Oh, really? What makes you so special?
When we understand the gospel we realize that this statement is probably the most absurd thing a person could ever say.
Why so? Because the message of the Cross is precisely that God is no longer holding your sins against you. That’s right. The slate is already clean as far as God is concerned. You were forgiven 2,000 years ago. And it doesn’t matter who you are. Does that shock you?
We only need to read what God actually says about this to see that this is absolutely true (bold-type added)
“that God was reconciling the world
to himself in Christ,
not counting people’s sins against them.
And he has committed to us
the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor.5:19)
Let’s break this down and revel in the wonder of this good news that brings great joy.
First, to reconcile means to restore, to bring back into relationship. The Father was in Christ on the Cross, restoring the world to Himself.
The Greek word for “world” is kosmos. It has several definitions so the context determines how it’s defined. In this context, it means all the inhabitants of this planet.
So, who is included in the world? Maybe I should say, who is excluded from this? Can there be anyone?
Not convinced yet? John the apostle said this about Jesus (bold-type added):
“He died in our place
to take away our sins,
and not only our sins
but the sins of all people.” (1 John 2:2 NCV)
Who is included here? Everyone, right? When did Jesus do this? 2,000 years ago. How many of your sins were in the future when He did this? All of them. Here’s what Paul said about this glorious truth (bold-type added).
“When you were dead in your transgressions
and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
He made you alive together with Him,
having forgiven us all our transgressions.” Col.2:13 NASB)
Notice the tenses here. They are all in the past tense. It already happened. Clearly, we were brought to God, having been completely forgiven while we were still dead in our sins.
The message we are to proclaim, then, is that God is not holding people’s sins against them anymore! They have been forgiven. That, my doubting friend, is very good news!
Before you throw something at your computer because of what I just said, I’m not saying everyone receives forgiveness, even though it’s already been given.
Think of it this way. Everything you will ever receive from God you already have available to you (Col.2:10). They are like grace presents under a Christmas tree. They are yours, just waiting to be opened.
But love requires free will. So it’s up to you if you want to receive everything God has for you or not.
Repentance is changing your mind about the absurd futility of trying to save yourself and receiving what’s already been freely given to you.
The truth is, you can have as much of God, and everything waiting for you under this grace tree, as you want.
I can hear the religious response to this. Yeah, but you have to be in Him before this is true. Sinners are separated from Him now. Oh, really? I know full well this popular myth in our evangelical worldview, but what do you make of Paul’s statement in Galatians when he talks about how God revealed Himself in him while he was still terrorizing the church? (bold-text added)
“But when it pleased God,
who separated me from my mother’s womb
and called me through His grace,
to reveal His Son in me...” (Gal.1:15-16 NKJV)
The correct translation here is “in me,” not “to me,” as some translate it. So, Paul didn’t seem to think he was separated from God when he was the “worst of sinners.” (1 Tim.1:15)
Beloved, there is no separation. There never was on this side of the Cross.
The biggest problem we have with the pure message of the Good News is that it sounds too good to be true. And that’s exactly why it’s good news! It is too good, and it is true!
Sadly, many will go to their grave like the elder brother in the prodigal story (Luke 15:25-31), never going in to the party, never availing themselves of all that their Father has. Like this religious legalist, they won’t enter into joy because they hate grace…especially when someone else receives it.
C.S. Lewis said it perfectly, the gates of hell are locked from the inside.
So, to say that God could never forgive me is an irrelevant statement in the light of this truth. What we are really saying is, I won’t believe it.
And that is where the resistance lies. Not with God. He has already done everything He will ever do. The proverbial ball is now and forever in our court. Our part is to simply receive what’s already been given to us. Nothing more.
So, if you want to stay on the outside, fuming over the party going on inside, that’s totally up to you. Be a stubborn donkey about it if you like. Nonetheless, it’s all still there waiting for you.
The Father of lights, from whom everything good and perfect thing comes–even to those who hate Him, deny Him or ignore Him–is waiting with open arms and a great big smile.
You are SO loved. 🙂