Does God Desire To Show Some of His Attributes More Than Others? -Dr. David Holt

God “much prefers” to express His compassion and grace than His judgment and discipline.  I can relate to this as a father.  I “much prefer” to be gracious and giving to my children rather than discipline them for disobedience.  I will do the latter if their behavior warrants it, but I “much prefer” the former.

And so it is with God and us. He “much prefers” that we remain in intimacy and obedience with Him, so that He can bless, help, show compassion, empower and reward us. But if our behavior warrants His judgment and discipline, He will have to express that. Continue reading

Discovering The True Jesus (pt.8)- Who Needs Jesus?

So far in this series, we have talked about who Jesus is and what He accomplished during His time on earth. However, it struck me this morning that all of this is in vain if we do not understand our need for Jesus. There is no benefit in understanding who He is and what He did, if we don’t understand WHY we needed Him to do it. In other words: We can’t appreciate Jesus, or even trust Him, without understanding our true need for Him.

So, what do you think? Why do we need Jesus?

Our problem, and our subsequent need, is clearly perceived when we focus on God’s attributes. He is Holy, Just, Perfect, and completely Good. These are all great things, aren’t they? But let me ask you this: what does a Good, Holy, Perfect God do with those who aren’t good, holy, or perfect? Can He have fellowship with them? Can He just forgive their wrongdoings? Unfortunately, He cannot. God cannot maintain perfect holiness and goodness if He pardons evil and sin. Similarly, a state judge would not maintain status as a “good judge” if he pardoned every criminal that walked into the courtroom. Even in society, there are standards to live by, and if one breaks the standards, there are serious consequences.

In the same way, God has set up certain standards for us to live by. These are summed up in the Ten Commandments, which we all have broken many times. Jesus summed up the commandments up when He said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12). Any single breach of these commandments has a consequence: separation from God. Any act of selfishness, greed, worry, dishonesty, pride, envy, or idolatry all break God’s standards…And He can’t simply forgive us just by us asking; there must be a payment. And as often as we will break these commandments, there must be an everlasting payment that can cover all of them! Are starting to feel your need for someone to intervene on your behalf?

In my quiet time this morning, I read in Romans 3,

None is righteous, no, not one;
    no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”

Paul was writing to Jews and non-Jews, showing them their desperate need for Jesus. He squashes the assumption that some people are pretty good, and he leaves no room for the possibility that some people are good enough to have a relationship with God. Paul says that no one does good, not even one- they have become worthless. 

I have seen this countless times in evangelism. Most people that I talk to, even people who claim to be Christians, place their hope in heaven or in their relationship with God based on the fact that they are “pretty good,” or that God is “a forgiving God.” If that is the basis of your hope for salvation, I can promise you that you don’t understand Jesus. Paul also says in Romans 2 that it is foolish to presume upon God’s grace or mercy, assuming that He will just pardon us. Why? Because a Holy God cannot forgive and associate with unholiness beings. He has wrath for every unrighteous act that has ever been committed, and He will pour it out on all mankind, unless a holy, perfect sacrifice can appease His wrath, and pay for the sins of mankind.

Do you see our need for a Savior yet?

Jesus fulfills our need and takes us from our helpless state and reconciles us to God. Here’s how:

2 Corinthians 5:21 (with my italics added):

For our sake he (the Father) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus came to earth to take on our sin, and pay for it completely on the cross. The wrath (punishment) that must be poured out on mankind for every unrighteous act ever committed, would be poured out on Jesus on the cross. All of this happened so that “in Jesus,” through trusting in His sacrifice, we might become “the righteousness of God.” Meaning, we are made perfectly righteous in God’s eyes.

When we trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, an amazing exchange happens: Jesus takes our punishment, we are given His perfect record. From that moment on, when God looks on us, He sees the perfect obedience of Jesus. He no longer sees us as unworthy, unholy, imperfect people. He sees us as perfect, because “in Him we have become the righteousness of God.” That is why the Bible can say that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) because there is no more record of our wrong doings! In fact, our entire record has been shredded! There is no more punishment for our sins, past, present or future, because Jesus paid for all of them when He experienced God’s wrath on the cross.

And this wasn’t just a coincidence: it had been planned before the foundation of the world! Jesus wasn’t just conveniently killed by Roman soldiers and God said, “alright, that’ll work!” No. You see, God has been passionately pursuing us since we committed our first sin. He has been on a mission since day one to show us how much He loves us through a relationship with us. And He knew that He could only do this through giving up His own Son to be crucified and abandoned. Isaiah 53 says,  “it was the Lord’s will to crush Him (Jesus).” It was planned by God to send His Son to pay for our sins. Out of His great love for us, He planned to send His Son to die for us. And out of His great love for us, Jesus came down to save us.

THIS is why we need Jesus: Because now, in Him, God can show us His love and care in a relationship with us without violating His attributes, because we are now righteous in His eyes, and because all of His wrath toward us, was poured out on Jesus. The payment for our sin was paid in full.

Do you see your need for Jesus?

Then look to Him! Trust Him as the perfect sacrifice for your sin! Trust Him as the bridge between you and a holy God! Trust that He did all of this- because He loves you and wants a relationship with you! Jesus is the ONLY way to have forgiveness; He is the only way to have a relationship with the very God that created you.

Do you trust Him?

If you have any questions about what I have said above, please email me at jrfletch@uga.edu.

Discovering The True Jesus (pt. 7) – The Perfect Sacrifice (pt.1)

Have you ever wondered why Jesus dying on the cross somehow saves people from their sins if they trust in Him? Or why people can be in a relationship with God because Jesus was murdered? Yes, we know that we can be “saved” through believing in Jesus, but why? What did He do that gives us the ability to be “saved?”

To help explain this point, I want to examine Jesus’ perfection. I believe that what most people don’t understand about Jesus is that He is the perfect sacrifice for mankind’s sins. He is the perfect sacrifice for many reasons; let’s look at a few.

Jesus never sinned. In Hebrews chapter 4 the author says about Jesus: He “was tempted in every point like we are, yet without sin.” Did you catch that? Not one inappropriate word ever came out of His mouth, not one unacceptable thought ever crossed His mind. Every thought, word, action, message, and decision was perfectly holy and perfectly in obedience to God’s law. Why is this important? Because God has always required a perfect sacrifice to pay for sin. Before Jesus came, people had to either sacrifice an unblemished lamb, a perfect dove, a spotless bull, or many other types of “perfect” offerings to pay for their sins and receive forgiveness from God. If the offerings weren’t perfect, then they would not be accepted by God, and there would be no forgiveness.

This is essential to understanding Jesus. A normal human being could not be a perfect sacrifice, because we are naturally born with a sin nature. Jesus wasn’t! This is also one of the reasons He had to be born of a virgin, so He wasn’t a child of sinful man (lineages were traced through the men). But as He grew up and lived His life, not only did He resist the temptation to sin, but He perfectly obeyed His Father in every situation. Jesus says in John 8:29, “I always do what pleases him.” He was perfect.

This is where we encounter the necessity for a sacrifice: God is Holy. Because He is Holy, He cannot have relationships with wicked, evil beings (which we all are). God has wrath stored up for people’s rebellion against Him, which was temporarily satisfied by the sacrifice of animals. However, animals could never pay for His entire wrath, but Jesus could. Jesus was His only Son. He was the only one able to bear such a horrific judgment (experiencing billion’s of people’s eternal separation from God). Jesus came and lived an obedient life, which no human has ever done, and experienced God’s wrath when He was sacrificed on the Roman cross. God validated Jesus’ sacrifice by raising Him from the dead. In raising Jesus, God basically says, “His sacrifice is enough. All who believe in Him will be forgiven. There will be no more wrath, no more condemnation for them.”

Jesus’ perfect obedience is what saves us, but is also what keeps us in a right relationship with God. When we believe in Jesus, we are given His righteousness. He took the punishment for our sins (wrath) and He gives us His perfect obedience. Now, when God looks on those who have trusted Jesus, He doesn’t hold them accountable for their sin. When He looks on them, He sees the righteousness of His Son. You and I can have the perfect record of Jesus, simply through believing in Him. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”( Rom. 8:1) Why? Because HE was perfect.

Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for our sins. THIS is the good news of the gospel!