by Ron Teed
I would venture to guess that if you randomly asked a large number of people to tell you what they thought was the opposite of "love," nine out of ten would say, "hate." They would be wrong. The opposite of "love" is "apathy." A parent who gets angry with their child for running across the street without looking does so not so much because they hate the child but because they love the child. If the parent didn't love the child, the parent wouldn't care if the child played in the street.
It's because of His love for us that God disciplines us when we do what we shouldn't do. He is deeply concerned about any thoughts, actions or emotions that will get us into trouble or hurt us. It is because God loves us that He exercises His discipline. By contrast, a God who simply overlooks our transgressions is tantamount to a God of indifference.
When we know we are living a lie it hurts when someone tells us the truth about ourselves, doesn't it? It's difficult for most of us to admit that we were wrong. Sometimes when confronted with the truth we even become angry, and in very extreme cases a few people will go as far as trying to destroy those who are telling the truth because it hurts so much. That is exactly what the world did to Jesus.
Because of the nature of human beings God demanded that a sacrifice be made as a payment for their sins. He then sacrifices Himself in the person of Jesus, who is willing to pay the penalty for all of humankind by sacrificing His life for their sins; past, present, and future. You and I, therefore, are freed from having to pay for our own sins because Jesus was willing to do so. You see the sacrifice that God demanded for sin was a person who had lived a sinless life, and no one but God Himself was capable of such a life. He paid that ransom willingly so that we would not have to. Jesus was the only one throughout all of history who lived a perfect life and could therefore provide God's perfect sacrifice for sin. Once that price was paid it applied to everyone, and anyone who recognizes that Christ died for their sins and accepts His sacrifice has the promise of eternal life and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit as their counselor. A person need do nothing more than accept Christ's sacrificial death for sin to be assured of a lifetime in Heaven, and that includes any future sin we may commit after we receive Christ up until the day we die. Jesus' resurrection from the dead establishes that death itself has been defeated and His resurrected body represents what will happen to all who believe in what He has done for them.
So the bottom line here is that God demands that a sacrifice be made to atone (pay) for the sins of human beings; then He sacrifices Himself. This is a great mystery that only God can understand and rather than trying to figure it all out, we should simply be grateful that He is so far above us intellectually that only He is capable of understanding it. Who would want a God who was limited in power and intellect as are human beings. I want and have a God who most likely lives in another dimension outside of the comprehension of the human mind. He wrote the laws of nature and He can rewrite them whenever He desires, which accounts for miracles. My God is capable of doing anything. He can heal those with a terminal illness, lift the chemically addicted out of that addiction, restore broken family and marriage relationships, bring people back from the dead, and anything else He so desires. Now that's a real God. Someone who claims to be God, dies, and never gets up again should not submit their resumè to me to be my God because they would be turned down flat. Jesus is the only deity throughout the world's history of religion that did not stay dead.
Rather than looking for a way to deny this truth, we should embrace it with thanksgiving and gratitude. Just think about it, God loves you, yes you individually, so much that He was willing to become a human being and be the perfect sacrifice for you, so that you could go to Heaven. Had He not done this, all of us, every human being that ever lived would be destined forHell because God cannot tolerate being in the presence of sin.
Perhaps you're saying to yourself, "I can't accept that, it's just too far from reality." Well that certainly is your right as an individual and I have no intention of trying to convince you otherwise. I simply consider myself as God's ambassador to inform you of what He wants you to know and that you'll find all the details in the Bible. If you choose to reject it, that is entirely your business and you will then have decided where you want to spend eternity. I would ask you, however, to simply ask yourself, "Do I know where I'm going when I die, and how do I know that?" If you really don't have a sound answer, isn't it worth some time to check out how you might find that answer?
I believe and therefore know where my eternity will be no matter how badly I mess up tomorrow or the next day. Therefore, I'm not afraid of death. But I also believe what the Bible says about those who don't believe, and if I were a member of that group, I would be scared to death (no pun intended). We must be clearly aware that once we die our eternity is determined forever and there is no changing our mind, nor are there any second chances. There is no such place as purgatory. It's a very comforting thought, however, and people like to believe what pleases them. They quite often don't want to hear the truth because it doesn't please them. Fat people don't like to be told they're fat, even though it's true. Alcoholics don't like to be told they're alcoholics, even though it's true; people with little or no class don't like to be told they have no class, even though it's true; and people don't like to be told they're sinners on their way to Hell, even though that is true as well. I hope you won't let pride keep you out of Heaven.
The attitude of far too many people is to grab everything they can in this life and hope that if there is a God He won't be too harsh with them. After all, if God is a loving God, they think, He certainly couldn't punish people, and certainly not punish them for eternity. Well, if you believe that, you're going to be in for the shock of your life the day you die. Once your life is over, you will spend eternity regretting every moment of gusto you reached for. There is always an opportunity, however, to make the decision to renounce that kind of thing, accept Christ, and be assured of eternity in Heaven no matter how bad your offenses have been. You can take it from one who made that decision, that life will have more joy, peace, and yes, fun, than you've ever had before.
You might be asking, "What if I ask forgiveness for all my sins and believe in Jesus as Savior, then can I still keep reaching for gusto and still get to Heaven?" The answer is yes. If you truly believe, however, once the Holy Spirit becomes part of your life, as He does for all believers, you won't want to continue doing those things you did before. It's a great free gift. My prayer is that you will reach out and take it. God imputes Christ's satisfaction for sin and His righteous life to all who believe in Jesus. God, our one and only judge, declares that the believer is righteous and without guilt, even though still a sinner.