Forgive ME of my depraved indifference!
Forgive ME of my depraved indifference!
I have struggled for the last few years with my theology of salvation or soteriology. It is not that I don’t know what saves sinners, only the blood of Jesus who is the Christ can wash away sin. It is only through belief in Jesus evidenced by repentance of sins and walking in obedience to Jesus as Lord (boss) of my life that the precious blood is applied to my life. Further, even the power to believe is a gift of grace born of God’s sovereign choice and divine action in the life of the lifeless, dead, rotting corpse that was me before I was made alive in Christ. This is not the part of salvation I have struggled with, it is the “how does a sinner properly respond to the gospel” part.
I have long had a niggling question about how to proclaim the gospel since the modern answer is that the gospel is as easy as A,B,C (Admit you are a sinner, Believe in Jesus, Confess your sin and Jesus as Lord) and by praying THIS prayer you are now (“HOCUS POCUS”) a child of God! Nowhere in the scriptures is there an example of this magic “sinner’s prayer”. Instead the text says believe (John 1:12; John 3:14-18; John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:40,47; John 11:25-27; John 12:46; John 20:31; Rom 10:9-11), repent (Matt 4:17; Luke 13:3,5; Luke 15:10; Acts 17:30;), and obey (Luke 6:46; John 8:31; John 14:21; )!
So how then does a father communicate the truth of the gospel to his children so that they too can find salvation? Therein is the rub and the dilemma that has left me feeling totally stupid, inarticulate and floundering. However, I keep pressing on teaching my child that “being a child of God” begins with believing that Jesus is who he claimed to be – God’s one and only begotten son who came to live on earth as a man to die for the sins of his elect and was raised from the dead on the 3rd day by his Father in Heaven. That the proper response to our sin in light of this great sacrifice is to repent of our sins, confessing them and forsaking them as evidenced in our obedience to the commands of God found in the scriptures. Knowing that the work of salvation is done by God and God alone then the only thing left to do to pray and wait to see if the signs of sanctification begin to manifest in the life of my child.
Several days ago we were afforded the opportunity to see into the mystery of God at work in The Little Pauper’s life. She had been having “one of THOSE days” where the sinfulness of her heart was being manifested in her attitude, which to put it mildly left something to be desired. This brought several opportunities to model biblical discipline in our home with rapid fire succession. At the end of one of these opportunities, Mrs. Pauper was discussing the issue at hand and asked The Little Pauper what Mom could do to help her in her struggle against a bad attitude. The Little Pauper thought for a moment and replied that she did not know at the moment and would need time to think about it. The wise Mommy said, “OK, you sit here and think about it and if you think of anything you come tell mommy.” About five minutes later The Little Pauper called out that she had thought of something. When Mommy returned to the room The Little Pauper told her, “I think you should ask me ‘who is watching?'” . (Oh that we of greater years could but keep this one truth in mind always. How many of our self-inflicted sorrows and pangs brought on by our sin might be avoided?) With the praise only found on the lips of a wise mommy, Mrs. Pauper told her that she thought that was a wonderful plan and asked if she had any other ideas of how Mommy could help her with her attitude. The Little Pauper said she needed more time to think and began to ponder again. After several minutes she called her mother back and told her she had another idea, “Mommy, I think we should take time to pray right then to ask Jesus to help me with my attitude.” With tears in her eyes The Wise Mommy said ” I think we can do that!”
Thank you Jesus, that we can know with certainty that any turning toward the truth comes as the result of your sovereign work regeneration and sanctification in the life of your creature who was once at enmity with you and walked in the depraved hatred of rebellion against you ! Praise to the only one able to raise the dead sinner, no matter their age, to life! Praise to Jesus the Christ who gives eternal wisdom to 4 year olds through the agency of the indwelling Holy Spirit! Praise to the Eternal God who has chosen to take the simple things to confound the wise, the base things to humble the exalted! Glory to the only wise God who has entrusted the secrets of the Kingdom to the simple faith of a child! Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
All seems lost. The exhausting terror and noise of Friday has given way to the terrible silence of Saturday. Every footfall brings fear. What now? The despair, pain and fear is crushing. We can’t even run, it is the Sabbath and to flee on the Sabbath would attract immediate attention with the mob induced stoning the Law demands. So we wait behind locked doors fearing for our lives and wondering: what just happened? We had followed him for three years. We left our families, jobs, businesses and reputations. We all agreed with Peter that he was the promised one, the only one with the words of life and there was no where else for us to go. Last Sunday it looked as if the whole nation finally believed this as well. They shouted praises and quoted the promises from long ago. They made a carpet of their coats and shouted “Hosanna”. Maybe the kingdom was coming! It was a glorious week filled with Jesus teaching in the Temple to the growing crowds. The anticipation was palpable in the air. Even the religious leaders kept their distance for once. Relegating themselves to glowering in the periphery. Oh it was truly one of the best times I have ever known in Jerusalem.
But something changed after Judas left our Seder on Thursday. Jesus began to teach us and speak of the kingdom which was not new but he seemed to have an urgency and an intensity that was new. Then after singing a hymn we left the city and went to a garden just outside the city walls because Jesus wanted to pray. He left us to pray a short distance from where he, Peter, James, and John prayed. I tried to stay awake, I really did! But my eyes were sooo heavy. The week had been long and tiring and I could not seem to stay awake. I tried harder each of the 2 times Jesus awakened us but I still fell asleep. The next thing I knew Jesus was awakening us yet again and this time soldiers were coming! In my stupor it seemed an entire Roman Legion was bearing down on us! In actually it was just the Jewish Temple guards but we were still outnumbered and in my sleepy haze terror is all I could feel. After Judas kissed Jesus the soldiers went to seize Jesus and Peter drew his sword to defend the Lord. It was chaos with Jesus shouting at Peter to put the sword away then healing the man Peter had clumsily nicked in his attempt to remove the man’s head from his shoulders. Without the option to fight we could only run! And so we fled as they led Jesus away. Three illegal trials later we watched in horror as the same crowd which five days ago had hailed Jesus as their King now allowed the religious leaders to manipulate them into calling for his crucifixion. So the Romans flogged him beyond all recognition, forced him to carry his cross outside the city and then striped him naked and nailed him to a tree. I can’t even describe the horror of that day. It wasn’t even enough that they succeeded in getting the Romans to kill him but they continued to mock him and taunt him while he died. So grotesque was the scene that the Sun even hid its face. Finally, with a great cry Jesus gave up the ghost into his Father’s hands and died. Later they gave his body to Joseph of Arimathea who placed it in his own tomb and rolled the enormous stone over the entrance. So afraid of Jesus were the religious leaders that they persuaded Pilate to seal the tomb and set a detail of Roman soldiers to guard it. They could not even let his body rest in peace! Then as the sun set that terrible passover Friday evening the silence descended. Oh the deafening silence! And today I have been trapped with my thoughts, if you can call them that. I just want this nightmare to STOP! Have I wasted the last 3 years? Why did they kill my Lord? What threat was an itinerant Rabbi? I can’t get the images from yesterday out of my mind! Everytime I close my eyes I see his mangled form on that tree and I want to retch. He was innocent, I am the guilty one! I ran! I have many sins both public and private for which I deserve to be punished but he, he has done nothing! If he was the chosen one why did YHWH abandon him?
My words and questions ring hollow as the heavens are silent. The Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest in which we have time to recount the deeds of YHWH and worship but this is the most awful Sabbath I have ever known. There is no justice, there was no rescue from heaven, no voice thundering to warn of impending doom to those who mangled the beloved Son, there is only silence.