October 15, 2016

God’s amazing and limitless offer

A relative dies and leaves a vast fortune to be divided equally among family members, all of which are poor. As you go to collect your million dollar share, you see a cousin going the other way. You say, “Haven’t you heard . . . .” and tell him about the inheritance. He says, “No, I’m not interested. Its fine for you, but not for me. I will do just fine without that.” He walks away, the gift there for the taking and with his name on it, but he leaves it untouched. 

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1–2)

Propitiation means ‘to win someone’s favor, to appease or conciliate somebody or something.’ In the Bible, this word is generally about “the means of appeasing wrath and gaining the good will of an offended person; especially with respect to sacrifices for appeasing angered deities” and specifically “the means by which sins are forgiven.”

In plain language, Jesus Christ is a gift from God who did what was necessary so God could forgive the sins of the whole world. However, like any gift, He must be received — in faith, believing that those sins are forgiven and that He is exactly who He claims to be — our Savior.

Faith is an important part of receiving the inheritance His death made available. Jesus said that He would go away, but would send the Holy Spirit of God . . .
“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me . . . .” (John 16:8–9)
Note the connection; the sin is not all those foolish things we have done because those are now covered. The sin is not believing it! As Martin Luther once said, “We have everything we need except the faith to believe it.”

Faith is like a password. The kingdom is there and the door is open. Jesus died for the sin of the world and offers entrance to that realm and to eternal life, but without faith, it is impossible to enter.

With faith, there are no more barriers. The Lamb of God has taken away the sin of the world! He is the way, the truth, the life. But no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6) and through faith in Him. Without faith, no one can please God. With faith, all things are possible.

This is the good news. It is God’s message for all who believe it to proclaim to a world that is going the other way, a world that says things like, “That is fine for you, but I don’t need it.”

Don’t need it? Who has not sinned? Who is so deluded that they feel no desire for eternal life and the freedom of knowing total forgiveness? What a joy to be set free from guilt and condemnation!

Yet the message is not about what Christ has done for me — as wonderful as that is, but about what Christ has done for the entire world. By His death He took our punishment for sin, and by His resurrection He conquered our punishment, living forever and making a way that we might live forever with Him.

This is an offer that is limitless, only restricted by the password and by those puzzling decisions to walk the other way. 

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