Thursday, March 23, 2017

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - The Meaning of "All"

Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) or on the Cove Presbyterian Church Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.

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Romans 5:18-21

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Meaning of "All"

Image result for allThese verses make a lot of Christians very comfortable. You see, they read the word “all”, and they break out in a cold sweat. Of course, it’s really not the first “all” that they find upsetting. I mean, they can accept this business about universal condemnation. As a matter of fact, they often sound as though God actually wants to send everybody to Hell unless they can give him a good reason not to. And so “all” number one is alright. It’s the second “all” that they really don’t like. You see, the phrase “so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all” presents a problem. It seems to suggest the same thing about salvation that they can easily accept about condemnation. And if that’s true, then salvation is no longer based on what a person does or says, you know, like whether he finds God or makes Jesus Lord or accepts the Holy Spirit. Although these decisions may have a huge impact on one’s values and perspectives and life-style, doing this stuff wouldn’t change one’s ultimate status with God. And since that’s not the way we do things here on earth, it can’t be the way God does things in heaven. Therefore, the definition of the word “all” must be more fluid than assumed. I mean, maybe “all” actually means “all those who believe” or “all those who have done what’s necessary” or “all those who’ve found and made and accepted. For them, it comes down to the meaning of all.

But suppose we decided not to do linguistic gymnastics and recognized that “all” means all. In other words, suppose we recognized that God has found us even though we’ve done our best to wander and hide. And suppose we made the decision to trust that grace is beyond our control and extends beyond our reach. And suppose we accepted that for reasons we may never understand the Holy Spirit has touched our hearts and given us the ability to do something we couldn’t do on our own. Suppose we did all that. We might end up feeling so much joy and peace for ourselves and others we’ll no longer worry about the meaning of all.

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