Why do so many people reject Christianity? One of the major reasons may be that we Christians give the wrong impression about what Christianity is all about. The truth is that if we don’t really understand what Jesus did for us on the cross we really don’t know Him. And if we don’t know Him how do we reflect His love and grace to a skeptical and disinterested society?
We end up presenting a view of God that is neither realistic nor applicable to our daily lives. Some Christians make God out to be a harsh taskmaster just waiting to find fault so that He might jump all over us and severely punish anyone who dares step out of line. Others see Jesus as a simple pie-in-the-sky Santa Clause figure who is only there to answer their needs and give them things. And when God doesn’t come through they throw up their hands in discuss and walk away.
To know God is to understand what happened at Calvary. When Adam and Eve fell into sin through temptation all who came after them were tainted by the effects of sin. We have a tendency to sin and rebel against God because we carry a sinful nature deep within our psyche. If you and I were able to resist sin as action for the rest of our lives we would still be sinful and unable to attain a relationship with God based upon our actions.
The gulf between God and us is wide and deep and we can never ever cross over it to reach God. This is what separates Christianity from all other World religions. They believe that through doing, being, right actions, and striving they can move across the gulf and reach their gods. Only Christianity understands that this is impossible because, in spite of all our good intentions and actions, we fall far short of being anywhere close to having the character required to be in the presence of an all Holy God.
The answer to the problem of our separation from God is that He made the first move and came across the gulf to us. Jesus came to this world to undo all the failures of the first Adam and fulfill all the relationship needs that bring us back to harmony with God. Where Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. Where Adam sinned, Jesus lived a sinless life, and where Adam died only to himself, Jesus died for us all.
Jesus became our substitute in that He paid the penalty for our sins, He carried our guilt to the cross and bore it all upon His shoulders. At Calvary He did for us what we could never do for ourselves—He gave us life by losing His own.
When I listen to people talking about perfection, overcoming all their sins, God’s people being perfect at the end of time, or being “fit to save” I wonder if they ever understood the cross. This is not a put down of Christians who see things that way, it is just a simple question. How do we have the courage to look at our own merits in light of the sacrifice of Jesus for us at the cross? If I could earn merit with God by being good enough then Jesus died for nothing.
The cross had to take place if we were to be free from the condemnation of sin and its penalty that demands death. At the cross, death, sin, and Satan were destroyed once and for all and in their place came life, freedom and redemption through the merits of Jesus.
So it is one thing to have Jesus die and carry the sins of the world into the deepest part of the sea. He may forgive me and offer to save me, but how is that possible while I am such a sinner? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Let’s look at this verse, which is the most quoted verse in Scripture. God so loved the world excluded no one. God loves us all, and if you remember back to our last posts you will remember that God loved us and died for us while we were yet sinners. God knows we can never get good enough to come to Him, so He died for us while we were yet in rebellion.
My relationship with God is not based on the fact that since I acted right God saw that and decided to include me in His plan of salvation. The Gospel is about the fact that God died for us all and whoever accepts that enters into a saving relationship with God. In other words, God’s grace is not responding to my actions, but when I accept Jesus into my heart I am responding to His actions on my behalf. This is an important difference that should be understood by all Christians.
The Jewish leaders and Pilate may have believed that they took Jesus life but the reality is that Jesus gave His life for us. God so loved the world “that He gave His one and only Son,” God’s ultimate gift to us was the death of His one and only Son because that was the only way that we could ever come home again and be in relationship with Him.
Our salvation isn’t something that we earn – it is a gift to everyone who believes in Jesus. The text doesn’t even say we have to have a great deal of faith, it just says, “have faith.” I know some of you are feeling a bit uneasy about this. You think, “he’s talking cheap grace.” Well grace is never cheap to the one offering it but it is free to the one receiving it, otherwise it wouldn’t be grace.
Furthermore, what a lot of legalistic and duty bound Christians call cheap grace is simply the gospel of grace. They call it cheap grace because they don’t understand the significance and wonder of the gift of freedom in Christ. What these misguided Christians are calling cheap grace is often “free grace,” and they don’t understand it because they don’t understand the gospel.
If we believe in Jesus substitutionary death for us we will not perish but have everlasting life. This is hard for people who grew up being taught that Jesus is our example and we have to live a perfect obedient life just like Him if we are ever going to be saved. What we need is to believe in the merits of a perfect savior.
Chris Tomlin – At The Cross (Love Ran Red Acoustic Sessions)
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…