Pictures of me and Ian taken by my sister
We had a very nice Passover. I hadn't been riding in a long time, so my sister asked if I wanted to go for a ride. It was so nice, the sun was shining, birds chirping, the forest waking up to a new summer. Ian is such a lovely horse. We also visited my dad and his wife, with the whole family there.
I want to write about something now, that has to do with Passover.
I was startled by the comment I got on my last post about not having heard the gospel explained like that in 55 years! Even though it was just a few lines. And I realized that the gospel has all too often been reduced to God just wanting to bless us because he loves us so much, and that we are basically good people who just sin a little here and there and Jesus Christ was killed by those evil unbelievers, and now we get to live "our best life now" and as a bonus get to heaven when we die.
Yes, God IS perfectly good, and perfectly just. He is love. And that, my friends, is a big problem for people.
Because we are not.
God is Holy, Holy, Holy. He is perfectly righteous and sinless. No unrighteousness, no sin, no evil can enter His presence in eternity. Sin is not just something we do, it is our fallen nature.
If God is just, he HAS to punish sin. Nobody in their right mind would say it is just and loving to let criminals go free without a punishment.
And since God's standard of absolute holiness is so high that even evil thoughts are damning sins, what is a man to do?
That is the dilemma that we faced after the rebellion and fall of man in Eden. The angels probably watched God, holding their breath, to see how God would solve the problem. It was a mystery that God already hinted at in Genesis, right after the fall of man, by telling that Adam's seed would crush the head of the serpent. He always had a perfect plan! From the beginning God taught that there needed to be blood for the atonement of sins. He taught people the seriousness of sin. Abel obeyed God with his blood sacrifice, while Cain thought he could please God with an offer of his own choosing, and then was upset when God rejected his sacrificial offer of produce.
The Jewish people had to keep the sacrificial lamb as a house pet a few days before the sacrifice. Throughout old testament the people are taught to recognize the seriousness of sin in God's eyes, and that a blood sacrifice is needed to atone for it, so that they would understand the work of the Messiah when he came. Of course they did not understand it, but even the disciples of Christ were utterly confused that he didn't come to reign as a King but went to the cross like a lamb to the slaughter. Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection fulfilled hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, yet the majority of the people failed to, or chose not to, believe it.
No mere sinful man could ever atone for his own sins, so The Almighty God, Yahweh, The great I AM, became a man himself to live a sinless life and bear God the Father's wrath upon himself, and die the death of a criminal though he was innocent. He did not sweat blood in agony at the Gethsemane because he was afraid of the cross. No, his greatest suffering was caused by our sins upon him and the wrath of God that would rightfully belong to us, but which he bore on our behalf. This one time for all people of all times was sufficient, because it was God who sacrificed Himself.
It is ALL a gift from God for those who would humble themselves. We so much want to be good on our own. We want to work out our own salvation. We want to earn it! This is what all the other religions, except for true Christianity, try to do one way or the other. But God says it's not possible.
This is sobering, but also freeing. God knows what is in a man. He is offering us a new Spirit, His Spirit, and a new heart that WANTS to be obedient to him. We can stop striving. We can give him nothing that he didn't first give to us. Our own good works are as dirty rags to him, says the word. The work of God that he wants from us is that we believe in His Son.
Trust, surrender, believe, obey. Let your good works be HIS good works, which he gives you the will and ability to do. Offer him your empty hands, and let him fill them with what he knows is best.
We can stop pretending we are good and stop living in denial. We can confess any sins right away (he knows about them anyway, but he wants us to acknowledge them too) and have assurance of forgiveness, and thus live with a good conscience. That is true freedom. I am thankful each time I feel a conviction of sin. It is His grace and love toward me to let me know if I do wrong.
The mystery was slowly coming to focus more and more throughout Old Testament times, and was fully revealed at the Calvary. Now when God looks at us who are in Christ, he no longer sees our sins, but he sees us as perfect and sinless as his Son Jesus and he loves us as his own children. Jesus bore our sins and abolished the curse that was upon us. His blood covers us and washes us and his righteousness is imputed to us.
What a miraculous thing!
We now have a way to God again and the promise of an eternal life in his presence. The Holy Spirit given to every born-again believer is like a down payment, a seal and a promise. In it is the resurrection power that will one day change the mortal body into an immortal one so that we can stand in front of the Holy Lord.
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.