“Great Bible Themes” is the focus of the 36th annual Southside Lecture. My preaching colleagues and I began with four fundamental lessons that speak to human need and God’s empathy for the human race.
Don Truex addressed “The Disastrous Effects of Sin.” Roger Shouse shared “The Vastness and Beauty of God’s Love.” Kenny Moorer expounded on “The Wideness of God’s Mercy.” And I spoke of “The Joy of Fellowship with God.”
These four great themes deal with the reality of life. The nature of mankind. The need that is common to us. And the nature and personality of our Creator.
Don is right we need to talk about sin, because we all are guilty of sin. (Rom. 3:23). Indeed there are no exceptions. Every accountable person has “fallen short of the glory of God.”
And sin hurts. Its disastrous effect brings death. Physical and Spiritual. Sin separates us from God. Wrecks relationships. Ruins our reputation. Scars the conscience. Haunts us emotionally.
When the seed of sin is sown and its terrible harvest comes to fruition, we wonder how did we end up here? Why did I go down this disastrous path? And what can I do about it?
Roger’s lesson on love assured us that nothing can separate us from God’s divine love. The apostle John affirms that “God is love (I Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 4:7-19). God has made a conscious choice to love us. Even while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8)
God’s love is longsuffering. Kind. And unselfish. Roger was right. God’s love is wide enough to include all people. Deep enough to forgive all sins. And long enough to use all people for His purpose. (Eph. 3:17-19)
Thank God for his love and for His mercy. Kenny Moorer’s lesson reminded us that God does not desire anyone to be lost. He does not behave in a capricious manner toward us. Indeed, “he is not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance.
As John Stott wrote, “Mercy is compassion for people in need.” God’s mercy met the needs of people whether in offering salvation, or clemency. Isaiah proclaimed, “For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted” (49:13
Mercy reaches out to those who sin and need our encouragement. Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “When people sin, you should forgive and comfort them, so they won’t give up in despair.” 2 Cor. 2:7 (CEV)
We all need mercy. We sin and fall short of the mark. And since God offers us mercy, we should extend mercy to one another. Jesus said, “blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”
Thus, even though we have sinned, through God’s love and mercy we can have fellowship with Him. He calls us into a special relationship to be His children and for Him to be our Father (2 Cor 6:19-20).
We can rejoice and experience the joy of this divine communion as John affirmed: “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (I Jn 1:1-4)
Well, we’re off to another day to explore great Bible themes. Think about these four. I believe they will do you good.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman