Summary: Part 2 of the Back to Basics. This study looks at ’Why was the Cross was Necessary?’, ’What happened on the Cross?’, and ’What Happened After the Cross?’.
Part 2 - Basics of the Cross.
Why is the Cross Necessary?
A common question I hear is, "Why doesn’t God just get rid of all sin and take us all to heaven?" Another frequent question is, "If God is so loving, why would He send someone to hell just because they don’t believe in Him?"
There are hundreds of skeptical questions that I could include here, but there is one basic flaw in all of these types of questions: man is at the center of it all instead of God. What we are really asking is, "Why doesn’t God conform to my ways?" We were created for the purpose of having a love relationship with God, our Creator. Revelation 4:11 says, "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created." All things exist (including man) because of the will of God. Philippians 2:13 tells us that God works in us for His will and for His good pleasure. What God wants for us is good but it usually conflicts with our human nature. It isn’t God that needs to alter His will, but man who needs to yield to God. The world does not center around our will, but God’s will. He has the right to decide how man is created and what man’s purpose should be.
God did not create us as robots. An automatic response is not love. If we did not have any choice to love God, it would not be love at all. I can program my computer to say, ’I love you’ each time is starts up, but that is meaningless to me. If we don’t have a choice to not love God, then we also don’t have a choice to love God. Man is the crown of all creation because we are created in God’s own image and we have been given the capacity to love God and the right to choose whether or not to love Him. The purpose of the cross is not to get us into heaven. The purpose of the cross is to restore the lost fellowship with our Creator by paying the penalty of our sin that separates us from Him. Why would a loving God send anyone to hell? Why would a loving God violate our choice of not wanting to love or have a relationship with Him? Heaven would be hell for those who hate God. The entire focus of Heaven is a face-to-face relationship with God. Everything in Heaven centers around God. If a person despises the idea of God interfering with their life here on earth, how much worse would it be in heaven for that person to have to worship, praise and live in a place that is completely focused on God? If they have already willfully rejected the person of God, it would be misery to live a life that glorifies God? God does not force us to love Him now, and He will not force us to love Him in heaven. Everyone will bow and acknowledge Him as Lord, but they will not be forced to love Him. It would be the height of injustice to make someone who rejects God to serve Him in heaven against their will. But for us who love God and take pleasure in serving Him here will be overjoyed to serve and fellowship with God when we can see Him in all His glory!
Even on earth, the void created within us cannot be satisfied outside of complete surrender to God. Because God has created us for a purpose, if we substitute our purpose for the deception of the world, we will never be satisfied. We can be gratified, but never satisfied. It is important to understand the difference. Gratification is the point where we saturate our desires. We may be able to temporarily get to the point where we no longer desire a particular pleasure and maybe have a brief illusion of satisfaction, but as the pleasure fades, the emptiness inside returns. It is like putting a square peg in a round hole. You may be able to make it fit, but you can never fill in the gaps. People crowd their lives trying to cover up the hole inside, but it continues to rise to the surface. Therefore we are forced to find something else to cover it or we will be consumed with the emptiness. That is why people run from pleasure to pleasure and can never rest. From the world’s perspective, the Christian life seems to be uneventful. They cannot comprehend not being driven by pleasures. But when we are satisfied, we no longer need to live for the purpose of finding pleasure. Instead of ruling us, pleasures take their rightful place in God’s design. All pleasure has been created by God and was never intended to be the object of our focus and our first love. When pleasure is our purpose and it is gone, we are without purpose until we find another pleasure to pursue. But when God is our focus and purpose, He sends pleasure into our lives. The pleasure never becomes our focus so we are free to enjoy without remorse and continue to pursue our relationship with God. We were not created for pleasure and if self-gratification is our god, our lives will never be fulfilled regardless of how much activity we crowd in. Anything outside of our purpose of loving God will not work. We were created for this purpose and until we fill the void in our hearts with our Creator, nothing will be fully enjoyed. You will never find a man or woman who loved God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength crying out, "I hate my life" or saying, "I don’t know who I am anymore".