Archive for the 'The Cross' Category

Answering a Reader’s Comments

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Yesterday a reader left a comment on my post Feeling Sorry for Sins that raised a lot of good questions/points for which I had no immediate clear answers. I had to sit down and think/write my way through them all, and once I did, I thought my “reply” was awfully long for the comments section so I decided to use the questions and my thoughts on them as the springboard for this post.

The reader began,

I found your post interesting as I have not thought about the connection between sorrow and confession, or lack there of.  However, in your 7th point you say that God is not hurt when we sin and this seems to make light of the sins a person commits.

Me: How can saying that God is not “hurt” make light of our sins? Sins that God sent His beloved Son to pay for, and for which the Son went to the Cross and died a horrible death, so that we could be permanently reconciled with God. I would think, if anything,  to insist that God is still hurt by sins already judged and paid for by Christ is to make light of what Christ accomplished on the Cross.

Reader: In a relationship with God we are free to come to Him through Christ, but if I just spent the whole day defying Him does that mean that because Christ has already paid for that sin that God feels no betrayal or grief at my refusal to obey Him?

Why would He feel betrayed? He knew exactly what you were going to do before you did it. He already paid for it. This is maybe the point that we struggle to really embrace – the total and complete efficacy of Christ’s death on the Cross for every single sin and act of betrayal against God that was ever committed. Judged then and there, once and for all. If His death was enough to satisfy the wrath that God’s righteousness ‘experiences’ in the face of sin and the demands of His justice that the perpetrator of the sin be removed from His presence … and if He’s already given us Believers His own righteousness and declared our old nature to have been crucified with Christ… what does that mean but that no, He’s not going to feel “hurt” when we do the very sin He knew we were going to commit and that He could have stopped if He chose to long before we ever do it. A sin that He already poured out on Christ.  It’s not I who sin, but the sin that still dwells within me. The dead, old nature, which has been crucified with Christ, ie, judged with Christ.

Reader: I agree that He is not surprised, but (and this is a human argument) just because you are not surprised when a nurse stabs you with a needle doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. If a God-fearing man and wife choose to have a nasty divorce in which their children are emotionally wounded for the rest of their life are you saying that God does not hurt because of their decision to disobey Him?

I don’t think you can use the human argument to explain this part of God. Humans are by nature physical, limited, time-bound, changeable, self-oriented, legalistic. God is none of those. Moreover, we don’t easily foresee the blessing that can come from pain and sorrow, life experiences that God uses to mold us into the image of His son. Or that He uses to draw unbelievers to Himself.  To use your example, if a couple get a nasty divorce, do you really believe God cannot heal the wounds of both the couple and the children should they choose to turn back to Him?

In fact, if even one of those people, coming out of that circumstance decides to follow God and let himself be molded into the vessel God desires to mold him into, one full of love and joy and peace and patience and forgiveness… the nasty divorce now becomes the black backdrop against which God’s own glory can truly shine. Man, left to himself, could never make that kind of turnaround. But God can do it in us if we let Him, and that is a big way in which we can bring glory to Him.

Reader: Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you. It just seems that according to Eph. 4:29-32 it is possible to grieve the Spirit by our actions, even though they have already been paid for.

I think He’s grieved because He knows our stupid actions in rejecting His guidance will only lead to pain and sorrow and loss for us and those are not what He desires.

I think He’s grieved because of the loss of intimacy He desires to have with us, where He can guide us and comfort us and lead us into all truth. He’s grieved not out of hurt, but because we’re living as if we haven’t been forgiven, as if our Daddy isn’t the God of the universe who loves us more than we can imagine, and that we really aren’t the apple of His eye after all.

He’s grieved because we’re living in a dead place, a place of unbelief (our crucified old nature) stumbling around with our eyes closed, when if we’d just open them we’d see the light and walk in it, or better yet, swim in those rivers of living water He has for us and having an amazing life.

And that, I believe, is what He wants, not for us to apologize or confess or spend any time mourning our idiocy — we’re all weak and silly sheep, and if we really believed that, I don’t think we would spend one moment in mourning our inevitable failures, but rather in rejoicing over all that our Father has done for us despite the fact that we are weak and don’t deserve any of it.

Amazing Love

This is my Easter Greeting for for my readers.

I found it on You Tube, uploaded by on Apr 17, 2008. Video from The Passion of the Christ, the song You are My King, written by Chris Tomlin,  the singer, Candi Pearson.

This presentation makes me think of all that He did, and just how amazing His love is. I cannot watch it without crying.

Life is Cruel

We were seeing the oncologist a week or so ago to discuss options and risks for my mother’s upcoming treatment for the return of the cancer and hit upon the subject of the vagueries of the disease — why it hits some who have been health conscious all their lives  while others who have not been, go free; why it comes back for some and doesn’t for others;  why different patients have different types of cancer cells, some responding readily to less debilitating treatments, while others need to be walloped.

My mother is rarely sick, takes only one medication on a regular basis, has never before this had any operations, illnesses or medical procedures. She’s long been preoccupied with health, eating an organic vegetarian diet, avoiding soda, packaged foods, cell phones, microwaves, genetically modified foods and plastic. What’s more she did everything she was told to do when the cancer first showed itself a year ago. Yet here it is, back again. “Life is cruel,” she blurted to the doctor. And he nodded soberly. “Yes,” he said. “It is.”

 In fact after all the years he’d been at his profession, he confessed there was a certain randomness to it all that he simply did not understand.

In medicine — and even in alternative therapies —  it seems there is this idea that if we can just do the right thing, find the right combination of treatments or even preventatives, we can avoid the cruelty of disease. Sometimes we do. But other times we don’t and there is no “logical” reason from the human perspective.

So yes, Life can be cruel, but only because one doesn’t really understand it, or our purpose in it. The world is not heaven, after all, but fallen and filled with fallen creatures who are mostly under the control and deception of the greatest of all fallen creatures, Satan himself. The Adversary. The Accuser. The Cherub angel who, as the guardian of the Lord’s Righteousness, was akin to His best friend… and who betrayed Him. Not only in heaven with that first sin of independence, but later, on earth when he possessed Judas to sell out his Teacher for 30 pieces of silver…

And thereby sent Him to the cross for which He had come.

I sat there listening to my mother and the doctor, not knowing what to say, my mind full of realizations. I know that the world is not random, that God has everything under control. He lets his sun shine on the evil and the just, sends his rain to the good and the bad. He knows the number of stars in the universe and he knows the number of the hairs on each of our heads at any given time. Not one event occurs He not only didn’t know about in Eternity past, but in fact chose as the best thing for His kind intention and for his creatures’ highest and best.

His intention was not, however, to reproduce heaven on earth, but to demonstrate to the angels, fallen and elect, and to mankind, His glory. And His glory is in His grace. He gave the man and woman a free will, just as He had given the angels before them free will. The angels used that will to turn against Him, and in the same pattern, so did man. Satan must have thought he’d won at the point where the man and woman had both fallen into the same state he was in.

But that’s because, despite having been in heaven, having seen the Creator, and even having guarded the very throne of The Lord’s righteousness, Satan didn’t really know who He was. Maybe none of the angels did because who God is is not readily apparent in a perfect and righteous environment.

So He made the earth and man and let Adam and the woman fall, and decreed that all their progeny should be born in the man’s likeness, fallen, sinful, cursed, condemned. So God could come down and save them. It’s all about what He was willing to do for His creatures — take on the form of a man, submit to the injustice of the seven trials that preceded the Cross and then allow himself to be nailed up there, the only perfect man. The only  Holy One, the only one worthy of opening the scroll in Revelation 5. We can only begin to comprehend what He did for us all, the ultimate sacrifice He made for His creatures, the majority of whom would continue in their independence and reject that sacrifice.

If we weren’t fallen, how could He show us that?

Sometimes God’s reality seems so incontrovertible, so compelling, so OBVIOUS. And at the same time, I can see the blindness in others who see the cruelty in disease and aging and loss rather than the necessary pressure those afflictions bring to a soul who is heading for eternal condemnation. They can’t see the grace in it, because they can’t see beyond the details. The material. The flesh, the people, the disease, the pain, the treatments, the decisions… the alternatives, the attempts to take control, to try and make this life something it is not and was never meant to be: perfect, without pain or sorrow.

It’s like this false template held up before their eyes through which they view all that is around them, and try to make things fit to it. A veil before their eyes that can only be stripped away when and if they come to Christ.


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