What God Wants

 

This morningís lesson will come from a verse which tells us what God wants. Since He is our creator and our savior I certainly think we should pay close attention to what God wants. Our first verse comes from the hand peter,

 

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

 

With in context Peter is teaching us that the promises that God has made about how Jesus will return and the final judgment day will happen will indeed take place but this will happen on Godís time table and not ours. Then he points out just how God loves us by showing us that God is longsuffering toward us. This word longsuffering means that he is being very patient and he is putting off is wrath because he wants everyone to have the opportunity to come to repentance. Of course the best definitions of repentance is found in,

 

2 Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.

 

True repentance is not just simply being sorry for you did. True repentance involves a change of mind or change of heart to where you stop doing whatever it was you were doing that was contrary to Godís Word. For instance if you were drug attic and you repented this would mean that you would give up the drugs. Another example would be if you were living in an adulterous relationship and you repent this means you get out of that adulterous relationship. So as we can a change take place when we repent. A great cross reference verse that goes along with what Peter has said can be found in the OT.

 

Ezekiel 33:11 "Say to them: 'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'

 

God has never taken pleasure in punishing the wicked. He would much rather have people cease from their evil ways and turn to him so that they never have to face his wrath. Knowing that God thinks this way and knowing that he wants everyone to be saved should make everyone happy to know that we have a God who loves us so much and is longsuffering toward us so that we can repent and turn to him so that we can have every lasting life. Just as quick side note What Peter says is direct conflict with those who teach that some are predestined to be saved and some are predestined to be lost because Peter very clearly stated that God want ALL to come to repentance.

 

Now the best way I know to show what Peter has said is true is by taking a look at the life of Paul and how God was longsuffering toward him. Now as we begin to look at Paulís life and the changes that happened in his life we shall certainly see just how longsuffering God really is. For convenience sake I am going to refer Paul as Paul through out this lesson even though he went by the name of Saul early on his life. It is believed by most scholars that Paul was born around the same time as Jesus and John the Baptist. It interesting that these 3 men would have the impact of the salvation of mankind. John was the forerunner, Jesus was the redeemer and Paul was the proclaimerand missionary.

 

Even though we do not have the historical records of what Paulís early life was like we do know that his parents and his environment influenced him. We know that he was born in Tarsus and that he would have been brought up according to Jewish custom. The Jewish custom would have consisted of at least these 3 things.

 

  1. He would have been circumcised on the eighth day and he says that he was in Phil 3:5
  2. As he was growing up he would be schooled concerning the law of Moses. His earliest teachings would come from his parents because this was commanded by God in (Deut 6:7) When he reached the age of 6 or 7 he would be expected to attend school where the OT would be the primary thing that was taught. He would learn Moses Law in Hebrew and in Greek. As he advanced he would memorize much of the law to be able to quote it accurately. Then at the age of 13 he would become bar mitzvah (son of the commandment). This simply means that he would assume the full obligation of the law. From here he would go to Jerusalem to receive further trainingby Gamaliel guh-may-lih-el (a very famous teacher of the time, considered one the bestteachers around. ) The Bible teaches us these things about Paulís life and it teaches us that he was exceptional student who had great zeal for learning and serving God. Let me share you a few of the passages.

 

Acts 22:3 ďI am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Galatians 1:14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

 

Acts 26:4 "My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.5 "They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

 

So as you can see Paul was raised up with the mindset of a Pharisee and he worked very hard to the best at what he was. This gives us great insight into the life of Paul and will help us to understand why did things he did as we will discover latter on in this lesson.

 

  1. We can know that Paul was taught a trade. A Rabbi named Judah said this. ďHe that teacheth not his son a trade, doth the same as if he taught him to be a thief,Ē We learn from Acts 18:3 that Paulís trade was tent making. He made tents to earn his own money.

 

A few more things that we learn about Paul is that besides being a Jew and a Pharisee he was also a Greek by birth and also a Roman citizen. Being a Roman citizen gave you a great advantage because it was against Romanlaw to punish a Roman Citizen without a trial. It was a very serious offence to mistreat a Roman citizen. A Roman citizen could not be crucified. They also had the right to appeal to Caesars imperial court. Latter on in Paul life this would serve him well.

 

Now I want to talk about how Paul was an very effective persecutor.

 

When Paul did something he went all the way. He put his entire heart and soul into it because he a determined and dedicated man. Paul wanted to destroy the church of Christ.

 

Galatians 1:13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.

 

Paul would go around looking for Christians and if he found them he didnít care if they were men or women he would hall them of to jail. We see Paul in action as he probable watched with a smile on his face while Stephen was being stoned to death. Notice what,

 

Acts 8:1 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

 

Now this word ďconsentingĒ means that Paul was approving or was pleased with the stoning of Stephen and with Paulís upbringing we can understand why the Bible tells us that he did all these against Christians with a sincere heart thinking he was doing the right thing. It didnít bother his conscience whatsoever because he thought he doing something good for the cause of God. Notice another passage where he testifies about he persecution of Christians.

 

Acts 26:9 "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.10 "This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.11 "And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

 

You see Paul so dedicated at destroying the Christians that he did something that no other Pharisee did he started looking for Christians outside of Jerusalem as we learn from,

 

Acts 9:1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

 

No wonder Paul was looked up to by the other Pharisees because he was so full of passion for what he thought was for the cause of God. Now Paul didnít know it but his trip to Damascus was going to be an eye opener and it is a great example of what Peter said about God being longsuffering and how he wants all to come to repentance. Now Paulís encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus can be found in Acts 9, 22, and 26. Now lets take a look at what happens.

 

Acts 9:3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

 

From what we have learned about Paul and his mindset I think we can understand that it was going to take something big to get the attention of Paul and meeting Jesus on that road to Damascus was what it took to get Paul to see the light. Now Paul didnít know who Jesus was at his time so that is why he asked who are you Lord? Then Jesus tell him who his and tells Paul that is hard for you to kick against the goad. What Jesus is describing here with this phrase of kicking against the Goad was long pointy stick that shepherds used to motivate their animals and it was also used on wagons and placed behind the oxenís legs so that if they tried to kick at the wagon behind them they would be poked an soon would thing twice about doing it again. In essence Jesus knew that Paul had the truth about Jesus but that he had been resisting it and him knowing the mind of Paul he knew that he had been hard for him resist this truth and now Paul would have no doubt that Jesus was the son of God and that this new sect know as Christians was Godís plan. In Paul 3rd account of his encounter with Jesus we are told that Jesus also says this,

 

Acts 26:16 'But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.17 'I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,18 'to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' ††

 

So God reveals to Paul that he wants him to be an eyewitness for him so that others can have their eyes opened to the truth so they can have the forgiveness of their sins. So Paul does as he is told and he lead to Damascus where he waits further instructions as Jesus told him to do. We learn that Paul spends 3 day and 3 nights without food and water and prays continually during this time. At this point we can see that Paul believed that Jesus was the son of God and he had repented he was very sorrow for what he had done against the Christians and he was willing to change his ways.

 

Now around this same time Ananias is told by Jesus to go to Paul and lay his hands on him so that he can receive his sight. At first Ananias is reluctant and tells Jesus about how horrible Paul was and all things he had been doing to destroy Christianity but Jesus says this,

 

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

 

This teaches us that no matter how bad we have been as person or what we have done to others in our past if we turn to God and become a Christian God can use to accomplish great things in his name again this goes back to main verse that God wants all to come to repentance. Now Ananias does what he is told and he heals Paulís vision but then he tells Paul something else that he must to in order to become a Christian and have his sins removed.

 

Acts 22:16 ††And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'

 

Now I think that it very important that grasp what is going on here. As we have already stated Paul believed that Jesus was the son of God. He had already repented of what he had done in the past and we can see that he willing to change by the fact the he obeyed Jesus by waiting in Damascus. We know that prayed over a 3 day period and if anyone could be saved by faith alone or by saying some sort of sinners prayer it would had been Paul. But, we can see without a doubt that Paul was still in his sins and a person cannot be saved if they are still in there sins. Ananias tells Paul exactly what he must do to have sins removed. He tells him to Arise that is to get up and to get yourself baptized and wash away your sins. That is exactly what Paul did as we read in,

 

Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

 

Paul understood what he had to do become a Christian and have his sins washed away and so he was baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of his sins. After Paul became a Christian he took this same zeal and passion had a Pharisee and used it to further Christianity and every where he went he taught others about the wonderful love of God and how he wants all to be saved. If you will take the time to examine the letter that Paul wrote and what was written about him by Luke in the book of Acts you will see that he went around teaching the exact same message that was taught to him. In fact Paul teaches more about the plan of salvation and important of being baptized more than anyone else in the NT.

 

So know we can surely see that when Peter said that God wants all people to come to repentance that Paul is great of example that God means what he says. If a man like Paul can be forgiven after trying to destroy Christianity then surely we can see that no matter what we have done in our past can also be forgiven. Once we become a Christian we get new beginning because become a new creature in Christ. Once we accept God Grace we need to have the attitude that Paul had.

 

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.†† 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

 

These are great words to live by when become a Christian. Keep your eye on heaven by living each day for God and put your past behind you. Now as we come to the close of our lesson there is another verse that tells what God wants.

 

1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

You see this exactly what I have been sharing with you today. I have shown from the truth that is Godís Word that he wants everyone to be saved and they way find out how to be saved is by knowing or the knowledge of what His Word says and so I make this plea with you this morning if you are not a child of God that is if you have never had your sins removed as the Godís word describes then why not make today you day of salvation. As we looked Paulís life we could see then he was very sincere man and even thought he was doing things right but he found out different on the road to Damascus. This teaches us that we might think that we are saved and our sins have been removed when in fact they have not because we never fully obeyed the gospel call. We learned from the conversion of Paul that simply believe, repenting or saying some sinners prayer doesnít put you into a saved condition by themselves. No we learned that Paul sins were not washed away until he was baptized. So if you have never been baptized for the remission of your sins you are not saved you are not a born again Christian. After hearing the truth on this matter it has to hard for you to kick against the Goad. God wants you to be saved but it is up to you love him enough to obey his will and so I leave at that. If anyone ready to accept the Grace of God this morning or if we can serve you in anyway please come forward as we stand.