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Easter 2008

Mar 22, 2008 at 10:56

By: Steve & Marilyn Hill

Our world seems determined to lose the meaning of this season in a mess of painted eggs and chocolate rabbits.  Yes, I realize that they are symbols of resurrection and new life and I like chocolate (especially if it is dark!) but it is not the commercialization that is a problem for me.  Candy companies will do what candy companies do and exploit any reason to sell more candies!

My question is this. Have we lost the meaning of the season in our presentation of the gospel?  John says (John 3:36A), "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life."   We would all agree with that and we would all agree that Jesus died to give us that life.  At one time or another we have all proclaimed as good news that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!  

That is half true, maybe!  The rest of the verse says "and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him".  

What cup did Jesus drink on Good Friday?  Yes, the cup of suffering which He told His disciples they would also drink.  A prophetic word which became terrible true as they all died martyrs'  deaths.  But they died those deaths with martyrs' grace, with joy and with eternity in their eyes!  Why did Jesus ask that the cup should pass from Him?  Was He more afraid of Roman nails than His disciples?  I do not think so.

In the New Testament there are almost as many references to the wrath of God as there are to the love of God!  We can receive forgiveness and life because Jesus has drained the cup of the wrath of God's judgement for our sin.  God crushed God.  Jesus paid the price for my independence and rebellion against Him.  

That is the other half of the good news!   For truth to be living it is always in tension. It is always a living tension in the person of Jesus.  He is the Son of God and the Son of Man.  He is the Word made flesh.  He gives life because He satisfied the wrath of God.  He can forgive sin because He took the fullness of the penalty for sin.

The Good News that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life is only half true!  God loves you but His plan for your life may not fit the Western Dream of wonderful!  Did God have a wonderful plan for the life of the first martyr?  Did Stephen's fiance think that was a wonderful plan?  But that is another story!

He is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. Yes!  But the day of His wrath is also coming when men will flee from Him (Revelation 6:16- 17).  When have you last heard a sermon on the wrath of the Lamb?  That is the other half of the gospel!

We have collective embarrassment about the true nature of God.   We want our culture to like our God.  Wrath does not make Him likable!  However, our God does not want to be liked.  Like is not an option!  We love Him or hate Him!   And one reason I love Him is because He is angry when little people are abused!  He is angry when His creative purposes for His children are violated.  Without wrath, good and evil are equally meaningless and forgiveness is total nonsense.

God's problem was how to forgive in love but satisfy justice!  How could He be "just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:23)?  His righteousness could be satisfied through the blood of Christ Jesus.  The good news is that the blood of God satisfied the righteousness wrath of God over sin.

Paul knew "the terror of the Lord" and thus sought to "be well pleasing to Him" and to "persuade men" that we must "all appear before the judgement seat of Christ" (II Corinthians 5:9- 11).    Maybe we would all be much more persuasive if we knew something of the terror of the Lord?  

Jesus knew "the terror of the Lord" in the garden.
That was the cup He did not want to drink.

Psalm 130:4, is one of the most sobering scriptures to me, "But there is forgiveness with You, that you may be feared."    Forgiveness, Yes!  But since there is forgiveness, and God's forgiveness means grace for freedom from sin, my sin and selfishness is without excuse!

The love of God is not nice.  
The love of God is fierce.
The love of God is awesome.
The love of God is a consuming fire!
The love of God overcomes the wrath of God by the blood of God!

That is Good News!
And that is why they call this Friday, Good!

Steve & Marilyn Hill

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