Exodus 14-16

Exodus 14-16…The Lord parts the Red Sea, the song of Moses and Miriam is sung, and the Lord sends manna and quail for the Israelites in the desert.

Three observations about these chapters:

1) God’s judgement is certain for those who disobey.

The Lord delivers the Israelites by parting the Red Sea and destroying the Egyptians. Just like the Egyptians, we have a certain, pending doom if we don’t repent and believe. This should motivate us to share the gospel with friends and family who do not believe. They will face an eternal judgement far worse being drown by the Red Sea. If we love them, we need to not only tell them with our words, but also show them with our actions, that there is great power in the gospel to redeem.

2) A right response to understanding His judgement involves being laid low before Him.

Notice the end of Exodus 14 (verses 30-31), which leads into a prayer of praise to God.

“That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.”

If we’re to truly place our faith in the Lord, we must understand His power and wrath against our sin. The Israelites did, and in Chapter 15, Moses and Miriam lead the people in a song about how great and powerful He is. This is what turning to the Lord in authentic faith looks like. Being laid low, rightly grasping our nothingness, then proclaiming our desperate need for Him.

3) Like the Israelites, we grumble and complain because of our unbelief, yet God continues to extend us mercy.

Despite this initial burst of faith, the Israelites become lukewarm. They distrust the Lord’s goodness, and quickly forget His mercy and grace. Yet, He is faithful, slow to anger and abounding in love. He blesses them because of an intercessor; Moses communicates with the Lord on their behalf, which is a picture of what Christ does for us. Moses was interceding on a micro level in Exodus 16, whereas Christ intercedes in the most important way possible. His perfect life is what the Lord sees when He looks upon us.

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Titus 1:1

Titus 1:1…”Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” Sharpening other believers with the truth should be our goal as well. What is the truth that leads to godliness? That we have been rescued by the Father, through the Son’s atoning sacrifice, by the Holy Spirit being placed in us supernaturally. We were spiritually dead, and needed rescued. It’s not that we were floating helplessly, and God threw out a rope, and faith is the hand that grabbed the rope and we were rescued. No, that analogy implies that we had some capacity to save ourselves, which is false. We were dead at the bottom of the ocean, and Jesus dove down and brought us back up and breathed life into us without our doing anything to save ourselves. If we’ve responded with faith and repentance to the gospel, it had nothing to do with our choosing God, and everything to do with God choosing to elect us, out of His abundant grace and mercy. This is the truth that leads to godliness, and any other version of the “truth” does not come from scripture.

Ephesians 2:1-8

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Acts 28:24

Acts 28:24…”Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.” This verse should encourage us in our evangelism. Even Paul, arguably the greatest evangelist in the history of the world, did not convert everyone to whom he preached the gospel. Of course this is because it is God who saves. We certainly want to be persuasive, but there is great freedom in knowing that our duty in evangelism is to present and live out the gospel. God will use us according to His will, and so our responsibility is to be faithful in evangelism, trusting that we are living and working where He has placed us, in part, for that purpose. Our finite humans minds struggle to grasp this truth: God’s elect were chosen before creation, but we are still used by Him to share the gospel with all, since the elect are not apparently obvious to us until after they are saved.

Acts 26:20

Acts 26:20…”I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.” In giving his defense to King Agrippa, Paul is able to share the gospel. This particular verse is extremely helpful for us in our evangelism as well. Sharing the gospel includes the following four key elements: God, Man, Christ, Response (details have been posted previously here under Acts 18:4). All four are equally important, and all four have been watered down in the contemporary American church. Paul clearly includes in his gospel presentation a right response, which specifically describes active repentance and obedience. There is a cost to the Christian life, and any gospel promising ease of life this side of heaven is extra-biblical (outside of the bible). Your life does not get easier when you follow Jesus, and we need to make this clear in evangelism. There is a cost to following Him, mainly that you’ll have to give up your previous life and pursue Him, submitting to His ways in all things. Thankfully, we’re not saved based on our own deeds being perfect, but we have a Savior who was perfect, and laid down His life for our justification before God. But, if we are truly saved, then we will pursue sanctification, imperfectly as it may be (Romans 8:30).

Acts 18:4

Acts 18:4…”Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.” Paul spent each Sabbath in Corinth preaching the gospel, and arguing for the truth of the gospel. This likely involved contextualization, which is a hot topic today. Contextualization in our evangelism is needed based on differences in culture, language, and age for example. We need to pray for wisdom in this regard, especially in light of 1 Peter 3:15-16 – Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

However, the actual gospel message should never be contextualized, because it does not change. Here is where we have allowed the culture to subtly affect the content of the message, particularly in the US. In a culture that assumes that all are “OK,” and that truth is relative, it is absolutely necessary that the gospel be clear and true to scripture. So, a gospel which minimizes the separation between God and man because of sin is very dangerous. The Holy Spirit is not at work in someone who doesn’t see the massive chasm between creator and creation. Recognition of depravity is a sign of supernatural revelation, and is used by the Lord to drive people to repentance and faith in Jesus out of desperation. A gospel which presents our eternal state in a casual way will produce casual disciples or even worse; false converts.

1 Corinthians 9:22 has been cited as a verse defending gospel message contextualization:

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

But, this really has to do with the way that we live, and how we spend our time with non-believers. There is no reason to believe this verse has anything to do with contextualizing the gospel message, which should always include the following four key elements:

God – Is our creator and is perfectly holy and perfectly just. He made us to obey him as His creation.

Man – We have all chosen to disobey him and sin against Him. He punishes sin with eternal torment and separation from him in hell.

Christ – Jesus lived a perfectly obedient life and died on the cross for our sins. On the cross, he took on the punishment we deserve, was raised from the dead and is now seated at God’s right hand interceding on our behalf.

Response – We can be saved from God’s wrath and have Christ’s perfect life counted as ours, bringing us into a right relationship with God if we repent and believe in Him. Those who repent and believe will enjoy God forever in heaven.

Acts 8:1

Acts 8:1…”And Saul approved of their killing him.” Stephen was stoned to death by the Sanhedrin. The Apostle Paul (at the time known as Saul) was there, and supported this horrific act. How does someone go from wanting Christians to be killed, to actually being physically persecuted for believing those very same things? Only the gospel has the power to make this kind of dramatic change. Once God puts His Holy Spirit in someone, they will inevitably change. This is encouraging for us in our evangelism, because clearly God can save the worst of all sinners. If we’re saved, we know that we’re included in that category as well (or we wouldn’t have placed our hope in Christ for salvation instead of ourselves). So, since we have no control over who He has elected as His children, our responsibility is to share the gospel graciously, live out the gospel faithfully, and trust the Lord as He knew His elect before the creation of the world.

Ephesians 1:4-6For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Acts 3:12

Acts 3:12…”When Peter saw this, he said to them: ‘Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?'” Observe the difference in the manner of working the miracles. Our Lord always spoke as having Almighty power, and never hesitated to receive the greatest honor that was given to him on account of his Divine miracles. But, the apostles referred all to their Lord, and refused to receive any honor, except as his undeserving instruments. This shows that Jesus was one with the Father, and co-equal with Him; while the apostles knew that they were weak, sinful men, and dependent for everything on Jesus, whose power effected the cure. If we are to be used by the Lord, we must be humble in understanding our role. He saves souls, and uses us as His tools for the work. This gives us great confidence in evangelism as the work of conversion is the Lord’s.