Sunday, September 20, 2015
The Hammer Fell...on Christ!
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
Do you ever live in fear that the hammer could drop on you at any moment? Or that God is just waiting to catch you in some sin so He can pummel you into submission?
I lived that way for many years. Mostly battling fear that somehow my sins would catch up with me. But lately, I have been meditating on the fact that Christ died for me when I was ungodly. I think many Christians are confused about what constitutes saving faith. Is it a promise to be better, to do better somehow? Or is it looking totally away from yourself in the realization that you can't be good enough, no matter how hard you try?
The gospel really is good news. Why do I say that? It is because I know that the only One who can make something good out of my life is God. It is knowing that Christ willingly stood in the gap for me. Today I was driving on the Pennsylvania turnpike and I came past a bridge under construction. I wished I could have gotten a picture, because it represented man in his spiritual state without the gracious gift of Christ's death for us and as us.It went so far and then abruptly stopped. Kind of like if someone was driving along and there was a huge earthquake and and one of the bridge's spans got completely knocked away. One minute you are driving along and the next minute you are descending downward to your death. I remember the 4 Spiritual Laws booklet we used when I was in Campus Crusade many years ago. One of the laws said that there was a gap between us and God and no matter how hard we try on our own, that gap just cannot be spanned by human effort. But Christ willingly, by His sacrificial death made that span, made that bridge, so we would not have to descend downward at the hour of our death.
That verse from Isaiah 53:8 came into my head and the phrase "to whom the stroke was due" entered into my thoughts. Just what did Isaiah mean by the stroke? The Hebrew word for "stroke" is #5060 in the Hebrew Lexicon, and is the word "nega." Here is the outline of Biblical usage for that word:
stroke, plague, disease, mark, plague spot
stroke (metaphorical of disease)
mark (of leprosy)
and the definition reads: נֶגַע negaʻ, neh'-gah; from H5060; a blow (figuratively, infliction); also (by implication) a spot (concretely, a leprous person or dress):—plague, sore, stricken, stripe, stroke, wound.
Christ was actually afflicted in that way for us to the point where God had to turn His face away from Him. But He willingly did it and God was forever satisfied with it. Because of that, I come to God in the standing that Christ alone gave me, never in any work that I have or have not done.
I am reading a wonderful book called Romans Verse by Verse by William R. Newell and though it is a meaty book, I am taking my time and underlining a lot. I just got to chapter 4 (one of my favorite parts) and Newell said something that hit me so profoundly, I underlined nearly all of it. It said:
"If God announces the gift of righteousness apart from works, why do you keep mourning over your bad works, your failures? Do you not see that it is because you still have hopes in these works of yours that you are depressed and discouraged by their failure? If you truly saw and believed that God is reckoning righteous the ungodly who believe on Him, you would fairly hate your struggles to be "better"; for you would see that your dreams of good works have not at all commmended you to God, and that your bad works do not at all hinder you from believing on Him,--that justifieth the ungodly.
Therefore, on seeing your failures, you should say, I am nothing but a failure; but God is dealing with me on another principle altogether than my works, good or bad, --a principle not involving my works, but based only on the work of Christ for me..."
p. 129 Romans Verse by Verse, William R. Newell
To me, this is huge! God is pleased with me today and I look to Him confidently knowing that He is pleased because I am in His Son, totally covered with His very own righteousness. I was a Christian for a very long time before I came to this realization. It is the one thing that makes me happy, because every day I have a fresh slate before Him.
I have been encouraged by my pastor to get the foundation of Romans within my soul. I encourage you to do it too, and rejoice in the great standing we have before God as a totally free and unmerited gift.