A friend of mine was recently talking to a friend of his about grace and the joy of experiencing Christ when suddenly his friend blurted out, “that’s nice but lets talk about the meat of the Bible.” When my friend recounted the conversation to me in an email I was a bit shocked that anyone could possibly think grace wasn’t the heart and core of all Biblical thinking. But, the unhappy truth is that many Christians think redemption is just another doctrine in a long list of teachings that stretch from one end of the Bible to the other.
It always floors me that as Christians we can study the Bible and not realize that everything points to Jesus. If it doesn’t then we need to reconsider and rethink what it exactly is that we believe. The meat of the Bible is not prophecy, which day of worship you keep, nor the Second Coming, but Jesus. All those other things can be good and helpful in understanding more about Jesus but it is the life, death and resurrection that are the central core of what it means to be Christian.
Adam and Eve sinned in the garden by listening to Satan’s subtle lie that they could be like God if they only ate of the tree. Instead of becoming like God they entered into sin and rebellion. The result was that they ended up breaking their relationship with God and hiding from Him. The Bible is simply the story of God’s searching for us and inviting us back to the Garden. The Bible is a story of forgiveness in which our sins and rebellion are forgiven and God welcomes us back into His arms for no other reason than He loves us in spite of all that we have done.
The problem is we are sinful by nature and don’t always want to return to God and that sinful nature keeps us from being able to return to Him. The gulf between my sinfulness and God’s holiness is just too great for us to span so we have to come to the understanding that we are lost and eternally, separated from God unless God does something.
Fortunately, for us, God has a plan. Knowing that we could never get to Him He came to us. But, here is the problem that stared God in the face, how could He be just (the breaking of the law demands death) and at the same time be merciful? In our thinking the two cannot be true at the same time. If I go to court for a crime I am either given mercy or convicted under the law and allowed my freedom, but they can’t both take place simultaneously.
With God the impossible is always possible so here is what He did. He came to us in the form of man and lived the perfect life that we couldn’t and accredited that perfect life to our account. The penalty for sin was death so He died as our substitute on Calvary’s cross absorbing all our sins onto His shoulders. Jesus death satisfied the demands of the law that sin should be punished by death and He was able to meet those demands on our behalf by becoming our substitute. He died so that we could be set free from the demands of the law.
God at Calvary became both just, paying the ransom price for our freedom from the penalty of sin by paying the price Himself, and He was merciful by offering us the benefits of that great sacrifice as a free gift. His offer to us is, if we want to reconnect with Him, and allow Him into our lives, He has made it possible to happen, all we need to do is say, “yes” to the offer.
The Ten Commandments represent the character of God and the ideal of true holiness. If we could keep the law perfectly in both thought and action we could be holy and worthy of being reunited with God. The truth is that none of us keep the law and none of us will ever keep the law. I talk to perfectionist all the time that believe they will reach a state of perfection but they admit they haven’t reached that state yet, nor do they know anyone who has. It is because we don’t keep the law perfectly that we need a savior.
The law points out our sins and sends us to the foot of the cross for deliverance. If we don’t understand this we will muddle around beating ourselves up for our failures and faults believing that we can never be good enough, do enough, or live well enough to please Jesus. When we come to the understanding that we don’t live well enough, or are good enough to be saved then we can come to the cross with open arms and cry out, “I need you Jesus.”
When we cry out to Jesus, He hears and covers us in His righteousness, His love and His compassion and welcomes us home. The entire story of the Prodigal Son is a simple working out of this entire theme of rebellion, repentance, forgiveness and acceptance.
The meat of the Gospel is Jesus, His grace, His love and His acceptance of us. It is the story of our God seeking the lost, finding us and inviting us home. He does it all. All we have to do is be found.
God loves us unconditionally. His love sent Jesus to the cross and His love will bring us home. If you have never put your hand in Jesus’ hand and trusted Him for your salvation now would be a good time to do it. Remember, your salvation is not based on your merit, goodness or actions, it is instead the free gift of God for all who believe in His saving power. The invitation is to come home again and the fare has been paid.
* All’s quiet in the front…really? Just because it’s hardly reported in the news these days doesn’t mean it’s not happening anymore. Many people around the globe are STILL experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death. They need our support and continuous prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet but you have to search for it