This Easter there are churches all over the world from Detroit to Texas, and Sydney promoting their Easter Services under the banner of ‘The Cross equals love”
The bible tells us God is love (1Jn 4:16). But it also tells us God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. (1Jn. 1:5)
The truth of God’s love is also the truth of His judgment against sin. This is the essence of the gospel!
Failure to understand this, accounts for many a heresy, and the prevailing cloud of misunderstanding that surrounds the atonement. We cannot talk about the judgment of God without considering something of the Atonement.
‘The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions’ —A W Tozer
The Atonement: There is many a person who is not clear of the doctrine, but who in particular reject outright the substitutionary aspect of the doctrine of the atonement simply because they not grasped the great statement that God’s judgment is according to truth.
God will judge sin, and because He is who He is, he must judge sin, so there will be, and must be a judgment upon sin. His love cannot just overlook, or pass over or as the bible says _ ‘wink’ at sin.
But today this is what we see, whole marketing campaigns around the LOVE OF GOD, with websites, Twitter, T- shirts and banners and special events
The most disturbing thing is, these new evangelicals have moved away from the Biblical truth of substitutionary atonement, to view Christ simply as the eternal Passover Lamb, focussing “on the Incarnation at the expense of the Cross” (Carson, 1990, 14).
In the new thinking, according “we have to overcome the rational theory of atonement …[as] Christ is not appeasing God’s wrath.” Referred to as creative love theism, the new model concentrates on the mutuality and openness of God and is “designed to replace” the old model developed over centuries (1994, 8, 9, 15). The evangelical attitude here is one that is formed “in dialogue with other religions and our truth must be put forward in the light of what they claim” (1994, 8, 9, 15). The new call, though, is no longer “for truth and salt” but to tolerance and “oneness” (Murray, 2000, 291).
However at no time has seeking unity first had a spiritually transforming effect on others (2000, 291).
Rather than being “an agency to save souls,” the church has become an organisation where one learns “how to love and enjoy God and their neighbours” (Brow, 1990, 13).
What does the Cross say about God?
One suggestion is
- The cross shows that God’s love for us is immeasurably sacrificial
- The cross shows that God’s love for us is completely undeserved.
These statements in themselves are true, but it seems the modern view of the atonement is that what was really happening on the cross was that God was announcing through the death of his son, that he is nothing but love, and there is NO judgment, and that He is ready to overlook sin.
This is the thinking because they do not realize that God’s holy character and God’s justice and righteousness insist upon a judgment of sin.
To many the cross is just an expression of God’s love?
But even the famous verse in John 3:16 confirms the doctrine of the atonement.
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whomsoever believes on Him should not perish…
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whomsoever believes on him should know and appreciate God’s love.
We know this is not what it says, but it seems to be the new thinking nevertheless And isn’t this a different thing altogether
We have so sentimentalised the cross that John 3:16 no longer means anything.
The church no longer preaches the gospel of the Kingdom, but the gospel of the Beatles, love love love; love is all you need.
Christian faith should not be passive. Perhaps for those less familiar, here is the verse:
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’
Today the great proclamation is the cross equals love.But we ignore the reality that Jesus’ death was a God-initiated act to deal with everyone’s sin. In fact when we get down to it,even though we dismiss it, the cross was a display of God’s wrath.
Therefore the cross equals God’s justice just as much as it is about HIS love.
Many know the verse. But we have made it read something like this;
A local city council purchases a brand new fire engine. Isn’t the council loving and kind to give such a fire engine?
But the fire engine is to put out the fire, not just to sit on display, but to save our lives from destruction, so we won’t be destroyed in the flames.
Note that the previous verse says – 14 ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up’.
Why, because the Israelites had been severely bitten by snakes, by vipers (a picture of sin), and they needed a remedy. They needed to look (in faith) at the serpent on the pole. So we need to be saved from sin, its guilt, its sway, its corruption, and the flames of Hell, through faith and trust in the Lord Jesus.
This type of teaching is distorting the true Christian position!
Let me prove it to you; 1 John 4:9 -10 “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
This word propitiation means appeasement, expiation, placating, atoning, the blood of a victim covering the sin of the accused, the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat, the blood spilt satisfies the one offended. It had to be the blood of His dear son, for as we read in Hebrews the blood of bulls and goats could never satisfy and take away sins [Heb 9:12, Heb 10:4 ]
In the psalms Mercy and Truth have met together righteousness and peace have kissed each other – Ps 85:10
So the judgment of sin as we have seen must be always be according to truth.
In other words, God has said he will punish sin.
Even before the fall he told Adam that if he sinned he would die.
God said what the punishment was, and God insisted on the punishment being carried out.
But as shown today this aspect of the atonement has slipped, or been pushed aside. There are these various churches of varying degrees announcing and proclaiming that God is Love and that he is prepared to forgive their sins of anyone who repents and who says he is sorry. If you have a view of God and his forgiveness that in anyway denigrates or detracts from the justice of God, it is a denial of the scripture. It was necessary for God’s son, that’s right God’s son that you and I might not come under the wrath of God, but he did so, for the scripture said ‘for it pleased him to bruise him’, he was ‘stricken, smitten of God’ He cried out ‘my God my god why have thou forsaken me’. Is this not a striking demonstration that the judgment of God is always according to truth.
To state it more plainly, this new gospel of sentimentality that has come in believes that the cross is love in action is a direct denial of the wrath of God against sin, and the denial of the doctrine of Hell by default!
You see the vast majority today both inside and outside of the church believe they can escape the judgment of God. But the bible tells us; “It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment” – Heb 9:27
How shall you escape? Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? – Romans 2:3
If you look through the New Testament you find this word Escape referred to frequently Do you think O man that you will escape the judgment of God It is a terrible word the word — ‘Escape’
The world is what it is today because it thinks that somehow it will escape the judgment of God. The world has a litany of ways in which it thinks it can do so! Yet the Psalmist shows us our warped and wayward thinking
Psalm 50:21 ‘You thought that I was altogether such a one as yourself’
And how common this thinking is! Men constantly display their ingenuity in trying to escape the judgment of God. They think God is similar in the way that he views sin. We think he will over look sin as we do. The lies, the half truths, the external appearances, all these are brushed aside by men. They think that God doesn’t see or that he overlooks things and considers that in the end God will take it easy on everyone because we only human and make mistakes.
That somehow God in his mercy will make an exception for them. That even though they have denied his existence, or blatantly ignored his existence all their lives , that somehow God will forgive them and pardon them in the end.
That God will forgive us all in the end, as some men have said ‘there is a wideness in the mercy of God’ But as we saw last time God’s judgment and indeed his mercy is according to truth.
The New Testament keeps asking how shall they escape?
But men still believe they can have salvation without repentance from sin.
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