Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
The inspired Bible formula has to be true: Listening to God's New Covenant promises + believing them = a changed heart and life (John 3:16, etc.). It's like a simple recipe in cooking: when God's promises are "mixed with faith," what comes out of the oven is genuine conversion (Heb. 4:2).
That was the miracle of "the hearing of faith" that the Galatians experienced when Paul preached Christ's sacrifice so clearly that they saw Him "crucified before them" (3:1-5). And it was the miracle of Abraham's sour, bitter wife Sarai's melting of heart and repentance by hearing God's Good News. This made it possible for her at last "by faith" to receive the miracle from God, to be with child, Isaac (Gen. 16:2; 17:15, 16; 18:9, 10; Heb. 11:11).
But there are counterfeits, and how can we tell the difference? Why are so many preaching "love, love, love," yet the listeners sense no need to overcome sin itself? What's wrong? There's nothing wrong with love itself if they just knew the right idea of it when the Bible says that "God is love" (1 John 4:8). They assume our natural egocentric human idea. The New Testament word is agape, and it's a totally different kind of love than we humans know naturally. It's impossible for an honest heart to hear, to understand, to contemplate, to "survey" that agape displayed in the "wondrous cross," and then go on in captivity to sin.
There are many contrasts between the two loves, but the greatest is this: the agape-love of Christ led Him to choose to go to hell, to die the equivalent of the hopeless second death, because of His love for us. "He poured out His soul unto death," "for He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (Isa. 53:12; 2 Cor. 5:21).
You can never understand the cross of Christ unless you understand Galatians 3:13: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.'") He voluntarily took that "curse" upon Himself, gave up all thought of life eternal, "poured out His soul" completely. Contemplating that love plants it in our hearts; and lives are changed. Just be sure the Good News is not distorted by an intrusion of false doctrine, such as the non-biblical natural immortality of the soul.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 10, 2003.
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