Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Gospel and the Cup... This is love.

What is the gospel? If you were born in America, you have probably heard some sort of 'Gospel Message'. You have also most likely heard this verse...
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16
But what does that mean to me, right now.
To you... RIGHT NOW.
I don't think we will ever understand the scope and depth of the gospel but here is a small portion of what I do understand.
Because of the original sin in the garden, we all inherited a blood-line tainted with sin.
"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin,
and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned–"
Romans 5:12
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
Romans 3:23
Sin means... TO MISS THE MARK. It's from an archery term used in hunting and war, it means to miss. It doesn't matter how much you miss by, if you miss.
The mark was the law given in the Old Testament. Ever read it?
Yep, we all blew (blow) it BIG TIME.
Just take a tiny portion out... The 10 Commandments...
and give yourself a grade from those 10.
No grades given on a curve---No percentages.
You either Pass or you Fail.
"But no, all have turned away from God; all have become corrupt.
No one does good, NOT EVEN ONE!"
Psalm 14:3
Sometimes we judge ourselves against our own standards but God's standard is holiness...
because He is Holy.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”
Revelation 4:8
How could an unholy person, tainted with sin ever be able to enter into the presence of Holy God?
Sin had to be punished because God is Holy and He is JUST. You have probably also heard of the sacrificial system God gave to the Jews that allowed them to transfer their sins to a perfect male lamb, then sacrifice the lamb in their place in order to receive forgiveness.
"and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness [of sins]."
Heb 9:22
Here is the GOOD NEWS for us (also knows as the Gospel)...
"This is how God showed his love among us:
He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him."
1 John 4:9
God sent His one and only Son to be the perfect, spotless Lamb to pay the penalty for our sin.
We could not save ourselves. We were bound.
Totally helpless to the power and effects of sin.
But there was One Who could save and was willing to do it OUT OF LOVE.
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,
Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
John 1:29
He lived a sinless life in order to die as the acceptable sacrifice.
There is NO OTHER WAY or that cup would have passed...
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:42
Have you ever wondered what Jesus was talking about when He said "cup"?
I believe that cup contained God's Wrath against OUR sins that Jesus knew He was about to take for us.
God's wrath was poured out on His Son instead of us.
Jesus took every drop of the wrath of God so that we would never have to. There is no other way.
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
1 John 4:10
And praise God that the story doesn't end on that cross!
Jesus conquered death and rose again.
This IS love! He took all of your punishment on Himself. This IS Good News! He rose again! We will not get what we deserve!
If you have never believed Christ paid it all, that He drank YOUR cup so that you will never experience one drop of the wrath of God, today is the day!
"That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Romans 10:9
Let's break that verse down.
Confess with your mouth that you are a sinner.
Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.
You will be saved.
It is a free gift.
"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–"
John 1:12
Congratulations, you have been rescued.

"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
Col 1:13,14
For those of you who have been walking with the Lord for a while now.... May we never let the message of the gospel get old or stale. We never out-grow it. We were rescued. We were hopeless sinners, bound in the dominion of darkness.
He took my Cup full of God's Wrath...
and gave me a different one in exchange.

"How can I repay the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord."
Psalm 116:12,13
If you just confessed with your mouth and believed in your heart that Christ took your place on that cross and rose again in 3 days so that you may have eternal life, then you have entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Please email me so I can help you find a Bible-teaching Church and get you some resources to help you grow in your faith.
Fix your eyes on Jesus.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2
YOU were the joy set before him.
There is no other way.
There is no other name.
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven
given to men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:12
Here is my response to a friend who is an atheist who has been hurt by people who call themselves Christians...
"I have had family in town for the last few days and haven't had any time to write you but I have thought so much about your email. First of all, I TOTALLY understand where you are coming from. I was one of those 'phony' Christians in high school. It may have very well been ME who turned you off from the whole thing.
I did grow up in a Christian family. I went to Church every Sunday but my heart was FAR from God. It reminds me of this verse when Jesus said...
”‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." matthew 15:8 or this one...
"The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 1 John 2:4
Living in the Bible belt can be a strange thing. A Church on every corner but are they really full of Christians?When I went to college,I started to doubt why I called myself a Christian. Was it simply because I grew up in Kingsport, Tn in a home where my mom and dad told me about Jesus? I had college professors that told me there was no God and I had no rebuttal although I called myself a Christian. That is when I decided I needed to know what I believed and why. I listened to atheists and their reasoning, I read my Bible for the first time to see what it said and I started asking myself hard questions.I was alone in my room one night and opened the Bible in an effort to decide what I believed about this whole thing called 'Christianity'. It was that night that I saw the goodness of God and saw my desperate need for forgiveness. His Holiness. My unholiness. I cannot explain it other than He revealed Himself to me that night and showed me His love for me. He forgave me and CHANGED me. It was a radical change for I became a new creation. I was rescued that night.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
2 Cor 5:17
I did not become sinless but I did want to sin less. He gave me a hunger to study His Word. I had played the game my whole life and now it was real. He was real. My eternity had been secured.I know from your perspective this seems very corny but it is true. He change my life by His power. Everything changed that night 13 years ago.
Since then, I graduated from UT, left to study the Bible at a College in Austria. Came home, got a job in TN, prayed and waited on God to bring me a husband and we have been blessed with 3 boys.
BUT, life has been far from perfect. I got very sick 4 yrs ago with Lyme Disease. I was on an IV pumping crazy high doses of antibiotics into my heart for 17 wks with 3 children, 3 and under. I have been on antibiotics for 3 1/2 yrs trying to reverse the effects of the disease. All of these horrible treatments have failed bc I was misdiagnosed in the critical window of time in the beginning. I am still currently treating it and dealing with this chronic illness that causes suffering from physical pain on a daily basis.
BUT, God has been so faithful. He has given me treasures in darkness and riches stored in secret places as He proves Himself to me constantly.
"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."
Isaiah 45:3
I am so thankful you were willing to share with me your perspective. I respect you and understand your reasoning 100%. But, what if there is a God? What if there is a God who formed you in your mother's womb, knows the number of hairs on your head and his thoughts toward you outnumber the sands of the seashore? Wouldn't you want to know Him? If there is any part of you that wonders Who created the earth and the sea and everything in them... simply ask Him to reveal Himself to you. I am sorry people who called themselves Christians hurt you. Christ never will. That was a total misrepresentation of Who God is.
Have you ever read the Bible? I mean just out of curiosity- not belief. I would encourage you to read the book of John. It is about the life of Jesus and Who He Is. I think you will find it fascinating whether you believe it or not.
Thank you again for sharing with me.


Shaun Groves said...

SO good to meet you and your husband in Chattanooga Saturday night. Thanks for coming out. I'll be stalking you here ; )


Jill said...

Preach it girl. I love reading your posts when there is some serious Holy Spirit all over it...yeah, someday we are going to be reading a book like crazy love maybe LymeAid...your miracle story. My pastor is now reading the book and called me last night to get my take on the Lukewarm part...kicking his butt too...yeah, when I get to be a part of giving more than I ever imagnined, it does put things in perspective.

Bonnie said...

I continue to be blessed by your blog. Thank you.

Erin Southwell said...

Wow Steph, thank you so much for posting your letter. Your words are beautiful and a true testament. I am blessed by them today.