Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Special Delivery

From 1885 to 1997, the U.S. Postal Service offered Special Delivery for mailed items.  When a posted item arrived at the destination office, it would immediately be sent by courier to the intended recipient.  This special service cost extra and would generally be reserved for items of great import deemed to require great care for a prompt, safe delivery.  The item would be received with due regard and acted on accordingly.

In ancient Israel, the prophet Isaiah painted a similar picture: a message was being delivered and needed attention:
How beautiful upon the mountains
    are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
    who publishes salvation,
    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”  (Isa 52:7)
The God who the nation had forsaken now was delivering the wonderful message of salvation. Isaiah, as the courier of this communiqué, had news that could scarcely be conceived, much less brought to pass: the Servant of the Lord was coming willingly to bear the sin of the world.  All our transgressions were laid on Him (Isa 52:13-53:12).  Now all the world could rejoice by turning to the Lord and entering into the blessings promised through Abraham (Isa 54-55).  The centuries of promise would be realized in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice.

After the Servant had paid the price for all sin, a Pharisee was chosen by the Lord to carry this message beyond the borders of Israel to the Gentiles.  Paul delivered the glories of what God’s Messiah had accomplished on their behalf to deal with sin:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  (1 Cor 15:3-5)
Pagans, who were without hope in the world, now had access to the throne of grace through as their Intercessor stood before the Father on their behalf.  And if this was not sufficient, Paul delivered a pattern for approaching and worshiping this God that they had not known.
Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.… For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11:2, 23-24)
This message of the gospel, Christ crucified, was the center of all that Paul proclaimed as he reasoned with men and women of their sin and need of the Savior.  All that the scriptures had described, typified, and prophesied was brought together in Christ.  It was this body of faith which was handed to the new believers and entrusted to faithful men to pass on to others (2 Tim 2:1-2).  The same message was delivered in every place: each city received the same message, the same body of teaching.  It was this truth and foundation on which believers rested as authoritative as having coming from God Himself.
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.  (Jude 1:3)
What had been received through the apostles was recognized as certain, being established on the promises given through Moses and the prophets and fulfilled in Jesus.  There is no alternative truth concerning man’s sin or need of redemption.  To turn from or ignore the apostolic witness freely and gladly delivered is to turn from the Lord of Glory and to spit on His immeasurable gift wrought through the shedding of most precious blood:
For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.  (2 Pet 2:21)
Those who turn away are doomed to everlasting destruction, because they refuse the most wonderful of gifts.  Good news has been delivered via special delivery: God Himself delivered the message by taking on human nature, guaranteed it by delivering Himself up, and gave his apostles charge to continue the proclamation and teaching.

What a blessing we have to tell others this specially delivered news.

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