Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The God Who is For You

Doubt
Life is filled with much agony and doubt. We are faced with the realities of a harsh world. We sink beneath the weight of troubles, some that we bring upon ourselves. The Christian life, too, is filled with pain. But greasy haired, wide smiling, prosperity TV preachers promise us "Your best life now." We know better.  We know that life is difficult. Salvation, the new life lived under the reign of the Lord Jesus, does not promise a cozy journey. All around, for the Christian and non Christian alike there is significant pain.

In an effort to distance ourselves from the false gospel of prosperity, we can overreact. The prosperity gospel makes God out to be our greatest admirer, the great wish granter whose goal is to make us as successful as possible. Reaction can be a distortion of God's character by over emphasizing His wrath, justice and holiness. As a result, sometimes we think that God is waiting for us to mess up so that He can punish us. In the mire of it all, its easy to slip off a rock of unrelenting surety: God loves you and He is for you. For the elect, God's chosen children, the Bible makes an amazing claim:

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? ~Romans 8:31-32

The Cross 
Though the verse was meant to bring comfort, it troubled me greatly. We are told that God is for us, and that He gave His Son up for us. But how does that bring comfort? God gave up His Son for me. And I'm supposed to trust that? What kind of Father would allow His own Son to die for others?  I was being asked to trust someone who had His own Son killed, and that brought no comfort whatsoever. If the Father was willing to allow His own Son's death, what implications did that have for me? How could you trust someone that planned the death of His Son?


Then it clicked. That's exactly why I can trust Him. The Father planned for the great exchange. Christ, the Son, took my place. He paid for blood price for my sins. God as Father gave the greatest gift possible, His one and only Son. For me. The Son willingly laid down His life for His enemy, me.  The Son gave Himself for me. The Holy Spirit empowered the Son to live the human life here on earth. He ministered to Him and strengthened Him. He empowered the Son to die. For me. Paul, the chief sinner (1 Tim. 1:15), wrote an incredible affirmation of the cross:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:6-8

The Triune God acted in full uniformity. For me. Two thousand years before there was a me. Josh Valdez, sinner, delivered by Christ on the cross. And the Triune God planned, sacrificed, and empowered all the way to cross for you as well. The cross stands as the great display of God's love for everyone (Jn. 3:16).  The cross stands as the demonstration of God's love for even His enemies. Christ died for the very men that plotted against Him. He died for the men that spit on Him. He died for the men that shredded His back with a whip and tore out His beard. As He hung naked on the cross, mocked by onlookers, He asked God to forgive them (Lk. 23:34).

Paul said that God "shows his love for us." Presently, right now, the cross still stands as the demonstration of God's love for all of us. Tim Chester observes, "If God gave his Son for you when you were at your worst, what circumstances could ever make him stop loving you? If he loved us when we were his enemies, then he'll always love us. Nothing will be able to separate us from that love."1

We can and should have hope in God as being for us. He is. He gave the greatest gift imaginable: Himself. God is for us. He will always be for us. He does not change (Num. 23:19). The cross is the greatest possible proof of His being for us. The great, marvelous, wonderful cross shows us the unchanging, amazing love of God.  God is for us. He loves us. The proof is the cross. The cross is a reality we can plant our feet on, the base to stand on so we can soak in the rays of God's love.

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.
He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.


Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”
 The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.
 My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

~Charles Wesley 


1 Tim Chester, Ordinary Hero: Living the Cross and Resurrection in Everyday Life. (New Maiden, Surrey, U.K.: The Good Book Company, 2013), 17.