Wednesday, February 01, 2012

You can be God's friend

Bronze crucifix by Donatello - c. 1448
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Hebrews 2:1-18

TO CHEW ON: “So it is evident that it was essential that He be made like His brethren in every respect, in order that He might become a merciful (sympathetic) and faithful High Priest in the things related to God to make atonement and propitiation for the people’s sins. - Hebrews 2:17 – Amplified.

In many ways we moderns have adapted God to our culture. We are soft on sin in ourselves, saying we can’t help sinning for a myriad of reasons. In such a thought climate it’s hard to view realistically God's holiness and inability to tolerate sin.*

But if God possesses all the attributes we credit Him with, His holiness, which can’t bear the presence of sin, and His mercy, which loves us, can only coexist if the price for sin – death – is paid.

That’s where the concept of propitiation comes in. When Jesus, who was human (like us), and sinless (unlike us) took the punishment for our sin, God was appeased or propitiated and we are reconciled to Him.

In our tolerant-of-sin culture, I don’t think we begin to appreciate the hugeness of what this means. H. C. Thiessen, author of a favorite old systematic theology textbook I own says it simply yet profoundly:
“The thought is something like this: At first God and man stood face to face with each other. In sinning, Adam turned his back upon God. Then God turned His back upon Adam. Christ’s death has satisfied the demands of God and now God has again turned His face toward man. It remains for man to turn round about and face God. Since God has been reconciled by the death of His Son, man is now entreated to be reconciled to God.”
- Lectures in Systematic Theology by H. C. Thiessen (1949), p. 328.

PRAYER: Thank you God for making a way for me to be reconciled to You. Thank you Jesus, for dying for me. Amen.

MORE:  "Worthy, You Are Worthy"

How can we respond to such good news but with praise?

* Some parts of Christendom have such a problem with this they have played down the atonement aspect of what Jesus did, questioning whether it really happened and using language like “cosmic child abuse” (on linked page skip down to the heading “Penal Substitution”) to describe God sending Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins .

J. I. Packer’s response
Adrian Warnock

(From the archives)
Bible Drive-Thru

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