Sunday, April 20, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
No one disputes that Jesus Christ suffered. But the idea that His suffering was necessary—that He had to suffer—has often been the subject of scorn from those who have criticized and ridiculed Christianity through the centuries. It is also what sets Christianity apart.
Muslims, for example, show respect for the person of Christ, but see the cross as a stumbling block. They regard His atonement through suffering as foolishness. Friedrich Nietzsche dismissed the very concept of Jesus’ suffering by saying, “God on a cross—preposterous!”
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we resolutely stand against this ridicule and embrace His cross. It is a vivid illustration of 1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
If you had 24 hours to live, what would you do?
It was essential for Jesus to suffer:
To pay for the sins of mankind. First John 4:10 says, “[God] loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sin.” The key word is propitiation, meaning payment. It wasn’t enough for Him to die. Jesus had to pay a debt—our debt, for our sin. The payment was necessary.
To satisfy the demands of God’s wrath. As much as God loves you, He hates your sin with a holy, burning hatred beyond comprehension. The only way He could embrace you in spite of your sin was for someone else—someone perfect and holy—to pay for it. (Romans 5:1.)
To purchase the opportunity for our sins to be forgiven. No longer do you have to carry your sin. You can be forgiven. God laid all your sinfulness upon Jesus as He willingly suffered and died upon the cross. The debt was paid, opening the door to your forgiveness.
To provide the way to eternal life. To have a gift, you must choose to receive it (Romans 6:23). Do you know Jesus Himself is the gift of eternal life? His suffering is the reason that gift is possible.
The glory of the gospel is, while we are the ones who need to be saved from God’s wrath, He is the one who saves us—through His Son, Jesus Christ. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
You can be forgiven and washed clean. Jesus is the propitiation. He willingly laid down His life to restore your relationship with God. As the Father laid all the sinfulness of the world upon His Son, Jesus suffered and died, offering forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe (John 3:16).
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things (2 Corinthians 2:15–16, ESV)?
According to the apostle Paul, you stink. In describing the gospel and how our lives attest to its reality, Paul painted a pungent picture of the effect we have on others. In a sense, people have an awareness of God in us that could be likened to an odor or smell. Paul warns us to expect two extreme reactions to this. For some, our scent is fragrant and pleasant—the aroma of life. For others our lives smell offensive—the stench of death.
Paul’s point is that we can't have it both ways. If we are going to be used by God as witnesses to the gospel, then to some people we are going to stink—just like our Master. Jesus Christ is the aroma of death to those who are perishing.
Derided by the media, denied by the moral left, appropriated by the right to support their pet causes, Jesus is reviled by the world. Why the widespread hatred? You will never attend a movie and hear “Buddha” or “Muhammad” used as a curse word. Artists won’t depict Gandhi or Krishna in some of the crude and offensive ways our Lord has been portrayed. This hatred for Jesus Christ has become predictable and is disturbingly irrational.
More importantly, it is unavoidable. Christ is a stench to those who are perishing, and His followers are that stench too. Why do we try so hard to avoid this reality? Because we dislike rejection. While unbelievers are actually rejecting Jesus, their rejection feels personal to us. Some of our programmed evangelistic strategies are even designed to help us avoid rejection. Rather than talking about Jesus, we invite unbelievers to a church bake sale, a barbeque, or a baseball league, hoping to build a long, safe bridge to the Savior. We must remind ourselves rejection is unavoidable.
Let’s set aside the canned methods that make evangelism feel safer. The apostles didn’t handle their fear of rejection with sterile approaches that covered their stench and made the lost feel comfortable. They displaced their fear of rejection with authentic passion for Jesus and prayers for boldness, knowing they would be rejected.
Should we expect better results than faithful saints of God through the ages? Should we expect to be embraced when our Master was rejected? Jesus warned, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
Unless we are willing to be the aroma of death to those who are perishing, we will never be the aroma of life to those who are being saved.