Go Forward With A Positive Expectation Of God's Goodness
By Minister Kola Taiwo
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Romans 1:15-17; 5: 1-5
Sunday 17th November 2013
As we steadily draw closer to the end of another year, most people like me would have begun to assess the year so far and prepare for the coming year. For those who may not have achieved as much as they had planned for this year, probably over the last couple of days, you may have been quite edgy, taking it out on family members. It may have even been a disappointment, or the ordeal of dealing with the same issues you’ve been dealing with over the years, again and again. Or possibly, it may have been a good year for you; you cannot stop thanking God for the various blessings that the Lord has brought your way this year. Whichever category you fall into, I want to encourage you with this message to ‘Go Forward with a positive expectation of God’s goodness’.
The mandate given to us as an assembly this year is to ‘Go Forward’ on all levels, which may have been a bit of a challenge for some of us, so far this year. Taking a look at our foundation scriptures in Romans, written by the Apostle Paul, he boasted: ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek’ (Romans 1:16). Paul was confident in the power of the gospel as God’s system and the right standard for living in the face of a structured, ordered, civilised Roman Empire. His confidence was rooted in the knowledge that God’s standard for living had been historically proved over the centuries and a heritage of the Israelite nation, called by God since eternity past.
Shouldn’t we be more excited about the gospel then? As it is not just a system that works only on Sundays and in our closet, but it is meant to be lived out every hour of the day and throughout the week regardless of our pre-occupation at any given moment. What we perceive to be the world’s system is really God’s system. Isaiah 9:6 says ‘Unto us a child is given...and the government shall be upon his shoulder’. So, if or when the world decides to live without God, we should be less alarmed when it ends in disaster, because Isaiah 60:2-3 aptly puts it this way – 'For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.' So if we want to really go forward, we need to realise that we have the system for living as prescribed in the bible, and with this system, we will succeed.
As we turn a few pages to chapter 5 of Romans, Apostle Paul focuses on the Christian life and the peace we receive from God, as against the peace that we can naturally perceive that can be easily overturned by life’s changing situations. God’s peace is as a product of Christ’s finished work on the cross that cannot be interrupted by our shortcomings. This peace is an objective peace that we can behold, not a subjective one. This peace, since we are justified by faith, is everlasting. No wonder, Paul writes in Romans 8:35 ‘Who can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus?’ Name it; nothing can separate us because of the finished work of Christ and the peace we have obtained from him, by faith.
Romans 5:2 reiterates this point: Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. The only virtue we need to experience God’s peace is faith. This faith also gives us access to His grace. As God’s grace has already been given to us, as believers we do not need to request for it, but to stand in this grace intentionally. 2 Peter 2:10 puts it this way: 'Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble'. Verse 11 goes further to reveal the abundance available to us in God’s kingdom; you could call it ‘the God-space’.
Romans 5:3-4 speaks about the experiential faith of our daily walk with God – our hope in Him, because of our justification by faith and the grace we enjoy thereby, by which we will not experience shame.
At this point, let’s agree on two points; (i) Our going forward in God’s goodness will not be by our strength or ability (ii) If God’s system is right and provided for us as His children, then we cannot make use of the bible as a book of proverbs, we must embrace God’s book wholly. From the scriptures, we read various accounts of God’s intervention in the life of its characters – the Israelites as they were stuck between the red sea and an approaching ferocious Egyptian army, Joseph who dreamt twice of his rise to leadership, but experienced shortly after his dreams a direct contradiction of events; Ruth who witnessed the tragic death of our husband and two other family members and had a disgruntled mother-in-law to deal with; So did Esther, an orphan girl who rose to prominence in a foreign land, and Job, who though a man of integrity lived through a difficult period that his friends amplified with their casual remarks. I submit to you that if you are determined to go forward in God’s goodness, in spite of your circumstances, God will bring to pass the already encoded testimony to glorify His name through your life’s story.
Let’s dig a little further as we re-examine Romans 1; God’s salvation as described in Romans 1:15 includes your righteousness, blessing, healing, riches, your sonship, and glory all of which is to your benefit because you are God’s child. If we will subject our lives to God’s system of living, and jettison those worldly infused self-help books, we will see our lives radically transformed. Verse 17 talks about our righteousness being revealed from faith to faith. This means that our faith which began on the day that we received Jesus in our hearts is all encompassing and grows as we daily live for Christ. Furthermore, that verse concludes with the phrase: ‘the just shall live by faith’. These words originally written in Habakkuk 2:4 refers to a period in the life of a nation that was about to be taken in captivity as revealed to Habakkuk by God, but those who remained just will be spared the destruction.
Some of us may feel a bit uneasy discussing the subject of a just God – referring to God as a Judge. However, our full understanding of God’s attribute as a judge will increasingly assist us to embrace the grace of God in its entirety (Psalm 75:6-7). We need to appreciate the fact that because God is a righteous God, He must judge sin. Our sins have already been judged as part of the finished work of Christ on the cross. All who believe in Christ will be spared God’s judgement. Hence, we have peace with God and do need not worry anymore about our sins. And when we are tempted by sin, we can boldly stand in God’s grace as 'it teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:11-12).
This grace not only resists sin in our lives but enables us to abound as we revel in God’s space. We however need to be conscious of this, as it is easy to live unaware of the abounding blessings available to us in Christ Jesus. As opposed to looking at our deficiencies and the difficulties that we may be facing, let’s instead focus on His goodness. This goodness causes change to occur in our lives (Romans 2:4). So, if you want to change something in your life, focus on God’s goodness. Even when doing those things that you know you should not be doing (as explained in Romans 7:19-20), focus and confess God’s goodness despite this setback. Anytime you feel condemned, because you’ve not achieved all that you set out to achieve this year or a weakness, once again confess the goodness of God. The devil is simply trying to remind you of your past, all you need to do is remind him of his future in eternal damnation.
Our tribulations produces perseverance – character is being built within us and as a result we become better people. Could the dearth of character in the church be as a result of the truth that we have not fully understood that Christ is not just head of the church, but also the body? When we fully understand this, we can be more tolerant of our Christian brothers and sisters. Character builds hope, which will not be put to shame.
Our hope is in God – against all the odds of disappointments, failures and problems, He is constant and unchanging. His only son was sent to the cross for our sake, knowing that our ultimate justification is fulfilled in the finished work of Christ. Now Christ is the first of many brothers and sisters.
Can you see God working in and through your situations? Begin to visualise God’s goodness, which had already begun on the day that God’s love was poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5). Apostle Paul goes on to write to the Ephesian church saying ‘In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise’ (3:14). In other words, having been sealed with the Spirit, we can rejoice in our salvation without needing to wait till we get to Heaven. We can also expect the goodness of God to open doors and release favour, wherever we go. It is vital for us to recognise these: that we stand on the promises of grace, and we have the seal of the Holy Spirit upon our lives; our guarantor.
In conclusion, I want you to decide to go forward, not in your strength or power, but in the knowledge of the positive expectation of God’s goodness knowing that His system for living is better than any other; positive expectation knowing that you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; you are in right standing, justified and you have peace with God; positive expectation of good because of the hope you have in Christ because of the seal of the Holy Spirit upon you. As a result, expect those changes you want to see as we go forward.
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