There was a lot of discussion over the weekend over Rob Bell's upcoming book and the promotional video for it. In the video Rob says, "So what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But what kind of God is that that we would need to be rescued from this God?" I'm eager to read his book because I believe that the answer to that question is the heart of the Christian faith. If we get this wrong, we lose everything that matters for eternity. I wanted to share two beautiful quotes with you that address the issue.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)
Moved only by his own character, God sent his only Son into the world to save sinners from the judgment they deserve. At the end of the day, it was not the Jews who crucified Jesus or even the Romans. It was not even we who put him there, although it was because of our sin and guilt that he hung in derision. Ultimately, God crucified Jesus. "Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer," not because God is sadistic, but because of his great love for those who would be rescued by this selfless act, "and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied" (Is 53:10-11). Although Jesus freely gave his life up to the Father as a sacrifice that he was not forced to give, it was a death penalty that God executed as the just judge of the universe. Turning his eyes from the mutilated body of his Son, now carrying the sins of us all, the Father abandoned Jesus Christ so that he would never have to abandon us in our deepest trial or most heinous sin. God saved us from himself in order to save us for himself forever.
- Michael Horton, Saved From God, Modern Reformation, March/April 1996
Recommended Reading: Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray Death by Love, Mark Driscoll Pierced for Our Transgressions, Various Authors In My Place Condemned He Stood, J.I. Packer, Mark Dever