Forgiven?

Friend, you and I have often talked about the love of God. This is an amazing attribute of God, which helps us understand much about who God is. However, love is only one of many attributes (characteristics) of God. In order to more fully understand God, it is important to know all that Scripture says about who God is. If we focus on one characteristic of God and neglect another aspect of God, we will have an incomplete or unbalanced view of God. An inadequate understanding of God hinders our lives and hurts our ability to help others.

One way of balancing our understanding of the love of God with other characteristics of God is to think carefully about the cross. In the cross of Christ, the love of God is clearly seen.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, so that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

It was the love of God that sent Jesus to die for us, and, yet, why did He need to die? If God is only love, there would be no need for Jesus to die. His love would simply be, and there would be no need for forgiveness because only love would exist. Actually, this seems like a strange kind of existence.

But, we know there is more to the story. God is love, but He is more than love. He is also holy, and righteous, and He is personal, which means He desires a relationship with His made-in-His-image creatures (mankind). God is also Truth, which implies that He cannot lie, and what He promises must happen. These are just a few of God’s attributes, but enough to help teach an important truth.

As I said above, in the cross of Christ, we see a perfectly balanced picture of who God is. He is holy, so the sins of the world (our sins) needed to be judged on the cross. God is love, so our sins could also be forgiven on the cross.

God explained to Adam and Eve, if they sinned against Him, they would die physically and spiritually. The day Eve and Adam eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil their bodies began to decay and their relationship with God was severed–they were banished from the garden and death came to all men.

God, who is Truth, did what He said He would do. His righteousness and truthfulness demanded it. So God’s love offered Adam and Eve an eternal unbroken love relationship with Him, but His holiness, righteousness and truthfulness demanded Adam and Eve die. In the end, the love of God triumphs in the cross of Christ, where the just demands of God’s holiness and the yearning desire of His love are both fulfilled.

An important point is this. Our righteous, truthful God also explained to us how a person is forgiven their sin. The Bible both defines sin, and teaches the solution to the penalty for sin. God, who cannot lie, teaches us that a person must understand that they have sinned against God, and trust in God’s provision for their salvation. So God’s love, mercy, justice and holiness sent Jesus to the cross. Those same characteristics of God demand that each individual believe in Jesus, turning away from their life without God. God, who cannot lie, will not allow anyone to be with Him who has not trusted (believed) in Jesus as their Savior. As John 3:36 so clearly communicates,

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

John 3:36

 Notice, if a person refuses to believe in Jesus, the wrath of God abides upon him.

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12

It is the name of Jesus that must be believed in order for salvation to occur.

“For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

Romans 10:11-15

My friend, this is why missionaries live their lives sharing the good news of Christ death and resurrection–we know it is absolutely necessary for people to hear and believe before they die. All of us wish this were not so. All of us wish that all people in the end would simplify be forgiven, but God, who cannot lie, has told us the Truth. If people die without Christ, they spend eternity without God. Our Savior died to prevent eternal separation from God. God has reached out to all of mankind offering His only Son to save us from our sin.

God has done His part. Now, it is time for you and me to do our part. It is our responsibility to share the good news of salvation. As a missionary once said, “The Good News is only Good News if it reaches the lost in time.”

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire

Revelation 20:11-15

We must stand between people and the lake of fire.

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