January 01, 2017 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza
Can you imagine seeing your doctor and hearing him say to you, "I’ve got some bad news." Those words would chill even a brave heart with fear. Your thoughts would race: "Is it terminal? Will this forever change my life? I never expected something like this could happen to me." The bad news we are talking about is even more important. It concerns not only your health but your eternity. It is an ultimate issue. An ultimate issue is always there but is frequently neglected or is considered much too late. I am so glad that we are considering this ultimate issue now!
God created man in His own image. This means that God gave mankind the capacity to relate to God, to reason, to create, to rule. We can readily observe that mankind is different from the animal and plant world. God and man had a relationship that was full of wonder, comfort and happiness. Man was free in paradise to choose most anything. However, God clearly gave man a boundary he should not cross on the penalty of death. Tragically for all their posterity, the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, chose to disobey God’s command. This brought curses instead of blessings. Sin entered the world, and it infected every natural born human being thereafter, including you and me. Our natural proclivities are now oriented toward sin and selfishness. We have put our fingers in our ears and refuse to hear and consider the truth about ourselves. Man has tried to escape the truth about himself and its dreadful implications ever since that day.
Now man creates gods in his own image. This includes false religions, the lust for money, power, drugs, etc. He rationalizes. He lies to himself and others. Yet, this is all futile, sinful and sick. The end result is eternal punishment in a place called hell, a spiritual and material furnace of fire
where its victims are tortured in their minds and bodies by God, the devils, the damned and themselves. There will be more regret there than has ever existed on the earth. It is worse than the most terrifying horror movie you have ever seen or could even imagine. Is such a punishment just you may ask? Yes, I am afraid it is. Sin is an infinite offense because it is against One of infinite worth. Therefore, its punishment is infinitely severe. There will be degrees of punishment there according to what people have done and not done. But none of it will be bearable.
It is a good thing if we tremble at all this. This means we are taking God’s word seriously. God reveals what the future holds. No one else can. Despite our imaginations, wishes, and notions, only God tells us the way things really are. Our opinions cannot change reality.
And now the good news! The good news is God news! God the Father so loved the world that He sent His only Son Jesus to rescue us from this eternal punishment. Jesus came on a rescue mission to this earth some 2,000 years ago. God the Son left the glory of heaven to become a "God-Man." We call Him Jesus Christ. Jesus is totally unique. He was born without being infected by the sin we mentioned earlier. He is fully God and fully man. He has two natures in one person. He came to live. He lived His life here on earth and obeyed God perfectly. He came to die. He laid down His life for His people as a sacrifice. He came to die in our place. You see, God is just and therefore must judge our sins. Sin mandates the death penalty. Such a punishment consists of an eternity in hell.
Jesus’ mission was a mission of mercy and love. You see, Jesus took my place. He bore the punishment that I deserved. In His love and mercy, He voluntarily sacrificed Himself for me and He satisfied God’s justice. His rescue was a complete success and He defeated the evil that made me a fool and a slave. My punishment was paid in full. Jesus served my sentence. Not because He had to, but because He wanted to. His love and mercy are so great that He satisfied the rightful demands of God’s justice for me. But you will not find Jesus’ tomb anywhere on this earth. He died but death could not defeat Him. He rose again on the third day and He ascended into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father. One day, He will come again to earth.
Jesus made the great exchange. This transaction is one of grace beyond all comprehension. I did not deserve one bit of this and never could. Jesus gave me His righteousness. His perfect obedience to God was given to me as a gift and it is as if I obeyed God like I should have. In exchange, He took all of my sins from me and paid the penalty for them. I have been declared "not guilty by reason of Jesus." And there is no double jeopardy in the justice of God. All of my sins—past, present and future—were paid for by Jesus on the cross, once and for all. The prosecution has no other case against me.
What does this mean for you and me? For me, it is freedom. Jesus has adopted me as a child of God. I am in His care. I have been set free from the burden of my sin. Jesus’ death on the cross has rescued me from the penalty of sin. The penalty has been satisfied once and for all. Jesus’ death on the cross has also rescued me from the power of sin. Sin no longer has dominion and control over me. I am tempted by sin but I am no longer powerless. Jesus has given me the spiritual power to resist temptation and live in a right relationship with God and others. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am growing in this, and I still fail often. Finally, Jesus’ death on the cross will one day rescue me from the presence of sin. Such a rescue will one day usher in an
eternity in heaven, forever with God and His people and all that is good. The best is yet to come, and my hope is firm despite the uncertainties of this life.
You have an open invitation. There is an opportunity before you stop breathing and before Jesus returns, whichever comes first. After that, the window of opportunity will be closed forever. But don’t put it off. Don’t harden your heart to the love and mercy of God. The time is now. Turn away from selfishness and sin as a way of life. Come to Jesus. Pray to Him. Put your faith in Him. Place your trust in Him. With His help, we can turn from our old life and live a new life. It is a life of peace and joy despite the turmoil, problems and pain of this world. Come to Jesus in prayer and all the benefits I describe will be yours as well.
What will you do with Jesus? Your eternal future hangs in the balance. The question is whether Jesus died for you. Without you placing your faith and trust in Him, the benefits of His death will not be applied to you. It is like a doctor saying to you, "I have got some bad news and some good news." The diagnosis is infectious sin. The prognosis is eternal death. The cure is what Jesus did. The prescription for this cure is faith and trust in
Jesus. There is no other way!