I, even I, am the Lord , and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved a nd proclaimed--I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses," declares the Lord , "that I am God. - Isaiah 43: 11-12 (NIV)
These verses are God speaking directly to His people. For today, these verses are intended then to be speaking to His church. Those that would call themselves by His name - Christians. The world does not believe in God. They believe in the concept of God. They believe in a "higher power" or something beyond our understanding. Anything to assuage their desire to claim belief without any of the burdensome responsibilities that come with it. They believe in enlightened agnosticism that says - whatever works for you is fine with me. You believe in reincarnation and the caste systems of Hinduism? More power to you. You believe in You believe that some guy living in upstate New York found golden plates of another gospel of Jesus Christ that no one else had seen and only he can translate? Knock yourself out. You believe that a carpenter from Israel was the actual Son of God? Hey, glad that works for you. I'm enlightened because I do not question the validity of what you want to believe. We must realize beloved that the world is blinded:
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. - 2Corinthians 4: 4 (NIV)
The God of this age is Satan. He is not some caricature dressed in a red suit carrying a pitchfork. It is only God through His Spirit that lifts the veil from the eyes of the blinded. It was only Jesus that has come to restore the sight to those that cannot see. On September 11, 2001 this nation faced a day that shook everyone to their core. That made everyone question the sheer thinness of what they hold to be true. As the towers fell that day, so did the brash agnosticism that the devil has sold so many people on as truth. People wanted to know God on that day. People wanted to get closer to God on that day. For awhile the church did a good job of ministering to the needs of the hurting. They helped with those who had lost loved ones. They helped with those who needed social services. Then they came to the one true need they all shared - spiritual need. They came to that deep seeded spiritual need that everyone who is lost shares and we went through our Pentecostal, quick and dirty, God loves you sinner's prayer. Some may have found God through this because a heart genuinely seeking the Lord will always find Him. Many however took their temporary comfort and when life returned to normal in the world they simply returned to their normal lives in the world. I do not say this as criticism but as reality. I say it as reality because the wound is always open every anniversary of this horrific day. But it is open many other times during the year as well. When we see a gunman open fire in an elementary school the spiritual wound is reopened. When we see our country deciding to bomb other countries on a daily basis it is likewise reopened. I want us to remember this 9-11 that we have a role beloved. We have a purpose. That purpose is not just to sit and be entertained every Sunday and get out hallelujah hop on. It is not to prosper in this life while those around us continue on their journey towards an eternity separated from God. The key verses teach us three things regarding our role. They teach us what God has done to show us, who God is supposed to be in our lives, and then specifically, what we are supposed to do about it.
God recognizes and admits here that their are other gods that live amongst us. They are foreign gods. They are powerless gods. They are gods man creates in his own mind, using his own image, and for his own glory. These false gods cannot reveal anything to us. They have no power to save us and they can proclaim nothing into our lives. The real God however is the opposite and I think we need to spend more time reflecting on all that He has shown us and done for us. First of all, He has saved us. He has saved us from eternal suffering, which is what we deserved before a holy God. The Bible teaches that the wages of our sin is death but Jesus overcome the grave for us so that we too can share in eternal life. God saved us from ourselves beloved. God has also revealed Himself to us in so many ways. I know I have heard the voice of God in my heart many times. I know I see His hand in every inch of creation. I feel sad for atheists who truly believe that everything beautiful in the universe is simply the random act of nothingness. I know the second I truly invited Christ to be my Lord and Savior that He revealed Himself mighty to me by taking all of the shame, guilt and condemnation I was living under. This revelation also comes through His proclamation to us - His Word. The Bible contains 66 books written by 40 authors over a period of 1500 years yet contains no inaccuracies, no discrepancies, and no contradictions! It has remained culturally relevant throughout time. The Bible I read today is the same Bible read 700 years ago and 1500 years ago. Man changes constantly. Society changes constantly. God never changes. What He reveals never changes. What He proclaims never changes.
"I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. - Malachi 3: 6 (NIV)
The second portion from the key verses is regarding who God is supposed to be in our lives. I am the Lord and apart from me there is no Savior. The theology within the seeker-friendly/purpose driven model is what I like to call "friend of God theology." It has its own worship songs and messages designed to sell the softer side of God while ignoring the parts which may make people uncomfortable. The reality is that while it is a fantastic benefit to be called friend of God we cannot get there without first allowing Him to be Lord and Savior in our lives. What does that mean preacher? Well, by giving Lordship to Christ we are ceding control to Him. We are acknowledging that Jesus controls and runs our lives. That we go through Him for all the decisions we need to make in our lives. That He is the Lord above us. That He is the Lord over us. I know, this is not a very seeker friendly message but if you think you can still do your life better than Jesus can I would wager that you are not truly saved. Salvation without Lordship in Christ are merely empty words resulting in a church counting a statistic and a life that remains unchanged. That is what God is saying here! Apart from me there is no salvation and if you intend to be part of me then it starts with my Lordship! Friends are in the advisement business. God is in the Lordship business. Here is the cold hard reality. Unless you realized that you were helpless in the face of sin then you had no need to seek a Savior. A Savior implies directly that we need to be saved. My soul did not need another friend. My soul needed to be saved! Once you realize that you are helpless and that Christ alone can save you - the next step is Lordship. It has to be because without Lordship, then we are still in control. I am not saying we do this perfectly. There have been many times that I have taken the wheel from Jesus and the resulting spiritual three car pileup served to remind me that He is Lord. He is the Savior.