This week we got to the heart of Christianity. The big idea for the lesson was: Jesus saved us from our sins. This should be something that a church attender has heard numerous times, which is a good thing, but could possibly become a bad thing. Jesus saving us from our sins is certainly the most significant thing that has happened in history, the trouble is we tend to get accustomed to what we hear most often and the truth may lose its gravity. This is what can happen with such an elemental truth as Jesus dying for our sins–if we say it a lot without slowing down to analyze it, we may stop appreciating it or being transformed by it. I believe this is something Christians should be on guard against.
As we slow down to examine the fact that Jesus died for our sins, we must first recognize that only God could have saved us; we could not save ourselves. The picture below provides an example of a way to understand the Gospel. Granted, whenever one makes anything concise it runs the risk of being too simple, but I think the illustration is helpful and accurate. The drawing uses Romans 6:23 to illustrate a big component of what Jesus did on the cross. The verse explains that the wages of sin are death–just as we learned last week while discussing the Fall. We learned that the Fall has consequences in our work, our families, and, most importantly, with God. Sin causes all brokenness and this includes death. As people, we are broken, sinful, and dying. As God, He is whole, pure, and eternal. These two do not fit together, and the broken, sinful, and dying cannot work their way to the whole, pure, and eternal God. God had to build a bridge and that is just what He did. He did not give up on us after the Fall, but loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us (John 3:16). In doing so, He built the bridge to Him.
This leads us to what we must do in response. We must simply believe that the cross is our bridge to God and we must trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I know, this simply believe talk can seem too easy–I battle with this. As people with great gifts, that are able to feed, clothe, and provide for ourselves, we like to think we are capable of doing most anything by ourselves with a little hard work and dedication. We must abandon this thinking when we approach the cross. There is no way we can build the bridge to God, He is simply too holy. Our sin completely alienates us from Him and our salvation comes through trusting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
When thinking about belief, I also think we short sell how important belief is in anything. There is a progression from evidence to belief to action. Every step I take is based on the belief that the ground in front of me is going to support me. I have this belief based on extensive observations of no one falling through pavement or tile. Based on this evidence, I have my belief that the floor will hold me, therefore I step confidently. Likewise, I believe there is strong evidence that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead; therefore, I believe it all happened. In believing that Jesus Christ is really the Son of God, died for my sins, and offers me eternal life I believe all of the following:
- There really is a God.
- This God loves me.
- This God has a perfect standard.
- I have fallen short of the standard.
- God hates my sin.
- I am given a perfect record before God through trusting in what He has done.
- I am given eternal life with God, which is what I am created for.
If I believe all of these things, the world is not a scary or mean place but a fallen, yet beautiful place. The God who controls the world is really for me and I have no reason to fear. God hates sin so much that He went through extraordinary pain to defeat it–my continued sin is spitting in the face of His sacrifice. I have a hope that cannot be taken away by anything on this Earth. All of these are life changing truths, and that is just what belief in Jesus’ death on the cross is: life changing. A believer in Jesus Christ is a new creation both naturally and supernaturally. This is not just a way to live, it is the way we were created to live.