Sep 4, 2022 1492
Part of the reason why people rejected Jesus and Christianity is because they don’t appreciate who Jesus is and what he has done.
Most people in society will say that Jesus was a great teacher and probably a good man, and that’s as far as they go. They don’t accept Jesus as their Saviour and they don’t accept his death and resurrection as the basis of their salvation.
There is also a “Christian” version of this, which recognises that Jesus was actually God. It accepts that Jesus died and rose again but sees this only as a demonstration of God’s love for the world, and not as the means by which people can be saved. In other words, how it works is that when we see how much Jesus has loved us, even to the point of death, that will inspire us to want to accept him and follow him. This view doesn’t accept that what happened at the Cross was that God himself, in the person of Jesus, took upon himself our sin and sacrificed himself, dying to set us free from the condemnation of sin.
Let me share an analogy with you to illustrate the key flaw that I see with this view.
Imagine if you couldn’t swim, and you were drowning in a swimming pool. Now, there is a lifeguard sitting on the edge of the pool, and he or she starts telling you how to swim,
“Just keep calm and follow my instructions. I’ll tell you how to swim so you can save your life. What you need to do is to move your arms and kick your legs at the same time. Look, I’ll show you…”
The lifeguard then proceeds to illustrate the correct movements for swimming, there on the edge of the pool. And all the while, you’re drowning. How useful would that be?
What would you want the lifeguard to do if you were drowning? You would want him or her to jump in the water right away and take hold of you and bring you out of the water to safety. That’s precisely what a lifeguard would do.
Jesus wasn’t just a great moral teacher. He is your Saviour.
It’s important to understand what Jesus did for you at Calvary. Some people think that the Cross was only about Jesus showing you how perfect he is and how much he loves you. Those things are right, but if that’s all there is, then there’s no hope for any of us!
Jesus wasn’t just a great moral teacher. He is your Saviour. The Cross wasn’t just an example of his love for sinners (although it was the greatest example of just that.) The Cross was the precisely the means by which Jesus saved us.
Jesus was the lifeguard who threw himself into the pool to rescue you.
Jesus like the lifeguard who threw himself into the pool to rescue you. Jesus jumped into the midst of sinful humanity in this world, took hold of you, and pulled you out to safety.
It was one thing for the Son of God to be born as a baby in Bethlehem, however that wasn’t his most dramatic plunge into this sinful world. That happened at Calvary. That’s when Jesus ultimately plunged right in to save us. He had come into this world as a human, and taking upon himself the sin of the world, he voluntarily died, taking himself the penalty for those sins.
The teaching of the Bible, and the traditional teaching of Christianity from the beginning, is that as a result of the death and resurrection of Jesus, our sins are forgiven, and his perfect record becomes ours. It is in this way that we are saved.
The view of Jesus that denies the substitutionary role of the Cross in our salvation means that Jesus principally merely inspires us to do better, and as we do better, we are saved. That is surely just a version of salvation by our own works.
It is important to remember the words of the apostle Paul:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [a]this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8–9.)
– Eliezer Gonzalez