Formations lesson for Oct. 31: Caring for the Gospel : Friday, Oct. 15, 2004
October 15 2004 by Wayne Proctor

Formations lesson for Oct. 31: Caring for the Gospel : Friday, Oct. 15, 2004
Friday, Oct. 15, 2004

Formations lesson for Oct. 31: Caring for the Gospel

By Wayne Proctor
Focal Passages: Micah 6:6-8, Luke 10:25-28

The gospel is the "good news." One of the major responsibilities we have is to tell the "good news" story. Part of that is giving a verbal witness to Scripture, and part is living the "good news."

Recently I was in a conference led by Marty DuPree, our N.C. Baptist team leader in evangelism. His topic was "lifestyle evangelism." One of his points was the value of sowing - telling the gospel story to non-Christians. We talk more in church about watering and reaping, but without the sowing, there will be no effective witness.

What does the Lord require of you?

Micah 6:6-8

The Micah passage serves as a basis for Jesus' own teaching. Micah, like other prophets, served a king and country. Yet, his ultimate responsibility was to God. If there was a conflict between the king's agenda and God's agenda, he had no recourse but to be faithful to God.

Micah prophesied under the reigns of three different kings. One of them, Hezekiah, was known as a good king. Like Solomon and Josiah, Hezekiah was noted for his extravagant religious offerings.

Religious rituals and sacrificial offerings were popular, but Micah saw such religiosity as a thin veneer that failed to cover the sins of a proud, selfish, unjust society.

The question needed to be addressed to both kings and the citizens: "What does the Lord require?" Is God more pleased if we give even more money and things to Him (Micah's hyperbole stresses this point)?

Micah's taught that it's not our gifts that make us righteous, but our every day actions - caring for the needs of our families and friends, and even those who are not family or friends.

For us, the concept of extravagant sacrificial offerings seems archaic. But for them, it was what they knew. It was part of almost every cultural system, with some even promoting child sacrifice. While this offends us as being barbaric, the religious cultures that practiced killing the first-born son believed it would result in having more children and receiving more prosperity from the gods.

Micah said the sacrificial system largely missed the point. God was concerned about His people acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with Him.

What must I do to inherit eternal life?

Luke 10:25-28

Luke records Jesus' encounter with the "expert" in the law. While we're not sure of his motive for asking the question, we are sure of Jesus' answer.

Jews had lived by the Torah (law) for hundreds of years. It was their scripture. Those who were considered the most righteous and holy strictly obeyed the 613 categories of prescribed law, which included such things as diet, speech, judicial actions and Sabbath observances. It was a detailed and complicated system. Even though Jesus knew and understood the system, part of His mission was to simplify it so most people could obey it.

Jesus' answer came from two well-known and frequently recited Old Testament passages, Deuteronomy 6:5 (part of the Shema) and Leviticus 19:18. Simply stated, they teach God's people to "love God supremely and love humankind as you love yourself."

We must understand this command and fulfill it as an act of divine grace. It's not about "works" first, but it's the result of a life genuinely committed to Jesus Christ as Lord.

It's interesting that Peter put the second part of the command to a test with Jesus (Matt. 18:21-22). "How many times do I forgive? The law says seven, what do you say?" Jesus' answer shocked and challenged Peter.

According to Jesus, we don't measure or limit our forgiveness of others. Therefore, He gave a number that means "times without number." In other words, there are no limits to forgiveness.

To repeat, we are "always" to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

10/15/2004 12:00:00 AM by Wayne Proctor | with 0 comments

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