History of Redemption: Blog Post 11
When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly. They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. - Psalm 78:34-46 What strikes me as I read Psalm 78, and consider this in the context of the history of redemption, is the rhythm or cycle that this represents throughout the history of redemption. We run from God, then we run back to God. We remember God, then we forget. We seek God earnestly, then we flatter Him with our mouths, and lie to Him with our tongues. We are a sinful and wretched people. We are depraved. As Paul articulates for us, “None is righteous, no, not one; no understands; no one seeks after God” (Romans 3:10-11). But we worship a just, faithful, and compassionate God, who will not abandon us, even when we fully deserve to be abandoned.
So how can we break free from this cycle? The answer is, we cannot. But God can, and has broken the cycle, through the good news of Jesus Christ. The cycle has been broken by God in flesh nailed to a tree. What is the gospel that we put our hope in? It starts with our depravity. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This includes the people of Israel, and it includes us today. Next we confess that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). God is the righteous judge. And what judge would we ever put our confidence in who simply pardoned every criminal who stood before him? No, God’s justice demands payment. Now for the good news, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God no longer punishes us for our sins, rather Christ Jesus took upon Himself the punishment that we deserved! Yes, we will still experience pain and suffering, because we live in a fallen world, and occasionally God may use that pain and suffering to discipline us, as a Father disciplines a son who He loves. But we no longer receive the punishment that we deserve! We must hold firmly to the words of Paul, that there is now “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Not a day should pass by when we do not spend time considering these words. This should be the foundation for our new identity in Jesus Christ. For us as Christians, death is now entrance into an eternity spent with God.
John Piper once said that he much prefers to preach at funerals, than at weddings. He said that at weddings, everyone is thinking about the bride’s dress, and her shoes, and the cake. But at funerals, everyone is faced with the question of what will happen to them after they die. At the death of someone we know and love, we have no choice but to consider who am I, and who is God? For the billions of people who are without Christ, they are left with hopelessness. Death represents either a final and eternal punishment, or it represents an eternity of nothingness. I remember lying in my bed as a child and pondering what an eternity of nothingness would be like. I would picture my body rotting in a coffin forever. It terrified me.
But for us who have confessed with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, and believe with our hearts that God raised him from the dead, “you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Now we face death with hope. In fact, now we may even look forward to death! “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). As explained by Wayne Grudem, in his book Systematic Theology, death is not a punishment for Christians, death is the final outcome of living in a fallen world, God uses the experience of death to complete our sanctification, and our experience of death completes our union with Christ.
Lord Jesus, teach me to live in daily remembrance that I no longer stand condemned because You stood condemned in my place. Lord give me the help I need to repent for my sins and to seek You earnestly. Lord increase my knowledge and understanding of who You are, that I may stand in awe of You, and that I may never again flatter You with my mouth, and lie to You with my tongue, but that I may worship You rightly and that I may give glory to You in all I do.
“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
For those interested, below is a link to a video by Shai Linne, called “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, which again explains to us the history of redemption ... but by another medium.