GOD’S RESCUE MISSION
None of us chose to be born! Only God, who is eternal, chose to enter the realm of time and be born on the planet earth, taking on the human form at the time and place appointed by Him. He chose the womb of an ordinary, godly virgin about 2000 years ago (Matt.1:20-21).
The virgin birth of Jesus, prophesied by Isaiah, was history’s greatest supernatural event – the eternal God taking on the human form! (Isa.7:14).
You Are Special!
Before God created the earth, He not only planned everything for each one of us to be born on its soil, He also recorded every single moment and every single day of our lives. God revealed this magnificent truth to King David and inspired him to write Psalm 139, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (v.16). God told Isaiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew (chose) you” (1:5). If God knew and chose David and Isaiah before they were born, He certainly knew you and me, and chose us before we were born! He has also recorded every single event in our lives in His ‘book’!
When God created the first humans in His image and likeness, in a clean and pure environment of the Garden of Eden, they were perfect and had an intimate, harmonious relationship with their Creator. But when they disobeyed God by believing and yielding to Satan’s lie, that relationship was broken and they were separated from God; they died spiritually (Gen.3).
The children born to Adam and Eve after the separation inherited the ‘fallen’ nature of their parents, which the word of God calls sin. Genesis does not use the word ‘sin’ until chapter 4, when it describes Cain (Adam and Eve’s eldest son) murdering his brother Abel. Thousands of years later, the apostle Paul referred to this most tragic event of the Garden of Eden in these words, “When Adam (and Eve) sinned (disobeyed God), sin entered the entire human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (Rom.5:12). Murder, jealousy, hatred, robbery, adultery, fornication, lying, uncontrolled anger are some of the outward manifestations of the inward problem of sin in us. To rescue us from sin and Satan’s grip, we needed someone greater than Satan. We needed God Himself.
The New Testament writers frequently use the word ‘grace’ to express the concept of kindness bestowed upon someone undeserving it. Used in the context of God’s mission of rescuing and winning back the lost humanity, the word ‘grace’ denotes an attribute of a loving and compassionate God that moves Him to extend favour to those who do not deserve it.
In Genesis 3:21, we find the first instance of demonstration of God’s grace, “And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” An animal had to be sacrificed to provide skin to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. Before banishing them from the Garden of Eden and from His presence, God clothed them with the skin of a slain animal, because He still loved them. He had plans to adopt the ‘spiritually orphaned’ children and their descendants who would be born to them down through the centuries, as His own children and family.The slain animal and its shed blood pointed toward Jesus Christ, as John the Baptist declares, “Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn.1:29).
The sacrificial love of God is clearly portrayed in Romans 5:8, and His ‘great rescue mission’ is described in John 3:16; Romans 5:1,6; Galatians 1:3-4; Colossians 1:13-14, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, etc.
We, the sin-cursed descendants of Adam and Eve, can never approach God, no matter how hard we try and what methods we use. Therefore God, who loves us despite our wilful rebellion against Him, initiated the great rescue mission to win us back to Himself. He had only one way to accomplish that mission – the way of the cross that would take Him through the agonies of suffering and death on our behalf! This is the good news (Gospel) for all humanity.
God’s unmerited favour (grace) toward us sinners did not end with the death of His Son. The good news of the sacrificial and vicarious death of Jesus was followed by the glorious news – His resurrection! Death and decay could not hold Him in their grip for long. The rescue mission of God was accomplished gloriously with the triumph of Christ over the grave. The good news of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is also the glorious news of life and immortality for the human race! (Matt.28:1-7).
The apostle Paul ends his detailed commentary on Christ’s glorious resurrection with these prophetic words about the future resurrection of all those who have received Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord into their hearts, “For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die. When this happens – when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die – at last the Scriptures will come true: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (1Cor.15:53-57).
Have You Believed?
God has not taken away from us the freedom of choice He gave Adam and Eve, even though they misused the freedom and sold themselves to Satan’s lie, with disastrous consequences. With freedom and responsibility, He gave them this warning, “You may freely eat any fruit in the garden, except the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die” (Gen.2:16-17). Our uniqueness as humans lies in being created in God’s own image with the divine authority to have dominion over His creation and in the freedom to choose and act responsibly.
Even though we still have the image of God within us, that image is marred by sin and is in desperate need of being restored to its original beauty. God’s rescue mission offers you the Way, the Truth and the Life in the person of Jesus Christ to restore that image (Jn.14:6; Col.3:10; 1Pet.5:10), because you are special in the sight of God! (Psa.139:15,17).
You probably know this truth; but there is a great difference between ‘knowing intellectually’ and ‘knowing in your heart’. After Jesus Christ was revealed to the world in an obscure place called Nazareth in Galilee, it required a real act of faith to believe that He was indeed the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world. Sadly, many did not believe; but to all who believed with their heart, the good news about Christ was the power of God that saved (rescued) them from sin and hell fire (Rom.1:15-16).
Do not spurn God’s grace available to you freely in Christ, who says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt.11:28). “…the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (Jn.14:27).
The Sustaining Grace
Those who have experienced God’s grace at salvation have the assurance that the same grace is available to them when they go through painful struggles and trials in this world. Paul’s testimony concerning a ‘thorn’ in his ‘flesh’ can be ours as well when we go through ‘thorny’ afflictions (Phil.4:13).
Someone has well said, “Grace is regarded as the sustaining influence of God, enabling the believer to persevere in the Christian life.”
If you have tasted God’s grace and the magnificent freedom that it provides, you will be eager to share your experience with those who are deprived of the blessings of this life and of the life to come. We have an example of the evidence of the wonderful grace of God, demonstrated through His people. “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you” (2Cor.9:11-14).
How much we need to thank God for His grace so amazing! When thanksgiving becomes an integral part of our life, our attitude changes and we become positive, gracious, loving and humble. A Christian who claims to believe in Jesus Christ and worship Him but fails to exhibit Christ-like character, takes the grace of God for granted. He does not allow the grace of Christ to flow through him and touch the lives of others.