When I was a child, there was never a doubt about who was in charge in our
family. How many times I heard Papa say, "You had better listen!"
Not only did he lay down the rules for all of us children to follow, but he
demanded that those rules be followed. And if Mama told us to do something and
we failed to do it, Papa would remind us, "You had better
listen to your mother!" And all of us learned that it was much better to "listen" than to suffer the consequences!
No one has truly faced the realities of life who has not pondered the reason for his existence in this world. Surely God had a far more noble purpose in our creation than for us merely to occupy a little space for a short period of time, then drop into oblivion. It isn't reasonable that His desire was to school and protect man for "three score years and ten," then just to allow him to cease to exist again.
We need to recognize that we didn't create ourselves, we were not designed
and planned of our own volition. But, since we were not the designers and givers
of our own lives, we must look to the Giver of life for its meaning. As the
Bible declares, "Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made
us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the
sheep of His pasture" (Psa. 100:3). God put you here. It is impossible for us to escape Him, or thrust Him out of the picture. Therefore, it is imperative that we submit to His Will.
When God speaks of our purpose and our destiny, we must listen to Him.
God Spoke In The Beginning: -- "In the beginning God created the heavens
and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). God spoke when the heavens and earth sprang
into existence, materializing
from nothing: "By the Word of Jehovah were the heavens made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth... For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood
fast" (Psa. 33:6-9). It was God who spoke when light appeared to roll back the darkness. It was God who spoke when the sun, moon and stars dotted the heavens above us. It was
God who spoke when the plants sprang from the earth, when the waters were filled with fish and the air with birds, and creeping things began to fill the earth.
It was God who spoke of man: "And God said, Let us make man in our image,
after our likeness...And God created man in His own image, in the image of God
created He him;
male and female created He them" (Gen. 1:26,27). Because we are made in the image of God, because He gave us life, we have certain responsibilities to Him. In other words, when He speaks, "We had better listen!"
God speaks with authority. All creation must listen to His voice, for the
voice of God is right. And without God, nothing is right in this world. We must
recognize the creative power
of God's Word: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him" (Jno. 1:1-3). But we msut also recognize the sustaining power of the voice of God: God is still "upholding all things by the Word of His power" (Heb. 1:3). It is by the power of the Word of God that the sun rises and sets, that all of "nature" exists. When He speaks, we had better listen!
God Speaks Of Sin And Its Result: -- After creating Adam and Eve and placing
them in the Garden of Eden, God warned them not to eat of the "tree of
knowledge of good and evil"
and told them, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17). Ever since that time, the penalty has been the same: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezk. 18:
20), and, The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). Man has often made light of sin, and its consequences. But when God speaks, we had better listen!
As the Scriptures say, "Every transgression and disobedience received
a just recompense of reward" (Heb. 2:2). Penalties were imposed upon man
for sin form the time of Adam
till now. The progression of sin in our lives is clearly shown: "Each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin; and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death" (Jas. 1:14,15).
God Speaks Of The Savior: -- But God doesn't just speak of sin and its penalty, He also speaks of salvation from sin, and the Savior who would bring it to man. Through the prophets of old, God spoke about the plan of salvation, promising the Messiah who would "save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). And as sin multiplied in the lives of men and women, God's plan was at work; "When the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4:4,5).
The voice of God had decreed that Christ should come into the world, bringing salvation to all men (Ti. 2:12). But the voice of God also spoke specifically as to what man must do to lay hold on this salvation. And here, again, the voice of God is irrevocable. We must listen to the voice of God. Man cannot array himself against this voice and obtain the promises through means of his own devising. In setting forth the terms of salvation, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16), Jesus was simply speaking the Words of God.
As Jesus told the apostles, "He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that
rejecteth you rejecteth Me; and he that rejecteth Me rejecteth Him that sent
Me" (Lk. 10:16). When we listen to Christ, we listen to God. We read in
Heb. 1:2 that "in these last days" God speaks to us "through
His Son." And this is echoed by the Lord Jesus whe He said, "All authority
hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28: 18). And, as Jesus said in Lk. 10:16, when we listen to the voice of the apostles, we hear Jesus. Don't defy the voice of
God. "We had better listen!"
God Speaks Of The Church: -- In the long ago, God had His prophets speak of
the church, or kingdom, that was to come. "it shall come to pass in the
last days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the
top of the mountains...and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in
His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of Jehovah from
Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:2,3). This "house of God" is later described
as, "the church of the living God" (1 Tim. 3:15). It is "a kingdom
which cannot be shaken" (Heb.12:28), as was repeatedly voiced b God through
the prophets of old
(Psa. 89:3,4; Jer.23:5,6; Matt. 16:18,19).
That church/kingdom is described as a rule of peace, headed by "the Prince
of Peace" (Isa. 9:6). Thus, it is not a military kingdom, but a spiritual
one. As Jesus told Pilate, "My
kingdom is not of this world" (Jno. 18:36). That church is also the "body of Christ" (Col. 1:18), "kingdom of God" (Col. 1:13,14), "the house of God" (1 Tim. 3:15), "the family of God" (Eph. 3:15) and "the bride of Christ" (Eph. 5:22-33). And, as the apostle explained, it
was designed "according to the eternal purpose of God" (Eph. 3:11).
God Speaks About The Return Of Christ: -- God's voice is also heard concerning the return of His Son, therefore the matter is firmly fixed. Jesus is coming again, in God's appointed time and to fulfill His eternal purposes. As the whole scheme of redemption was blue-printed in heaven before the sun, moon and stars appeared, so Jesus will come from heaven to accomplish those things which the voice of God has decreed. Jesus told the apostles, "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (Jno. 14:2,3). Yes, the voice of God says that Jesus is coming again.
Jesus said, "But when the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then shall He sit on the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all the nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats" (Matt. 25:31- 32). The return of the Lord is foretold by many writers of Scripture (1 Cor. 15:23; 2 Thes. 2:1,7,8; Jas. 5:7,8; 1 Pet. 1: 16, etc). When He comes back, it will not be to save, but to judge, the world: "Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in the which all that are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment" (Jno. 5:28,29; see also Heb. 9:27,28).
When Jesus returns, we will all face Him in judgment, which will determine
where we will spend eternity: "For we must all be made manifest before
the judgment seat of Christ;
that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10). Those who have listened to the voice of God, and heeded what He says, will hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matt.
25:21) and the joys of heaven will be opened to him. But for those who refuse to listen
to the voice of God, they will hear Him say, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt.25:41).
Friend, it was God's purpose in your creation that you hear His voice and
glorify God in your complete obedience to His Will. Your happiness now, and
forever, depends upon
submitting to the terms of the Word of God. Today is the acceptable time (2 Cor. 6:2). Through the Bible, God is still speaking to mankind. Yield yourself to Him, and the judgment will hold no terror.
But always remember, when God speaks, "You had better listen!"
By Clem Thurman in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 54,
No. 45, Nov. 11, 2005.
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