Believer, unbeliever embraced by God
The Rev. Marshall Lackrone, pastor of Calvary Temple Assembly of God, 606 W. 29th St. Terrace:
First of all, the Scriptures tell us that God does not look upon any one of us with more favor than another, as Luke the physician says in Acts 10:34 (King James Version) "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." There are basically two kinds of people on the Earth: Those that believe in God and his word, and those that do not.
Secondly, the Bible declares that God will not be mocked: Galatians 6:7 (KJV) "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
This shows us God enforces his word to the believer and the unbeliever. Because the consequences do not come upon us immediately, it is easy to believe there will not be any to come at all.
We can see the great inner conflict over obedience continually. This great conflict is not limited to only a certain few, but to us all. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this most of his life: Romans 7:19 (New Living Translation) "When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway."
God treats us all the same for disobedience: Hebrews 2:2-3 (NLT) "The message God delivered through angels has always proved true, and the people were punished for every violation of the law and every act of disobedience. What makes us think that we can escape if we are indifferent to this great salvation that was announced by the Lord Jesus himself? It was passed on to us by those who heard him speak."
-- Send e-mail to the Rev. Marshall Lackrone at email@example.com.
Gift of God is eternal life in Christ
The Rev. Donald Miller, senior pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church and University Student Center, 15th and Iowa streets:
Freedom is something all of us value. We love choices. We emphasize independence without responsibility -- "as long as my behavior doesn't hurt anyone else."
Yet every action, every behavior, has an impact on others. As a result, we have thousands of laws to help define behavior considered harmful to others, which, when broken, result in consequences -- punishment.
In the Bible, God created us with "choices" and freedom -- but also in relationship with him and others. God put laws in place for good order: laws of nature; laws for relationship with him; and laws for our relationship with others. God expects obedience.
Yet no one is able to keep all laws perfectly. Disobedience to God's commands brings consequences: illness, broken relationships, abuse, suffering and finally death -- physical death as well as spiritual death (separation from God).
But God still loves all people, even though we disobey him. God knows we can do nothing by ourselves to re-establish our relationship with him. As a result, the Bible says he sent his son, Jesus, to live a perfect life, which we can't do. Jesus then died for our disobedience to allow us to have a relationship with God again, as his gift to us through trusting in Jesus as our Savior.
But, without trusting in Jesus, the ultimate punishment for sin remains, as we see in Romans 6:23: "For the wages (results) of sin (disobedience) is death (separation from God), but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
-- Send e-mail to the Rev. Donald Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.