I am currently delving into a deeper understanding of the true meaning of the cross of Christ, how it relates to salvation and how it reveals God's heart.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Come to the Cross

I am launching into a new project that I have felt drawn to do for years. The true meaning, purpose and implications about God meant to be revealed in the cross of Jesus have become so darkened and distorted with lies, insinuations and traditions of men for over 1700 years that they have blocked any clear view of the intense glory of God's true character of love that the cross was intended to unveil.

I spent most of my life in confusion about the cross. As I got older it became increasingly clear that the explanations offered me by religion, culture and every other source had little consistency except to infer or outright make God out to be very different than the loving Father Jesus saw Him to be. I could never reconcile the idea of love as Jesus defined it with the assertions of religion about God, particularly in His supposed involvement in the violent death of Jesus.

Not until recent years as God has pushed me to question, challenge and examine more closely every assumption, teaching and doctrine I had ever acquired concerning the true nature of God's character has the subject of the cross finally begun to make any sense in relation to salvation. But once my perceptions of God began to be radically changed from the dark views I learned as a child, my own heart is starting to increasingly warm in response to the faint glimpses of real love that can be found in the story of the cross of Christ.

For at least the next few months and possibly much longer (if the past is any indicator), I plan to immerse myself in an intense, focused examination challenging all the disturbing questions swirling around this event in an honest search for the real truth that has so long been subverted by established religion. I have little interest in reviewing all the conflicting theories of atonement or explanations of the cross that implicate God as an accomplice in killing Jesus in order to satisfy some dark side of His character. I say this primarily because I take seriously the words of John that the core of the message of God is that He is light and in Him is nothing dark whatsoever (1 John 1:5).

I invite you to join me in seeking to discover the real truth about God in this defining event that He says will reveal His heart of love more than anything in the history of the universe. The most famous verse in the Bible says that God in love gave His Son to save this world. But what does that actually mean and how does it work out in the events surrounding the pivotal turning point of all history?

This morning as I began reviewing the stories of this event I stumbled across something compelling, at least for me. I discovered that the word used in the Greek describing the betrayal of Judas is the very same word I previously discovered is used to define God's wrath in Romans – paradidomi. This word literally means to hand over, to release, to let go. It has nothing to do with punishment or inflicting intentional harm on others as has often been taught. This incredible insight about the truth of God's version of wrath has been very liberating for me. (see Romans 1:18:24,26,28; 4:25; 8:32)

Recently I discovered that part of this word – didiomi – lies at the core of John 3:16 where we are told that God gave His Son to this world. That makes interesting connections since I am now seeing that both the biblical definition of God's wrath and the betrayal of Judas both involve the same word. We can either attempt to rationalize this away or we could start to see that the insistence of religion that has so long implicated God in the death of Jesus in some sort of appeasement or pay-off is a sinister lie.

Either God is hardly different than Judas in character in His relation to and treatment of Jesus at the cross, or something else is going on here we have not taken seriously. It is dangerous to insist on trying to see it both ways. Jesus insisted that God is no different than Himself (John 14:9-11). But if God is a betrayer like Judas then He must be considered just as guilty of betrayal of Jesus as Judas. That is a rather strong charge, a slander that I am not willing to accept.

On the other hand, if God really is like Jesus as Jesus insisted and is not a betrayer like Judas, betraying friends from selfish motives, then we should seriously challenge all long-held assumptions about Him that have infiltrated so much of Christian theology over the centuries.

Hopefully one thing should be unquestionably explicit – we must never come to think there is no difference between the character of Jesus and that of Judas. Otherwise we have no real Savior, our Father is untrustworthy and all the promises and claims of love on God's part are nothing but a sham. Yet this is the ultimate outgrowth of most of the popular teachings about the cross in circulation today.

Those who insist on clinging to mixtures of light and dark ideas about God's character and how He feels about and treats sinners are misleading many who become deceived by such convoluted logic and persuasive arguments. To make matters worse, they often cover or ignore the confusion of their logic by claiming that salvation is so very complex and full of mystery that it allows for conflicting assertions and we should not question them. Such teaching creates a smokescreen behind which to hide conflicting assertions about God that only ends in confusion, uncertainty and despair for those in desperate need of deliverance from sin (that would be all of us).

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20-21)

I tire of the endless debates, the obfuscation of clear salvation taught by Jesus and I long to escape the power of sin. I reject the muddying of the beautiful waters of life that Jesus came to offer. I am thirsty for deep drinks from His life-giving fountain, a spring gushing with fresh, clean, pure water of life filled with the real truth about a Father who is pure love, who is only light and in whom there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).

Join me in allowing the drawing beauty of the real truth about this love that was exposed at the cross and that is intended to attract and heal every sinner that becomes exposed to the truth as it is in Jesus.

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. (Revelation 22:17)

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