I have a grid, if you will, that I operate off of. That grid, or rule, is the display of Christ on the cross and resurrection. That statement in and of itself is not sufficient though. I believe that as we continue to look into the cross of Jesus Christ, and the person and work of Christ, that it will have the most sobering effect on our lives, like a drunk man plunged into a frigid river: either he is too drunk to fight (the spiritually dead) or whatever soberness is left in his veins (quite literally) he will conjure up to swim, beat, and fight vehemently for shore, in spite of all exhaustion, cold, and weariness.
What I endeavor to keep before my mind is how great the depths God had to tread in order to win his church back to himself. If it took the death of Jesus, the Son of God dying from excruciating torture in order to bring his elect back to himself, then there must be a tremendous seriousness that must sit over the people of God, which is quite often scarcely found. It took not only the entire life of perfect obedience of Christ to overcome but one single sin of Adam, but that perfect obedience is sufficient for all those who come to Christ, the millions, if not (after all is said and done) billions of people who will fill heaven. But not only this obedience, but this one single death, at one moment in time, in the place of those billions who should have each died his death. And not only his death by himself is sufficient, but he received the wrath that was due unto them, all of them, on his shoulders alone. No other substitute stood by Jesus to aid him in the bearing of the wrath of God. Each sin alone is worthy of eternal punishment, and we have multiplied sins as though we are expert tradesmen at its craft and have duped the whole world in to buying from us: we are filthy rich with our sins. The quantity of that wrath is beyond what our minds are even capable of fathoming. I dare say, if we had but a mere glimpse of some of the greatness of that bearing of that wrath, we would faint forever and plead its sounds to be removed forever from our consciences with pleads like we have never considered. Our sins deserve and eternal punishment, and this is why only God could pay our debt: we had incurred an infinite debt in our offending of the Eternal, and Infinite God, and only an infinite being could repay that debt. And it is from that platform that I see the seriousness which all Christians must approach the Christian faith. But Christ did not stop at obedience, at death, at bearing wrath. He overcame all these things, swallowed up death, and resurrected to life. And all this was done to “bring many sons to glory” – “to the praise of God’s glorious grace.”
We would not trifle as we do if we rightly pondered such things. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” Much of the church would like to let all the emphasis fall on the love of God. But constantly in scriptures the love of God is contrasted over and above the depths of our sin. I see that one of the greatest ways of understanding the grace of God is understanding our own sin. To the depths we travel into the wretchedness of our hearts, it is to those depths that we will see that God has traversed with us, and even beyond that, more than we may ever know. It is in this seriousness that we must approach our Christian faith.
And not only towards sin and the removal of punishment, but in the display of love that is given for us on the cross and in the resurrection. We do not have a God of a simple love, of trite, happy-go-lucky love. His love is so much towards us that he gave us his Son, (John 3:16), and not only this but that his Son would die for us (John 15:13), and call us his friends, and even on top of that God did not stop. We aren’t simply on God’s good side now; we don’t go to heaven to play with our dogs we miss that died when we were kids. No, God preparing for us “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:18) – a weight that gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier, for all eternity for our joy and happiness (let us not forget what that verse declares what is preparing that glory for us). The whole chapter of Romans 8 is a declaration of the benefits won by Christ on the cross in behalf of the called of God.
This is our grid which we must hold on Christian lives in constant perspective to. It is a difficult and rigorous task, but it is the only apportioned way the scriptures declares that we will see more and more and greater portions of the glory of God in this life. It demands a seriousness, it demands a constancy. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:1-4). This hymn declares what I have tried to say so succinctly, i felt it best to show it here.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.