Saturday, December 17, 2011

Something I Have to Tell You

Dear Twitter followers, Facebook friends and blog readers:

Many of you know me personally, many of you only casually, and some of you only through my tweets and posts and comments. Regardless of how or if you know me, however, there’s something I need to tell you. In fact, this is something that I am compelled to tell you. I may have communicated this to you in the past, I may have implied it or even assumed you already knew it. But because I care about each one of you, I want to clearly and unambiguously tell you this now.

The truth is that you have a problem. And so do I. A huge, life threatening problem. We are all God’s enemies. That’s right, we’re at war with God, the supreme ruler of the universe. And I’m not talking about some imaginary deity that we like to make up in our own minds. I’m talking about the big ‘G’ God, the living and eternal Jehovah God who’s revealed Himself in the Bible as all powerful and all knowing. The one true God who is absolutely holy, pure and righteous. This is the God we are at war with. This is the God who created us and rightly own us and our allegiance and obedience and worship. This is the God we’ve rebelled against, whose commands we’ve ignored and willfully disobeyed. This is the God we’ve tried to replace with all kinds of other objects of worship like wealth, comfort, ourselves, even religion. Our rebellion against God is what He rightly calls sin. And He’s not pleased with our sin. He hates it.

Yes, that’s right. The God of the Bible who we rightly talk about in terms of love, hates. He hates our sin, and He hates us as sinners. He can’t do otherwise, because He’s morally perfect and can’t stand evil, and therefore to not hate sin would be to deny Himself, something He cannot do. So you see what a serious problem we have. Created by a holy God who is worthy of our worship and obedience, but rebellious against Him and His rule because we’d rather be free of Him. Rightly hated and condemned by Him for our sin. And because any sin against an infinitely righteous God is justly deserving of infinite punishment, we are in deep, eternal, trouble. He’s promised that He will judge sinful men, and will send them to an eternal punishment as an act of His perfect justice. To a place the Bible refers to as hell. Yes, hell is real, more real than anything in this present world. And unless something changes, it’s the eternal destination of each one of us. Like I said, you and I have a problem that makes even the most serious problems of our daily lives look like mere inconveniences.

Do I have your attention yet? I hope so, because if that’s where the story ended, we’d all be hopelessly pitiful beings who’d live out our existence in fear and despair, knowing what awaits us at some point in the future when God fulfills His promises to punish sinners. But that’s not the end of the story. There’s more than bad news to this truth I am compelled to tell you. There’s good news. Infinitely good news that can change fear and despair to hope, joy and true worship.

Because this holy, righteous, just and sovereign God is also perfectly loving, merciful and gracious. And as the ultimate act of mercy and grace to condemned sinners like you and me, He’s done everything needed to remove from us the condemnation we so richly deserve, and to replace that state of judgment with a position of righteousness before Him, for eternity. He’s done so by providing a substitute for that eternal punishment, Someone who could absorb the infinite hatred and anger of God against sin, and perfectly satisfy His just demands. That Someone is the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ.

You probably all know about Jesus being killed by crucifixion on a Roman cross. But do you know why Jesus was killed? Do you know who killed Him? God killed Him. Jesus’ death on a cross was the fulfillment of God’s plan to make a way for condemned sinners to escape the wrath to come. Jesus’ crucifixion wasn’t a tragedy, it was the greatest victory of all time. It was the triumph of God’s grace and mercy over death and hell. It was the one means by which God could satisfy His justice, and yet provide a means for sinful men and women like us to be pardoned from eternal punishment for our sin, and to enter into a right relationship with Him. Something had to change. God acted to bring about that change, by sacrificing His Son Jesus and then raising Him from the dead to clearly show that the victory had been won.

That is really good news, isn’t it? The exchange of certain eternal punishment, for certain eternal relationship with God Himself. All threat of punishment for our sin taken away, forever. But…it’s only good news if it’s applied to us. God has acted to make this forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with Him available. And He’s also made it clear that He requires a response to this good news from us.

That response is faith. Believing and trusting in the person and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Having faith in the promises of God that He’s fulfilled through Christ, and placing our eternal trust in Him and Him alone. Recognizing that we have no ability to earn any kind of favor from God, and receiving His gracious pardon as a gift. Turning from all our sinful rebellion against God, and turning to Jesus for grace and mercy. Not trusting in ourselves, our acts of religion or rituals, our good deeds, our church membership or anything else other than the righteous life and satisfactory death of Jesus Christ. That’s the only acceptable response that God requires.

So that brings us to you and me. I can say that by God’s grace I have seen the reality of my sin and the condemnation and eternal punishment I rightly deserve. And by His grace I’ve also seen the reality of pardon from that sin and condemnation and punishment found in Jesus Christ. And I’ve responded in faith, trusting Him and nothing else for my eternity. And have experienced His love and transforming power in my life.

What about you? Have you responded in faith to God’s good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ? If you have, then I hope this note has been a reminder of the greatness of God’s gracious salvation. But if you haven’t, I urge you to consider the truths I’ve outlined here. Consider the eternal danger you’re in due to your sin. And consider the complete release from the sentence of hell that sin has earned you that’s available only through faith in Jesus. And respond by believing in His life and death for you, and receiving Him as your Savior and Lord. No one else can do that for you, it’s a response only you can exercise. And remember – by not trusting in Christ, you are choosing to reject the only means of salvation available. I urge you – choose Christ, for eternity.

I hope I’ve been clear in what I’ve communicated here, and that God will use this for you eternal good, and for His eternal glory. Thanks for taking the time to read.