For the past two months or so, I have been wrestling with a question/idea that took root after reading If Grace is True: Why God Will Save Every Person By Phillip Gulley. As a whole, the book presented very little in the way of acurate theory, as well as, failed miserably to back up any thoughts with sufficient evidence or reasoning. The book however did provide me the opportunity to look closer at what many people believe. I was confronted with the question of how to respond to the questions aroused by this book so I could be prepared if someone were to ask me. The main one that I struggled with knowing how to answer was that if God was so loving, why would he demand blood/death as payment for sin, or one step even further why would sin require any kind of payment at all and not just forgiveness. I knew the answer lied somewhere in that God cannot be in the presence of sin because of His pure wholiness and that doing wrong requires a punishment (think of how all criminals, regardless of how sorry they are, still have to pay their debt to society). But I just couldn't find an explanation that seemed to tie it all together and not leave a lot of room for argument on the opposing side. The worst part was, I felt like I should know it, like it was going to be something so obvious but couldn't get my finger on it. And it was.
Last Sunday, in Church, our pastor talked about the Gospel and how it is the single most important and indispensable thing about being a Christian and a Church. In the midst of this great refresher message, God gave me the clarity I needed.
SIN = DEATH
DEATH = SEPARATION
This is not a new idea. In fact, I had heard this within sermons and Bible verses so many times, but failed to really think through it. Sin, not God, requires death because it is the nature of sin. Sin is the thing that separates us from God. From the very beginning, in Genesis, God says "don't eat of that tree or you will surely die," we know they did not physically die, no poison apples here, but their disobedience led to spiritual death, they were forever separated from God. Why was that sin, the seemingly innocent act of eating a piece of fruit? Well, after eating the fruit, knowledge of evil entered mankind. And who of us, is not tempted by the knowledge we have of certain evils? They were susceptible to the temptation of sin pre-fruit, they were pre-dispositioned to it post-fruit, along with all of mankind. So, in the rejection of God's one rule to protect mankind, there was one giant step taken away from God, a momentous step, that would require something momentous to bridge that gap that separates us.
God is life. Just like you can't have two opposite things exist at the same time, for instance, pure light and pure darkness cannot exist in the same place at the same time, so the God of life and the death of sin cannot exist together in the same place. God is not being hateful or unloving, it is just the nature of the situation, of God and of sin.
So, apply this to what we know about the Bible. In the Old Testament, a pure animal sacrifice was required as an atonement for sin. Sin itself requires death, the sacrificial lamb took on that death so mankind wouldn't have to pay that price themselves. The sacrifice having to be the best of what they had, they couldn't just go get the sickly of their flock, but in showing true repentence, the sacrifice had to be of the best they could possibly offer.
In the New Testament, the sacrificial lamb was Jesus Himself. Not only did he take on the death that sin requires, his desending into Hell and rising back out of it conquered death so that through our faith in Him, we no longer have to be held captive by the death from our sin. In doing this very thing that no previous animal sacrifice could do, an animal sacrifice was no longer required, as Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them," Matthew 5:17. The nature of things did not change, but Jesus came to fulfill that sacrifice once for all (1 Peter 3:18).
God doesn't want punishment for His children, no more than any parent wants punishment for their children. Our separation from Him breaks His heart. He has made it as easy as possible on us to have eternal life with Him. He doesn't expect our perfection, He just wants our faith and love. We don't have to jump through hoops to have eternal life with God, we just have to believe in Jesus and what He did for us.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
This leads me to the youngest member of our little trio. Mr. C is quite a challenge to keep calm so as not to stress a very irritable Daddy out. He wants to play with Daddy's books, guitar, computer, tries to climb into the dishwasher, wants to play in the bathroom everytime anyone goes in there (getting thoroughly upset when we close the door on him), doesn't want to go down for his naps at times. Saying no, and taking things he can't have away from him generally result in a whining and crying fit. Whenever I am trying to get his bottles or meals ready, he gets very impatient and begins fussing while I am in the middle of it. Most of the above mentioned things happens daily. Normally, his tendency to fling himself into a tantrum can amuse me, but with Wes being in his rather shaky moods, it is no longer amusing to me and I find myself stressing about how to get Caleb calmed down in a hurry, and trying to find ways to keep him from getting upset in the first place (not easy).