Please understand that these words come from a place of brokenness. The words that are on your screen are something that I am still working through. My prayer is that we can come together and work through these things together as a family.
I am a bible college student. Being at bible college is a lot like being at any other college. We tend to hate our lives, eat sleep for breakfast, utilize coffee as a meal, procrastinate on all of our assignments, and all the other things that go along with the pain that is higher education. There are some differences though. For instance, when we gather around the couches in the library with our soul cleansing coffee, we don’t have typical college student conversations. Instead of talking about the latest sport event or the latest development in Hollywood, our conversations go kind of like this, “So, do you ascribe to Federal Headship? What about supralapsarianism? What about sanctification? Monergism v. synergism? Do you believe in a limited atonement? Who limits the atonement? Free will or irresistible grace? Calvinist, Arminian, Traditionalist, Pelagian?” These are the typical phrases you’ll hear around us theological nerds. Now talking about this stuff is fun. I love getting deep in to a conversation about our faith. But more often than not, at least one party will leave those discussions saying this word: “Heretic.” A heretic someone who believes in or practices a religious heresy. Now more often than not the person that was called this is in fact not a heretic. They just simply stated a view on a specific doctrine of the faith that differed with someone else’s.
A trend that I’ve picked up on (and has been brought up to me) is the fact that these doctrinal conversations tend to be what our conversations are fixed on. “Our” being us young theologians. We tend to spend all of our time debating others on their doctrinal beliefs. And something has just been rustling within my soul these past few weeks and I’ve finally been able to put it to words. What I want to do is deviate from all of this talk about who does what, limited atonement, man’s free will, and all of that stuff. Let’s just talk about the beauty that is simply the Gospel.
I’ve been stuck on this phrase, “I got saved” or “Christ saved me” or however you want to word it. I don’t think we define well enough for new believers, or heck even old believers. We simply say it and move on. We treat it like it was some cool event in the midst of other cool events and leave it at that. Someone will come forward during an altar call, “get saved,” we affirm them by clapping, dude will get baptized, and that’s it. We don’t illustrate the impact of the decision being made. We just pat them on the back, tell them good job, and load them up with church membership classes. Also, we have a ton of people who have been in our churches for so long that they, as a friend of mine would say, “…look like they’ve been baptized in pickle juice.” It’s also as if they’ve lost the joy of their salvation! And I think it’s because they were never properly informed of the joy because there was never any real time spent on it. Christ literally died to save us. That’s something worth spending time on. So, that’s what we’re going to do. Starting with the severity of the situation.
Look in Genesis! We had everything we could have ever needed! But we still chose to rebel against God and man died spiritually (Genesis 3). Man had everything he ever needed and still chose to rebel against God. And from then on out it only got worse and worse. Our trespasses grew even more rampant and in severity. Murder (Genesis 4:8), incest (Genesis 19:30-38), adultery (2 Samuel 11), the list goes on and on. Time and time again we rebelled against the perfect creator who gifted us with life and we blasphemed His name, belittled His glory, and thought our ways are better then His ways all while doing so with the brain He gifted us with and the air He breathed through our lungs. The biggest slap in the face ever. We. Were. Dead. In. Our. Transgressions (Ephesians 2:1-7). There was nothing, absolutely nothing we could do to bring ourselves back to where we used to be. And God, being a just God, couldn’t afford to let sin go unpunished. He cannot contradict Himself. There had to be a penalty paid. God is just, but He is also love (1 John 4:8). We all know John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” He SO loved the world. He didn’t just love it, He SO loved it. There’s an indication of the massive volume of love that God had and has for us. In that love, He sent Christ. Someone who was perfect, blameless, selfish, a servant, everything that we are not. He sent His only begotten Son…and crushed Him on the cross. He poured out His wrath onto Him and killed him. He became sin who knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). While we were still yet enemies of God (Romans 5:8), God demonstrated the greatest act of sacrifice and mercy ever in the history of creation. If that doesn’t move you, then I don’t know what will.
But there was beauty in the tragedy.
Christ arose from the dead! REJOICE! He resurrected! Through that resurrection we now have hope, our only hope! We’re offered forgiveness! When God looks at us He no longer just sees us, but Christ in our place! Our slate has been wiped clean! It no longer matters if we cussed or didn’t cuss, drank or didn’t drink, did this or didn’t do that, because Christ paid for those sins in full! When I say we don’t have to worry about them I mean that in the sense of they will no longer condemn us to hell. We no longer have to worry about the false idea of making our way to heaven on our own strength and we no longer have to worry about dealing with sin on our own. We don’t have the power to do so. We don’t possess the power of life over death. Christ does. We can’t resurrect anything. Christ can. He’s won that victory. Through that victory, we are able to receive the Holy Spirit who enables us to be convicted of our sin! He helps us become more and more Christ-like each and every day! He helps us put sin to death in our lives! We get to be adopted into the family of Christ! God calls me His child! We get to be co-heirs with Christ! He seals us with His Holy Spirit and we get to dwell with Him forever! The Holy Spirit dwells within us! Let me say that again, THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST, THE SAME POWER THAT IS AT WORK IN RAISING THE DEAD IS AT WORK IN ALL WHO BELIEVE! How freaking amazing is that?!
This, my friends, is what we need to be focusing on. I love unpacking our theology in full with brothers and sisters in the faith. But if I am not continually blown away by the fact that God, who owed me absolutely nothing, saved my life then it’s time for me to get out of the ministry and get out of the Gospel’s way. Because when I encounter people who are suffering, dealing with hardship, on their last thread, and looking for salvation then the last thing they are going to care about is the extent of the atonement. They’re going to care about the sacrifice and resurrection of the One who made the atonement possible. We don’t always have to explain all of our deep theological concerns – just tell people what Christ did for you.
I leave you with this bomb quote my friends. God bless.