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Second Sunday in Lent: Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17


Human failure and divine faithfulness
This is a divine Story, carried forward by God’s grace and power. God’s very great promises (Genesis 12:1-3) find their ultimate fulfilment in the coming of God’s eternal Kingdom (Revelation 21:10). We have not reached our heavenly destination. We are still caught in the tension between obedience (Genesis 12:4) and disobedience (Genesis 12:11-13). We are conscious of our human failure, yet we rejoice in the divine faithfulness. We read of Abraham’s sin (Genesis 12:10-20), yet we look beyond this to God's salvation. This is not simply the story of Abraham. It is the Story of Abraham's God. This becomes clear in the change of name. Abram (‘exalted father’) draws attention to the man. Abraham (‘Father of Many’) points to God’s purpose (Genesis 17:5). Like Abraham, we are to worship God (Genesis 12:7-8). We are to say, ‘He is exalted’. We are to say, ‘Christ must increase, and I must decrease’ (John 3:30).

Our help comes from the Lord. He will keep us from evil.
‘Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips’ (Psalm 120:2). God calls us to ‘believe the truth’, ‘love the truth’ and ‘follow the truth’. We are to be people who ‘do what is true’ (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11; 3 John 3-4; John 3:21). How can we be such people? We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is ‘the Truth’ (Hebrews 12:2; John 14:6). When we are tempted to turn away from the pathway of truth, we must remember this: ‘My help comes from the Lord’. We must remember God’s promise: ‘The Lord is your Keeper...The Lord will keep you from all evil’. God’s promise is not only for ‘this time’. It’s ‘for evermore’ (Psalm 121:2, 5, 7-8). This gives us glorious hope as we keep on looking to Christ, ‘eagerly awaiting’ His Return (Hebrews 9:28).

In ourselves, there is no salvation. Our salvation is in Jesus Christ.
Salvation is not a ‘reward’ to be ‘earned’. It is God’s ‘gift’ (Romans 4:4-5). Salvation comes from the Lord. ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son’ (John 3:16): Without the love of God, the gift of God, the Son of God, there can be no salvation. The way of salvation does not begin with the word ‘I’. Jesus Christ is the Way. He is the Saviour. Salvation is in Him (John 14:6; Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12). Looking to ‘Jesus our Lord’, crucified and raised for our salvation, we are saved and we give ‘glory to God’ (Romans 4:20-25). We rejoice in ‘God our Saviour’ - ‘He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy...’ (Titus 3:4-7). Looking away from ourselves to Christ, we learn the truth of God’s Word: ‘it is on the basis of faith that it may rest on grace’ (Romans 4:16). This is Good News!

God so loved the world. Christ died for us. This is Good News for sinners.
We say, ‘I’ll turn over a new leaf’. Christ says, ‘You must be born again’ (John 3:3, 7). Our way of thinking begins with ‘I’. Christ’s way of salvation begins with ‘God’: ‘God so loved the world...’ (John 3:16). Begin with ‘I’ and you have sin, guilt and condemnation (Romans 3:10-11). Begin with God and you have Good News for sinners: ‘God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). Through faith in Christ, we are ‘born of the Spirit’ (John 3:6-8; 1:12). The Spirit of God is the Spirit of holiness, love and truth. Those who are ‘born of the Spirit’ are to live a life of holiness, love and truth (1 John 4:2-3, 6-7, 12-13; 5:2-3). ‘Come to the light’. ‘Do what is true’. ‘Obey the Son’. Let Christ increase. This is the work of the Spirit in us (John 3:20-21, 36, 29, 34).

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