Sunday, April 27, 2014

Passover and the Mystery of Salvation

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.

Jeremiah 32:38
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.


Little Miss Know-it-all said...

What a gorgeous horse Ian is!

Your explanation was very interesting. I guess people are taught in many different ways.

Vappu said...

He is, and super kind too. He sometimes acts as a therapy horse too and he is a great jumper:)

I've been exposed to many kinds of teaching. The word of faith-prosperity teaching is everywhere for example. I read a lot. I go to Bible school, which is non-denominational, but quite traditional, and very good for learning Old testament history and background. The best thing is to read the Bible for ourselves so we can check any teaching, if it is according to the Bible or not.

Lisa Tucker said...

Your words are beautiful. I believe as you do. I am sometimes worried more about the "Christians" that I see going about their lives blending into the world without a care of pleasing our Father. The "prosperity" preaching bothers me. No matter what my circumstances are, rich or poor, the Lord knows whats best for me and I am content with it. Love your post! Blessings to you!

Vappu said...

Thank you Lisa! I'm glad I'm not alone - it feels like this way of thinking is getting less and less popular. I agree, the prosperity teaching is not biblical by any means. I will take the good blessings as well as the trials from my Lord, I believe as you do, that everything works out for my best in the ends according to his sovereign will whether I understand it or not. The prosperity teaching is hard for me to understand because the Bible is so clear that we are NOT to look for riches and earthly gain and man's glory. How can one twist that around so much? And why do people gobble it up so eagerly? Even though it portrays a different Jesus and a different work of atonement? To attach the name of Jesus to a teaching does not make it biblical. Blessings to you!

Anna Davis said...

"The best thing is to read the Bible for ourselves so we can check any teaching, if it is according to the Bible or not."

I am *almost" finished reading the entire Old Testament for the first time in my life. I have read the New Testament several times and yes, it truly is the best resource to check "facts" against the Bible. Before I would just believe what people were saying was in the Bible. Now I am in a better position to really know if people are telling the truth or twisting God's words to fit their own agenda.
Thank you:)


Vappu said...

Exactly, Anna! I was "scared" of the Old Testament too. I actually avoided reading Bible for a while after becoming a believer, I had this idea in my head that it was an almost inhuman effort to read through it. When I started, it totally pulled me in and often at night it was difficult to put it down, as it is with other good books. And something wonderful happened, as I read through the Old Testament, I felt new kind of LOVE and empathy even, toward our long-suffering God!

And yes, Bible interprets itself the best. The whole thing is very co-herent from beginning to end, and the thread going through it is the salvation of man by Jesus Christ.

We really cannot shove this responsibility on others, and with so many conflicting and weird teaching out there, confusion and apathy will follow. "Oh, what does it matter, nobody van know for sure"-type of attitude. Of course no man can understand every single thing perfectly, and the Bible has enough to keep a man studying it for their whole life, but if we just prayerfully read and honestly seek to know God's TRUTH (and not what we want the truth to be) we will know everything we need to know. I like to read and listen to other's ideas, but I try to be more discerning now that I realize the extent of deception around, so that I will not intentionally submit myself to a lot of false teaching, and checking everything against the Bible.

simplesophy said...

Hello Vappu, so glad you are still blogging! I have been a silent reader of your blog for quite a while, and always gain a lot from reading your posts. I've just re-read your earlier posts on giving away money and those people who are able to give away everything beyond what they need to live on a day-to-day basis. So inspiring! Yet so contrary too to what we are taught by society to believe is important. Sometimes I have panic attacks at the the thought of how I have frittered away money in the past and have almost no savings for the future. Your post reminds me that TRUST in God is the key. I have been silly with money in the past, but that does not mean I should be fearful. As you say, trust, surrender, believe, obey. This last year I have given away more money than I ever have in the past and yet I have also been able to pay off nearly all my student debt. That seems contradictory but it just goes to support what you say about having more money when you give it away! Somehow when I give money away instead of spending it, I am better able to manage what I have left over and have fewer material desires. Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts on your blog.

Vappu said...

Simpesophy: Hey there, nice to hear from you! Thank you for introducing yourself and for the kind and encouraging comments. I have struggled many times about whether I should keep writing or not, whether I have anything to offer. I also take seriously the fact that I do not want to speak in error about God!

I SO know what you mean about having wasted a lot of money, and I still sometimes feel like I do that. I'm not naturally good with money, or numbers. I don't seem to remember that small amounts add up to big amounts. It may not matter so much today if I spend 15 euros or 30 euros on something, but if every choice I make I choose the expensive one, in the end it can be a matter between 10 000 euros and 20 000 euros.. or worse! So I try to remember to think about each choice... considering also the impact of my purchases on others.

Congratulations on paying of so much debt! Being debt-free is really wonderful.

khan951753 said...

What a gorgeous horse Ian is!

khan951753 said...

What a gorgeous horse Ian is!