Tuesday, January 30, 2018

the narrow road is wide enough

The Word for today:
1 Timothy 2
mark this: 1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Scripture doesn’t make sense until you are lost. That is the concept Jesus chose for the topic sentence of the greatest speech ever spoken:
"Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!” (Matthew 5:3 / GNT)
That is the fountainhead from which all understanding flows, so until you get there, you are spiritually nowhere.
And that’s why the Bible starts out with what is called “the law”—a bunch of rules that we, on our own, cannot consistently keep.
And that’s why Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount (quoted above) did us the favor of ratcheting up God’s standards, making it obvious that they are impossible to reach:
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)
And that’s why the Bible says some odd things like this one:
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. (Romans 5:20)
Until we are stripped of any inkling of self-salvation, the cross of Jesus Christ – which offers help only to the helpless — offends our pride:
But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. (Gal 5:11)
(Here circumcision represents saving ourselves by keeping God’s rules, which would leave our spiritual pride intact. The offense of the cross is that we must look to another--to Jesus on the cross--because we are helpless to save ourselves.)
Somewhere--in the midst of all this brokenness, blood, and sin—lies the reason that God “permits bad things to happen to good people.”
Since only drowning men can see him, he sent the flood. He sent the Ten Commandments in order to increase the trespass (see Romans 5:20, above.). The grim reality is that when we pray for another’s salvation, we are inviting the torrent and the tide to sweep away any sense of security that person might have. Are you desperate enough to pray for that?
God is. He was so desperate to save us that he sent his one and only. If there had been any other way, you can bet that the genius of the universe would have done it that way. But there was not, so He could not.
The degree to which we approach his desperation is the degree to which we will understand the unique claims the Bible makes for Jesus Christ:
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1Timothy 2:5)
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1John 5:12)
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
God made a way for us to return to him, but it cost him everything he had. God the Father spent it all so that God the Son could pay it all. There was simply nothing left to build another road.
Jesus told us that the way would be narrow (1). But no one can say it’s not wide enough.
(1) Matthew 7:13-14

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