As we can see from this week, there are lots of objections that people bring to the gospel. Reasons they can’t articulate, barriers to accepting the grace God offers them, disbelief that they could have missed out on the truth for so long…the list goes on and on. And sometimes I think we just need to present the gospel to them again. And again. And again. To let the Holy Spirit do His powerful work in calling them to salvation while we pray for soft hearts that would be inclined toward Christ. Today, I’m sharing a letter I wrote with a specific friend in mind that attempts to do just that.
I know we’ve had this conversation before, and over time I’ve come to realize that my words will never be what convinces you of your need for Jesus or of how much God loves you. But, oh how my heart aches for you to know Him! I have tasted the sweetness of a relationship with God, even on the hardest of days, and I want nothing less than the same for you. We’ve talked about these things before at length, but today I am asking you to consider them again.
There are four threads woven together in the story of humanity found in the Bible: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
Creation. Genesis tells the story of creation and of the way God designed people and the world to be. A beautiful garden, man and woman – all living in totally harmony with their environment and each other. Serene. Beautiful. The best of all things. Walking with God, literally. Seeing Him face to face and connecting with Him daily. This is the way God intended for us to live. With Him, in perfection.
Fall. But, it doesn’t take long for perfection to be ruined. Eve is tempted by the lies of Satan and eats the fruit God had asked them not to (for their own good), and everything changes. Sin (going against what God has commanded) enters the picture with devastating consequences. Because God is perfect and holy (which means set apart), He cannot be in relationship with sinful human beings the way that He could before sin. Sin creates a divide that cannot be crossed – humanity will never achieve perfection, and God cannot lower His standards of holiness. The ultimate consequence of sin is death. Physical death (because God in His kindness determines to not let humanity live forever with sin), and eternal separation from God.
We see and feel this every day. We long for more, we see brokenness and injustice in the world and we wish it was different, we chase one adventure after another, hoping that something will bring fullness. Unfortunately, as good and amazing as any one place or thing can be, they don’t fill the void, and we’re left restless. So, what are we supposed to do? If things are so messed up, and we have no hope of fixing it on our own, what hope is there?
Redemption. Here’s the thing I find the most amazing about God as He is described in the Bible… He’s omniscient (all-knowing) and He loves us. He wants a relationship with us – it’s how He made us… how it’s supposed to be, designed from the very beginning. So, He made a way for us to be brought back into relationship with Him. How? Jesus.
Jesus is God’s Son and He came to earth, born to a woman and lived His life both fully God and fully man at the same time. Incredible, right? Because He is fully God, Jesus lived a perfect life on earth. It’s so far from my experience that it seems impossible, but it’s not. He chooses to live the way God, His Father, has asked all of us to live, and He is morally perfect. (And yes, he was tempted, he had a million chances to sin, but He didn’t.)
And then He chooses to lay down His life as a sacrifice for humanity – to die. Because He’s the only man to ever live a perfect life, His death is an acceptable sacrifice to God for sin. Remember, the consequence for sin is death. God chooses to accept Jesus’ death as payment for sin. He doesn’t lower His standard of holiness, but He does provide a way for it to be met. Jesus pays for ALL sin. My sin. Your sin. For every lie we’ve ever told, for every word spoken in anger or hate, for every time we’ve worshipped something other than God Himself, for the times we’ve cheated, for when we’ve hurt the people around us, for everything.
Though Jesus died, that isn’t the end of the story! His death pays for our sin, and His resurrection three days later secures our ability to live with God eternally. (He came back from the dead! If He would have stayed entombed we could never trust any of His words since we could not have trusted that He was truly God, but though He was fully man, unlike any other man – He stood up after the torture and death of a crucifixion! Alive! He is not only God, His words are true and trustworthy!) Instead of eternal separation, we are offered eternal life, through Jesus. The divide established by the Fall is bridged by Jesus, and His resurrection from the dead shows His authority over death and makes a way for us to live with God forever.
Restoration. The Bible tells us that Jesus will return to earth again at some point. He’ll come back to finally make all things right. All the broken things, all of the injustices we’ve experienced, all of the hurt that people have inflicted on each other. All of those things will be made right when Jesus returns to establish His eternal rule. We’ll return to the way it was in the Garden of Eden, living in true, face-to-face relationship with God Himself. This is the hope we have.
I know that there are pieces of this that make you uncomfortable, and that you have so many other questions I didn’t even attempt to address. But, will you take some time to think about what has been presented? Will you evaluate what it means if these things are true? If they are true, and you ignore them or refuse to believe them, there are serious consequences. Eternal death. The destiny of your very soul is literally on the line here.
Think about it. Ask me more about it. Ask God Himself to make things clear. Read what the Bible says for yourself about it. Find a church to go to tomorrow. But please, please don’t just brush it aside. I care for you deeply and I pray for you often, hoping for a day we can rejoice together in God’s goodness.
And I won’t stop. I’ll keep praying.
Will you keep thinking? Asking questions? Evaluating the claims of Jesus?