Last night we continued our study of what Jesus shows us about God, humanity and life. (You know, the series now affectionately known as “Why Jesus Matters.”) Here are the notes:
Most people will tell you that there is something wrong with the world. They may not agree with others about what that thing is, but they’ll have their own idea that makes sense to them. And if they believe in God, they’ll assume that he agrees with their assessment. And if they think Jesus represents God at all, they’ll assume that Jesus too agrees with them–and opposes what they oppose in the world. But how could we actually come to know what Jesus thought the problem with humanity really was (and is)?
Looking at the actual writings which record the life and teachings of Jesus is the way to get to know and understand the real Jesus.
How does Jesus diagnose the problem with the human race? Let’s look at a few representative scriptures:
The real problem with humanity is that we are totally oriented against everything God is doing in the world—because of its sin.
This is the beginning and summary of his message: “The kingdom is at hand!” so “Repent!”
In other words: “The unstoppable, decisive turning point in history is happening—and you must decisively reorient yourself based on the fact that Jesus is announcing this. This reorientation is a total turn from all sin and old thinking which involves a change which runs all the way to the core of your being—a total heart change.” (If you want a detailed, practical description of what Jesus means by “repent,” he explains it to us in Matthew chapters 5 through 7.)
The real problem with humanity is that we are defiled—by an inner sin which comes out through our bodies in words and actions. This inner sin affects everyone. It defiles (which means it renders us unclean and separates us from God). It is a heart problem. It can’t be touched by any outward act or cleansing.
The real problem with humanity is that everyone is a slave of sin—and until Jesus don’t even know it. We’re also sick (Mk 2:17), lost (Luke 19:11), and…
The real problem with humanity is that they need a new life. (We’re dead (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:1) See also. Luke 13:1-5
Jesus explains that the whole point of his life, death and resurrection was so that forgiveness of sins could be offered in his name to any who would believe. (The first Christians picked up this emphasis and continued preaching it as Jesus had. See the way Peter ends his message in Acts 2, or what he says in Acts 10:43 – “All the prophets testify that whoever believes in him will receive forgiveness of their sins.” See also Acts 13:38-39, where Paul says, “Through this man is preached to you forgiveness of sins, and by him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”)
Jesus reveals God to us. Jesus shows us God’s estimation of the human race. The main problem with humanity is our sin—which is enslaving, and which defiles us in our guilt and exposes our evil hearts.
“The four gospels describe the pains God has taken to defeat sin and its wages. The very shape of those four documents tells us how much the pains matter. The gospels — as everybody has noticed — the gospels are shaped as passion narratives with long introductions. Accordingly, Christians have often measured sin, in part, by the passion needed to atone for it. The ripping and writhing of death on a cross, the bizarre metaphysical maneuver of addressing the malady death by another death, the extraordinary centering of the Christian religion on the degradation and death of its God, these things tell us that human brokenness is desperately difficult to fix, even for God; that it is the longest running of all human emergencies; and that while annoyances, regrets, and miseries trouble us in all the old, familiar ways, none of them matters as much as sin.” (Cornelius Plantinga)
To pick up on the previous blog post, which applies to this study: When God’s kingdom–this huge, worldwide feast attended forever by perfected, reborn men and women who will never die, this kingdom of people who love God with all their hearts, this kingdom which is right now inviting anyone and everyone (regardless of who they are or what they’ve done) to repent and enter by faith in Christ (freely! by grace!)–when this kingdom finally, fully comes, what will it do to those who oppose it?
The real Jesus calls us to repent and turn to him or we will be swept away by the oncoming kingdom of God which is inhabited by clean, free, alive people—and only people like that.
If you love God, and love people, and hate what dishonors God and degrades people, you hear this as good news. The world will very soon be totally free of everything that ruins everything.
Anyone, anywhere, from any kind of lifestyle, with any kind of history, can hear this message, turn from their old life to Christ, and be saved. Only refusal to hear, believe, and turn will cause someone to miss out. Believe this good news, and enter the kingdom.