“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself…whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20)
How can a perfectly holy and just and righteous God welcome sinners into His presence?
Our world has a few answers for us: New Age and Spiritualist devotees tell us our greatest need is not forgiveness of sin, but to discover the divine within. One website explains: “Jesus is our example, not our savior. Jesus was divine, but only in the sense that we are all divine.” They believe climbing levels of spiritual knowledge is the doorway to harmony with the Divine essence.
And how often do we hear whatever one thinks about God and whatever name one uses to refer to God – as long as the person is sincere, that is all that matters? Therefore, we have a thousand and one ways and religions to get right with God. We’re the potter, and He becomes the clay molded and made to think and act our way.
My former coworker believed “niceness” is the atoning factor. Blessed are the nice.
Then there is fallacious “I follow the teachings of Jesus.” This popular mantra is code for He was a good moral teacher, nothing more. And as long as I haven’t killed anyone or kicked the neighbor’s dog I’m a shoe-in with the man upstairs.
Another very popular concept is – God is love. He just has so many oodles and oodles of love He just can’t help but run roughshod over His own holy, just and righteous character. After all, we humans are quite a lovely lot.
Well, did you find anything that works for you? Some niceness in addition to following the teachings of Jesus sounds good. Surely that would compel our omnipotent God to hug the stuffing out of us and slobber all over our necks.
Sad, all these notions, though often heartfelt, they are pitiful. To anyone touting such paltry expenditures by our Heavenly Father to be reconciled with us, I beg the question, “Then why the Cross?” If it is true that we can be like God or appease God by following some religious teachings or be perfect models of nice moral men and women that totally enthrall our Creator – then why the bloody Cross?
Ah, but God is love. Therefore, He is bound to forgive and accept us on our terms. Isn’t that right?
To such drivel, Oswald Chambers responds, “God does forgive, but it cost the rending of His heart in the death of Christ to enable Him to do so. The great miracle of the grace of God is that He forgives sin, and it is the death of Jesus Christ alone that enables the Divine nature to forgive and remain true to itself in doing so. It is shallow nonsense to say God forgives us because He is love. When we have been convicted of sin we will never say this again. The love of God means Calvary, and nothing less; the love of God is spelt on the Cross and nowhere else. The only ground on which God can forgive me is through the Cross of my Lord. There, His conscience is satisfied.” (My Utmost for His Highest)
Yes, there and there exclusively…“ you, being dead in your trespasses, and the un-circumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)
The Cross is the stumbling block to the Jew (those attempting to appease God through religion and morality) and foolishness to the Greek (those trying to be like God through philosophy and higher knowledge), yet there is no way to get around Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. There is no reconciliation, no peace and no life with the Heavenly Father, here or hereafter, apart from the Cross.
For Christians (those trusting in Jesus Christ and Him alone for salvation and life) we must join with the Apostle Paul declaring, “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)
In our families, amongst our friends, neighbors, and coworkers, and in some cases next to us in church, we will find people who believe in one or more of these pitiful notions described earlier. Are we prepared and able to engage them with God’s truth? And when they offer up any of their “other ways” to be reconciled and have peace with the Father, are we ready to ask them – “Then why the Cross?”