Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dear Christians: What if the Gospel is really true?

When I read the Bible, I like to ask myself a question: What if this is really true? It's not that I am a big skeptic, as far as I'm concerned the Bible has already proven itself to me. But that said, I can read about jaw-dropping truths of God and not even bat an eyelash. Perhaps it's familiarity. It is a rare talent to be able to delight in the treasures one has constant access to. Perhaps it's cynicism. Just about every time someone starts getting all grandiose on me (generally a politician or an advertisement) they generally fall through. But perhaps it's worse than that, maybe I don't actually believe what I'm reading. After all, could I just gloss over the earth-shattering words of God if I really believed what they are saying?

As an example, take one of my favorite chapters of Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5. It took me almost no time at all to pull out 5 of these so-called “jaw-dropping truths”, take a look:

1.Believers in Christ have eternal life awaiting them (2 Cor 5:1) – Some think that a belief in heaven is a psychological defense. People can't handle the idea of their existence ceasing, so heaven is invented. There's some logic to that, I think many of us fear the unknown, especially the unknown of death. But there is another perspective as well. In one way, it is easier and far more believable to say we die and that's it. Since we're not sure what the other side looks like, then this life must be all there is. More difficult is to try and wrap one's mind around the staggering treasure and blessing promised in the Gospel. It would be easy to imagine that death is just sleep. Or that heaven is like having a big party with all your best friends. It is near impossible to grasp that believers will be united with their God and Creator for all eternity in perfect bliss.

2.Believers have been given the Spirit as a pledge (2 Cor 5:5) – To comfort a miserly, rebellious and fallen people, God has given his very Spirit to assure us of his faithfulness. The Spirit himself, the third member of the Trinity, has deemed it worthwhile to babysit, so to speak, the redeemed people of God.

3.We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10) – Judgment comes for us all. The believer has been spared, not for being good but for having faith in the One who truly is good. The one who does not believe, however, will have no such pardon. Wrath, like the wrath Christ bore for his people on the cross, will be poured out undiluted on those who don't believe.

4.Those who have faith in Christ are new creatures (2 Cor 5:17) – Before Christ, all of us stand condemned in our sins. We sin constantly because at our very hearts, we are sinners. Before Christ, we are doomed to a life filled to the brim with sin. Before Christ, we are spiritually dead people dying a slow physical death. When Christ saves us, he makes us new. Not new like fresh-coat-of-paint-new. He makes us completely new. The believer is still living out the rest of a fallen life, but with a new nature, with new desires and with new abilities. “The old things passed away, behold, new things have come.”

5.Christ the sinless one bore our sin so that we would be made righteous (2 Cor 5:21) – The perfect Son of God died a criminal's bloody death so that his chosen ones might live. His chosen ones are no longer guilty in the Father's eyes. More than this, they now stand righteous before their God. From spiritually bankrupt to spiritually rich, all through the work of Christ.

So what if that is all true? How am I to respond? If that is all true (not to mention everything else in Scripture), then I have more awaiting me in eternity than I possibly imagined. Until eternity comes, God has more abundantly provided for me in the pledge of the Spirit—than I possibly imagined. If this is all true, my family and friends who live in godlessness are not playing meaningless games; rather they are teetering on the edge of judgment with nothing but God's burning wrath awaiting them below. If this is true, the chains that held me in my sin have been shattered, sin's grip on me is lost and my Savior's grip on me is unbreakable. If this is true, the perfect One of God suffered in agony on my behalf, bleeding forth a redemption price dearer than words can express.
My God, my God, what if it's all true?

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