Category Archives: Gospel

Loose Your Religion – Make Room for Relationship

It’s hard for us to realize this today, but when Christianity first arose in the world it was not called a religion. It was the non-religion. Imagine the neighbors of early Christians asking them about their faith. “Where’s your temple?” We don’t have one. “Where are your priests?” We don’t have priests. “Where are the sacrifices made to please your gods?” We don’t do that kind of thing. Jesus himself was the temple to end all temples, the priest to end all priests, and the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. First century Christians were even called atheists. They were the non-religion.

Religion in general is man’s strategic manual for how to reach God. But Christianity is not a religion in this sense. Christianity holds that man, no matter how hard he tries, cannot reach God. Man cannot ascend to God’s level. Therefore there is only one remedy: God must come down to man’s level (that’s what Christmas is all about). Scandalous though it may seem, God must become man and assume the burden of man’s sins (D’Souza, Christianity, 290). Christianity teaches that this was the great sacrifice of Christ – from heaven to amniotic fluid. In religion, man must take the active role. In Christ, God does it all. And religious people generally find this offensive, because it takes away the “tax-payer status” with God. In other words, if I am good and do good things, I have rights to make demands of God.

Tim Keller, a New York City pastor, tells about a conversation he had with a woman. She said that she had gone to a church growing up and she had always heard that God accepts us only if we are sufficiently good and ethical. She had never heard the message of sheer grace through the work of Christ. She commented though on how scary that was for her. She said “If I was saved by my good works –then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be a taxpayer with rights. I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if it is really true that I am a sinner saved by sheer grace – at God’s infinite cost – then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.” Says Keller: “She could see immediately that the wonderful-beyond-belief teaching of salvation by sheer grace had two edges to it. On the one hand it cut away slavish fear. God loves us freely, despite our flaws and failures. Yet she also knew that if Jesus really had done this for her – she was not her own. She was bought with a price (Keller, Prodigal…).”

God’s grace does not come to people who morally outperform others, but to those who admit their failure to perform and who acknowledge their need for a Savior. Christianity proclaims that all the things that religion promised but couldn’t deliver have been delivered once and for all by Jesus.

The world has many religions, but there’s no Gospel in them. In all the world religions, man is endeavoring to reach up and somehow find God. Only in Christianity is God reaching down to man. Christianity holds that man, no matter how hard he/she tries, cannot reach God. Therefore, there is only one remedy; God must become man and assume the burden of man’s sins. And that’s what He did at Christmas. Loose your religion. Make room for relationship.

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Filed under Atheism, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Christmas, Gospel, Incarnation, Religion, World Religions

Good Friday – “It is Finished” Not “I am Finished”

“It is finished.”
– Jesus Christ on the Cross at about 3 PM Friday afternoon 34 AD.

In John 19:20 Jesus said “It is finished” while on the cross, a phrase that means “paid in full (tetelestai).” The Greek word translated “It is finished” was commonly written across certificates of debt when they were canceled. What does this mean?

Your sin debt has been paid in full. Christ’s righteousness replaces our guilt and is credited to our account. A death sentence will never come to rest on those who are “in Christ.” All sacrifices were fulfilled. The Scriptures about Him were accomplished. The veil in the temple was split down the middle, indicating that man had free access to God. Satan’s reign was over and evils’ power conquered. Life had won. Man has been liberated and set free.

Christ didn’t say, “I am finished” because He wasn’t. He’s still alive today. God raised Him on Easter. He said, “It is finished.” What’s the “it”? Your salvation. The plan to provide grace for every person. It’s finished. The gospel is an announcement of an objective state of affairs informing the world of what God has done for them in Christ. “You are forgiven. You’ve been set free. Grace has happened for you. The party has begun. Personally believe and receive it, and sit down and enjoy it!” You don’t need to win His love; you already have it!

On that first Good Friday, it was dark. It was lonely. He was thirsty. He was naked. He was in terrible pain and distress. His friends scattered. His lifeblood ebbed away. He called out in the darkness and there was no rescue for Him. Everyone had forsaken Him. Even His Father. Men jeered. His enemies laughed. Demons danced and rejoiced. Death came slowly. He did it for you to pay a debt He didn’t owe.

“It is finished.” You and I and even the atheist is declared “Debt-free.” Now, the only thing left to do is to live in light of what happened on Good Friday and life will be truly good.

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God and the “gods” Aren’t Angry Anymore!

God is righteous and holy, pure and undefiled. To stay consistent with Who He is, He must stand against, and even punish sin and rebellion. He is a righteous Judge. He will not compromise with evil.

To be honest with you, I wouldn’t want the universe run by someone who wasn’t perfectly holy and perfectly just. Would you want a universe where crime went unpunished? Would you want a world where if someone abused a family member they would never be brought to justice? Would you want a world where evil reigned unopposed and unchecked? No way! God has to punish sin, because if He doesn’t, He lets all creation be sabotaged.

God is also deeply in love with us, His creation. Of course, we are not pure and undefiled. We are broken, impure, and rebellious. However, if he simply just writes our offence off with no basis for doing so, there is no justice. He is unfair. On the other hand, if He passed judgment on to us, as our Creator and heavenly Father, he would compromise His love. This is God’s dilemma. What is He to do?

Well, He could let us try to work our own way back to Him, but we’d never be able to do it. We’re not good enough. Or, option two: He could pay the penalty Himself.

The Gospel teaches us that God himself in the person of Jesus, took off His robes, draped himself in human flesh, and became the payment for our sin, and died in our behalf. God’s justice was satisfied and his love fulfilled, but it came at an incredible price. This is the Gospel, “the Good News.” It explains how a holy God could declare a believing, but rebellious sinner righteous and fit for heaven while still in his/her sinning, broken, and unholy state. The only requirement is that you believe and receive this incredible gift, and when you do, all of Christ’s righteousness is credited to your account.

The Gospel allows us to say with full confidence that God is not angry with you. That’s why it’s Good News! His anger was poured out over 2,000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross.

Get over the notion of an angry God. Too many of us have a misguided view of God. God is seen as some ticked-off deity that longs to cut off the damned and hopeless. The Gospel explains how God can go on loving you and still be consistent with Who He is.

You ask: “What must I do to keep God from being angry with me?” I would answer: “Nothing, because it’s already been done.” You ask: “How do I find God?” I question: “How do you miss Him?”

You must let God love you now, and live in light of His sacrificial love. God (and the gods) aren’t angry anymore! True love… true love…

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