“Once Far Off But Now Brought Near!”
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“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself” (Acts 2:39). “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
Geographically being far off or nearby tends to be relative. When we first moved to Lancaster County in 2001 we attended a country church consisting mostly of congregants who lived in the immediate area. I asked a young man, “Are you from around here?” He replied, “Oh no, I’m from Manheim”.
Now Manheim is a small town only about eight miles from the church but from his geographical perspective “around here” was limited to the neighborhood around the church. From his outlook he lived “far off” in Manheim. We had moved down several weeks earlier from New England and to us “around here” was anywhere in south-central Pennsylvania, which certainly would include a town only eight miles away!
We were both raised in the Midwest, me in Missouri and Brooksyne in Oklahoma so this is now far off to us, over 1,000 miles. But our Zimbabwean friends live on the other side of the world and from their perspective, Missouri or Oklahoma is really not all that far off! Their travel time to Zimbabwe takes over 24 hours via air.
Today let us consider the phrase “far off” from Acts 2:39. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself” (Acts 2:39).
In the first daily verse Peter is preaching on the Day of Pentecost and winding up his message with his “altar call”. He has just preached to a large crowd who had asked “What does this mean?”
Surely there was a lot of confusion and false assumptions but he boldly asserted the promise of the Gospel of Christ and the extent of who the promise was for.
The promise is:
2) “For all who are far off”; What did Peter mean by this?
B) “Far off” in the sense of far off generations; looking ahead to the impact of the promise on the generations to come, including our own. It’s really hard to imagine more than several generations beyond our own let alone 2,000 years which for us of course would be 4,000 AD!
C) “Far off” in the sense of being far from God. We can be far off from God due to many factors. Some have never heard His message, others have heard but rejected and then sadly some have received for a season but rebelled against it. Regardless of how anyone may be “far off” they can be recipients of the promise.
3) For “as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself”; He continues to call out to the fallen human race with a message of redemption, reconciliation and restoration. Have you responded to His call?
Later Paul also used the phrase “far off” in his letter to the Ephesians. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). In this context “far off” refers to those who were far off from God. The preceding verses state, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:11,12).
All who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ can state, “But now in Christ Jesus I who was formerly far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
The great divide You heal
For when our hearts were far away
Your love went further still
Yes, your love goes further still
You alone can rescue, You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us, led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we are humbled and grateful that You don’t let people who are “far off” prevent You from drawing us to Yourself, making us Your children. You call those from distant lands, even those under oppressive government doing everything possible to prevent their people from hearing the message of the cross. You call those in far off generations who lived in early civilization, all the generations between and right down to our own. You will call the generations that follow us, should You tarry. And You deal with the hearts of those who are far off from having a right relationship with You, either because they have not heard, they heard but rejected the message of salvation, or they once walked with You but have wandered away from the faith. Surely Your arm is not too short to save, nor Your ear too dull to hear those who respond to Your calling. In Christ Jesus we who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ and we will be forever grateful. Amen.
See Ephesians 2:13
My very personable Mom always wanted to know where people are from. If you said you were from New York City, with a twinkle in her eye, she would ask about someone else she knew who lived in New York City expecting that you might very well know them. Being from Missouri, New York was one of those far off places!
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