Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
There is a wonderful Bible truth that God takes the initiative in saving us. He is not, as many conceive of Him, standing back, His divine arms folded in disinterested concern, while we wallow in our misery. He is not saying, "Well, I did My part long ago; it's up to you now. You must take the initiative. If you want to be saved, come and work hard at it. If it seems hard to you, you just don't have what it takes to get to heaven."
No! A thousand times No! But many feel that way about God. And some shy and timid ones think God has plenty of good people ready to take my place--He doesn't need me, and I'm not really sure He even wants me.
In contrast, Paul helps us see the divine initiative at work for us: "Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" (Rom. 2:4).
The Good News Bible says "He is trying to lead you to repent." The goodness of God is actually taking you by the hand and leading you toward repentance as surely as a fireman tries to lead a victim out of the smoke and haze of a burning building. If you don't stubbornly resist, you will be led all the way to heaven. Astounding as it may seem, that's the message.
Sometimes we pray agonizingly for some wayward loved one, assuming we have to beg the Lord to wake up and please do something. The idea is that He is divinely indifferent until we touch His pity somehow. But the goodness of God is already working, leading your loved one to repentance.
The trouble is that we often thwart what He is trying to do because we haven't understood that goodness, mercy, and forbearance of the Lord in their true dimensions. We're horrified to realize it, but we pile stumbling blocks in our loved one's way to heaven. We don't realize how the selfishness and inconsistencies they see in us block their access to God, or shadow their concepts of His character.
And, yes, it is true, not everybody repents. Why? Some "despise" this goodness of God. Stubborn, they break away from that leading. Let's grasp this tremendous insight! The sinner may resist this love, he may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus. A knowledge of the plan of salvation will lead him to the foot of the cross in repentance for his sins.
--Robert J. Wieland
From: The Good News Is Better Than You Think," 2002.
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