THE FULL STORY
“Tell me in the light of the cross, isn’t it a scandal that you and I live today as we do.”
There is nothing token or cute about Christianity. There’s nothing in the original script that makes Jesus suitable for a couple of public holidays per year.
What I am about to comment on people generally don’t like reading about today. Thankfully, God is not subject to our tastes and the word of God doesn’t pander to our convenience, political manoeuvrings, carnal comforts (He’s after a comfort far deeper), nor the grotesque and blasphemous perversions of some of the ministers in the church. If it did, Jesus wouldn’t have been killed and He wouldn’t have risen from the dead. And we would have no good news to speak of. No, we need the full story.
We like words like mercy, love, grace, forgiveness, redemption, resurrection, heaven. Thank God these themes and truths are woven into His gospel and intrinsic to His beautiful character. Aren’t you grateful that the God of the universe is the paragon of virtue and the giver of ultimate love and hope?
But we must also face and embrace other doctrines, no less true, like sin, wrath, judgment, punishment and hell fire. These realities and doctrines are epidemic throughout the scriptures, and when held up alongside a fallen world marred with unrepentant murder, abuse, lust, injustice, corruption and innocent suffering, they make for reason and ultimate vindication. Someone once said “How can a God of love send people to hell?” Another said, “When you consider 70 million people murdered under Hitler and Stalin, with Nazi officers looking upon hanging bodies of women in laughter, how can a God of love not send people to hell?”
The gospel is visceral, bloody, appalling, stunning. The harrowing but wonderful news is that Jesus Christ exhausted the wrath and judgment of Almighty God at Calvary. And that wrath and judgment was pointed at the sin in all of us. We’re all guilty. Jesus became sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, by faith. God put on skin, only to have it torn off Him in shreds by His own rebellious creation as the literal scapegoat and Mediator for His lost children.
Dry ritual can anaesthetize what, at first, apprehends entirely; we must remember that when the church takes communion she celebrates and feasts on sacrificial torture unto salvation and divine intimacy. The veil is now torn, once, for all. All can enter into the presence of God boldly by the blood of Jesus alone. It’s not the stuff of fairytales. It’s so much grittier, more offensive and real. And, thus, believable.
Jesus then rose from the dead as the scriptures predicted and His ragtag group of disciples turned the known world upside down. Either you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour or you meet with God’s wrath and righteous judgement, without an Advocate. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
God is love, full of mercy, slow to anger, rich in love. But He is also God – He will not be parleyed with; there’s no “discussing of terms”, He doesn’t run a democracy and He doesn’t sit in on our neurotic committees. He is God. He is King outright. He is holy. If the word of God failed, if He were fickle like us, the universe would implode (Hebrews 1:3). Let God be true and every man and devil a liar.
It is finished. “Kiss the Son or receive His wrath” (Psalm 2:12). Come humbly and receive His mercy through Jesus while you can, or stay proud and take His eternal judgment. No-one is escaping hell or entering into heaven without being washed in the blood of Jesus. There’s no other way God can accept sinners and remain a just God. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”