Heaven?

 
At the beginning of Creation, things were perfect. No war, no hard work, no striving, no stress. No famine, war, disease, persecution. No pain, and certainly no death.
 
If ONLY Adam and Eve had trusted God. After all, God had created them, created paradise, created perfect harmony with each other and with their Him. They had the perfect life. He also created them with a choice – a choice to choose between good and evil.
The choice they made didn’t result in evil – it allowed it. All of a sudden a perfect world that God said was “good” was now imperfect. A perfect man and a perfect woman were now also imperfect. And so were their children, and their children, and their children. The human race would never be the same.
 
If ONLY they had listened. God’s one request wasn’t honored. To allow Him to take care of them wasn’t enough. Despite their defiance, He didn’t give up on them. He came down to them, in their shame, in their hiding, and made a way for restoration.
From that point forward, it was the responsibility of mankind to bring a sacrifice to blood atone for their sins. Spotless lambs were the ONLY acceptable sacrifice for a spotted humanity. Year after year after year, the High Priest sacrificed the lamb in the temple for the sins of the nation.
 
The problem was, this ONLY postponed judgment to come. The penalty still remained. This continued for hundreds of years. Over this course of time God’s people were driven into Egyptian bondage, and driven out of Egyptian bondage. They wandered around the wilderness for 40 years. At times they fought battles and conquered cities, and other times they found themselves among the conquered – helpless, defenseless, and deprived. All the while God reigned, and this penalty for the sins of mankind – from that fateful day in the Garden of Eden forward – still loomed ahead.
 
But God didn’t desire for His people to suffer. ONLY a God of perfect justice and perfect love could come up with a permanent solution to an perpetual problem. Man did try to solve the problem. They built a tower towards heaven. It was never high enough. They tried to create their own gods. They were never powerful enough. They tried to memorize all of God’s law and obey it. They were never good enough. 
 
ONLY the Creator of the Universe could restore the bond lost between His creation and Himself.

And He did. In every way that the prophets of old foretold – but nothing like pop culture expected. They wanted a military hero to conquer the opposition they faced in the world. God gave them an unarmed carpenter. They wanted a mighty King in a royal palace. God gave them a baby in a barn. They wanted a high priest. God gave them a guy who wouldn’t even obey the Sabbath – one of the most basic religious laws of the day.

This guy God gave them – His name was Jesus – He was found hanging around fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, and the diseased. The lowlifes, the outcasts, the untouchables – He saw them as friends. When women were considered property, He considered them invaluable; when children were unimportant, He declared that faith like theirs was the only faith acceptable for the Heavens.

Because He didn’t fit their mold, because He didn’t meet their set of expectations, He was persecuted. He was chased, mocked, scorned, and beaten. They decided He wasn’t the Messiah – they didn’t need a to trust Savior like that. Not much different than when Adam and Eve decided they didn’t need to trust God. And just as man sold out God in the Garden of Eden, man sold out God’s Son in a Garden.

When Jesus was arrested by the Romans in the Garden, His friends and followers didn’t understand. They knew Jesus was the Son of God – how could He let them arrest Him like that? When He had never done 

anything wrong – in His entire life? It had to be a misunderstanding. If ONLY they knew what was to happen.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise – He told them. Repeatedly. He told them that He was the ONLY way to His Father, He was the ONLY way to Heaven.

 

And so after Jesus’ arrest, He was put on trial for crimes He didn’t commit. In fact, society had to break their own laws so they could convict Him. The Governor, when asked to find fault in Him, couldn’t. When pitted against a proven murder to see who should be set free, they chose to free the murder instead. They wanted Jesus dead. They wanted Him gone. They wanted life, prosperity, security, and Salvation their way.
 

They succeeded, so they thought. Capital punishment for a man who hadn’t even told a lie. He never stole a pack of gum, He never swore on the playground, He never disobeyed His Father.

His sentence – death by crucifixion. It’s hard to tell which hurt more for Him as He bled to death – the physical pain of spikes being driven into His hands and feet , the noonday heat on top of Mount Calvary, the thorny crown on His head…or the spiritual pain. Practically all of His friends abandoned Him. He had never felt the guilt and anguish of sin, and now He felt it all. The wrath of Holy God, which had been put off for ages, now was being thrown at full force at The 

ONLY one who had been faithful to Him to the end…the One He loved the most. The ONLY One who never deserved it was the ONLY one who ever really received it.

Was there anyone on the planet, except Jesus Himself, that really understand that He had to go through with this? That He was the ONLY One who could do it?

 

As the Roman soldiers jeered as He gasped for His final breath, as the religious authorities sat smug in their chambers, as His friends hid in fear for their own lives, as a convicted murder enjoyed his early release…as a mother watched her Son die a most painful death…did anybody really know what was going on? He told the Romans He was innocent. He told the Jews He was their Messiah. One of His closest friends proclaimed Him as the Son of God. The crowds held a parade for Him that was only fit for a King. The angels told Mary her baby boy would someday save the world. Where was all of that now?

He proclaimed “It is Finished!” as if He had somehow won something. Then there He was…dead. Where was the conquest? Where was the might?

Who knew that the ONLY way to save the world wasn’t by war, by conquest, or even by righteousness? Who knew that the ONLY way to satisfy God’s wrath was for God to take that wrath upon Himself? Who knew that just as God Himself came down in the Garden of Eden to confront Adam and Eve over their original sin, God Himself came down to pay the penalty for it? Who knew that as the High Priest came in each year to sacrifice the spotless lamb in the Temple to atone for the sins of Israel, he was actually foreshadowing the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who became sacrifice for the sins of man?

 

ONLY God knew. ONLY God could have a plan to bridge the divide between Him and mankind that sin had caused, without compromising His holiness. ONLY God could effectively reconcile perfect mercy and perfect justice while doing so. ONLY God could possess the love that remained for His people throughout the ages despite their frequent rebellion, their idolatry, their hypocrisy that He would give what He valued the most – His own Son, to have them back.

ONLY God could take the greatest injustice in the history of mankind, and use it to bring about the greatest good in all of civilization. Jesus Christ came in to the world on a mission from God. He was born of a virgin, separating Him from the sin that was embedded into the nature of mankind from Adam and Eve onward into today. He lived a perfect and sinless life, and died to pay the debt incurred by all sin – past, present, and future. He paid a debt He did not owe, because we had a debt we could not pay. But that’s not all. He didn’t simply die. After being buried in a tomb, He rose again the third day. 

ONLY God Himself could bring Himself back to life. Just as He paid the penalty of sin for us, He also defeated death for us.

 

If you learn anything about Christianity, if you learn anything about this Church, learn this:

ONLY God could love you so much that He gave His ONLY Son to be put to death for you.

ONLY His blood was sufficient to cleanse us from our sins, each and all of them.

Trusting Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to eternal life in Heaven.

 

“I came so that they might have life, and have it more abundantly”

John 10:10 

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”

Romans 3:23

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: that while we were yet still sinners, Christ died for us”

Romans 5:8

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord

Romans 6:23

“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”

Romans 8:1

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” 

Romans 10:13

We encourage you to choose Jesus today.

If there is any way we can answer any questions you may have about Jesus Christ, the love of God, or just what it means to be a Christian, we encourage you to contact us.