God Is The Hero Who Saved Us
17 This was to fulfill what was declared by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
18 "Here is My Servant whom I have chosen, whom I love, and with whom I am pleased! I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will proclaim justice to the gentiles.
19 He will not quarrel or shout, and no one will hear Him shouting in the streets.
20 He will not snap off a broken reed or snuff out a smoldering wick until He has brought justice through to victory.
21 And in His name the gentiles will hope."
God's idea of "justice" is to do right for others not "getting" the bad guy!
Isaiah describes God's justice as the establishment of peace, thus the imagery of carnivores and herbivores, man and beast living together in harmony and mutual submission...
4 ...with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His waist, and faithfulness the belt of His loins.
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of Him shall the nations inquire, and His resting place shall be glorious.
The most common view of salvation (not just within the Church but throughout society) is "penal substitution".
What is "penal substitution"!?!?
Penal substitution is the idea that Christ, by His own sacrificial choice, was punished (penalised) in the place of sinners (substitution), thus satisfying the demands of justice so that a holy and just God can justly forgive the sins of humanity - substitutionary punishment.
"Substitutionary punishment" - Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed (which is to unjustly lay the responsibility or blame) our sins to Christ and He, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard setting "the believer" free from the demands of the Law...
The problem with this theory of penal/substitution is two-fold:
Firstly, "the demands of The Law" were only upon the nation of Israel. The rest of humanity was never called to live by The Law, never even introduced to it!
Secondly, this "retributive" view of the atonement, sucks the heroism and justice out of Christ's work... It's a perverted view of God's heart and His beautiful intention for humanity. It says that "God needed to kill someone from within the group in order to satisfy His blood-thirst which in turn allowed Him to forgive the whole!"
This theory of "substitutionary punishment", presents God as an aggressor with a "hero" complex. But nothing could be further from the truth!
GOD IS THE HERO WHO RESCUED US FROM DEATH BY FACING DEATH HEAD-ON!
IN DYING, THE HERO FACED DEATH AND BEAT IT DOWN!
IN DYING, THE HERO PUT "DEATH" TO DEATH!
IN DYING, THE HERO LOVINGLY & WILLINGLY LAID DOWN HIS OWN LIFE THAT HUMANITY MIGHT LIVE!
This is not a picture of a villain coming to do us great harm only to be thwarted by "himself"... No, The Hero forever established justice in the earth by crushing, utterly destroying, the power and presence of sin; rescuing us from that which held us captive and was destroying our lives and the world around us!
If we miss this, we are left with a very anemic view of the cross - a view that has nothing to do with God and His intentions for us!
God's heart has always been for us and the cross is not meant to be viewed as a battle scene where He was wrestling with Himself... loving us, yet hating us; unsure of which emotion would win out but thanks be to our big brother for taking the death-blow for us - giving God an out.
The cross is but one moment in an epic love story. The cross represents the kicking in of the door behind which humanity lay hostage!
The cross reveals our value, not our judgement; God's love for us, not His hatred toward us. The cross sets the stage for the biggest moment in the story... The Resurrection unto new life! 1Corinthians 15:14 ...and if the Messiah has not been raised, then our message means nothing and your faith means nothing.
Sadly, the cross is the biggest topic of Christianity. We debate how prevelant it's image should be in our buildings (should it be centered on the stage? should it be on the face of our building - if so, how big?) We insist that the "hard-core" Christians are the ones who boldly wear it on thier clothing, display on thier car or tattoo it on their forearm, etc. etc. But we only speak about the resurrection at Easter.
This over-emphasizing of the cross while occasionally toying with the resurrection, has removed "grace" from the forefront of our message! The belief is that if the cross be lifted up then all men will come to God in repentance. But the bible says something entirely different - John 12:27-32
27 "Now is My soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.
28 Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to Him."
30 Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not Mine.
31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.
32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself."
If we would spend the greater amount of our time and energy speaking about our "inclusion" within Jesus' ressurection and less time trying to scare the hell out of the people God loves by wrongly glorifying the cross, we would see more walk in the fullness of God's love!
The cross is the picture of the moment of rescue whereas the resurrection is the picture of the happy ending!
4 ...it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 So when Christ came into the world He said, "You don't want sacrifices and offerings, but you have prepared a body for Me.
6 You are not pleased with the sacrifices of animals killed and burned or with offerings to take away sins.
7 Then I said, 'Here I am, God. It is written about me in the book of the law. I have come to do what you want.'"
8 Christ first said, "You don't want sacrifices and offerings. You are not pleased with animals killed and burned or with sacrifices to take away sin." (These are all sacrifices that the law commands.)
9 Then he said, "Here I am, God. I have come to do what you want." So God ends that first system of sacrifices and starts his new way.
10 Jesus Christ did the things God wanted him to do. And because of that, we are made holy through the sacrifice of Christ's body. Christ made that sacrifice one time—enough for all time.
His Grace Is Enough!
I've heard and used this phrase many, many times in my life but this morning (as heard it again) I was struck with the fact that we use this term when blaming God for strange things or happenings. When was the last time (if ever) that I used the term when actually realzing the humor of God? Do I even know what God finds humorous? DOES GOD HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR?
WHAT IS GOD'S WILL FOR MY LIFE?
Are you struggleing with simply resting in God?
Are you confused, feeling like you've missed His plan?
Are you anxious, afraid you're not doing enough?
As we grow in grace, each of us will need to deal with the habits and false beliefs about "God's will"... The problem begins with the idea that "God must have something more for me to do!" - as if the very thing we are currently doing couldn't possibly be right and/or enough...
Since being freed to grace, I have come to understand that what He wants for us is simply to enjoy Him, to enjoy the life we have and to revel in the hope we share!
Now that doesn't mean He's not speaking to us about His dreams (no different then how best friends or families share together in the journey of life).
The "struggle" you may be experiencing is not unique and Papa is OK with it; He has great dreams which include you and He wants to share these with you. Quit trying so hard to hear and just listen...
The "confusion" is brought on by the lie of the enemy who is feeding on your frustration as he whispers in your ear "you can't hear Him anymore because you're not doing it right!"
As we share in God's dreams, He guides us according to His will - which is not like a well laid out road map... Instead, it’s the experience of relationship!
The goal is not discovering "What is God’s will for my life?" but walking in God’s will on a moment-by-moment, day-by-day basis.
The will of God is that all people hear, receive, embrace and respond to the gospel of His grace...
So, the "right path" is walking in that which brings peace, if where you are walking is causing strife, struggle or burden... that is evidence you are not walking in His will. And let me add, just because you don't have peace does not necessarily mean that where are going is wrong. It could simply be that in your striving to find "His will" you have lost sight of His delight!
We have all been trained to say and believe that "I need more of Him". The problem with this mindset is that we actually become distracted from Him by all the "doing" to find Him!
It's about so much more than "needing Him", it's being with Him and He being with you that produces life. Healthy relationships aren't built on need but on mutual delight. When we build our relationship with God on "want" verses "need" we walk in the strongest sense of peace.
Am I saying that we can just do whatever we want and it's OK? Yes! But I am certain that as we walk with Him and He with us, His "wants" become our "wants". The lie which says that everything on earth is "not of God" and in order to please Him we must live from Heaven's perspective has crippled the Christian!
Here's the good news! Heaven took up residence in man and we are free to live!
Go ahead, trust!
Trust that Heaven is for you.
Trust that Papa's dreams include you.
Trust that the Holy Spirit is producing character within you that is very pleasing to God.
Go ahead, love God and do what you want - it's OK!
His Grace Is Enough!
W. Adam Greer
I grew up in Northern California where I lived an extremely selfish life until the age of 29. Through a series of life altering events, I became a follower of Jesus.