For February 20, 2022
It is in Chapter Fifteen of First Corinthians where we can find the core of the Gospel by which all Christians find our purpose, identity, liberty, and eternal hope (my emphasis),
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (NIV)
The idea of “equal atonement” is troublesome for the modern mind to capture fully. Not concerning Christ’s saving efficacy as His sacrifice remediates all our sins forever. His commitment to give Himself freely and willingly for the comprehensive salvation of every man, woman, boy, and girl—past, present, and future—is yet impossible to fathom. Such an action is not a normal human response, especially toward someone we feel is “less desirable.”
Sacrificing for a loved one is conceivable when expressing our love for them or protecting them is our motivation. However, choosing to sacrifice our lives for an enemy or someone who dislikes us is extremely hard to envision or practice in real time. History has shown there may be certain situations where we would risk life and limb for someone we might not necessarily care for.
During the Second World War, for example, cultural issues fostered adversarial relationships that fragmented our troops occasionally. Although these valiant men and women may have been divided, they proved themselves more than willing to sacrifice for their adversary’s greater good by fighting and dying to spare the world from the universal tyranny of the Axis powers.
Fast-forward eighty years to our current international pandemic. Some have replaced noble altruism with a cold-hearted malevolence thorough modern day “germ warfare.” Imagine the depths of depravity for one to create a microorganism that indiscriminately targets innocent victims with underlying health issues and/or acute pre-morbidities. Moreover, some who should adhere to the Hippocratic Oath, to “do no harm,” by protecting and improving our overall health and safety, would instead politicize and withhold the vital, life-saving technologies and medical remedies that have been shown to treat illness.
What happened to our compassion for those who are absolutely marginalized and vulnerable among us? Where is our concern for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40)?
I am saddened by the barbarism plaguing human hearts now. Truly, our Enemy, Satan, is at work in the callous and malicious disregard for human dignity witnessed in the indiscriminate killing and violence directed at the unborn and helpless, the calculated euthanizing of the weak and aged, and the exploitation, abuse, trafficking, oppression, and savagery expressed towards anyone and everyone who falls between those two demographic extremes.
Ultimately, we have reduced our precious, God-given human life to mere dollars and cents.
Our heartlessness is most unfortunate because technology, education, politics, military, and industry do not make our country great. It is our faith in God, and the Judeo-Christian values we embrace and uphold that allows God’s divine favor, as the Scriptures attest, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV)
Ours is not a perfect nation; no nation is, especially with sin and entitlement issues, running amuck as they are today. Nevertheless, there was a time in our not-too-distant past when we understood right from wrong, and we intuitively maintained a line of demarcation between what was morally good and morally bad. Unfortunately, we have blurred that line by our existential relativism. Our existentialism celebrates our human subjectivity while our relativism denies the existence of all absolute truth,
Dress as you will, fornicate with whom you will, infect whom you will, wear clothes, or go naked as you will. The only right is what is right for you, and the only wrong is that which produces pain or inconvenience for you. There is no law, no principle, no proper course of action of any kind, so go with the vibes! Whatever is your thing, do it.1
God’s Word (Bible) and His Helper (Holy Spirit) no longer inform our public discourse. Instead, whatever feels good or gives us pleasure—at this very moment—is what governs our conscience and behavior.
Oh, what sorrow and despair await those of us who insist “evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.” Isaiah 5:20 (NLT) There are far too many people who live for the here and now: “three-score and ten, and the most toys win!” Howbeit, there is a vast eternity beyond the grave, and we must acknowledge Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior in this life to avoid eternal peril,
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26 (AKJV)
Proud, self-righteous human endeavors will never invoke God’s favor, as does Calvary’s Cross. It’s never been about us; it’s about Jesus Christ, and our faith in Him vitalizes our being, position, conduct, and eternal destiny. Those who don’t profess Him as such today will face Him as the Eternal Judge tomorrow.
But we who love Him, and whose faith begins and ends with Him, He is our hope, peace, expectation, and glorious reward. Galatians 3:11 reads, “The just shall live by faith,” and 2 Corinthians 5:7 states, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” James 4:6 tells us that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble—does He ever! Like airplanes on a runway before takeoff, we cannot fly without our Eternal Pilot at the controls. With humble, reverent, and sincere faith in Him, we shall reach our glorious final destination safely.
Additionally, a civilized people must exercise vigilance and due diligence to promote and secure the moral and spiritual well-being of our fellow countrymen and women,
The freedom of God is exercised and illustrated in His government of His moral creatures. It has pleased God to create intelligences possessed of moral freedom and to make their ultimate destiny contingent upon the right use of their freedom.2
God has endowed all of us with the sacred trust to preserve civility, decency, and goodwill for people with whom we work, serve, and live. We should foster a congenial atmosphere since we have grown and matured beyond our childish self-interests to pursue things that are in everyone’s collective best interest. We who have so matured understand if we persist in raucous discord, no person will be spared from hostility and violence.
At some point, we must ask this question with the utmost sincerity, What kind of world do we want for our children, and their children?
Therefore, with our non-absolute, selfish, proud, twenty-first-century minds, it is extremely difficult to imagine how Jesus Christ, a person in perfect health, and with all His faculties, would spend His precious time teaching and demonstrating—thorough His death, burial, and resurrection—eternal lessons that would forever shape the character and conduct of His Followers around the world, as He did.
In His shoes, we would be consumed with pleasure, fulfilling our selfish desires, visiting exotic places, or completing unfinished tasks on our “bucket list.” Not so with Jesus Christ. He knew He would die on the cross for the sins of the entire world—even those who hated and/or refused to believe in Him. Yet, He spent His precious time sharing critical lessons with others (and us). Can’t we trust in Jesus, surrender to Him, and follow His example by living beyond the parameters of our own sin and selfishness for the benefit of all (and for His glory)?
What a Wonderful Savior!
- For further discussion, please see: Dave Breese, Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1990) 217, and William L. Reese, “Existentialism,” Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion: Eastern and Western Thought, 8th ed., (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1980) 163-164, and “Relativism,”487.
- Please see: Merrill F. Unger, “Freedom,” Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 18th printing, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972) 380.