Thursday, October 26, 2017

That Little Room in My Mind Where I Keep the Cross

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There's a little place in my mind where I recall the cross.  The wonderful cross of Jesus Christ, so eclipsed in this world, so half remembered, so easy to forget though so vital to remember.  Amazing the things we need most are the things that get tossed aside so quickly.  One can hear a hundred messages, but what about the cross of Christ?  What about what Christ did for us?  

What really happened on that day on calvary? Who is Jesus?  Why does it matter?  We can know one day and forget the next.  The busy day, day in and day out can take it away from us.  That's why we remind ourselves, thats why our calendar is set up for moments in the week to connect with God almighty.  It's because we forget so easily, and lose track of who we are, and what really matters.

What matters is the cross of Christ. From a worldly perspective it seems that nothing of much consequence occurred.  A man was whipped, beaten, and nailed to a cross, and left to slowly die.  A tragedy right?  

That would be incorrect.  You see, Jesus was not just a man, he was God in human form.  He came for a specific purpose, willingly, and when Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest friends, He already knew that this would happen. In fact, Jesus being God in human form, could've at any time prevented his death.  But in fact, Jesus' purpose was to come to Earth and to die a substitionary death.

Jesus said, "No one takes away my life from me, I give it up willingly"  (John 10:18).

You see, reality was broken by our ancestors, and Earth became fallen. That's why all around us we see societies in strife, poverty, crime, and corruption.  That's why we as humans suffer.

You see, God's standard is fairly straight forward: It's the ten commandments, really pretty simple stuff: Don't steal, don't lie, don't cheat on your spouse, keep the sabbath, and so on.  And our problem is that we struggle, we struggle with being good.  We want to be good, but we aren't. 

Jesus came to fulfill the requirements of the ten commandments.  In the life of Christ, we see perfection.  But not only did Christ have to fulfill the laws of the Old Testament, Christ also had to pay off our debt of sin.

That's what happened on the cross.  Jesus made a spiritual sacrifice sufficient to pay off our debt of sin. The sin problem is everything my friends, its' everything.  Every problem in the world, every evil we see around us is due to sin.  So what we really need in life and the world is Jesus Christ to make us pure, and make us good, and change us into new people.  That's the whole ball game here.  The problem isn't just around us, it's within us.  

The saying is true that's easier to convince someone of a lie than to convince someone that they've been lied to.  Most of us, myself included, were indoctrinated into a comprehensive worldview in public schools and universities that strategically excluded God and propagated a materialistic view of the world undergirded with evolutionary biology and self reliance.  The cross is foreign to our thinking and it makes it hard for us to understand it's meaning and its weight of glory.  But we must break the indoctrination and begin to understand the world from a new perspective: that of the truth.  

There are many lies in this world, and we've been much deceived in everything from relationships to education to work and culture and media and so many other things.  Becoming a Christian for me was like being unplugged from the matrix, and finding myself on a hovership being taught a seeming nightmare scenario regarding the situation of humanity.  It was hard to accept, very hard to accept.  I was like Neo when he said, "No... it's not possible."  His mind refused to accept the truth at first.  It's like that when becoming a Christian.  We're unplugged from one worldview, and shared the truth, the actual worldview and situation of humanity: Desperately lost in sin, caught in a disintegrating reality set for collapse, a house of horrors of sorts, from which we must escape.  It's not an easy thing to accept, especially when we've believed lies our entire lives.  Like the narrative of the progress of man, and the narrative of all people being basically good.  

The cross was a permanent singularity,  in which God divided by zero.  At the cross, Jesus Christ became an offering for all our sins.  Not just for the sins of one person like me, but for all people, across all of history, for all those who would be willing to access that singularity.  And this singularity of the cross is established in a timeless state, it applies infinitely backwards to all past sins before AD 33.  And it applied infinitely forward, for all sins in the future.  It was a single event, with a timeless effect.  Spiritually on the cross, the sins of mankind were placed upon Jesus on the cross, and Jesus received the punishment deserved for sin, despite his own sinless righteousness.

This is the great exchange.  We throw our sins upon Christ on the cross, and he destroys them with himself on the cross, and as a result, the return effect is that Christ's righteousness, his perfect life and character are transferred to us, as a garment that we spiritually "put on" each day.  So we're made righteous by Christ alone.  He accomplishes it all from start to finish. 

That's why Christ said, just before he died on the cross: "It is finished."  

They call this formula of salvation "penal substitutionary atonement."  Christ received the penalty (penal) as a substition (he stands in for us in receiving judgment) and he pays off our debt completely to zero (as the sins that were held against us that we committed over our lives) and then adds His righteous as a net positive to our account.  So instead of being in debt $20,000 or instead of just being at $0.00 in the account, it actually goes up to whatever amount would equal perfection.  Its an analogy, but you get the idea.

We may not understand it.  We may not fully realize the depths of our sin.  We definitely don't fully realize the righteousness of God which is so incredibly beyond us.  But this is it.  This is the formula.  As C.S. Lewis said this is Christianity.  This is what must be believed.

Christ did two other things at the cross, which are scripturally supported.  Christ defeated the works of Satan the rogue fallen angel that makes war on humanity (Christus Victor View) and Christ was subject to brutal judgment, thereby making a declaration of the authority and sovereignty of God, and the severity of sin and the importance of righteousness (Moral Government View). 

But we focus on substitutionary atonement because the application is directly to our salvation.

So through this great exchange we are born again, and give the Holy Spirit who travels with us through life.  He convicts us of sin, encourages us along the journey, strengthens us, purifies us, and puts us through trials that mature our faith.  

In effect we are given an entirely new life.  That's what I'm living out now, an entirely new life, which began 5 years ago, in 2012, ironically the time some fruitcakes thought the world would end because of the Mayan calendar.  But then again, for me, the world did end.  I died, and a new man was born.   

And that's how we ought to apply ourselves as Christians.  We see that we are dead to all sins, and alive to holy living in Christ.  We aren't the people we used to be anymore.  I'm not addicted anymore.  I'm not sexually immoral anymore.  I'm not a selfish egotistical hack anymore.  I'm born again, to be humble, kind, loving, caring, to live as a servant to others and to live in worship to God.  That's my goal now, it's a new life.

So the equasion of Christ's birth, perfect living, and serving others, and giving of himself everyday, and training his disciples, and offering His life freely on the cross is not the end of the story, as we know.  Christ died on the cross.  In fact a spear was plunged into his side after he died, to make sure he was really dead.  I mean, Jesus was seriously, fully dead.  But he had promised something that seemed impossible: He said he would rise from the dead three days later.  

Could something like that possibly happen?  His 12 disciples certainly didn't think so.  In fact they were so afraid after Jesus was killed that they went and were hiding behind locked doors. They were crying, weeping, mourning and getting ready for the funeral.  Jesus was dead.  It was all over.  

But then the impossible happened.  Jesus Christ walked through the door.  And he said, here I am, I'm alive.  Jesus Christ had been resurrected from the dead.  But why?  What's the relevance of a bodily resurrection?  It's a message to all who would dare to believe in Him: I have the power over death itself.  So we are promised, that if we believe in Christ, and trust in Him as our savior, that when we die, similarly in the way Christ died on the cross, God is promising us: I will resurrect you from the dead as well.  In effect, Christ is the tree of life.  He gives us eternal life, something that millions of people have searched after, in mayan jungles, searching in vain, but Christ is eternal life.  And we know that God can raise us from the dead after our bodily death because he has shown us he can do.  He raised Christ from the dead.

Essentially the gospel is this:  Jesus Christ died for your sins, and Jesus Christ resurrected to give you eternal life.  In effect: Jesus is alive.  Right now.  Jesus is alive right now.  He's seated right next to God the Father, he's God the Son, seated in glory, victorious, watching over his church growing across the Earth.  And He loves you.  And if you will turn to Him, then He will set you free from all your sins, and give you a new life.  Call out to Jesus.  That's what I did.  Now I have a whole new life, and all my sins are gone.  Amen.

There's a little room in my mind, though not really so little, but a big place, where I keep the cross and I remind myself of what it means and how it changed my life.  Thank you Jesus, hallelujah. 

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