February 15, 2017

Your Faith Box Series: The Fifth Basic Foundation Belief: God's Plan

That last post was depressing! We are all sinners and that sin keep us separated from God. The truly depressing part is there is nothing we can do about it. Not a thing! Left of our own, we are destined to leave this physical life and spend eternity separated from God with no hope or chance to ever get back in His good graces. We will spend eternity with all others who, like us, were sinners in their physical life and never bridged that gap existing between themselves and God.

But there is good news! God does not want us to be separated from Him. In fact He wants us to be a son or daughter in His family. It is reasonable to ask if God wants us so bad why doesn't he just say we are forgiven of all these sins? If He spoke the universe into being and if He loves us so much, why can't he just speak us into his family? Better yet, why does He even want us to be separated from Him in the first place?

It all goes back to the nature of sin. Sin separates us from God and we are the ones who sin. If it were up to God, we would enjoy His presence in our lives and us in His life. That's what He envisioned in the beginning with the creation of Adam and Eve. But, and this is critical, Adam and Eve chose to separate themselves from God by disobeying His commandment. Read the account of that first disobedience in Genesis. Notice in your reading, God did not forgive them. He punished them. This is a basic principle, sin must be punished. That punishment for us is separation from God.

Fortunately, God put a plan into place to bridge that gap caused by our sin. That gap can be closed by a blood sacrifice. The first blood sacrifices were those made by the Jews in the desert after their deliverance from Egypt. The Jewish exiles were instructed to offer a blood sacrifice annually for the forgiveness of their sins. That sacrifice was a perfect animal; perfect bodily and innocent. That practice continued for through the entrance to the promised land, through the time of the prophets, through David's time and though the conquest of the Jews by the Babylonians. When the Jews were allowed to return to their ancestral homes, they rebuild the temple and re-instituted the practice of a blood sacrifice annually for the forgiveness of sins. At the time of Jesus, an annual blood sacrifice was still required.

But the world was changing. It was time for God's long term plan to be put into place. People were still sinning. Sin was still separating people from God. A blood sacrifice was still required to forgive those sins. But the old practice of a priest supervised blood sacrifice was no longer going to be possible. Additionally, God's forgiveness of sins needed to be offered to all people, Jews and gentiles alike.

God's plan required a perfect sacrifice. A temple in Jerusalem was not longer going to be available. A dove or goat was not adequate to provide a lifetime of forgiveness. But a perfect sacrifice had to be available.

Christians see this perfect sacrifice as Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. As you mature in your Christian walk, the question will be asked, "Did God really present Himself as the perfect sacrifice?" You will discuss the relationship between Jesus and God. Are Jesus and God the same? Or separate?  This plays our in the Christian concept of the Trinity relationship of Father God, Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. While that is a hallmark of Christianity, it is not part of this discussion.

The point of this discussion is Jesus death on the cross was the perfect blood sacrifice for our sins. No longer are we required to sacrifice a perfect and innocent lamb or dove for our sins. That perfect sacrifice has already been made for us in the death of Jesus on the cross and His blood being shed.

It would be a mistake to view this forgiveness of our sins as if we were not required to do something for it. I started off this discussion by saying that we could do nothing to save ourselves from the punishment for our sins. But this is not entirely true! John 3:16 (NIV) says it very plainly;

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, 
that whosoever believed in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  

There it is. We must believe Jesus made the payment for our sins so we would not be punished. If we do not believe and accept this payment, we remain in our sins and eternal separation from God is still our fate. John 3:17-18 (NIV) offers this payment to all who believe.

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, 
but to save world through him. Whoever believes in him 
is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands
 condemned already because they have not believed 
in the name of God's one and only Son.""

The blood sacrifice of Jesus was made for all who believed in Jesus Jew and Gentile. Now that is the Good News, the Gospel!

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