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Discussion Forum : General Topics : Is the "gospel" fair?

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 Is the "gospel" fair?

From the time of my earliest memories I remember attending an Assembly of God “church.” Though I don’t recall an exact date, I certainly believed from my earliest memories that Jesus died on the cross for my sins.

Never did I doubt that I would go to heaven when I died. Though I had no idea as to why Jesus death and resurrection was essential and though I had no idea as to how it made my salvation possible, I was certain that I had eternal life because of it.

For years I attended “church” Sunday morning and Sunday night. I also attended the Wednesday night “Royal Ranger” programs and most all of the weekly “revivals” that were held at least once a quarter. I attended all the yearly “Kids Crusades” and every summer “Kids Camp (church camp)” I was eligible for. After turning twelve I began to attend weekly youth services, monthly youth rallies, summer “Youth Camp”, and winter time youth conventions. In addition to this I attended several retreats for those who wanted to grow closer to the Lord.

For the most part I was pretty serious about my attendance at these services and events. Though I attended many of these things for the fun aspects, I also took very serious the spiritual side of them. I paid close attention to what was being said. An on top of this I also read several books from such men as Leonard Ravenhill, E.M. Bounds, Smith Wigglesworth, etc.

Throughout these years I heard and read many sermons about the importance of being holy, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and winning the lost. Also I heard countless sermons about the importance of reading the Bible, and the importance of prayer. And of course I also heard great number of sermons regarding the importance of making Jesus ones Lord and savior. However, one thing I never heard during these thousands of hours of listening was a simple explanation as to “why” Jesus had to die and “how” his death and resurrection actually made it possible for me to have eternal life.

I never really noticed the absence of these subjects, nor did I ever give these questions to much thought. I do think that I occasionally wondered why Jesus had to die as opposed to God just forgiving us of our sins, but it wasn’t something I ever thought to ask someone or search out an answer for.

It wasn’t until about a year after graduating high school that I happened to read a book that my parents had on hand called “Winning Children to Christ” by George B. Eager, that I finally had many things explained to me that I never understood before.

He was the first to explain to me “why” Jesus had to die. He explained why God couldn’t just forgive us.

After finishing his explanation of the “gospel” I understood that even though God loved us, he couldn’t just overlook our offenses to his laws because it wouldn’t be just. Through what he said, I understood that just as a earthly judge couldn’t legally ignore someone’s offence to the law (even if it was his own wife, son or daughter), God couldn’t legally ignore ours.
Because of reading this book, I understood that because God was just (fair), the debt for our sin had to be paid. However, because of God’s great love for us, he came and paid the debt himself by coming to earth and dying on the cross.

In his attempt to make himself fully understood, George B. Eager gave an illustration that affected me greatly. He told a true story (at least he believed it to be) about a New York judge named Judge LaGuardia. The story goes something like this:

A poor man appeared before Judge LaGuardia who was accused of stealing a loaf of bread. When Judge LaGuardia ask the man if he had stolen the bread the man replied that yes he did steal the bread. However, he stole it because he was hungry and he didn’t have any money. In response to this the judge said that he was sorry that the man was hungry but that he still broke the law and had to be punished. He then told the man that he either had to pay a ten dollar fine or that he had to spend several days in jail. As the man received his sentence, sadness filled his face as he explained that he didn’t have ten dollars. It was at this point that Judge LaGuardia stood up and took off his robe. He then left his bench and went down to the floor and stood beside the poor man. Judge LaGuardia then put his hand in his pocket and pulled out ten dollars. He put his arm around the poor man’s shoulders and said, “As your judge I have to sentence you, however, as your friend I am going to pay your fine. And with that he gave the man the ten dollars.

I remember reading that story and, for the first time, becoming truly excited by the “gospel.” Though I can’t say that I felt any more saved than before I read his explanation, I certainly felt that the gospel was something wonderful that the whole world needed to hear about. And during the next several years, I shared this “gospel” hundreds of times with hundreds of different children (I was both a “children’s pastor” and a “children’s evangelist”).

Over and over again I told children the “bad news” that we had all sinned, or as I would simplify it “broke God’s rules.” I then told them how our just God had to punish us because of these sins. Next, I told them that God loved us so much he came to earth and took the punishment for us by dying on the cross. I then explained how this was a gift for us, but in order to receive the benefits of this gift we had to accept the gift. This was all followed up with an opportunity for the children to pray and accept God’s free gift.

Because this “gospel” seemed to make so much sense to me, I never really doubted it in any way. And even though there remained a few mysteries about the “gospel” I believed, these “mysteries” never troubled me to the point of causing any disbelief.

Now to make a long story short, nearly six years ago some drastic things began to happen in my life. It was at that time that God truly got a hold of me and saved me. In the years that followed he has taught me much, and at this point I can say that little remains of what I used to believe. Even though I am most certainly a Christian, today I am very far removed from traditional “Christianity” and all that surrounds it.

Recently I have been looking back at the “gospel” as I used to believe it and the doctrines that surround it. As I think about the “gospel” as I used to believe it I see something about it that seems very unfair and unjust, and I am curious as to how it is explained in traditional “Christian” doctrine.

In my years as a children’s “pastor,” the “gospel” I believed seemed like a wonderful plan in which God could justly hold us accountable for our sins while at the same time giving us eternal life, however, today it no longer seems fair to believe that one man can take the punishment for many men. Let me explain. . .

They story about Judge LaGuardia looks like a wonderful story on the surface. It seems like a great way to illustrate what God did for us. However, the truth is, it’s a very poor analogy because the circumstances are so different between man and God.

The punishment for sin is not a ten dollar fine but instead it is death. Just the same, it is not one man only who is on trial, but instead it is untold millions.

Now, imagine a court room with a 1000 serial killers and rapist on trial at one time. Now imagine the victims’ families in the courtroom watching the mass trial. At first things are going great – the judge is hard on the offenders and to the delight of the victim’s families he sentences them all to death by crucifixion. There are shouts of joy all over the court room as is seems that justice is going to be served. However, the noise begins to fade as everyone notices some whispering up at the bench. The whispering is between the judge and his son. The people know the judge's son well for he is a very upstanding member of the community. In fact, he is so upstanding that no one has ever know him to do anything wrong at all.

Everyone is wondering what the whispering is about; however, they don’t have to wonder very long. Soon the whispering stops and the judge makes a startling announcement. He announces that his son has agreed to die in place of all the men who were on trial. He then looks towards the criminals and says, “If you are truly sorry for your crimes and place faith in my son, then you can go free because he is dying in your place.” And with this announcement, the 1000 criminals say that they are sorry and will trust in the death of his son to pay their penalty, and walk free that very day.

With this procedure, the victim’s families are outraged, for it certainly seems that justice was not done. 1000 offenders are going free because one man agreed to die. Is there any real justice in this? How can the verdict of 1000 men dying be satisfied with the death of only one man. It wouldn’t seem fair to me.

Now, I ask: how can the ONE death of Jesus fairly satisfy the BILLIONS of death verdicts that are sentenced upon Adam’s children? Does traditional “Christian” doctrine have an answer for this?

Thanks for any answers you have,
Jason


 2009/1/27 19:50
Compton
Member



Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re: Is the "gospel" fair?

Jason, there are others who will give much better answers then I on this topic, but this question jumped out to me.

Quote:
How can the verdict of 1000 men dying be satisfied with the death of only one man.



The answer lies in a correct understanding, doctrinal and otherwise, of this "one man" you are referring to. Any one of us could certainly be called "just one man", but this is not at all who Jesus is.

"John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

"Revelation 5:1-14 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;

Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever."

Brother, the more we inch closer to reality in our revelation of who Jesus truly is, the more the impossible claims of the Gospel seem possible. For me this is not a truism borne of cliche, but a truth born in crisis.

Blessings in your search,

MC


_________________
Mike Compton

 2009/1/27 20:06Profile
BenK
Member



Joined: 2006/12/17
Posts: 49
Harrisburg PA

 Re: Is the "gospel" fair?

The analogy is not a good one.

It doesn't work because in a courtroom the judge is just a representative - someone who is objectively upholding and representing a greater rule of law.

When it comes to our sin, the offense is not primarily against someone else, it is against the judge-God himself. We have sinned against God and deserve His righteous wrath and judgment.

Do you know this is true? Do you understand that you and I, the creatures, have spit in the face of the Creator and told him that we will be God? And without a divine intervention of grace we will go to our damnation and it will be well deserved?



_________________
Benjamin Kreps

 2009/1/27 21:41Profile
PaulWest
Member



Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 Re: Is the "gospel" fair?

Quote:
Now, I ask: how can the ONE death of Jesus fairly satisfy the BILLIONS of death verdicts that are sentenced upon Adam’s children? Does traditional “Christian” doctrine have an answer for this?



Yes, there is an answer. In these 4 minutes you will have a crystal clear understanding. The brother teaching is Zac Poonen:


[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30WzomEaDYs]How Jesus' One Death Satisfied Billions of Deaths[/url]

And after you listen to that, give this one a listen to as well (it's only 2 and a half minutes long):

[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgrWIbuR-mM&feature=channel_page]How Jesus Paid for the Sins of All Mankind in 3 hours[/url]


_________________
Paul Frederick West

 2009/1/27 21:53Profile









 Re:

Paul,

Thanks for the link! Unfortuanately it's a video link and I only have a dial up connection. Is there by chance an audio link or transcript for this that you are aware of?

Thanks,
Jason

 2009/1/27 22:05
ccchhhrrriiisss
Member



Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4489


 Re: Is the "gospel" fair?

Hi brother...

We have quite a bit in common (in regard to our "Church" backgrounds). Thanks for sharing your story!

Quote:
Now, I ask: how can the ONE death of Jesus fairly satisfy the BILLIONS of death verdicts that are sentenced upon Adam’s children? Does traditional “Christian” doctrine have an answer for this?

How? Jesus' death was not simply the death of a good man...or even a sinless man. This was God walking upon the Earth. He was the Creator of all mankind...who even understands and loves all mankind (including the sinner).

Is there anyone who is entirely sinful? Then why do we categorize certain sinners as less reprehensible than others? Remember: At one time, each of these 1000 criminals was an impressionable child. They committed a crime (or a series of crimes). Yet they are someone else's father, husband, brother or son. Contrary to your analogy, people are not simply being pardoned for a single sin by a Judge who had compassion for them. Rather, God gave His life for those so that they can once again come to Him...even after a life spent living outside of a relationship with God.

Think about it: David was a very sinful man. He was an adulterer, a liar and a murderer! Yet he was counted by God as a "man after God's own heart." Not only that, but over 400 years after David died...and over 450 years after he committed adultery with Bathesheba, God told Hezekiah that He would defend Jerusalem from the Assyrians "...[i]for the sake of my servant David[/i]" (Isaiah 37:35).

The death of Jesus was not the simple death of a man. This was God...walking the Earth in an earthly tabernacle made of flesh and blood. He was completely sinless...and only did good. Yet He was despised and rejected by His own "chosen" people. In fact, their religious leaders were the ones who conspired to have him killed. They literally put God on trial. After this show trial, they preferred to let a murderer go free (rather than Jesus). Finally, they took the earthly tabernacle of God...and defiled it. His very creation nailed Him to a cross. And His reaction? "[i]Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing[/i]" (Luke 23:34).

The death of one man could not have sufficed for the guilt of the sins of this world. However, the sacrificial death of God would. God became the sacrifice. How marvelous...and unfathomable!

So, in my feeble attempt to answer your question: It isn't the death of only one man who that reversed the verdict of an entire world. It was the death of God walking amongst us. And His death did not release all men from the penalty. Rather, it gave them the opportunity to turn to Him...in the midst of their sin...and have it washed away. In other words, the blood of Jesus Christ -- God on Earth -- was certainly worth enough to count as the atonement for the Billions of people that He Himself created. Is this fair? Well, God wrote the rules on just what "fair" might be.

:-)


_________________
Christopher

 2009/1/27 22:21Profile
graceamazed
Member



Joined: 2008/11/3
Posts: 77
Tennessee

 Re:

Quote:
Now to make a long story short, nearly six years ago some drastic things began to happen in my life. It was at that time that God truly got a hold of me and saved me. In the years that followed he has taught me much, and at this point I can say that little remains of what I used to believe. Even though I am most certainly a Christian, today I am very far removed from traditional “Christianity” and all that surrounds it.



Perhaps its us less-enlightened "traditional Christians" that need to learn from you. How exactly did God get a hold of you and save you? What is the means of your justification before God? And why is it that you call yourself a "Christian" when you bear no resemblance to the fundamental teachings of Christ in regard to this issue?


_________________
Buck Yates

 2009/1/27 22:25Profile
roaringlamb
Member



Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 1519
Santa Cruz California

 Re: Is the "gospel" fair?

Jason,

To answer your question simply, no the Gospel is not fair at all. It is not fair that any sinner is ever justified before God, and that is why it is the grace of God alone that could do this.

I tremble to think of what would happen if God gave me [i]what I deserve[/i] instead of giving His Son in my place.

I am sorry if this is a bit frank, but the good news that Christ has paid the penalty of all who will believe is not based on fairness or merit, instead it is the only way a holy God could also be merciful and be just and the justifier of men who are born children of wrath. This should make us thank God for our salvation, and marvel at One who is so infinitely holy, yet emptied Himself and died for His enemies.

I do hope that the glorious light of this good news fills your heart and causes you to treasure and rejoice in Christ.

Blessings to you.


_________________
patrick heaviside

 2009/1/28 1:13Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
Member



Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4489


 Re:

Good point, Patrick (roaringlamb)!

I guess that we should be thankful that the good news is not so "fair." Otherwise, we would get what are sins deserve!

Of course, I guess they call it "Good News" for a reason! The "good news" is that we don't get what our sins deserve...if we call upon the Name of the Lord! We can actually KNOW the Lord -- the Creator of the Universe! How awesome!

:-)


_________________
Christopher

 2009/1/28 1:29Profile
hmmhmm
Member



Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991
Sweden

 Re:

Quote:

JLH74 wrote:
Paul,

Thanks for the link! Unfortuanately it's a video link and I only have a dial up connection. Is there by chance an audio link or transcript for this that you are aware of?

Thanks,
Jason




not exactly sure, but i know it is in one of these sermons, it would do you good listen to them all :-) so scroll down to

[url=http://www.cfcindia.com/web/mainpages/topical_bible_study.php#setFree]the truth will set you free[/url]

and click on it and in one of those messages is brother Pauls video but in audio format.


_________________
CHRISTIAN

 2009/1/28 6:58Profile





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