The following entry is from our good friend Brian Coatney.
Check out his blog at briancoatney.com
Posted on September 29, 2012
How we fare with the universe depends on the nature of God. If He is fickle or mean, we are in trouble now and forever. If His favor depends on what we do, we experience the frustration of finite effort to fix an infinite problem.
God makes all this easy, however, because He doesn’t base salvation on what we do but upon His own nature. Even repentance isn’t really something we do but receiving what He did in Christ. When God goes about to set something right, He doesn’t ask us into the council of the Godhead to help fashion the plan and execute it so that humans can be made right again.
No, God undertakes the whole thing Himself and does it all, leaving us simply to rest in His finished work. This is what the Sabbath really means. It’s the place of rest, which any desiring person enters into by faith. Without faith, one remains on the outside. Without faith, one remains unreconciled.
The work God did in Christ’s atonement and birthing of us in the Spirit is the infinite work that finite beings can’t accomplish. My first inkling of this came reading William Law, the 18th century English writer, who likened God to a bell. No matter what strikes a bell, the bell can only make the sound of a bell. Likewise, Law says, the sun in the heavens can only do what the sun does, which is to be heat and light. No matter what humans do, there is always a Cross in the heart of God. That’s all God can be, and we just respond yes or no to how we will spend eternity relating to that.
The Cross means that God has made the eternal choice to be self-for-others. For us, this life is about our getting fixed in our choice in what we think of that. Because there was a Cross in the heart of God, it has to be that the eternal Son, the second member of the trinity, is the lamb slain from before the foundation of the world and then manifested in history as the Gospels record about the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
This is because God had always known that Adam would fall, knew all of our sins that would manifest, and knew His plan to redeem those who wish to be redeemed. Strangely, not all choose to recognize love’s way and that it can only be through the Cross. To rebel against the Cross is to remain in works, and to remain in works is to resist grace, and to resist grace is to work on forever as a slave of sin.
But in the blood of Christ, those who do choose God’s way, receive complete washing from sins. I thank God frequently for that fact, like the old hymn “There is a fountain filled with blood.” I also thank Him for crucifying me with Christ, burying me with Christ, and raising me with Christ as a brand new creation.
This appears In the new birth, in which God transforms a person into a new creation that did not exist before. Human effort cannot bring this about. What happens with human effort is that one spends a lot of years trying to be like a composite picture of the perfect Christian – a composite made up of heroes not understood according to faith.
Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 unfold how God did this saving work – a work that God is never going to do again and a work that does not need anything else in order for humans regarding cleansing and healing. Those chapters stand immovable and without sympathy against all human pleading for God to do something else to meet the human need for peace and self-acceptance. It’s sad to keep thinking that Christ is not enough, when God says that Christ makes us complete.
Communion is an acknowledgement of that, meaning the acknowledgment that Christ’s blood and body wash us and make us supernaturally birthed sons of God. Others may not understand why we can relax about ourselves and why our drive is now for others to know the same.
In contrast, the devil-driven world lives constantly in turmoil trying to perform in order to perfect itself. In response, our intercessions are what make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ as Paul puts it in Colossians chapter 1, not meaning that Christ hasn’t done everything to perfect the individual but that Christ now completes the formation of His body, the church, through the intercessions of those already in the body.
Paul puts it this way: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20 ESV). That is what we have to say to the world.