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The Divine Imperative

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
February 5, 2021 7:00 am

The Divine Imperative

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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February 5, 2021 7:00 am

The Bible gives us a three-part formula describing exactly what God expects from his people. In this lesson, Dr. Tony Evans will explore that divine imperative and reveal what God can accomplish through us when we carry it out.

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God wants us to share life with Him. He wants us to do life with Him. Dr. Tony Evans talks about finding the kind of balance that makes our faith come to life. God doesn't want a religion that doesn't have a relationship tied to it, because then it's an event. Celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, this is the alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative. The Bible gives us a three-part formula describing exactly what God expects from us as His people. Today Dr. Evans will explore that divine imperative and reveal what God can accomplish through us when we carry it out.

Let's join him. We've all been to the circus, and one of the acts that you regularly see in the circus is the High Wire Act. This is where a person is walking on a wire from one place to another. They have a pole in their hand because they know in order to walk straight, things have got to be balanced. The wire is so thin that if they lean too far to one side or the other, disaster awaits, because if they fall, it's cataclysmic. We're living in a world out of balance. People are tilting to one side or another. They're tilting the cultural sides. They're tilting to racial sides. They're tilting to political sides. They're tilting to gender sides.

They are— they're tilting, and we're watching the disaster of lack of balance, so that people are not able to live their lives in a straight line because they're being pulled to one side or the other, and their equilibrium becomes challenged. Christians face this challenge of balance as well. On one side, they're Christians who are so heavenly minded that they're no earthly good.

They will talk about the glories of the life to come while experiencing disaster in the life that is. On the other hand, there are those Christians who are so earthly minded that they are no heavenly good. They become so secularized.

They become so culturalized. They become so worldly that heaven has no use for them. When the balance perspective is to be so heavenly minded that you bring good to earth, because you're operating from eternity, translating it back into time. The question that I would like to speak to today is this issue of balance, because we're all being pulled on all kinds of levels with all kind of forces. God capsulizes this concept of balance in one verse, a very well-known verse in Scripture. And in light of what's happening in our lives and what's happening in our society today, I thought it would be helpful for you and me to understand how we are to have this life of biblically based balance. And I call it the divine imperative. In Micah chapter 6 verse 8, He has told you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. This is what I want from you. First of all, He says, I want you to do justice.

Please notice, justice is something you do. It's not merely something you discuss. It's more than having a commission. It's more than having a workshop or a seminar. It's something you do.

Question is, what is it? And how does it work? Let me give you the biblical definition. The Greek word for justice means that which is right.

It means the prescribed right way. Biblical justice is the equitable and impartial application of the rule of God's moral law in society. Biblical justice is the equitable and impartial application of God's moral law in society. Justice always starts with what God declares a matter to be. Please don't lose sight of James chapter 4 verse 12, which says, there is only one lawgiver, and that one lawgiver by which right and wrong is to be determined is God. Only one lawgiver, the Bible says. So any other rules anybody makes in order for it to be just must be consistent with the one lawgiver who gives all the rules. Once folk make their own rules and become their own lawgiver, unrooted in the one lawgiver who exists, you will have chaos and a whole bunch of people saying, not fair, because they're not starting with a central base for the law. The moment in your home everybody makes their own laws, you're gonna have chaos in your home because they're gonna make a law that is always in their best interest. When you make rules for you, you're looking out for you, because people make laws based on their interests. That's why justice has to be impartial. It can't be tied to my own interests.

It has to be tied to something that is bigger than just me. God wants to be the one lawgiver for your life. He wants to be one lawgiver for your family. He wants to be the one lawgiver for your church, and He wants to be the one lawgiver even for government, which is why Romans 13 says that government officials are to be ministers of God based on what God says is good or evil, right and wrong. So even government officials, God says, I'm the one lawgiver for government. So the moment they start making laws that is not consistent with my laws, then you're gonna have chaos in society because folk gonna make up their own laws. That's inconsistent with the king, his kingdom, and how he's made history to work. But he says to his people, now I want you to do justice.

I want you to be equitable and impartial in the application of my laws in history. That's why justice is normally coupled in the Bible with righteousness. You'll find the two twins side-by-side.

They are twins. Psalm 89 14, from his throne comes justice and righteousness. Jeremiah chapter 18 verse 19, to follow the Lord in righteousness and justice. Deuteronomy 32 verses 3 and 4, righteousness and justice together.

Why? Because you can't be just if you don't know what's right. You can never be just if there is not a right standard by which you're measuring the decision.

So the two must always go together, and God is always right, perfectly right, never wrong about any subject matter. You cannot have legitimate freedom as it was meant to be without just boundaries. We want fairness in economics. We don't want people to cheat us. We want fairness in relationships. We want fairness. We want fairness. We want fairness. We want fairness. And God says, then you want my standard if you want fairness.

And within that standard I give you flexibility, but you can't just make up your own rules and expect order. We are the influencers. We're supposed to bring God's point of view, the conscience of the culture. Our job is not to parrot the society.

We're not parakeets. That's the world telling us what to say, and we're mouthing it. Our job is to deliver to the society what the one lawgiver has to say about any subject. There is no subject that sits out of divine jurisdiction.

None. No subject, no category, because there's only one lawgiver. He says, you do justice. But secondly, I want you to love kindness, because as you're walking, see as you're walking on this tightrope, if you're only concerned about justice, you can develop a hard heart.

You can develop a coldness about you. See, if you're only concerned about justice, then you're easy to talk about law and order, law and order, law and order, law and order. You want to make sure, keep the law, keep the law, keep the law, keep the law, and you broke the law, you broke the law, you broke the law.

See, because you want to make sure that the rule is being kept. You're off balance if all you got is justice. So you're leaning to one side, you're gonna fall over.

So you gotta balance that pole on the tightrope of your walk. He says, I want you to love kindness. The Hebrew word for kindness has to do with the compassion of God. The Bible says His loving kindness endures forever. God's got two sides to Him. He's not a one-sided guy. He doesn't just lean to justice.

He balances it with mercy. A parent who's justice-oriented says, what did I tell you to do? When did I tell you to do it? Why are you not obeying me?

Do it because I said so. I gave you the rule. Justice. You obey the rule.

That's legitimate as long as it's not off balance. He says, I want you to balance justice with loving kindness. I want the folk you are applying the rule to, to also know you care about them. I want the folk that you are applying the standard to, yes, apply the standard, but I also want them to know that you have compassion. Justice has to be balanced. Dr. Evans will tell us more about how to maintain that balance when he comes back in just a moment.

Stay with us. Now is the time to address this racial issue based on how God says we should address it. That's the motivation behind Tony Evans' bestseller, Oneness Embraced. It gives a plan for how any community can see transformation take place. Oneness Embraced paves the way toward reconciliation with kingdom-centered solutions. God is literally waiting on His people to bring about the kind of change that we desperately need to see. Oneness Embraced, available now at TonyEvans.org.

Dr. Evans' current teaching series, Race, Culture, and Christ, is a collection of messages reminding us that class and background are unimportant to those who belong to God's kingdom, and that only through approaching life God's way can we truly move past bigotry and racism once and for all. All six full-length messages from this series can be yours, including portions we won't have time to present on the air when you make a contribution and request them from TonyEvans.org. And as a special gift, now through Monday only, we're including these CDs and digital downloads along with Tony's powerful book, Oneness Embraced. Call us right away at 1-800-800-3222 or visit TonyEvans.org to make the arrangements before this special offer runs out.

Again, that's TonyEvans.org. I'll have our contact information for you again after part two of today's lesson. Living kindness has to do with compassion shown in one of two ways. First of all, God's kindness is to be shown to those whom life has not been good to. In Zechariah, just a few pages over, chapter 7, Zechariah says in verse 8, Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, Thus has the Lord of hosts said, Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor, and do not devise evil in your heart against one another.

Don't do that. He says, Remove injustice against those who are oppressed, Psalm 82, 1 to 4. What he says is those who are of the downtrodden, the poor, the oppressed.

He says, Show them mercy. I got a letter from a police officer this week, and the letter said, Look, I don't know who he was, but one of your members came. And I know it's one of your members, because they gave me the card. This is an act of kindness from a member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, and they gave me the card, and it was a police officer, and he said, They bought me lunch and they prayed for me. And all I can tell you is that that was one of the most transforming things. It was just lunch and was just prayer, but that changed my whole world.

I got a picture of one of our members hugging the police officers. I had somebody else coming and telling me about a need, I guess it was a homeless person, that they reached out to and that they helped them get some food and then offered to pray for them, and reaching out in just small ways, but to demonstrate compassion for people who are in situations that's not their fault. I'm not talking about irresponsibility. That's a sin. I'm talking about when life has just done them wrong, because of the evil in the world, in the society. I'm talking about that child whose father abandoned him, and the mother has to work two jobs. I'm talking about something that they have absolutely no control over. He says, Don't just say to that person, You ought to get up and tie up your own bootstraps, because that's the right thing to do when they don't have boots. He says, Reach out with compassion in the name of God without compromising a standard, that if you're healthy you get a job. So mercy is given on one hand to those people who life has hurt, and who are not rebelling.

They just— that's just the reality of the atmosphere of evil that has affected them. But there's another need for compassion, and not justice. When you're guilty, when you've sinned, when you've disobeyed, when you've rebelled, and you don't want the full weight of justice, you don't want what the law requires. When a criminal's in court and he's found guilty, you will regularly hear him throw himself on the mercy of the court. You know what he's asking? She's asking for, Don't give me what the law demands I have.

I'm asking you. That's why you will often hear the judge refer to whether the person showed remorse or not, whether he seemed repentant for the crime. Repentance for wrong done that requires a just response opens up the possibility for mercy. But let me tell you how else you open up yourself for mercy if God looks at your record and sees that you've shown mercy. Luke 636 says, God, it will be merciful to the one who's shown mercy. So if you are a justice person, everything's about justice, and it gets to your turn, and you cry out for mercy, and God looks at the record, and He sees you've just been a law-and-order person. You've just been a justice person. You have shown no mercy. You closed the door on your own request. Don't get me wrong. Don't give up justice.

There is a standard, but don't give up mercy, because God has a heart. He said, the good news of the gospel is that people's lives become improved when they embrace the gloriousness of the content of Jesus Christ and see God at work through His people. Lives become better. People become freer. They become more responsible, all because the good news affects more than heaven.

It's designed to change history. And then, finally, He says, I want you to walk humbly with your God. Okay, now remember now, we're on this wire. He says, you got justice and mercy working, but while you're working justice and mercy, you're also walking, and I want you to walk humbly with your God. To walk with is a term of intimacy and relationship. God doesn't want a religion that doesn't have a relationship tied to it, because then it's an event. Okay, so let's work with this a little bit. What does it mean to walk humbly with your God?

First of all, notice the order of the sentence. It's walk humbly with your God, not ask God to walk with you. You are walking with Him, which means you got to know where He's going. If some of you walk and you have walking partners, why do you have a walking partner? You don't need somebody with you to walk. You walk all by yourself.

The reason you have a walking partner is your fellowshipping in movement. Y'all talking about all this stuff? You talking about politics? You talking about kids?

You talking about different stuff? Because what you're doing is sharing life in motion. God wants us to share life with Him. He wants us to do life with Him. The reason why a lot of our prayers are boring even to God, because it never changes. And the reason why it never changes is because we're not doing life with God. Because if we were doing life with God, He'd be hearing about the good, bad, and ugly. He'd be hearing about the struggles, the stresses, the sins, the circumstances, the problems with the kids, the problems with the maid, the problems on the job.

He'd be hearing the detail. We finish prayers in one minute because it's the same conversation. It's not bringing all of our lives and unveiling them.

It's not exposure to Him. Walking with God is a matter of faith. By faith, Enoch walked with God. It is believing and trusting that God hears me expose myself to Him, good, bad, and ugly, and we are friends. If you're ready to accept the Lord's wisdom and give up on the world's failed remedies, God's made that possible through Jesus' death on the cross for you. Stop looking in the wrong places for answers to humankind's issues and discover the reconciliation and peace that comes through a relationship with Christ. Just visit tonyovens.org and click on the link that says Jesus.

You'll find some helpful videos and free follow-up resources to answer your questions and get you started. Again, that's tonyovens.org. Tony, we'll come back in just a moment with a final word about walking with God in friendship rather than fear, but first I wanted to let you know that the full-length version of today's lesson is available for you to review on your own or to pass along to someone who needs to hear it. Just check with us at tonyovens.org for details on the title, The Divine Imperative, and don't forget if you contact us right away, you can receive it as one of the six messages in Tony's current series, Race, Culture, and Christ, on both CD and digital download, along with his powerful book called Oneness Embraced. All we ask is that you make a donation to help keep this program coming to listeners on this station and throughout the world. You can make all the arrangements by calling our Resource Center at 1-800-800-3222, where team members are ready to help you day and night.

Again, that's 1-800-800-3222, or just go online and visit tonyovens.org. In modern culture, the truth has been replaced by my truth or your truth, but on Monday, Dr. Evans explains why the path to unity begins when we recognize the authority of God's truth. Right now, he's back with a final thought to consider. You ever see the person with a dog not on a leash and the dog is walking by? I can tell you they have a great relationship, because he doesn't need a leash.

Doesn't have to be drugged to worship, drugged to pray, drugged to Bible study. Why didn't come a day? Why didn't come on time?

Why you leave early? Why you don't give right? Pull, pull, pull, because there's no relationship. When there's no relationship, you need a leash. You don't have to pull people who are in a relationship to please the God who they're walking with. The alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is celebrating 40 years of faithfulness thanks to the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-27 15:58:09 / 2023-12-27 16:06:26 / 8

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