The Cross and You
The cross is intensely personal! Have you contemplated just what it means for you? How did it come to be that someone, absolutely innocent, died a notorious criminal’s death? Yes, this jarring event, directly involved you! See how…
Yes, it is true, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only [uniquely born] Son…” (John 3:16) Yes, it is true, “Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) Yes, it is true, “Jesus our Lord, who was delivered for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:24-25) However, have we seen how extraordinarily personal it all is?
For, we can’t just look at it as, “God so loved the world,” but, “God so loved you”!
He was condemned, not because of His sins, but yours.
The nails were driven through His palms, not because of His sins, but yours!
He hung there as an exceptional criminal, not for His sins, but yours.
He experienced the full fury of the Father’s wrath, not for His sins, but yours.
We can’t just generalize and say, “Christ died for the ungodly,” but, “Christ died for ungodly me!”
Yes, Jesus died on the cross for you! He did it because that is how much He loves you! Maybe you think you’re not so “ungodly.” Then, just remember, you’re such a bad sinner, that it took Christ, the innocent – Lamb of God, to endure the spitting, the slapping, the whipping, the mocking, the crown of thorns beaten into His scalp, the beard plucking, the nails, the wrath of His Father outpoured, to pay for the wages of sin – for you – the sinner! This, this is the amazing grace of God on your behalf! Yes, you deserved the Lake of Fire, but God offered up His own Son for you instead!
Thief on The Cross
Remember the thief on the cross, crucified next to the Savior? I ask, how much could this one do to gain Heaven? Was there any good deed he could do? No, his hands and feet were nailed to the cross. Could he go and walk in obedience to God’s commands, by loving his neighbor as himself? No, there wasn’t any time left in his life to go and do any good! Yes, this ungodly criminal had nothing left but to cast himself upon the grace of God! For he was indeed a helpless sinner! Question is, have you come to see that you are every bit as helpless to gain Heaven, as this law-breaker, hung upon a tree?
I ask, what do you think the penalty is for the sins of your past is? And, how many sins have you committed in the past? Think, how many times did you walk past the needy one, “left for dead in the ditch”? How many times did your heart want to seek revenge against another? How many times did your mind wander to wrongfully lust after another sexually? How many times, did you twist the truth, just a little? How much of the time did you neglect to love God with all of your heart and strength? Not to mention, the times you may have told a big lie! The times you did entered into a forbidden relationship! The times you did strike out in anger against another! The times you pierced another’s heart with your hateful words! What, I ask, is the penalty for all of these sins?
Now, what of the sins you will yet commit in the future? What might you think is the penalty for those sins? Are the penalties not the same? Yes, “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) Death speaks of separation from God. We are separated from Him now, relationship wise, and, our bodies will die. Finally, there will be a permanent separation in the Lake of Fire between the sinner and the holy God!
Yet, there is forgiveness! However, the penalty is monumental! We read, “Without the shedding of blood [death] there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22) Are you able to pay this price? Oh, some people think they can offset the bad they’ve done, with good conduct! Yet, this is contrary to what God just said! To accentuate the problem, God also says, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (~Isaiah 64:6) Without question, we find that we are just as helpless as the thief upon the cross was in getting rid of his sin-debt!
Someone might interject, “Oh, we can’t do anything to save ourselves, but we must also obey as Christians, or we won’t be accepted into Heaven!” Is this true? Seeing we can’t pay our sin-debt, can we really gain a righteousness that would give us admittance into Heaven? The Word of God is clear that we cannot enter Heaven by, “Your own doing.” Truth is, eternal life is said to be, “The gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) No, we can no more “do” anything for eternal life, than the crook nailed to the tree can! We are, “ungodly,” totally helpless sinners! We can do nothing that would please our Lord in order to gain favor with Him! Getting baptized will not wash one sin-stain away! It cannot change us into new creations! For the penalty of sin is not baptism, but death. Neither can we stop sinning, for we are “slaves of sin.” (Romans 6:17)
Truly, we need to come to an absolute end of ourselves, just as the bad guy hanging beside our Savior! This thug had no alternative but to look to Jesus alone to save him! There was zero he could do! He could not get baptized, could not stop sinning, could do no good, no, nothing at all, and our situation is no different! That is the reality we need to come to see! This, my friend, is why Jesus was nailed to the cross. He was paying for the sins of your lifetime! He was experiencing the fury of God’s wrath for all of your sin! Certainly, the Innocent One, took the place of guilty you and I!
Yes, it honors God, when we rely not on ourselves, but on Him alone for eternal life! It is His “gift” to you and I! Yet, someone will interrupt, “But without obedience we can’t gain Heaven. For we cannot be sinning as we please and think that God will receive us!” To this I reply, you are diminishing the greatness of God and His grace, and lifting up yourself, in thinking that you all you need is a little help from God, and then you can make it just fine! Oh, but God’s grace is – amazing grace! It not only pays the penalty of sins past, but our entire lifetime of sin! It not only does this, but gives victory over sin in the Christian’s life! It not only does so, but guarantees Heaven to the one who places their confidence solely in the Savior to save them!
No, never is it our righteousness that will avail, but the righteousness of Christ given us as a gift! This is our standing; we are accepted in the Beloved! This, for time and eternity! Oh, the marvellous grace of our loving God! To think that through Christ’s blood alone – the holy God and ungodly sinner are reconciled!
Listen then, to the plainness of these Words, whereby the God of amazing grace beseeches you and I, “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:4-5)
Again, listen to the good news! “The gospel…that Christ died for our [your!] sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
Finally, it comes down to you. Will you, or will you not, receive from God’s hand, right now, the “free gift of eternal life”? (Romans 6:23) With clarity, “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 [uniquely born] Son of God.” (John 3:18) To the one who relies wholly on the Savior to save, and not self at all, “There is therefore now no condemnation.” (Romans 8:1) They have “passed from death to life.” (John 5:24) And, “I [Jesus] give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” (John 10:28)
So then, why not, right now, make sure you are saved! For God may never again nudge you to get saved! Listen then to God’s wondrous promise, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”! (Romans 10:13) Are you now, absolutely certain that you will be in Heaven? Why not rest upon God’s Word, as written in Romans 10:13?
Victor J Reimer
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Photo credit: Daniel Oines
*Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyrighted © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.