumbled. And it was over the stumbling stone of Jesus Christ that they finally fell flat and which allowed the Gentiles to come into the fold.
But Paul shows us here that although they stumbled and fell, their fall was not absolute. They did not stumble to a place where they could not or would not arise again. And there is a lesson for us all in these words and this teaching.
People talk about the two great inevitabilities being death and taxes. However neither of those is inevitable as we can be set free from death in Jesus Christ and if you know how you can legally avoid taxes.
But there is one thing that truly is an inevitability, and that is the God shows no partiality. He does not care whether a person is rich or poor, nor does He care about the types of things that divide people like race, creed, religion and colour of the skin. None of these are important in His sight.
What The Lord God is concerned about is whether a person does what is right or wrong, and depending on what a person does will determine how they are treated and what they receive from God.
Are you familiar with the deadly game of Russian roulette? It is the nastiest game of gambling ever devised because the loser loses their life on a game of chance.
It works like this. Assume a gun has a cylinder that spins and takes say six bullets. The cylinder is then emptied and loaded with one bullet. The cylinder is spun and when it stops the person holds the gun to their own head and if they have the nerve, they pull the trigger. If the bullet ended up in the firing position after spinning the cylinder, the gun goes off shooting through the head and killing the person.
They lose! And this all happens because they choose to take a chance and gamble with their life.
Well those who do not walk with The Lord are like the players in a game of Russian roulette and in this section of scripture we see what happens when you take a chance and gamble with your eternal life.
How many times have you seen repentance depicted in the media or cartoons as some scruffy old guy wearing a sign that says something like, “Repent, the end is near!” Or how many times is repentance shown as some preacher breathing threats of hellfire and damnation if people don’t repent and turn to God.
Funnily enough, although there may be some truth in such depictions, this is not the way The Lord and the early disciples presented the need for repentance. Repentance is one of the foundation teachings of the New Covenant and when it was preached by John the Baptist, Jesus or the disciples, it was presented in a very different light to the images of the popular media today.
As we study the scriptures there are often the obvious lessons that can be seen, but now and again we see some less obvious teachings. There is one such lesson in this section of scriptues. There were a number of times in the scriptures where Jesus healed or ministered to people and attached conditions to the word. We see a situation such as this in this section of the scripture. The Lord healed a man who had been paralyzed for thirty eight years (as discussed in my previous post) but after the healing he attached a condition to his work.