Tag Archives: cross

Pilgrim’s Progress – Christiana Comes to the Cross

In the second part of Pilgrim’s Progress, which follows the pilgrimage of Christian’s wife and children, we see Christiana (the wife) come to the Cross. First we have Great-heart giving a discourse on how Christ’s righteousness has been laid on us, but here we see how the way in which our pardon has been received can bring us great joy:

“Great-heart. Yes; it was the belief of this that cut off those strings [of the burden which Christian carried], that could not be cut by other means; and it was to give him a proof of the virtue of this, that he was suffered to carry his burden to the cross.

“Christiana. I thought so; for though my heart was lightsome and joyous before, yet it is ten times more lightsome and joyous now. And I am persuaded by what I have felt, (though I have felt but little as yet,) that if the most burdened man in the world was here, and did see and believe as I now do, it would make his heart the more merry and blithe.”

The joy of knowing the pardon gained for us by the Blood of Christ is such that it should deeply and profoundly affect us. To know that this pardon was bought at such great cost, even the immense suffering upon the Cross, should bring us into deep affection towards our Lord and Saviour that to cease thanking Him and praising Him should be beyond our thoughts.

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Sin and Repentance

Prayer

If we fall into sin, our response must be to come to God and confess

I have had reason today to spend time in prayer confessing and repenting from certain sins.

There is a danger when we sin of reacting in two ways: either we can treat it as a light thing, something that doesn’t really matter, or we can be so consumed by our wrongdoing that we feel condemned and unable to approach God. Both responses are in grave error.

Firstly, we must remember that Jesus died for our sins. It wasn’t a “cheap” or unimportant death – He did not die a painless and sorrowless death – He suffered enormously. Our sin is a great and heavy burden – it should never be regarded as something that “does not matter because Jesus dealt with it”. Yet in that death Jesus did pay the full price for our sin and our sins. We have a God that does not condemn but rather loves to show mercy.

We should never feel that our sins are too great to prevent us from approaching the throne of grace. Remember that one of the greatest tools of the enemy the devil is to make us ineffective as Christians through making us feel condemned and unable to approach God. Jesus is our Advocate. In the ongoing courtroom of justice, the devil is the accuser, yet Jesus pleads His Blood and by such we are forgiven and assured of salvation if we have trusted in Him.

So how do we experience in the here and now that very precious gift of forgiveness? We must come before God, confess our sins and turn from them and to Him (repentance). It doesn’t matter how many times we need to do this. My own battles with sins have lasted many years and I do fall into the trap sometimes of thinking that all hope of deliverance from those sins is gone. Yet even if a particular stronghold has gone on for many years we can place our hope and trust in our Redeemer, and indeed we must.

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Why Doesn’t God Just Sort Things Out?

One question I remember hearing often is this: If God is so loving, why doesn’t He just stop all the wars and come down and make everything okay?

Perhaps, He did.  And we killed Him.

Jesus’ death upon the Cross marks the crossroads of life.  Many anti-Semitic Christians have asserted that it was the Jews who killed Jesus.  Christian Jews sometimes point out that it was the Romans who killed Jesus.  But we are all responsible.  The Jewish authorities orchestrated Jesus’ death, the Gentile (non-Jew) authorities carried the sentence out.  Both Jews and non-Jews bear responsibility.

Now, one may say: “But I wasn’t there.  If I had been, I would have had no part in it.”  Such a statement is understandable, yet profoundly arrogant.  Haven’t you ever said an unkind word about someone behind their back?  Maybe, as your friends laughingly mocked, you resisted for a while, but when you sensed that you’d miss out on the party unless you joined in, didn’t you throw in a smidgen of insult?  Trust me, no, trust God, when He says that “all have sinned”, and that if you had been present at the crucifixion of Jesus, you, like me, would have mocked.

But why did Jesus die?  Surely, if He’s God, He couldn’t die?  Some, such as the JW’s and Unitarians, deny that Jesus is God.  But Jesus Himself claimed to be the great I AM (one of the Names of God).  Thomas cried out “My lord and my God!”  Jesus said, “I and the Father are One.”  Maybe we can’t get our heads around God being three persons but only One God, but then I can’t get my head around the Hadron Collider.  It doesn’t make something not true just because we don’t fully understand it.

Okay, so God, as the Son, came to earth.  Why didn’t He just say: “Okay, I’m here now, stop fighting, stop bickering and we’ll have a party.”

There is the question of sin.  What would have happened if God had said that He would make everything perfect, bring justice and reward everyone.

Well, as God is just, He would have had to reward everyone according to the state of their hearts and their deeds.  Remember: all have sinned.  All are guilty.  All deserve to be punished.  So, God brings Justice and we all stand condemned.  It would have been a literal hell for everyone.

So, because God is loving, He sends His Son, who is One with Him.  God had already shown in stark clarity the method by which sin could be forgiven: only by the shedding of blood.  The Old Testament times are full with the blood of lambs, goats, pigeons and the like.  There is a law: sin causes death.  For sin to be forgiven, something had to shed its blood.

And so, at the Passover, God provides for Himself a Lamb.  A Lamb without blemish.  Perfect, pure, holy.  His Son Jesus.  Jesus’ shed blood makes the atonement.  If we accept that He died for us and believe in Him, we can receive that atoning work of the Cross: we can be forgiven.

We killed Jesus.  But Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  But that forgiveness only comes when we accept the Truth.  Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life, no-one comes to the Father except by Me.”  Jesus is the only Way of salvation, be you Jew or Greek or Roman or Indian or American or African or Australian.

So, a just God takes upon Himself our sin, a merciful God calls us to respond, and a gracious God offers us all, as many as would respond, life joyful and everlasting.

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Filed under Scripture teaching, The Gospel