There was a statement made at our last home fellowship that God seems to be “shameless” at times when it comes to enticing us with “carrots”. The scenario in question: Boy is raised in a Christian home and accepts Christ as his savior. Boy is convinced by an unbelieving college professor to “ditch all the God-stuff” because it’s intellectually untenable. Boy meets pretty Girl that he would like to have a relationship with. Girl has accepted Christ as her savior and doesn’t want to have a relationship with Boy who doesn’t believe. Boy decides to reinvestigate his childhood faith and in doing so, rededicates his life to Christ. End result: Boy gets Girl AND a relationship to Christ. Question: Did God cheat by sending the pretty Girl?
The question relates back very well to what we studied this Sunday in church in the book of Romans 10:1-13:
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel* is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them."* 6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'"* (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, "'Who will descend into the abyss?'"* (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart"* (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."* 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."*
Our pastor, Mark, did a very good job of illuminating this passage. Throughout our study of the book of Romans we have seen that salvation is a gift of God’s grace through our faith in Christ. Here we see how simple it really is. In verse 4, it says that “Christ is the end of the law”. “End” in the Greek is “telos” which can mean termination, fulfillment, or goal. When we have Christ, nothing else is necessary for salvation. But how do we “have Christ”? As in verse 6, do we need to “ascend” (to physical, or spiritual heights) to find Christ? Or, as in verse 7, do we need to “descend” (to physical, or spiritual humiliation) to find Christ? The answer, of course, is “No”. GOD IS NOT LOST! He is very near us. Verse 8 says that His word is near us, in our mouth and in our heart. We cannot “find” God by any effort of our own, any striving to go high, or go low. He finds us, in our everyday lives and loves, when we yield to what we know, in our heart of hearts is true: God is alive, He has sent His Son Jesus to rescue us, and He wants a relationship with us. He is standing at the door, right now, knocking. Are we going to let Him in?
So the answer to the original question, Does God “cheat” when He sends us “carrots”? is, of course, “No”. God meets us in our everyday lives. He gives us choices, to believe, or not. Will we yield?