By Roak Dunkley
I was holding my two-year old daughter during the praise and worship segment of the service this Sunday, and I just sat down with her for a moment so as to rest my back a little. As we were sitting there I was looking at her knee, where there is a tiny scar from who knows what, and the thought crossed my mind of how much I truly loved this little person.
And following hot on the heels of that thought, was the thought of how dearly Christ was loved by the Father, and yet He still gave His Son up to the cross in order to redeem us to Himself. I thought of this dearly loved person in my arms being smashed and bleeding and that gave me a little insight into the anguish of the Father as Christ was beaten and tortured and killed.
We know because it is written in scripture, that although Christ died at the hands of men it was ordained by God that He should do so, but I cannot believe that the Father was unmoved. We are taught that Christ took on Himself our sin, that He became sin for us, that He bore our sin on that cross, and that the Father’s wrath against our sin was vented against Christ at the cross… I just don’t know about that last part any more.
I do believe that Christ’s death was and is a propitiation for our sin, a sacrificial substitution of His life given up to death, in order that God accept us in Christ as beloved rather than allow our lives to be extinguished in the death which is due penalty for our sin. I do believe that God imputed our sin to Christ at the cross, and I believe that He imputes the righteousness of Christ to us too, and I believe that this imputation is a choice that He – being sovereign – makes on our behalf. That Christ was obedient even unto death on the cross, that He for the joy of bringing many brothers and sisters into glory endured all the suffering that was meted out to Him by evil men; this is what God has used for our salvation.
And it was not cheap. It cost God the life of His beloved son. And looking at own my beloved daughter I was quite overcome with wonder at the love and mercy of God toward me.
The band was leading us…..
“Give your all to Jesus
There is freedom
Freedom reigns in this place
Showers of mercy and grace
Falling on every face
There is freedom”
When preaching little later on, Simba used Mark 10 as one of his texts, and he spoke of what Jesus had in mind when He spoke to the rich young ruler – who had been keeping the law from childhood and yet still was not assured of eternity with God. Scripture tells us that, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”” He is speaking here about giving up everything for the cause of Christ.
Scripture tells us that “one is justified by faith” – and this was the core of Simba’s message. Now faith is not about having the “belief” that some wildly unusual thing is actually true when it patently is not so, but rather it is about being fully persuaded from the available evidence that a thing which may seem to be wildly unusual actually is true.
We are called to have faith in the resurrection of Christ, and by God’s grace we have been persuaded it is true that He lives! We “know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus” – whom we crucified… “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.”
It is this faith in God’s resurrection of Christ after death on the cross that somehow allows God to be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
And I submit that if you and I are in fact fully persuaded – “if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed …. nothing will be impossible”.
“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
If we will, in reciprocal response to Christ, make a sacrificial substitution of our earthly “all” in His favour, we will no doubt find that true freedom which scripture and the song speak of. We all crave it, and yet mostly we fail to make the trade – we hold on to ownership of our lives in various ways, some more than others, because at the core of things, at the heart, we don’t yet fully trust Him.
Or at least that’s what I find in myself…
I find that I’m quite prepared to put a Christian “glaze” on my life, to “play church”, to “read my bible, pray every day”, and I’m especially happy when it comes to prosperity of course, but if it comes right down to it – when and/or if God asks me to do something for His Kingdom that involves sacrifice, suffering, or even disturbs my comfort much, then I’m more likely to run a mile!
Unfortunately I am still very much my own Lord and King…. God help me!
Roak Dunkley is an active member of KP. He serves in the men’s ministry and enjoys reading theological books.