STOP IT: the gospel according to God and common sense

Posted: March 31, 2012 in Thoughts from the Elders

Perhaps you have seen the STOP IT! skit from Comedy Central. I’ve seen it a few times. It inspires me to — well — STOP IT.

 

If we were to turn in our Bibles to Numbers 33:1-50, we would find a place-by-place account of the Israelites wilderness’ wanderings from Rameses in Egypt to the plains of Moab near Jericho. One historical source remarked, “What should have taken just a few weeks turned into a 40 year death march. It wasn’t God’s plan for it to end up as it did, but the Israelites were hard-hearted and rebellious, freed slaves without an ounce of discipline or self-control. Because of their chronic stubbornness and unbelief, they forfeited a life of freedom in the land of milk and honey, the Promised Land God had graciously given to the descendants of Abraham.”

Unfortunately, as a result of mankind’s free will and Satan’s cunningness, the Israelites’ wanderlust would be replicated over and over again throughout history, although the wilderness lessons were told and retold to Abraham’s descendants.

There is in God’s great plan of salvation a common sense element, a discernment element, that is almost a “well, naturally,” a college vernacular “duh,” “of course!” “I was with you; naturally, I will be with you!” There is an element that says, “Come on, get it together, saints; use your head and let your head help guide your heart.”

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, said to his church, “12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation . . . 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,” — naturally! Hmm, a common sense admonition, a gumption clause, “continue to work out your salvation.”

You who do not have computers and, therefore, not an Internet connection, probably do not need one more reminder of what you’re missing, but let me remind you of what you’re missing. There is a program called YouTube, that allows the viewer to tune in various flicks from news to cooking to sermons, and on YouTube I recently saw the comedian Bob Newhart as a psychiatrist interviewing a very well-dressed lady patient about her abnormal fear of being buried alive in a box. So as they are sitting opposite each other across a desk, Newhart says he has only two words of counseling for her: “STOP IT!” The exchange is hilarious as she questions, “Stop it?” and he barks again, “STOP IT!”

Well, I’m not suggesting that the Israelites’ disobedience was humorous to God, but sometimes man’s disobedience is so ridiculous it borders on silliness. In fact, in the case of the Israelites, if it hadn’t been for Moses’ and Aaron’s intercession, God might have wiped them out. So, I admit that there are times when God, our great omnipotent, omniscient maker, intervenes–and even in the lives of His saints–to say, in effect: “STOP IT! Quit being petty. Quit being so self centered and short-sighted. Start accepting the power of God.” STOP IT?

Cases in point are Jonah and Elijah, and without taking time this evening to reread the incidents perhaps you will remember that Jonah was pouting because God wouldn’t destroy Nineveh (Jonah 4: 8&9: He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry?”) and, then, there’s Elijah, who was having a pity party. ( I Kings 19: 9 – There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 15 The LORD said to him, . . . 18 “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him. –so, in effect, STOP IT!! Stop sinning by pitying yourself.

Well, God is still in the STOP IT business, but, praise the Lord, He is also in the keeping business through which He does not have to constantly be saying, “Don’t say that! Don’t do that!”

Believe it or not, this God who created the universe–and us–has the power to keep us. Amazing! He is able to deliver us! A couple of ideas run around Christian circles about sinning: (1) one is that a Holy Jehovah will put up with our evil sinning and keep us anyway; (2) the other is that He has the power to keep us from sinning. The conversation goes on and on in Christian institutions and certainly doesn’t need to be argued here tonight, but I think it would be good tonight to remind ourselves about His keeping power. Jude speaks of this power: 24 “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”

And we know about the Apostle Paul’s confidence. 2nd Timothy 1:12: ” I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”2 Timothy 4:18 “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

And then there is Simon Peter the Christ denier: 1 Peter 1: 3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

But Christ himself was pretty direct about God’s keeping power. The book of John the 8th chapter records the incident of the woman caught in the act of adultery and Christ’s dealing with her: 9 “And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” STOP IT!

NOTICE THAT THE WOMAN DID NOT QUESTION “NO MORE?” CHRIST’S COMMAND WAS NOT AN “IF YOU CAN” MERE SUGGESTION TO A SINNING CHRISTIAN BUT, RATHER, A COMMAND TO A POTENTIAL FOLLOWER WHO COULD, BY THE POWER OF GOD, “GO AND SIN NO MORE.” STOP IT.

So the gospel of common sense, as we work out our own salvation, is go and sin no more, as we are kept by the power of God. Kept by the power of God!!!

Submitted by Mitch Ratzlaff – GCC Elder

Written by Mitch’s Grandpa-in-law “Grandpa Murdock”

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