Healing is God’s Justice
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Healing is God’s Justice
   [Note: This is an explanation of the basic Gospel of Jesus Christ, in Question & Answer format, stripped of any worldly affectations and humanistic gloss. You may have trouble recognizing it as the Gospel, as it may not sound familiar with anything you have heard before. If you read it and think it too harsh, please consider: The hard ground of the 21st century heart must be plowed before the seed of God's Truth will find hospitable soil.]   What really is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What does it say?   A: The Gospel of Jesus Christ states that the situation of all men in their original state, without exception, is desperate and thoroughly hopeless, the central problem being that the whole race is evil by nature and therefore under the wrath and judgment of a just and righteous God; and that man can do nothing by himself to alter that fact.   Nevertheless, despite the hopelessness of the situation from a human standpoint, God, in His mercy and goodness, and at incalculable cost to Himself,  has fashioned an escape for man, in that He has made provision for (i) the penalty of man's sins to be visited upon an otherwise sinless substitute, and (ii) a man’s nature, while he is alive, to be changed from evil to righteousness, and therefore for man to not only avoid God’s wrath, but, incredibly, to be the recipient of God’s abiding favor.   To restate: according to the Scriptures, the problem is that the race  of man is the enemy of God, being in open rebellion against Him and His rule, and for that reason all men are under a sentence of eternal punishment. That sentence will be carried out under what is known as the “Great White Throne Judgment” in the Book of Revelation.     My, that’s a cheery message. I think I’m sorry I asked. Do you expect most people to listen to that?   A. No, actually, I don’t, but I am sincerely hoping that you are interested in the truth and want to hear it straight. And, of course, the Gospel can only be “Good News” to those who have first understood that there is “Bad News.” Sadly, few people have listened since the Gospel was first revealed to man anyway, and even fewer will listen today. Unfortunately, most of today's popular preachers, like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, have consciously chosen to ignore the Bad News. As a result, the hard ground of men's souls is not tilled or turned up before the seed is to be planted. Thus, it is an easy thing for Satan's demons to carry the seed away (Luke 8:5-15) thus depriving the hearer of "the repentance that leads to life." (Acts 11:18)   Also contrary to modern evangelicalism, Christ made it clear that it was a difficult thing to be saved - so much so that few would realize that destiny: “Wide is the path that leads to destruction and narrow is the road to Life, and few there be that find it.” (Mt. 7:13-14)   That’s why you will seldom hear the full Gospel in a modern church. It is not a popular or feel good message. It does not play well on TV. It is deeply offensive to our pride and deadly sobering.      OK, I’ll play along for a bit despite your doom-gloom approach. Let’s take this one step at a time. How did man get an evil nature? I think all people are basically good, don’t you? I didn’t do anything bad to God that I know about. Why is He so mad?   A: Well, the issue is the Gospel of Christ and what it says about the nature of man, rather than what we as individuals, reasoning from ourselves, may or may not think. What the Gospel says is this: man is evil because he is by nature a rebel against a God who is wholly good.   It is not a politically correct view, but the Scripture says, in effect, that the politically correct can never be true. The politically correct is man’s wisdom and, as Paul says in First Corinthinans, man’s wisdom is foolishness to God.   Nevertheless, the Book of Genesis states, in so many words, that the first man, Adam, although created by and in fellowship personally with his Creator, was enticed into rebellion, and when confronted with a clear choice between having his Creator as his God, or rejecting his Creator, Adam chose the latter.    Although the details are a bit murky, Adam’s choice apparently allied him in a very fundamental way, on a spiritual level, to Satan, the original rebel, in Satan’s rebellion against God, which, according to the Scriptures, is for the moment still ongoing.   In short, there was a mutiny already in progress in the Universe, and the first man threw in with the mutineers.     4.      You can’t be serious with all that Satan stuff. I mean, really, you make it sound like we are all allied with evil. Frankly, I know I’m not perfect, but I certainly don’t feel I’m half as bad or as deserving of punishment as you say I am, and nobody I know is a Satan worshipper.   A. I didn’t say they were, but you have to admit that something seems terribly awry about mankind. Just read the history books, or today’s newspapers, or reflect on your own life. There is an inherent defect in the creation, and if you are honest with yourself you will acknowledge that the defect is in you. What I have given you is the master artisan’s thumbnail explanation. The defect occurred soon after the product left the shop. The details of the “how” are a mite sketchy, but the results are quite obvious, you must agree.         5.      OK, so Adam screwed up. Why blame me? He made a bad choice, I didn’t.   A. I’m not blaming you for Adam’s choice and neither does God. But the fact is that Adam’s defect apparently resulted from his willing choice to rebel at the moment of his first temptation or test. It was not an intellectual or emotional mistake. It was a choice from the will made with clear eyes and a clear head (1 Tim. 2:14).  Accordingly, rebelliousness was hard-wired into him on his most fundamental level – the level of his identity as a creature, the sine qua non of who he actually was.    Consequently, the first man, Adam, could only pass on to his offspring, the rest of us, that which he himself was in essence – a rebel, nothing more, or better.   Thus, all descendants of Adam are, to be graphic, born traitors - by nature they are rebels against the rightful King, and at the end of time, we are told by Scripture, they will be subject to the traditional fate of traitors.   As a son of Adam, what a person will be charged with is treason, and it will not come as a surprise. Men have been their own god. In fact, the Scripture intimates that we will be speechless in our defense because in our deep heart we know that to be the case. And our deep heart will be revealed at that time for all to see. Further, we will be charged with our choice to reject the King’s amnesty offer while we still had the chance, while we still had breath in our body. That’s the choice that will condemn us. In that way, we have the same choice to make now that Adam had then.     6.      You’re starting to depress me.   A. Frankly, that is my hope. It is only when you start to feel bad about your prospects for eternity that you will even consider the Creator’s amnesty offer. Over the course of human history most people have rejected the offer out of hand because, using themselves as their own judge, they like their prospects on Judgment Day. Unfortunately, they refuse to be honest about their own heart or nature, and they do not know God, His character, or his standard of righteousness, the standard set by Christ Himself, the standard revealed in Scripture.   7.      What about “I’m OK, You’re OK” and all that modern psychology stuff? I find that message uplifting.   A. They are lies.   8.      Fine, have it your way, but I know the Gospel is supposed to be good news. I’ve heard very little so far. Besides, this sounds more and more like some kind of story or fairy tale.    A: The Gospel has all the great elements of a fairy tale, no doubt; and  the best fairy tales derive their magic to the extent they reflect aspects of the Gospel story, which itself is ultimate reality, ultimate truth, and which thus finds a home in those who are honest about their deep heart, their true nature. And, yes, there is a happy ending, a truly awesome ending, for many…. But let’s be clear. The real fairy tale is the Santa Claus Gospel, the idea that we earn a place in heaven by our performance, that is the predominant belief system of all people, especially modern Christians, who have infused, and corrupted, the Gospel of Christ with the wisdom of a world in rebellion.    9. Frankly, what you call a Santa Claus gospel sounds pretty close to the truth to me. What’s untrue about it? It seems to me all religions have in common a single element of truth – that we should do good so we will receive a reward when we die. I suppose that now you’ll tell me that if you do good you don’t go to heaven?   A: Well, actually, doing good is quite admirable, but what I’m going to tell you now is this: your doing good has nothing to do with whether you will go to heaven. You would do well to think again about that last statement because it is contrary to everything you ever thought or assumed about eternity… and the Scriptures.   …Christ Himself said He came not to save the righteous, but instead, sinners. The (self) righteous, I am sorry to say, cannot be saved. Why? Because they are relying on their résumés to make them acceptable before God - to save them. However, a man’s résumé of his performance in life can do nothing to change his evil nature; the change to righteousness is a gift, it cannot be earned, and having our rebellious nature changed to one of righteousness is the sole requirement for salvation.   You see, we are all simply of the wrong stock, and since we are born into it, there is really nothing we can do about it ourselves.   Consider: The best Israel, and perhaps the world, had to offer, ever, as far as upstanding individuals, as far as doing “good”, were the Pharisees, the religious leaders of old Israel. Their track record, generally, was impeccable from a human standpoint. They fasted twice a week, tithed regularly, attended to all the religious ceremonies with extreme diligence, and kept more of the Commandments more often than any of the rest of us ever have. They were the world’s leading experts on the performance Gospel.   And yet Jesus reserved His only condemnation while on this earth for them and them alone. And what a no-holds-barred condemnation it was! He told them expressly in John 8 that they were the sons of Satan and would go straight to hell upon death, that their sole purpose in life seemed to be to lead others to hell with them, and that there was no escaping a merciless judgment for them. If we are really to understand the Gospel of Christ, we have to understand what Christ said to the Pharisees, and why He said it.   10.  Now you’ve really got me confused. I thought the whole object of this worldly exercise was “to do good.” Now you’re telling me that all who do good don’t get any credit for it.   A: What I am telling you is simply what the Gospel of Christ really says. And what it says, from the mouths of both Christ and Paul, is that there is no one who is truly good, not even one. “The human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9)   All men are rebels by birth, corrupt by nature, and man’s conduct is simply a product of his nature. Man is incapable of changing his nature through his conduct. Instead, his nature determines his conduct, like an illness manifesting symptoms.   In short, man was born a rebel against the Almighty – his identity as such was established at birth, and man’s conduct thereafter, however wonderful some of it may appear on the outside, can do nothing to change his inner nature and therefore his identity as a rebel, and therefore his destiny as a rebel subject to the just wrath of a good God.   The problem remains for you and me and everyone – we remain under the wrath of God because we are rebels by nature. What we do or don’t do can’t change who we are. Regardless of our earthly track record and all of our human goodness, we will be subject to the wrath of the King at the Great White Throne Judgment because we are still rebels against that King at heart.   As God asked Jeremiah: “Can a leopard change his spots?”   You can dress up the outer man, send him to boarding school, boot camp, or the psychologist’s couch, spend money on social programs to change his behavior until you turn blue in the face, but putting a dress on a pig does not change a pig’s nature. The problem is in man’s nature, and man’s nature is beyond and deeper than his intellect or his emotions. Recall that the Israelites in the Wilderness who saw God as a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night perished because of unbelief!   Man’s nature can not be educated out of its inherent defect. God’s solution is not an Anthony Robbins or Dr. Phil seminar, it is the very death of our nature on the cross with His Son, so that His Son’s nature could then be substituted for our own. (2 Cor. 5:21)   ⦁11. That just doesn’t sound right to me! I know a lot of people who are good people but don’t subscribe to what you’re peddling here. And I refuse to believe that God will send all of those people to hell.   A. I don’t know for a certainty whether any one individual will ultimately go to hell or not and neither do you. Neither one of us can see into the heart of any man at the moment of his death. We have only a limited view of our own. I am telling you what the Gospel says is the basis of the judgment.   Think about it for a minute. Don’t we all secretly think that we will make the cut? That God will ultimately accept or excuse us because there are so many others, in our personal view, that are worse? That we secretly rejoice in the failings of others because somehow we perceive it makes us look better on some scale, that it somehow enhances our chances? That God will have to grade on some kind of curve if anyone is to go to heaven because nobody is perfect?   The Gospel of Christ makes it perfectly clear: there is no grading on a curve. It’s pass/fail, and that has nothing to do with conduct. It has to do with what you are. And if you are still a rebel by nature when you die, it’s an automatic failing grade, regardless of your philanthropy, your fidelity, your church- going, your moral integrity, and your sweet disposition.   Don’t be deceived by your own evaluation of things. We can justify anything to ourselves, even the most offensive particulars of our own performance, given a little bit of time. The Gospel admits that its message is totally contrary to our natural reasoning, as God’s ways and thoughts are not anything like our ways and thoughts. It also warns: Anyone who relies on their own thoughts, reasoning, or inclinations about their acceptance before God will inevitably be deceived and face the Great White Throne Judgment. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death.” (Prov. 14:12)    

GOSPEL Q&A (page 1)

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