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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why I Need Jesus

Eight years ago, I invited my “least likely to become a Christian” friend to attend Good Friday service with me. This is a friend who is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. This is a friend who, for years, frequently mocked my faith as a naïve and false security in a mythological tale. This is a friend who once stole a Christian Fellowship sign in college and scratched out the name of “Jesus” so that the sign read “Elvis Lives”. However, only a few weeks prior to coming to Good Friday service with me, this friend sent me an e-mail that literally nearly caused me to fall off the chair in which I was sitting. The e-mail said that this friend wanted to try out church for the first time. The Good Friday service we attended together was powerful and heavy. The intimate sanctuary was dark with a few lit candles. Our then bearded and stout young pastor, Mark Driscoll, sat on a stool at the front of the room dressed casually in all black. He held a microphone in his hand and read the crucifixion account in a deep husky voice. His intense utterings were interrupted intermittently by musicians, who were also dressed in black and playing sorrowful tunes. The final words from Mark's mouth thundered,“It is Finished!” The room was doused in total darkness and silence as all of the candles were snuffed out and not a word was spoken by the somber crowd. The silence was broken by the sound of shuffling feet as people quietly made their way to the doors and into the crisp night air. Once my friend and I got a comfortable distance from the little church, I whispered over to him, “The story does not end there.”

If you have read the fuller story here,
you might know the story above was about the first day my husband (then “just friend”) Kristian went to church. Several weeks later, he fell in love with Jesus and has been ever since.

With this being Holy week, I thought I would mediate on why I needed Jesus to die for me on the cross. Whether we are new Christians, or we have been walking with the Lord for most of our lives, the truths below contain life for us! May we never forget that it was the wretchedness of our sin that sent Jesus to the cross! May these truths fill us with humility, wonder, and awe. May these truths produce in us confidence in and love and praise for the God who willingly, lovingly, and sacrifically, rescued us!

God is Perfect, Holy, Good, Righteous, Pure, and Just.

Psalm 36:5-6 “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.”

Revelations 4:8 tells us ““Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,who was and is and is to come!”

Psalm 116:5 “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.”

I am nowhere near perfect, holy, good, righteous, pure or just. I am selfish, greedy, impure, unloving, and faithless. Over and over again, I have chosen disobedience, rebellion, fear, and sin rather than trusting and obeying God. I have missed the mark. As Scripture puts it, I have exchanged the glory of God for cheap idols in my life (Psalm 106; Romans 1:23). I “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:24).

Indeed I am not alone, Romans 3:22 & 23 tells us about all humankind: “For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

My sin was a barrier to relationship with a Perfect God. Even in human institutes of justice, a good judge does not overlook crime. A perfectly just God would not allow wickedness to persist unpunished.

Habakkuk 1:13 tells us: "[God, your] eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor."

Psalm 5:5-7 “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. 5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.6 You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”

Psalm 7:11 “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.”

Isaiah 5: 15 Man is humbled, and each one is brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are brought low.16 But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.”

My sin is a violation of God’s Holiness.

Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.

Ephesians 2:1-3 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

If the story ended there, my future would be very bleak. I praise God that the story continues….
Ephesians 2:4-10 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

I get to be with Him! My sin has been paid for and is no longer a barrier to relationship with Him! Nothing else matters.

Psalm 51:7 "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
Jude 1:24 "Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."

Revelation 21:2 "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. "

Revelation 21:-27 "And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life."

How do we benefit from this great salvation from the righteous wrath of God against our sins? It is not by our own merit, it is only by faith—believing in, trusting in, and surrendering to Jesus!

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil."

Acts 16:25-34 "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God."

Ephesians 2: 8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Do you know this great salvation? Do you have faith in the Living God? Do you know and love Jesus, who came to save us?

Do you believe and trust in Him such that you want your life to revolve around knowing Him and obeying Him? Do you love Him like this?:

Matthew 13:44-46 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

If you don’t know Him and love Him in this way, are you curious? I encourage you to seek Him out. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He delights to answer this prayer! Open the Word, ask Him to speak to you in it and be willing to hear. If you know Christians who have extraordinary hope, joy and love, ask them about it. Ask questions.

This week is Holy Week. I pray that we will take time to reflect on the purpose of the Cross of Christ. Let us remember with thanksgiving and awe that our God loved us so much that He paid the ultimate price to restore us to Himself—so that we could enjoy relationship with our Glorious God forever!

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your Holiness, Righteousness, and Perfection! You are Glorious! Thank you that you are the epitome of all that is good and right. Thank you for revealing our sin to us, and in turn revealing your goodness toward us. Thank you for your mercy and lovingkindness--that you would seek us out even though we wickedly rebelled against you. Thank you for pursuing us at great cost to yourself. Thank you that justice and mercy met perfectly at the cross. Help us to live in remembrance of this reality. I pray for any who are curious about you. Holy Spirit please open eyes to see your beauty and truth—that all would know the hope, joy, and tremendous love that there is in you, and that all would respond in blissful surrender. I pray that you would draw many, many more to yourself. May those of us who trust in you reflect the love you have shown us to those around us! If we are not doing this, open our eyes, convict us, and enable us to repent and change. We love you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen.

I leave you with the Table of Contents from John Piper's book, "50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die" (By the way, I bought this whole book on compact disc at Lifeway Christian Bookstore on Aurora for $5.98, and you can also get it on for $4.99)

1 To Absorb the Wrath of God

2 To Please His Heavenly Father

3 To Learn Obedience and Be Perfected

4 To Achieve His Own Resurrection from the Dead

5 To Show the Wealth of God’s Love and Grace for Sinners

6 To Show His Own Love for Us

7 To Cancel the Legal Demands of the Law Against Us

8 To Become a Ransom for Many

9 For the Forgiveness of Our Sins

10 To Provide the Basis for Our Justification

11 To Complete the Obedience That Becomes Our Righteousness

12 To Take Away Our Condemnation

13 To Abolish Circumcision and All Rituals as the Basis of Salvation

14 To Bring Us to Faith and Keep Us Faithful

15 To Make Us Holy, Blameless, and Perfect

16 To Give Us a Clear Conscience

17 To Obtain for Us All Things That Are Good for Us

18 To Heal Us from Moral and Physical Sickness

19 To Give Eternal Life to All Who Believe on Him

20 To Deliver Us from the Present Evil Age

21 To Reconcile Us to God

22 To Bring Us to God

23 So That We Might Belong to Him

24 To Give Us Confident Access to the Holiest Place

25 To Become for Us the Place Where We Meet God

26 To Bring the Old Testament Priesthood to an End and Become the Eternal High Priest

27 To Become a Sympathetic and Helpful Priest

28 To Free Us from the Futility of Our Ancestry

29 To Free Us from the Slavery of Sin

30 That We Might Die to Sin and Live to Righteousness

31 So That We Would Die to the Law and Bear Fruit for God

32 To Enable Us to Live for Christ and Not Ourselves

33 To Make His Cross the Ground of All Our Boasting

34 To Enable Us to Live by Faith in Him

35 To Give Marriage Its Deepest Meaning

36 To Create a People Passionate for Good Works

37 To Call Us to Follow His Example of Lowliness and Costly Love

38 To Create a Band of Crucified Followers

39 To Free Us from Bondage to the Fear of Death

40 So That We Would Be with Him Immediately After Death

41 To Secure Our Resurrection from the Dead

42 To Disarm the Rulers and Authorities

43 To Unleash the Power of God in the Gospel

44 To Destroy the Hostility Between Races

45 To Ransom People from Every Tribe and Language and People and Nation

46 To Gather All His Sheep from Around the World

47 To Rescue Us from Final Judgment

48 To Gain His Joy and Ours

49 So That He Would Be Crowned with Glory and Honor

50 To Show That the Worst Evil Is Meant by God for Good

1 comment:

jadeejf said...

What a neat story- and a good reminder :) Your posts are such a blessing!