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Purposes for the Cross #4: Reconciliation, part 4

Thursday, March 23, 2023

In Colossians 1:22, Paul says, “Now he has RECONCILED you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, WITHOUT BLEMISH AND FREE FROM ACCUSATION…” (Emphasis mine) Instead of requiring us to fill every nail hole caused by our sins, God points us to the cross, where the nail holes are in the hands of our Savior.

Jesus took our shame — every nail — to the cross. Paul says in Colossians 2:13-14, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross” NIV. 

At the cross, our slate is wiped clean and condemnation is eliminated. All charges against us, even the ones we make against ourselves, are dismissed. Our blemishes are fixed and our shame is taken away. In God's sight - and in the sight of all who understand what Jesus accomplished in His death - we are holy. There is no guilt or shame at the cross!


There is an old saying that is based on a solid truth: “The ground is level at the foot of the cross. There are no plush seats, no VIP passes, and no skyboxes.” And in Colossians we read, “God was pleased through Christ to reconcile to Himself ALL THINGS, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.”

Are only good people able to be reconciled to God? Is reconciliation only for those who are good at heart, trying their best, and not too far gone? No! Not by any means. Jesus said, in Luke 5:31-32, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Are only religiously astute people able to be reconciled to God? Must they be like many of us, coming from a good home, knowing a lot about the Bible, and inclined to do what is right? Listen to what Paul tells us, in Ephesians 2:13-17, as he writes to gentiles raised in a pagan culture, “But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ. 14 For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. 17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from Him, and peace to the Jews who were near” NLT.

Are only privileged people able to be reconciled to God? Must they be rich, attractive, smart, or successful? No! In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul pointed out that the cross was not as much for the rich and powerful, or wise philosophers, as it was for common people. Many in the early church were slaves.  

Continued tomorrow

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Purposes for the Cross #4: Reconciliation, part 3

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

A skeptical theologian made a name for himself by questioning Biblical teaching, authoring some 22 books. One day, he was lecturing at a Christian college. At the end of his lecture he invited questions. Someone asked, “What do you think of the cross?” The skeptical theologian replied, “If forgiveness was really necessary, certainly God could have come up with a better way.”

Let me assure you of this: The cross shows us that forgiveness IS necessary, because our sin alienates us from God. The cross displays the seriousness of sin and the cost of God’s forgiveness. At the very same time, the cross demonstrates that God will do whatever it takes to forgive us and rebuild our relationship with Him. God went all the way to the cross because there was no better way to reconcile us to Himself, than with truth and grace.



The cross in the ancient world was the ultimate symbol of shame. Jews identified the cross with Deuteronomy 21:22-23“If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse.” Greeks (and Romans as well) recognized death by crucifixion as the most degrading kind of punishment. Why, then, did Jesus die on THE CROSS? Paul speaks of the “offense of the cross,” and how foolish it seemed to people who did not understand what God was doing there.

During the brutal war in the Balkans, a newspaper editor filed a report about the cruel treatment of Albanian refugees. A reporter asked him, “Can such a deep hurt ever heal?” The editor replied with a story, “There was a naughty boy whose father would hammer a nail in to a piece of wood every time his son did something wrong. One day, the boy asked why, and when it was explained, the boy decided he would behave better. Each time he did something good, his father would remove a nail form the board. Eventually, all the nails come out.”  Then the editor added the moral of the story, “Yes, the nails were gone, but the holes always remained.” (Fleming Rutledge, “The Crucifixion,” p. 115)

God freely forgives our sins, but what about the holes that remain? How do we deal with the scars of sin — the holes that are a blemish on our lives?

Continued tomorrow

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Purposes for the Cross #4: Reconciliation, part 2

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Sin is not only a problem of justice it is a problem of a broken relationship with God. At the cross, God reaches out to us to restore a life-giving relationship with Himself. The cross, friends… the cross brings reconciliation.   

Colossians 1:19-22 says, “For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. 21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault” NIV.  Reconciliation.




In Dallas Texas an off-duty police officer killed a man who was sitting on the couch in his own apartment, watching TV. She was convicted of murder, and after her sentencing, the 18-year-old brother of the man who was killed was given a chance to speak from the witness stand. The young man said he was willing to forgive the officer and he pleaded with the judge to allow him to come down from the stand and give her a hug. The emotional hug lasted for 30 seconds.

That story made international news and some questioned whether forgiveness was too easy for such an odious crime. Some sources neglected to report how the young man began his statement in the courtroom, I quote, “I don’t want to say twice or for the hundredth time what you’ve taken from us. I think you know that. But I just — If you are truly sorry, I forgive you. And I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you.”

Forgiveness is not ignoring wrong or making excuses for another person; the offense was real, harm was done, and the hurt does not go away easily. Any way you look at it: Forgiveness is costly. But it sets us free.

Forgiveness is a personal decision which might be confined to our own hearts. If someone hurt you, you can choose to forgive them (for your own peace of mind), while resolving to stay away from them in the future.

Reconciliation is even more difficult. To be reconciled with someone, the truth must be shared so that both parties can deal with it. If a friend betrays a trust, the relationship can only be restored by confronting the truth; their behavior caused harm and hurt. Reconciliation requires mutual recognition of the wrong that was done, as well as forgiveness.

The cross displays the truth about humanity. Our sin is an offense against God. It alienates us from God, harms people, and destroys us. That is a hard truth which Paul calls the "offense of the cross" (Galatians 5:11). Yet, in order for reconciliation to occur, it is a necessary truth.  

Continued tomorrow

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Purposes for the Cross #4: Reconciliation, part 1

Monday, March 20, 2023

In this series of messages on the purpose of the cross, we began by seeing how the cross reveals the Amazing Love of God. We then considered the Cross as God’s Ultimate Answer for Human Suffering. Last week, we took a deep dive into the righteousness of God. In the cross, God combined justice and mercy so as to be “just and the one who justifies, for all who trust in Jesus.

Some pastors tell a parable to illustrate that God is both “just and the one who justifies.” In the story an offender stands before a judge in a court of law. The evidence is presented and the offender is clearly guilty. The judge pronounces the verdict and decrees the penalty required by law. Then, the judge comes down from the bench, takes off his robe, and he himself pays the fine or accepts the punishment. The righteous judge satisfies the demands of justice, while justifying the offender. Like God, he is just and the one who justifies.

Yet, as I think about that parable, I see that it fails to account for the public spectacle of the cross. If God needed to do something in order to be, “just and the one who justifies,” as we saw last week, couldn’t He do it in a hidden corner of the universe or in heaven? Why did the Son of God have to come to earth to die such a publicly, humiliating death?

Imagine with me a different scenario, a story of a father and a son. The father is a pillar of the community. The son had every advantage, a loving home, the privileges of moral training, good schools, and a future of great opportunities. Yet, from early days, he showed signs of rebellion. He goes off to college, where he chooses a life of immorality and debauchery. Feeling ashamed, he breaks off all contact with his parents. After two years of failure in his studies, he drops out of school and takes a menial job. Feeling hopeless, he begins to deal drugs. A drug deal goes bad and a woman is shot. The young man is brought before a judge.

What does the father do with his wayward son? Does he accept the choices his son makes, justifying them by saying, “I am sure he had good reasons for his choices”? Does he disown his son, to avoid the shame of being identified with such a lowlife individual? Does he wash his hands of his obligations to his son, saying, “He didn’t want my help before, he is on his own now.”?

No, the father — this pillar of the community — takes a walk of shame. As he exits his car, his picture is taken for the News. He walks into the courtroom and his son barely acknowledges that he is there. Yet, the father stands in solidarity with his son, sharing the pain and shame which he does not deserve. Why is he there? Ultimately, he hopes that by his presence, the son might be RECONCILED to him.  

Continued tomorrow

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Purposes for the Cross #3: Mercy & Grace, part 5

Friday, March 17, 2023

Listen, if we depend on any of those things, we will simply come up short. We will never be good enough to keep a moral code perfectly or to meet even our own expectations of ourselves. When we fail, and we will, we will be overcome by guilt and shame without a way to forgiveness and a life-giving relationship with God.

In God’s righteousness, there is a way to forgiveness and life and that is, FAITH in the atonement of Jesus Christ. Let’s read Romans 3:21-26 again, “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood — to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — 26 He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus” NIV.

Righteousness is a gift: “all are justified [or made right] freely by God’s grace [His gift], through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” It is a costly gift — costly to God — but it is freely available to each of us. All we have to do, is accept the gift. How do we accept the gift? Through Faith.

What is faith? In Romans, we are told, it is accepting God’s righteousness — the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ — as our way to righteousness. “Unfaith” is to deny that Christ’s sacrifice of atonement was necessary because we think we are good enough. “Unfaith” is to refuse the gift of atonement, either from pride, or because we don’t really want to become righteous. If we do that, we are in serious danger, and we are without hope of being justified, or made right, by God.

Hebrews 10:29 says, “How…severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Unfaith says to God, “Nice idea, but all that suffering wasn’t really necessary, I’m good enough without Your help.”

Faith is trusting that what Jesus did for us on the cross is sufficient to forgive our sins, to remove our guilt and shame, to restore us to a relationship with God, to set us on the path of righteousness. By faith, we are made righteous. We are right with God, forgiven, unashamed, and responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are on the path of righteousness, getting more and more things right, until everything is finally made right in heaven.

As we wrap this week's devotional up, let me ask you: What are you trusting in to get your life right? Is it your own goodness? Is it meeting your own expectations or measuring up to the expectations of others? Is it keeping some rules or living a moral life? Is it a vague hope that, in the end, God will forget about your mistakes, and call it good?

Friend, there is a better way! Romans 1:17 summarizes it this way: In the Gospel (the good news of Christ and the cross) the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” If we will accept what Jesus did for us on the cross, and trust in His atoning sacrifice, we are justified and made right.

Faith is trust and acceptance. It is trusting God’s righteous justice and grace and accepting God’s gift of a righteousness life. Faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the way to forgiveness of sins, getting right with God, and getting on the right path. In this life, it opens the way to becoming more righteous and reflecting God’s glory. At end of this life, it opens a door to life that is totally right, just as it should be.

All you and I have to do, is choose God’s way of righteousness, rather than some other way.  END

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Purposes for the Cross #3: Mercy and Grace, part 4

Thursday, March 16, 2023

God gave His people a picture of atonement in the Old Testament. Leviticus 1:3-9 says, “You are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD. You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to MAKE ATONEMENT for you. You are to slaughter the young bull before the LORD, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting…”

The sin offering was a reminder that God does not just chill about our sin. In God’s justice, sin cannot be ignored, and forgiveness comes at a cost. There were no shortcuts; the animal must be a prime specimen without defect. The blood of the animal was a graphic symbol, for the punishment that was deserved.

At the same time, the offering made things right between the people and God. The offering was accepted, as sufficient for atonement. Part of the offering was burned, resulting in an “aroma pleasing to the Lord.” The person went home, free from guilt and shame. 

Of course, sacrificing an animal did not fix the problem of sin. Could a poor animal, who had no choice in the matter, pay for a person’s sin? What if it was a big sin, like murder? Should the person bring two animals, or as some of the pagan people did, offer their own child to be sacrificed? And then, what if the person sins the next day, or the next hour? Could they offer just one sacrifice for the sins of an entire year?

\Hebrews 10:1-10 points out the limitations of Old Testament sacrifices: “The law [which included sacrifices] is only a shadow of the good things that are coming — not the realities themselves. For this reason, it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship… It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins… we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” 

The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed to the sacrifice of the Son of God, on the cross. Jesus was not like a lamb from the flock, which could be replaced. He was the “one and only Son of God," the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” 1 John 2:1-2 sums it up, saying this, “…Jesus Christ, the Righteous One is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Yet, how does the death of one man, dying long ago and far away, atone for thousands of years of sin, committed by billions of people? I am glad you asked. The death of Jesus on the cross was a cosmic event. By cosmic, I mean it was not limited to the earth or even the universe. It was not limited by universe-dependent space and time. All creatures, in all times and places - angels, cherubim, seraphim, and maybe even things not revealed to us - watched in amazement as God Himself made the sacrifice of atonement for the sins of humanity.

The sacrifice is sufficient for all the sins of all people in all times and places, because the life of the Son of God is of infinite value. The life of the Son, is more valuable than 10 human lives, or a thousand, or a billion, or a trillion! As 1 John 2:1-2 says, “…Jesus Christ, the Righteous One is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

The cross revealed the depth of God’s righteousness: His justice and His mercy. If anyone in the cosmos might dare to question the justice of God or dare to say that God is soft on sin, the cross echoes across all eternity: What greater penalty could be paid for sin? If anyone might dare to question the mercy of God, the cross echoes across all of eternity:  What greater mercy could be shown, than to go even to the cross, to forgive sin?

“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”



How do people become righteous? Some try to justify themselves - they are self-righteous, and they often try to build themselves up, most often by putting others down. Some try to live up to a high standard of morality, perhaps the law of God, or a personal moral code. Some are careful to meet the expectations of other people, or the community in which they live. But anything we strive to do to gain our righteousness will always fall short.

Continued tomorrow

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Purposes for the Cross #3, Mercy & Grace, part 3

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Groucho Marx, the crusty comedian of the last century, once sent a telegram to a club in Los Angeles, saying, “Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member."

The truth is, none of us are heaven-ready, unless/until God removes our imperfections. You see, this is our problem: we all “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Glossing over our faults would poison the glory of eternal life with God. God will not just chill about sin because that would continue to leave us short of the glory He has for us.

Could God Allow People to Balance Out Their Sins by Doing Good Things?

Some people think God judges people with a balance, a set of scales: The bad goes on one side, and the good on the other. They think that If the good is more than the bad, then God will be satisfied. Some think they can balance out their sins by going to church, doing good deeds, giving money or time to help others, or accomplishing great things for God. And some think they can get credit for being really sorry for their sins. Some try to balance out their sins by making amends, giving back what they have taken dishonestly, or trying to make it up to a person they have hurt. If they have offended God, they do an act of penance, or say some prayers, or an act of self-denial, in an attempt to balance God’s scale.

And then there are those who think that if they walk a straight and narrow path, God will be bound to forgive their stumbles along the way. In the book of Romans, Paul was writing to Jews who had that idea about the law of God. If they did their best to keep the law, they thought God would consider that and not bother with their sins. Paul was pretty harsh on them; God doesn’t show favoritism to self-righteous people. (Take some time later and read, Romans 3:9-20.)

Truthfully, these are all good things to do, but they cannot remove our sin. They can help us manage sin, but they cannot eliminate it. They may show our sincerity and even our remorse, but they come up empty as a solution to our brokenness. We have a problem: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 

There is no easy solution. A blanket pardon would undermine God’s justice. Tolerating sin would fall short of the glorious life God wants us to share. Human efforts at fixing the problem are doomed to failure.



There seems to be only one solution: God must condemn sin and condemn sinners. Justice demands it. But that solution is unacceptable to God! God’s love, friends, demands mercy and grace for sinners.

One may ask, “How can love and justice coexist in God’s character?” The Old Testament has a description of God that brings together justice and grace. God is RIGHTEOUS. Righteousness in the Old Testament is identified with justice. Psalm 50:6“The heavens proclaim his righteousness, for He is a God of justice.” Yet, righteousness is also joined with God’s grace and mercy. Psalm 143:1 is an example: “LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for MERCY; in your faithfulness and RIGHTEOUSNESS come to my relief.”

God’s righteousness is like a coin with two sides. One side is judgment of sin and the other side is finding a way to redeem sinners. Our main Bible passage for this week (Romans chapter 3) puts it this way, “Now a RIGHTEOUSNESS from God has been made known. All are JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

God’s righteousness is not satisfied by condemnation of all who sin. Yet, God’s righteousness is not satisfied by a cheap grace that is soft on sin. How can God bring together justice and grace? God found a way! We are told in verses 25-26“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement to demonstrate His Righteousness at the present time so as to be JUST and the one who JUSTIFIES those who have faith in Jesus.”



The first question is: What is atonement? Well, in its simplest meaning, atonement fixes the problem of sin. The goal of atonement is to satisfy the justice of God, to remove guilt from the sinner, and restore the broken relationship between God and people. 

Continued tomorrow

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Purposes for the Cross #3: Mercy and Grace, part 2

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

In a similar way, even though the Bible tells us that God is all-powerful, the way in which He responds to sin has unavoidable consequences.

What if God was all-forgiving (as the man mentioned yesterday assumed God is)? (Please note that the Bible never says God is all-forgiving!) But what if God automatically forgave every sin ever committed?

A missionary was talking with a young man concerning his promiscuous lifestyle. The young man justified his actions, saying that where he came from the husband has the right to sleep with many women, but an unfaithful wife must be killed. The missionary reminded the young man, who had been raised in a mission school, that the God of the Bible does not have double standards like that. The young man smiled brightly and said, “Ah, God is good. He is bound to forgive us, that’s his job.” While God does indeed forgive the repentant sinner, He also tells us (as Jesus did to so many in the Gospels), "Go and sin no more."

Should a good God just forgive unfair or abusive behavior? Should God issue a blanket pardon and just forgive murder, genocide, child abuse, or human trafficking? What about the victims of sin? Justice is based on the character of God. If God did not uphold justice, the moral structure of life on earth would be up for grabs. We would have no basis for saying that "Dirty politics is wrong," or "People with power should not rig Wall Street." We would live by the rules of “Might makes right,” or “It’s not wrong if you don’t get caught.”

There would be cosmic implications as well. Justice would be undermined in heaven and all possible worlds. There would be anarchy in heaven. The devil and his angels could claim amnesty and run rampant. Multitudes of heavenly creatures would be lost to an eternity without justice. Love and harmony would be destroyed only to be replaced by fear and turmoil. 

A mass pardon — an unconditional pardon for all sin — would be God abdicating His responsibility to uphold justice. It would be like a judge who never gives a guilty verdict, or a principal who allows a bully to dominate the school. You see, God cannot give a blanket pardon for all sins without destroying the foundations of justice.



You might be thinking that God could just go a little easier on us humans. Maybe God could tolerate sins that aren’t "too bad,” or “don’t hurt anyone.” Maybe God could accept excuses, or give credit, for good intentions. Maybe God could “grade on a curve.” Then He could give most people a passing grade and only fail the “worst” sinners. Of course, we would all be on the upper end of the curve, right?

There is a story of a man who was meeting a friend at a bar. As he walked in to meet his friend, he noticed two attractive women looking him over and he was pleased to hear one of them whisper, “Nine.” Feeling good about himself, he joined his friend, and spilled the news that the women had rated his attractiveness as nine out of ten.  His friend replied, “I don’t want to ruin it for you, but when I walked in, they were speaking German.” (In German, of course, “nein” is “No.”

If God would, “just chill,” Would that solve the problem of sin?

Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The word Paul uses for sin means "missing the mark," - or, as he goes on to say - “falling short.” Any sin, no matter how small, causes us to fall short of God’s best for us.

What are we aiming for? More importantly, what does God want for us? God will settle for nothing less for us than the glory of God. The glory of God is perfection, becoming all God created us to be. It is the perfection of life in the presence of God, where every person lives as God intends, in perfect love and harmony and total joy and fulfillment. It is, of course, eternal life with God in heaven.

What sins, do you suppose, would be OK in heaven? Would lying be OK, or would that destroy the perfection of heaven? Would it be OK to devalue a person based on their appearance? Would it be OK to use people for one’s own desires? Would it be OK to envy or be impatient? Would sins that “don’t hurt anyone” be, OK? No, those sins, too, would make heaven less glorious, destroying our perfection and tearing apart the very fabric of heaven.  

Continued tomorrow

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Purposes for the Cross #3: Mercy and Grace, part 1

Monday, March 13, 2023

This week we will be looking into a third purpose for the cross. It is really made up of two separate words, but we’ll get into that more as we move through the study. 

Have you noticed: crosses are everywhere - hanging on chains around people’s necks, tattooed on people’s bodies, surrounded by artificial flowers along the side of the road where an accidental death occurred, lined up in cemeteries or on grave markers, towering over churches (sometimes hiding cell phone towers inside). People seem to love crosses, for sentimental reasons. Yet not everyone loves what the cross truly symbolizes. Some may even be wondering what the cross symbolizes?

Well, for Christians, they symbolize the shameful death of Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who died on a cross for the sins of the world. The Apostle Paul spoke of the "offense of the cross.” Some may ask, "What is offensive about the cross?" Because, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:3“Christ died FOR OUR SINS.” But it seems that the cross is offensive for many because it reminds us that we are all sinners. Our sins caused the Son of God to suffer and die on the cross.

But why was the cross necessary? and what did it accomplish?

Someone posted on social media about a man who refused to believe in God because he couldn’t understand the purpose of the cross. He was asking his friend, “If God is all-powerful and all-forgiving, why must He send His Son to die for sins? Couldn’t God just forgive the sins, without sending His Son down in human form to die? So, what — so God dies for a few hours, how does that in any way forgive a sin?”

I think the man asked some good questions: Why was the cross necessaryand What did the cross accomplish? The Apostle Paul gives an answer to those questions, in Romans 3:21-26. Let’s go ahead and read that passage together: “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood — to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — 26 He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus” (NIV). 

The reality is this: We have a problem: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. That is not good for us, and that is not OK with God! He loves us too much to let us fall short of the glory He has for us.

The questions we must then ask are:

  • What is the solution?
  • What could God do about sin?
  • Could/Would God simply forgive all sins?  

The man I talked about earlier, asked, “If God is all-powerful and all-forgiving… Couldn’t God just forgive the sins…?” That is a variant of a common question, “If God is all-powerful is there anything He can’t do?”

If I were talking primarily to children or teens, I might describe it this way: There are two kinds of “can’t,” I personally can’t dunk a basketball (at least, not on a standard, ten–foot hoop). I lack the heighth, strength, and leaping ability to do that. The other kind of “can’'t” is different: if you ask me to beat up your brother, I will say, “I can’t do that.” Now, I might be big enough and strong enough, but my character does not allow me to do that. Also, if I did, there would be unavoidable consequences that would not be good for anyone.  

Continued tomorrow