Jesus: God Saves

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21

The opinions and politics that start flying after something as tragic as the Sandy Hook event break my heart, for it means we have missed the point. We are trying, in our desperation for hope and meaning and security, to fix things that cannot be fixed by man alone. We are spending our mental energies in futility.

If someone has a heart that is diseased and will fail them much too soon, do we command them to get better? Do we pass a law that tells them that their heart can't be sick? Do we forbid that person from eating anymore high cholesterol, fatty food? No. Of course not. That person's only hope is a new heart. It's the only way to avoid the death that is knocking on their door. They need new life, not new laws.

God wrote a set of laws. You can find it in the first part of the Old Testament. It didn't work, but that didn't surprise God. See, the laws were never written so that we could follow them perfectly and find salvation and hope. They were written to show us the impossibility of following them. For a people with a corrupt and evil heart cannot hope to act in a sinless way. We cannot hope to meet the standard set before us.

God said, "You shall not murder." And what have people done since the second generation of mankind? Murdered one another.

We are hopeless if we think we can try, on our own, and command others to follow laws already written on our hearts, which men haven't been able to keep since the Garden of Eden. It doesn't work.

There is only one solution, but I am terribly afraid that many I know and love, and many I will never meet, who all make up this nation, will never even give it consideration. In our pride, we are so certain that we can fix this. We are so certain that we know the right things to do. We are so certain that God either doesn't exist or can't be who the Bible claims he is and that we must take our destiny into our own hands.

But there is one problem. Let's say we figure out a way to preserve the lives of all children in our nation (but only those outside the womb, please) and we all live to 95 years of age.

Every person will still die. It is unavoidable.

So then what?

Is it enough to know that you lived 95 years and so did everyone else you know? In the end, you will still return to the dust. Or worse yet, you will live on, but not where you'd like to be.

I do not say these things to condemn. I say them because I long for people and for our nation to live. But true life is only found in God through Jesus, and we just can't bring ourselves to admit we need him, or that he's even worth needing. We've made a complete mess of our world, but all we can do is blame God and blame each other.

Our only hope is for each one of us to recognize our need for a new heart. And there is only One who can give us what we need.

We don't need to try harder to be nice or try harder to make other people be nice. We need to fall on our face, admit to God our failures and hopelessness, and ask him to make us new, inside and out. We need to recognize that we can try every day of our lives, but we have fallen so short of God's standard that we deserve death.

We are all that murderer who stormed into that school a few short days ago. Jesus said if we are angry at someone in our heart, we've murdered them. I don't know about you, but I've been angry, out of selfishness and pride, a few times in my life. I deserve death. I do.

But someone loved me enough, just like that young teacher in Connecticut loved her students enough, to stand in the gap for me. Someone loved me enough to give his life in order that I might live. I don't deserve it, but Jesus did it anyway. Because that's the kind of God he is. Gracious, loving, and merciful, even in the face of our rebelliousness and disobedience and disrespect.

So we will all find life and heaven? Great.

Think about that. If one of those little children who that teacher hid in order to protect, had jumped out of their hiding spot and run in front of his teacher, declaring, "I don't need you, teacher! I can do it on my own. I've got this," he would have forfeited her sacrifice. They both would have died. Only those who trusted and obeyed their teacher's command to hide and allowed her to stand in the gap for them found life.

You have to admit you need help, admit you need someone to stand in your place when your rightful time to die comes, and accept the sacrifice.

You must admit your sin, turn from it, and ask God's forgiveness, and it can only be found when you believe in Jesus' deity and in the sufficiency of his sacrifice for you.

I think when we, as believers, are heartbroken over the evil in this world and are heartbroken at others' refusal to accept salvation, we've probably gotten a tiny glimpse at how heartbroken our loving God is by these things. I so desperately want those I love to get this, and I so desperately want our nation to see the parallel between our forsaking of the Lord God and the evil that seems to be overtaking us. It is not a coincidence. It is our sweet God's attempt at waking us up, before it's too late.

I hope that I have not offended anyone by my words. They are meant in love, but many times God's love and God's ways seem to offend us. They step on our toes and tell us we must humble ourselves, and we don't like it. So if I have offended you because I haven't represented the Lord accurately, then forgive me. But if I have offended you because I have spoken truth, then may you come to see the heart behind it...not my evil one, but my Savior's holy one.

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders,  if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:8-12


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