“I am wholly deserving of all the consequences that I will in fact never receive simply because God unashamedly stepped in front of me on the cross, unflinchingly spread His arms so as to completely shield me from the retribution that was mine to bear, and repeatedly took the blows. And I stand entirely unwounded, utterly lost in the fact that while His body was pummeled and bloodied to death by that which was meant for me and me alone, I have not a scratch.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
In 2 Corinthians 5:21, the Apostle Paul writes, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (New International Version of the Bible)
The sin was mine and the punishment should have been mine, but Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, took my place and yours and the place of everyone ever born or yet to be (1 John 2:2). Vicarious, substitutionary, propitiatory are all terms used to describe what exactly it was Jesus did for us by dying on the cross.
The Gospel (Good News) in a nutshell is this:
- Perfect God created a perfect world and put the perfect couple in charge of running things which He required be done perfectly.
- Everything got royally messed up though when the couple sinned (disobeyed God).
- The consequences of their sin (disobedience to God) included pain, suffering, hardship, conflict with each other, separation from God, physical deterioration and ultimately death. Left alone, the entire human race was destined to perish.
- But, “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 New Living Translation)
- The sinless Son of God took on human form so that He might take our perishing (the penalty of our sin) upon Himself (Philippians 2:6-8). With Jesus’ death on the cross, justice was served, and God’s forgiveness was extended to everyone who will believe and receive it.
- “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Acts 16:31
It really is as simple as A, B, C:
- Acknowledge that you are a sinner (you have disobeyed God).
- Believe that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died for you (He satisfied the penalty for your sin).
- Confess Him (Jesus Christ) as your Savior (from perishing) and Lord (Whom you will obey).
If all this seems or sounds foolish, crazy, unbelievable to you; think about this quote from over nineteen centuries ago by a man who hated the Christian movement so much he hunted its members down, imprisoned and even executed them:
“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”
“So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So, when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.”
“But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25 New Living Translation)
What changed Saul of Tarsus from being the chief enemy of Christians to the Apostle Paul, chief Christian missionary to the world? Well, that’s the story of Easter which we celebrate this Sunday.