Living the right way
You are reading my open letter to Rome, part: [[]
My friends, all I want for Israel is salvation through Messiah, nothing less. Yes, they already love God. But they miss what makes people acceptable to God--it isn't the Law alone! There's nothing we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God; only God can set us right with him. This setting-things-right is already in place! He's done it through the one who makes the Law complete, Jesus the Messiah! We get in the acceptable state before God not solely by following the Law and doing good works; no, there's only so much we can do. At some point, God has to take over. And he has! This faith, this trust in Messiah, is what sets us right before God.
The Law gets us only so far in this right way of living!
The Law got us ready for the Messiah, who then gave life to those who trust him to set us right before God. Moses writes that the Law gives life too; anyone following the Law lives. By the same standard, anyone who breaks the Law, then, dies. The Law gives life, it's true. Ah, but there is a catch: we know that no person can keep the Law perfectly! That means the Law can only get us so far. On the other hand, trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story--no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into the grave to rescue the Messiah. This right way of living was predicted:
The word that saves is right here,
as near as the tongue in your mouth,
as close as the heart in your chest.
It's this trusting God to set a right way of living we are telling everyone about. This is the core of what we're saying!
How can someone get this right way of living?
Our part in getting this right way of living is simple: we just initiate it with a willing heart. If you just believe in your heart that this Messiah I speak of is the Master, you are saved from what's coming to you under the Law. That's it; you're saved from the end result of sin; you're saved from death! Just like it had been predicted all along.
It doesn't matter if you're a Jew or a non-Jew, or if you've got an extensive religious background or you've never said a single prayer before: we know that anyone who trusts God with his heart will not regret it. God's the same incredibly generous and forgiving God--no matter your background--helping anyone who calls out for help.
Tell people about it!
That is why we need to get the message out; without it, how can people call out for help when they don't know who will help them? Who can they trust if they don't know the trustworthy Messiah? How can they hear if no one shouts it aloud? How can it be shouted without someone there to shout it?! That's why Scripture says,
A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
telling all the good things of God!
It's true, many people aren't ready for this. They aren't ready to see it, hear it, or act on it. Some people have hard hearts; their narrow minds are already made up, they are like Pharaoh in Egypt, where no matter what God did, he kept shutting out the truth even to his own downfall. When we encounter people like this, it's easy to ask that inevitable question that Isaiah had to ask,
Does anyone care, God?
Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?
Before there can ever be a trusting in God and a right way of living, there has to be an ear to hear and an open heart. But unless we're the ones telling of Messiah, those ears will have nothing to listen to.
How can it be that Israel missed Messiah?
You might be wondering, "What about Israel? Weren't they listening? Didn't they have ears to hear the truth? Why didn't they see this Messiah you're talking about?" Yes, it's true, they were listening:
Preachers' voices have gone around the world,
Their message to earth's seven seas.
We also know Israel's punishment was coming. Moses himself said it:
I'll make you envious by those who aren't a nation
I'll make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.
God gave the same word to Isaiah, hinting at what was coming:
People found and welcomed me
who never so much as looked for me.
And I found and welcomed people
who had never even asked about me.
So why did Israel, who were looking and listening for the Messiah, miss him? God gives us the answer:
All day long I have spread out My hands to a rebellious people
Doing whatever they please, never listening to My heart.
What a sad and terrible thing to miss out on the Messiah! If that weren't tragic enough, they were looking for him all along! It's sad, but what choice did they leave to God, except correction by punishment? Fortunately, this punishment is only temporary.