Friday, February 13, 2009

Suffering and the Gospel- Part 6

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7

The Cross

We have seen the surprising truth that human suffering is actually an extension of grace from our Creator, summoning us to repent and turn to Him.

And the wondrous truth is that those who do repent of their sins find mercy and forgiveness beneath the mighty cross of Jesus Christ. The gospel is not a message that God turns a blind eye to our sin. If that were true, God would be unjust and unrighteous. Rather, the gospel is the message that Jesus died in our place, and satisfied the justice and wrath of God fully.

"But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isa. 53:5-6)

If you have repented and trust in Christ alone, you are covered in a grace that was bought and paid for the the blood of Jesus. Your sin was laid upon Christ, and God has condemned and judged Him as your substitute.

He drank the cup of the Father's wrath for you. He took your place, He satisfied His own justice on your behalf, and therefore you are free.

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21)

"Chris also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God." (1 Pe. 3:18)

"There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1)

No condemnation. The storm is over. The axe has fallen. The debt has been paid. The law satisfied. Justice fulfilled. Satan's grounds of accusation taken away. Death conquered. Jesus risen, victorious. The Triune God glorified.

The true, full-orbed Biblical gospel is the only thing that can truly get to the root of the human condition. So much Evangelical discourse today talks about how Jesus will fix all of our problems, all the while ignoring the fact that each of those human problems stems most fundamentally from the just, holy, settled wrath of God against our sin.

Jesus does ultimately solve our every problem, whether in this age or the age to come- and He did it by bearing sin's penalty in our place, reconciling us to God, purchasing our forgiveness, and conquering death in His resurrection.

This doesn't mean that the Bible doesn't address those other human problems, and it doesn't mean that we shouldn't, either. It does mean that we understand them to be symptomatic, and realize that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only true, lasting, real answer to a broken world.

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If our sin has been dealt with in full, does that mean that those who trust in Christ don't need to suffer any more, and can get on with living their best lives now?

That's the question we'll look at in the next installment.

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