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The Cup of Wrath

cup of wrath“Jesus drank a cup of wrath without mercy, that we might drink a cup of mercy without wrath.”
– J. Oswald Sanders

 

Imagine that all of your deeds have been laid bare. Every evil thought, every harsh word, every wicked deed, every selfish desire, and any other thing you have ever done that is wrong. They also list every time someone cried out in need and you ignored it, every good deed that you could have done for someone but refused to do.

As the list is read, a cup nearby fills with the wrath deserved for such crimes. A lifetime of unpunished wrongdoing fills it to the brim and it foams with pain and loss and despair. Pain you deserve for all the evil you have done and all the good you refused to do for others.

Now imagine that God takes the cup and drinks it. All of it.

There is no more evil. There is no more pain. There is no more loss or suffering.

Because he drank it all. It is all gone. He has taken the punishment reserved for you into Himself.

And He has paid it in full.

You do not have to imagine it. He already did it.

For all who believe. It. Is. Finished.

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.”
– Saul of Tarsus to the Church at Rome, circa 57 A.D.

 

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Posted by on December 5, 2015 in Soteriology, Uncategorized

 

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Not Safe, but Good

I grow tired of people who believe in a milksop God and a milksop Jesus. God is dynamic and powerful and dangerous and loving and deadly and mysterious and violent and playful and serious and funny (yes, funny).

God reveals Himself to us in His Word. He pulls no punches. The Bible is R-rated. He makes people alive, and He kills people. He raises up nations and leaders and champions, and He tears down civilizations and drives leaders to madness and allows champions to fall into ruin.

Along the way God makes no apologies for His actions and makes few explanations. He demands obedience and unyielding fealty to His name.

For this reason, many doubt His claim to love us and His goodness. Perhaps there would be cause for this if not for this:

“For a good man someone might dare to die. But while we were yet sinners, He died for us.”

This immeasurably powerful, all knowing, all consuming God who demands perfection, does not tolerate uncleanness and hates sin with a perfect hatred. This God put aside His rights and came to live among us in the flesh. He provided the perfect life Himself that we failed to provide. He died the death He declared we should die for us.

“So in this way God loved the world. He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

And He defines just what that is.

“This is eternal life. That they know you intimately, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

He wants us. He wants us to be with Him such that He died to bring us close to Him. There can be no greater love, indeed He says:

“Mortal man knows no greater love than this. That he lay down his life for his friends.”

He calls me friend. I am God’s friend.

So when my God does something I do not understand, even when He takes life or chooses to allow life to pass away from someone. Even if He slays me, still will I trust in Him.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
– The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

 

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The Special Tree

One-Tree-Hill-D-green-19839104-1280-1024Once upon a time there stood a tree planted in a great forest.
Day by day the tree stood in its place among its kin, its great boughs reaching for the heavens, its leaves swaying to the breeze.
“Perhaps I will stay here forever,” thought the tree, “swaying forever with my kin in this beautiful forest?”
And the tree was happy.

Many years it stood, until men had need of its lumber.
With axes they came and felled the tree to the ground.
“Men have come to shape and make me to their will!” thought the tree.
“I wonder what I will be made into?” pondered the tree.
“A great ship tall and proud, bearing men across the sea?”
“A strong house secure and warm, sheltering generations of families?”
“The throne of a mighty king, supporting him in great matters?”
So the tree sat as lumber, dreaming of what it might become one day.
And the tree was happy.

But one day men came for the tree’s lumber.
“We will make a device of cruelty and suffering from you,” they said, “Criminals will be put to death on you.”
How could this be?
All those years in the forest, growing tall and strong to end this way?
An instrument of cruelty and shame.
An instrument of death.
And the tree was very sad.

The tree was carried out to the man who would die on him.
“Do not be sad,” He said, “for you are My most special tree.”
“I am special? What will I do?” asked the tree.
“You will lift me high on your branches, and I will show God’s love to all the world.” He said, “And when they remember you, they will remember Me.”
So the two walked up the hill, and the tree held its Maker while He gave His life to save the world.
And the tree was happy.

– Jason Cohoon
(Inspired by The Dream of the Rood and The Giving Tree)

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2013 in Christology, Soteriology

 

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Counting the Cost

16WaterTowerConstruction_40When a nation goes to war, its people understand sacrifices will be required of them in order to win the war. Rights will be suspended, privileges revoked. People might have to eat rice instead of meat, use old appliances instead of buying new ones. People will be called to fight, to lose who they love, some will be called to die for the cause.

Never forget that we are all at war. Sometimes, we must lay aside our plans and dreams for the cause of this war. Each and every sacrifice, no matter how large or small, might make the difference in saving a soul or losing one to the enemy.

It’s no secret among my friends that I want to get married. I am not deceived, this might have to be sacrificed for the war. God might call me to a battle that provides no time for a family. I must be prepared to give up my dreams.

In World War 2 many men had to lay aside everything to go fight the war. Men had just married, just got engaged, or had their first child, but they could not stay behind to nurture any of those things, because they knew if they did not fight, then all would be lost. If they did not fight, there would be no wife, girlfriend, or newborn to come home to.
Some, sadly, lost what they left behind. Girlfriends did not wait on them, wives left them, children grew up without a dad for years. Others were grievously wounded, and some men never came home again. Still, most today would say with pride they’d have done it all over again if meant winning the war. That’s why they are the greatest generation.

But as amazing as all that may be, our war is more important, for we fight the demons of hell for men’s souls. Make no mistake, the stakes are nothing less than that.
<!– D([“mb”,”u003cbr>”For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities. Against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12nu003cbr>I have memorized that scripture, and burned it deep into my memory, because I cannot fool myself into believing each day I step out my door, that I am stepping out into a peaceful neighborhood in a peaceful country. No, I am stepping out into a war-zone, a battlefield. All around me are men captured by demons, held to do the evil one’s bidding. I have only one weapon, and that is the Gospel of Christ. It is the only weapon that works against these demons, and the only medicine to treat the wounded.nu003cbr>u003cbr>We must make the sacrifices and fight the good fight, so that, in the end, we can look back on our lives, at everything we wanted but had to put aside and say that yes, we would do it all over again, even if it meant winning only one soul for Christ. Let us remember that the struggles, sacrifices, and suffering of this world are God’s wartime policy. God does not want us to suffer anymore than a government wants its people to suffer. But the suffering means winning the war, winning souls, and those are more important than anything else. And like any wartime policy, its only temporary. When the war is over, God will take away all the suffering, and there will be eternal peace and bliss.nu003cbr>u003cbr>As the song says;u003cbr>This victory is worth any cost. So make the most of life that’s borrowed, love like there’s no tomorrow.u003cbr>”,1] );
“For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities. Against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
[endif]–>

I have memorized that scripture, and burned it deep into my memory. I will not be deceived that when I go outside, I step out into anything less than a battlefield. All around me are the dead and dying, the wounded and captured. I have only one weapon, and that is the Gospel of Christ. It is the only weapon that works against the evil of this age, and the only medicine to treat the wounded.

Fight the good fight. Make the sacrifices, just as Christ did. In the end, you can look back on your life and say that you gave all, just like Christ did, to save one more soul. Remember, the suffering of this world is only due to the war our people, God’s people, are presently in. God does not want us to suffer here anymore than a government wants its people to suffer during a war, but the suffering means winning the war, winning souls, and those are more important than anything else. Like any war, it will not last forever, and when the war is over, God will take away all the suffering, and we will see it was all worth it.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost.”
-Arthur Ashe

“The world has no room for cowards. We must all be ready somehow to toil, to suffer, to die. And yours is not the less noble because no drum beats before you when you go out into your daily battlefields, and no crowds shout about your coming when you return from your daily victory or defeat.”
-Robert Louis Stevenson

“The cowards think of what they can lose, the heroes of what they can win.”
-J. M. Charlier

“When in doubt, win the war.”
– WW2 Motto

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2007 in Sanctification

 

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