1 Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, 2 Before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you! 3 Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zephaniah 2:1–3, NKJV)
The great day of the Lord’s judgment was about to descend upon “undesirable” (shameless) Judah. Before it did, God’s prophet Zephaniah called on people to repent and return to humble righteousness. God’s fierce anger would be unleashed against the nation that had turned its back on Him. Babylon executed God’s punishment, but those who would “seek the Lord” found shelter from the storm of divine wrath. God decides when He will bring down a nation for its stubborn sins (Jeremiah 18:7-11). Now is the time for men and women to seek the Lord and find shelter for their souls. Judgment is coming, not merely upon nations, but upon the whole world (2 Peter 3:10-12). The mercy and salvation of God in Christ Jesus protects those who live by faith, doing His will (2 Peter 3:13-15).
8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. (1 Timothy 1:8–11, NKJV)
Why is there such resistance to law? The apostle drives to the heart of the matter: People’s sin is exposed by law. Law unmasks our sin. That is its job. The law (command) of God is “holy, just and good” (Rom. 7:12). God’s law is not at fault when we sin against it. We will never be saved by law-keeping, because “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). This is why we are not justified by works (of law). We are justified “freely by His grace through the redemption that we have in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Do not make the mistake of thinking this nullifies being under law. “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). Law does its work by shining a light on sin. Sinners are called by the gospel to come to Christ to be saved. If you do not like God’s law, is may be that you prefer sin. We urge you to repent of such thinking and living, for it leads to eternal death. The “sound doctrine” of the “glorious gospel” of Christ will save you (Acts 2:37-41).
1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,” (Isaiah 61:1–2, NKJV)
Jesus applied these words to Himself as He read from Isaiah in Nazareth’s synagogue (Lk. 4:16-21). God’s Christ was tasked with preaching good news to impoverished souls (Matt. 5:3; 6:20). The Lord God commissioned His Servant to heal hearts that are broken by sin’s sorrow and despair (Matt. 5:4; 11:28-30). Jesus proclaimed liberty from sin’s bondage, and announced the age of divine grace (Jno. 8:34-36; 1:14-17). He came to comfort those who mourn over their sins, as He declared God’s vengeance against His opponents (Jno. 5:22-23, 30; 12:48). Jesus Christ is the great fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, to give blessings to all nations through his Seed (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Gal. 3:16). With decisive clarity, we are assured that “now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). And so, your opportunity to be saved from your sins is now. Choose the comfort of God’s forgiveness through Christ Jesus, not the vengeance of God’s wrath. Believe and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ – now.
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8, NKJV)
The apostles did not teach the gospel by their own authority. It was not their power that persuaded sinners of salvation in Jesus Christ; it was the power of the gospel they preached. But, they did indeed have to work and sacrifice in order for that gospel to spread from Jerusalem, through Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. In today’s verse, Jesus promised the apostles miraculous powers in order to confirm the truth of their message. He kept that promise on Pentecost, when His apostles were invested with miraculous “power from on high” (Lk. 24:49; Acts 2:1-4). As they preached, “the Lord worked with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:3-4). Today, God’s power to save is not through miracles, but through the power of the “word of the truth of the gospel” that convicts sinners and converts them to the Lord (Rom. 1:16-17; Col. 1:5-6). If you want God’s power in you life, then believe and obey the gospel of His Son. It has the power to save you from sin and give you a sure hope of heaven.
And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15, NKJV)
From heads of state to lowly peasants, pleas for peace are heard around the world. God, in the gospel of Christ, has sent the world a message of real and lasting peace; a peace that is formed between God and sinners. Peace requires at least two things. First, removal of the adversarial conflict must occur. The fighting must end. Paul draws from the prophet Nahum, who saw the feet of the messenger who announced that God was about to remove brutal Assyria from the scene; God judged and destroyed the adversary (Nahum 1:12-15). Even so, sin has put us at war with God. The oppressive yoke of sin must be broken in order for peace with God to exist. The enemy of sin was defeated at the cross of Jesus. Secondly, sin’s conflict must be replaced with the tranquility of divine fellowship. Even so, Paul calls upon Isaiah 52:7, as Isaiah spoke of the beautiful feet that proclaim salvation to Zion, because, “Your God reigns.” The gospel of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness, replacing alienation with peaceful harmony between God and those who are saved in the Son. What beautiful news of peace we proclaim!
31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:31–32, NKJV)
That fact that a child of God can fall away and be lost (“die”), does not mean God desires it to be so (see 1 Tim. 2:3-4). The prevention lies with the child of God who sins. God calls on His sinning children to repent: “cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” Without doing so, they would die in their sins. But, with a new heart, a new life can be lived. Without the change of heart that is called “repentance,” one’s conduct will not be successfully corrected. And so, sinners, including Christians, are urged to repent when there is sin in their lives (Lk. 13:1-5; Acts 8:12-13, 22-24). The world is lost, and needs salvation in Jesus (Acts 4:12). For a Christian to live in sin and not turn to Christ by repenting and ceasing his sin, is to invite certain and eternal death. Turn and live, “For why should you die?”
12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:12–13, NKJV)
The Gentiles were not in a covenant relationship with God through the Law of Moses. Only Israel was under that law, and were the people of the covenant (Deut. 5:2-3). That is why Paul speaks of the Gentiles as “having no hope and without God in the world” (v. 12). This is an apt description of the spiritual status of all who are lost in sin: Aliens, without God, without hope, and without an inheritance (see Eph. 2:1-3). But, “in Christ Jesus” all that changes. In Christ, one has a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3). In Christ, the sinner is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Through faith in Christ Jesus, lost sinners are saved, and become children of God (Gal. 3:26; 4:5-7). The alien sinner comes into a saved relationship with God by putting on Christ, which occurs when the sinner is “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27). The blood of Christ – His death for our sins – makes it possible for us to be reconciled to God (Eph. 2:16). It washes away our sins when we are baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; Acts 22:16). No longer live without God and without hope. By faith, be baptized into Christ and be saved. “Why are you waiting?” (Acts 22:16)