Gospel

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor, because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” Psalm 22:22

And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”Psalm 18:2; Isa 8:17, 12:2

And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.” Isaiah 8:18

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely is it not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of god to make propitiation for the sins of the people. for because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
~ Hebrews 2: 8-18

The only thing that the devil has on us, as an adversary against us before God, where he makes his claims against us daily is our own sin. While being the father of lies, his claims have no merit without the facts of our own sins to back them up. When Jesus died on the cross in our place, a full payment was made for our sins. They existed no longer and therefore carry no more weight for the enemy to use against us. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It no longer exists.

Imagine that you’re a criminal who stands before a judge. There is forensic, video, and eye witness testimony that places you at the scene of the crime, all the evidence points to your guilt. You did, indeed, commit the crime, and you know this. You also know that the judge, jury, and now everyone in the world, know that you committed the crime. There is no question as to your guilt. Verdict has been offered: Guilty. The judge now pronounces your punishment: Death.

Has justice been served? No. You merely have been tried and found to be at fault. Justice is not complete until the judgment has been fulfilled. The day of your execution comes and the crowd gathers to watch you die. This is the point that brings justice over your crimes. The acts you’ve committed cannot be repaid in full, in the same way that you can’t “un-murder” someone, “un-steal” an object, or “un-rape” someone, but the justice comes in the payment for the crimes. At the last minute, as they are about to strap you into the chair, someone who has been following your case from the very beginning comes in and asks to speak with the judge. After some careful deliberation between the members of the family, the governor, and the judge, the man comes into the execution chamber, takes off his clothes and puts on your clothes. He then is led into the chamber, is strapped into the chair, and is electrocuted, willingly, on your behalf. His death is agonizing to watch and obviously inflicts great pain before he dies, but justice has finally been served. You are instructed to put on the man’s clothes and, after you do so, the doors to the jail cell swing open. You are free to go. This man, whom you had never known, has transferred to you, the entirety of his estate, and now everything that he was part of, is now applied to you.

This is what Jesus has done for us. You are now crowned with glory and honor as, through His taking our sins upon himself and dying on our behalf, we have swapped positions. He, now the criminal, bears our guilt unto the firm execution that the law of God demands. He MUST be executed for God’s judgment to be fulfilled, and for justice to be served. His execution is agonizing to watch, even these 2,000 years later, and painful in its entirety – over 15 hours He is tried, beaten, mocked, insulted, whipped, had his beard ripped out, spat upon, punched, pierced, and eventually, without mercy, nailed to two rough pieces of wood where he eventually asphyxiates under his own weight. This, the spotless lamb of God, wholly unlike anything that this world has ever seen, has taken upon Himself the sins of the world.

Does that mean that He’s taken ALL the sins of the world? Can’t be. I mean, it’s POSSIBLE, but that’s not the case. If He had taken ALL the sins, then the universalists would be dead on the money: “You don’t need to know the name of Jesus to be saved, because He already paid for your sins before you were born.” If that were true, why then is there the constant claim that we must repent of our sins and trust in the work that Jesus has performed on our behalf. When Jesus first started His ministry, what were the words that He used?

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. ~ Mark 1:14-15

God is just and, as such, He cannot punish two people for the same crime. Either Jesus took all the sins away, and no one has any more guilt before God, or He took only the sins of those whom God the Father had given to Him John 17:6-19. Yet we see that people will be sent to the lake of fire in the final judgment before God for their crimes before Him:

“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire ~ Revelation 20:9

and

“But as for the cowardly (those who walked away from the faith because of the fear of what others would say about them or fear for their lives), the faithless (who did not believe in the promises that God has given to them and distrusting God), the detestable (those who have committed abominations before God), as for murderers ( even idle words spoken in anger and not repented of – Mt 5:21-22), the sexually immoral (this is a given, but a quick reference can be found here, sorcerers (those who are involved in the occult and drugs), idolaters (anyone who places anything before their relationship with God), and all liars (This means everyone – because if you weren’t caught in any of the sins before here, then you are caught in this one. This is the net that catches all the stragglers. If you’ve never, EVER lied, then you’re free and clear here – I’ve never met someone who hadn’t lied in their life), their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death ~ Revelation 21:8“.

As we can see, God still punishes plenty of people. Not for their lack of faith in Jesus, but for their sins they have committed. Had they forsaken their sinful lives and abandoned all of their lusts and desires at the cross of Christ, then trusted in Him alone to save them from the wrath of God to come, they would be in the book of life and would be spared from the just punishment of God’s wrath on them for their sins.

How can you tell if you’re one of those whom He has chosen to save? You want to be saved, so much so that you are willing to abandon everything you have and everything you are to be near to Him. You are wholly convicted and you understand that there is nothing that you can do on your own to save yourself and you rely on God alone to save you from your sins. That’s how you can know that you’ve been chosen for salvation. It may not come today, or tomorrow, or even a year from now – but when it does come. Know that this was orchestrated by God since before He began the work of creation which brought this universe into existence.

May you carefully consider these things today and, if you feel convicted over it, talk to God. He alone is the only one who can save you from the wrath to come. Jesus, His Son, has paid for your sins on your behalf. Stripping your guilt from you, and along with it, the only thing the enemy could use to bring accusation against you before God the Father.

So… reading through Ecclesiastes and it’s King Solomon basically stating, “I’ve been there, and done that”. Really, who else has had the ability to do so as he did? He really had every possible resource at his disposal; The wisest man in all the world. The richest king in all the world. He never had any wars against him throughout his entire kingdom during his whole reign. Even in that he found no lasting pleasure. He had 300 wives, 700 concubines and found no lasting pleasure in that. He built monuments to himself and gardens and wonders the world had not yet seen – some of which are still around today, and he found no lasting pleasure in that. He sought out the deepest wisdom that he could find and found no lasting pleasure in that. Ultimately, he kept coming back to what I kept going back to – at some point, everyone dies, and all your accomplishments account for nothing. Someone else will own your homes, your possessions will become old and worn down, your discoveries will become passé, and eventually no one will mourn your loss.

The only highlight of the whole book is the last chapter when he finally comes to the understanding that the only constant in all things outside of death is that the Word of God is true and that it is the goal of mankind, not to pursue ungodly desires, but to fear God and keep His commandments and that God’s coming judgment will be the ultimate and only true decider of the worth of one’s life.

It’s too bad he didn’t have the full revelation available to him. Remember that they only had the Old Testament – the law of condemnation and the promise of a Savior to come. Their salvation was based on their adherence to the laws (as best they could muster), their continual sacrifices, and their faith that God would send a Savior who would rid them of the burden of the Mosaic Law.

Then Jesus came, and most rejected Him because they wanted a conquering ruler to crush Rome and place them at the top of their geo-political structure. They had the “wrong Savior” in mind when God’s Savior came. They were guilty of acknowledging God’s choice for them and rejecting it in favor of their own. So then, who is this Savior that God provided?

The Savior the God provided was His Son, Jesus. Jesus was born of a virgin to separate Himself from the sin-drenched seed of Adam. He lived the perfect life that you or I could never live – never, ever sinning. He never had a dirty thought about a girl (or a boy, if you’re wondering), he never lied, never stole anything, never wanted something that belonged to someone else (was completely content in what He had), never was unrighteously angry at someone, and always kept the laws of His religious upbringing. Most importantly, He did all this, not for His own glory, but for the glory of His Father in Heaven. He lived under an oppressive and antagonistic government against His cultural religion, and, even while He was teaching those who were to spread His message among others, He never told them to attack or mistreat the government, but to submit to authority as all authority comes directly from God the Father.

Once it was revealed to those in the religious system who have been looking forward to His coming since that fateful day in Eden when man first rebelled against God, they flatly rejected Him and had Him murdered to shut Him up. It was by God’s sovereign hand that all this took place, so that God’s justice and righteousness over all mankind would prevail. Not because we’re so loving and worthwhile that God can’t keep from doing anything to love on us. God REQUIRES that ALL WHO SIN AGAINST HIM (even those who don’t even understand what “sin” is) MUST BE PUNISHED FOR THEIR CRIMES! ALL! It was by the mercy of God that He opted to act for us – He had no obligation to do so. It was by grace alone that He has sent His Son to take our place on the cross. God chose some out of the billions who will live throughout our history to save from the consequence of their sins through HIS mercy and by HIS grace.

God did not die so that you could be the very best “you” that you could ever be. He did not die so that you can have a Bentley, or a mansion, or a 4 carat rock on your hand. He die so that your race, creed, or political party could be the top ruling party in the world. He did not die so that we would have a moral society that organized walks and marches to combat against the murder of our children in the womb. He did not die to create your brand of church – Southern Baptist Convention, Calvary Chapel, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Sovereign Grace, etc… would exist for all time, and He did not die so that we’d give up a couple of our weekends to feed the poor, or to give our shoes for Haiti.

What Jesus did on the cross was to glorify God by fulfilling His law for His elect. The Church that erupted from that event and from His life and teaching exists to feed the followers of Christ and to encourage discipleship, teaching, worship, prayer, and to prepare evangelists to head out into the world to glorify God through the spreading of the Gospel. What is that Gospel? It’s not social justice, nor is it better legislation, nor is it feeding the poor. The Gospel is that though we are wholly destitute before our God and incapable of any transformative ability to save ourselves, that God has accepted Jesus payment for our sin debt against Him on our behalf. What is our responsibility in light of that revelation? Our trust in the work that Jesus has done on the cross has saved us, and that we will abandon all things to follow after Him. Our dreams, our ambitions, our friends, and, in some cases, even our families. There is nothing that can stand between us and our God if we wholly surrender our lives to Him. The hard part of the walk comes in following that commitment.

King Solomon was exactly right – death is the great equalizer. Nothing can save you from it, nor can you keep anything you’ve done once you’ve passed through it. Those that came after him hardened their religious beliefs to follow their own sinful hearts and to cater to their own desires for power and control. They wanted God’s Savior on their terms and, as a result, rejected Jesus – God’s chosen Savior – in favor of their own. The real question is, which Savior do you want today? The Savior that God provided for you, or the Jesus that is your personal conquering ruler, who provides you with the things you want?

The point of proclaiming the Gospel isn’t to bring people to the Jesus who loves them or so they can “be happy and fulfilled”. The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not exist to make your life better, nor does is it fit to be sold in such a way that makes it seem like it’s doing you a favor or filling some need in your life. The reason that we share the Gospel with the damned is to share with them their place before the King of Kings, who created the universe and has appointed a day in which He will judge mankind. Our job, as those who are called out and saved by His hand and by His grace, is to go to the mountain top and proclaim that EVERYONE is damned before God, and that NO ONE can get there on their own merit. It is by fully surrendering yourself to Jesus Christ alone that you are saved. When you do that, you are no longer your own person. Your “born again” experience releases you from the responsibility of your life because you are now a slave to the God who purchased you with His blood. No longer is it “your time”, but His. No longer are they “your finances”, but His. No longer are they “your desires”, but His. Perseverance is not your goal, but your battle cry. Sacrifice is not something you do, but something you ARE. Your life and everything you are now belongs to Jesus Christ. If you are not willing to submit to His ultimate authority in your life then you are not going to be saved when He comes in judgment against the nations. Jesus did not live the perfect life that neither you or I could ever live, then suffer physically and spiritually the full weight of an eternity of eternities of punishment so you can be pleased with yourself. He did this to purchase you from God the Father and to set you apart for His purposes here on Earth. If you reject this salvation that He provides, you will be left to fend for yourself on the day of judgment. What can you bring to the creator of the universe to justify yourself when you sin against Him? What can you do that will repay Him for your life of self indulgence and unwillingness to honor Him even in your thought life? Who are you to stand before the God of all creation and even attempt to speak in your own defense?

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(e.g., John 1 or God's love)