Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Gospel Simply Put

Here's the message of the New Testament laid out as a fairly simple explanation of the problem, the solution, and the decision we must each make.

God created us to love Him.

But, to have real love, you must have free will.

And, when you have free will, you can use it to do whatever you want.

So, we are free to rebel.

However, rebellion still carries a punishment. The punishment for rebelling against God is that you've rebelled against God. (Kind of like the punishment for jumping off a cliff is that you've, well, jumped off a cliff...)

Here's why that's a problem.

When we rebel, we're actually taking back control of ourselves and therefore become our own masters.

As masters, we have two responsibilities - we must decide, and we must provide.

Deciding we like - even if we often don't like the results later on. (It's the whole jumping off a cliff thing. It may seem smart at the top, but halfway down you begin to wonder...)

But we also must provide for ourselves.

For some things this isn't such a big problem. For other things, it's huge.

For example, only in God is Life, Goodness, Peace, Love and Joy. Since we have to provide them for ourselves but don't have them in ourselves, we are forced to go without.

In a way, we're like a freezer unplugged. It may stay cold for a while with residual chill, but since it cannot replenish any cold lost, it will eventually warm to room temperature. For us, this means sinking slowly (or sometimes quickly) into sin, despair and death.

Now, since we are rebels (even though weak and dying rebels), God cannot simply command us to return to Him and be healed. We must return by our own free will.

But, eventually realizing the unintended result of rebellion, many rebels actually wanted to lay down arms and return to God. And God wanted this reconciliation even more.

But, since the bridge was burned as we crossed it, we really could not go back - even if we wanted to.

So what could we do? We needed a new bridge.

Logically, any bridge between God and humans must be both God and human. 

We cannot become God. But God could become Man. Therefore, the only possible solution was for God to rebuild the bridge Himself. 

God began promising this new bridge (calling it "Messiah", "Christ", "Savior") right away after the original rebellion, and continued to promise it for thousands of years - all the time, describing it in great detail.

Then, at just the right time, God Himself came in human form to be the bridge.

As a man, He had free will, but chose to live in love and obedience to God. (Exactly as we should have done.)

But in jealousy (unrepentant rebels always hate the one who is faithful), Jesus was killed - in exactly the way and at exactly the time that God had been promising all those centuries.

The way of His death was extremely significant (as an accused rebel - as the King of the Jews in Roman-held territory), as was the time of His death (at the Passover - the ancient day of the sacrifice for temporary forgiveness of individual acts of rebellion).

Because God is infinite, God's death was infinite, and the sacrifice was of infinite power and range. The rebellion of every rebel who had ever lived or ever will was covered by it.

Then, to prove that Jesus wasn't just a mere man who was misunderstood and unfairly treated - and because God cannot stay dead - Jesus was raised from the dead and is alive today. (This was also as God had promised.)

The bridge was now complete. This is great news! But there's a catch.

Because we still have the same free will we started with, we can choose to remain rebels in our darkness, despair and death. The bridge does not force us to cross it.

Or, we can turn from our rebellion, cross the bridge, and use our free will to love and serve our almighty and loving God with gratitude for the second chance He suffered so much to give us.

It's your choice, rebel. What will you do?