Friday, September 26, 2008

Saved from ... ?

The gospel. It's about salvation right? Gospel means good news, and that good news is that there is hope for salvation in Jesus Christ. But, have you ever stopped to wonder exactly what it is that we're saved from?

Some answer: hell! We're saved from that awful place that people don't ever want to think about. That place of torment and torture.

Others answer: Sin! We're saved from that awful thing that separates us from God and truly knowing and enjoying him.

Still others answer: Despair! Without Christ, we are left despairing, without hope, without meaning and without purpose. Christ is our rescue from a life of worthlessness and self-pity.

Actually, these are all partial and incomplete answers. It is not so much that we are saved from a location such as hell. Sure, it's an awful place and we wouldn't want to go there. The fire is hot and the fleshing eating worms never have their fill. But we're not saved from an unpleasant place or experience.

And we're not saved from sin, either. Sin is awful and does separate us from God, but sin is simply the name we give our mistakes, our failure to live up to God's standard of righteousness. Sin is problematic in its effects it brings. We're not saved from sin per se.

And we're not saved from psychological pathology either. Christ did not die to rescue us from a low self-esteem or feelings of lostness and despair. We're not saved to feel good about ourselves.

No. We're saved from God himself. We are being rescued from experiencing the full measure and manifestation of God's wrath against evil and wickedness. At times past he has expressed his deep bitterness against sin in shocking ways that have left us offended, confused and even bitter ourselves. Lest we miss the point of hell by thinking of it as some impersonal location like a holding cell, or as a series of unpleasant sensations, we need to recover what hell truly is: the eternal and complete pouring out of his holy hatred not only against sin, but the sinners who have committed them.

I'm so glad that Jesus already bore that on the cross for me.

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