Thursday Thoughts • March 19, 2020
Updated: Apr 10
Happy Thursday, Forever Family…
Last week in this column, I talked about “the cross”. This implement of Roman torture, this wooden creation of shame and suffering, reserved for the “worst of the worst”, is prominently displayed in most churches and proudly worn around the necks of millions of people. Yet for Christians the cross always calls to mind a much larger reality. The cross is paramount to our faith, at the heart of salvation, is the finished work of Christ, and so much more.
Sunday I spoke on the fourth words of Jesus from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken/abandoned me.” These words come from David in Psalm 22, spoken while on the run from King Saul. Jesus’ death and what transpired is a vital aspect of the Christian faith called the atonement. It means that God and humanity are reconciled through the finished work of Jesus on the cross; sinful mankind can now have a relationship with holy God.
This is an important part and point of theology. When it comes to the atonement, “How can sinful man ever be accepted by a holy God?” there is no less than 7 reasonable theories today (historically many more were rejected). The Bible says God takes sin seriously. It also teaches that our sin separates us from God, a problem that we can never rectify since salvation is never a human endeavor.
But the Good News of the Gospel is that God has dealt with the problem. He has made a way for us sinners to find pardon and not suffer the consequences of the sin that doomed us. Every New Testament writer tells us the death of Christ alone brings salvation. This is not to diminish the resurrection in any way, but Jesus’ death has a specific role to play as does his resurrection.
Through the centuries there have been ongoing efforts to work out or explain how this “atonement” was accomplished. Atonement theories have been wrestled with time and time again. Theologians and pastors in different countries and in different ages have tried to bring together the truth of Scripture and work it into a theory (doctrine?) that will help us all understand how God has worked through Jesus and the cross to take the punishment due us for sin and make salvation accessible.
Next week I’ll share the two most orthodox and trusted theories of the atonement. But for now, by faith we embrace this work of Jesus on the cross on our behalf. I don’t necessarily have to understand it fully and completely to receive its benefits. I don’t understand how the internet works, or how an MRI machine works, and I’m not sure how my car starts without putting a key in the ignition, but I fully embrace the benefits that come as a result of the things I don’t understand.
By faith I believe that the work of Christ on the cross has saved me from my sin and the punishment I was due. In those moments when my reason falls short, I can rely on these words from Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways, my ways are so much higher than yours…” Isaiah 55:8-9.
Lastly, stay safe and healthy and be watching for email and Facebook updates. We want to stay in touch with you during this unprecedented time. Please be praying for God’s intervention!
We’ll be streaming Sunday's service on Facebook at 9:00am. Shortly after, the sermon audio will be available on our website and through our podcast, while the video will be available to watch on our YouTube channel.
Read John 19:28-29 in preparation for Sunday’s message.
ALL WEEKLY MINISTRIES AND EVENTS ARE SUSPENDED FOR NOW!