Monday, February 15, 2010

Man's Greatest Need...

“Man’s greatest need is forgiveness,” the pastor proposed as his main point of his message. Naturally the message centered on forgiveness that is given through and as a result of Christ’s sacrificial death. This point was thoroughly nailed down with excellent proof texts of God’s forgiveness of our sin via Christ Jesus.

When someone makes a statement such as, “Man’s greatest need is…,” is makes me sit up and listen. More importantly it makes me think. As I pondered this statement I began to wonder is that really man’s greatest need?

I think that forgiveness is an essential part in the redemptive process. I certainly would not downplay either, the need for forgiveness, and the fact that forgiveness for my sins was purchased by the price of the death of Jesus Christ. I am glad I can emphatically state that I have been, am now, and will always be forgiven of my sin and sins by the death of God’s unique, one-of-a-kind Son.

However, I think man’s greatest need is reconciliation. Since the majority of the redemptive process takes place instantly at the moment of the operative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives I don’t want to be perceived as merely splitting “theological” hairs.

Elwell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines reconciliation as, “…change of attitude or relationship.” In his, Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem indicates reconciliation is necessary in order “to overcome our separation from God.” Millard Erickson writes of reconciliation in his Christian Theology, “the death of Christ also brings to an end the enmity and estrangement which exits between God and mankind. Our hostility toward God is removed.”

The scripture makes it clear that we are in fact separated from God. As we are conceived and born into sin, we are absolutely at enmity, hostility, and separation from God. The attitude is mutual. It is hard to find stronger language in regards to God’s relationship to those who have not been reconciled to Him than in Psalms 5:5, “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes, you hate all evildoers.”

Romans 8:7 makes it clear that we who are separated from God “hate” God. Do not be mistaken, there is no such thing as a “sensitive-seeker.” Romans 1 makes it clear that since this great “separation” not one living human being seeks the God of the Bible. Prior to the reconciling work of God in our hearts because of the work of Christ and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit we are God-haters.

As we search the Scripture it becomes clear that we God’s attitude toward the unredeemed is hate, enmity, and hostility, we have absolutely no relationship with Him. So, it seems to me that we need to have the attitude of God changed towards us and a relationship reestablished with us. Hence, man’s greatest need is reconciliation. We need to have God think differently about us and to relate to us in a positive, beneficial, and loving manner.

Fortunately, forgiveness is part of the reconciliation process. God forgives the sinner who repents and turns to Him in faith. Thank God that our sin and sins are forever put away from us (and His memory) by His efficacious death.

You say, why do you think this is, first an important topic to take up your time to read, and second, why is it not simply splitting hairs? Let me tackle the first question which should answer the second question.

I think it is important to understand redemption thoroughly. Complete and accurate understanding of salvation would guard us from the multitude of mistakes and errors that attach themselves to the redemptive process.

First and foremost is the motive for salvation. Why does one want to be “redeemed” or “saved” in the first place? Those who peddle the gospel as a panacea for all of mankind’s ills present the gospel in this manner, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Really? We know that ultimately God does make us His children and even joint heirs with His Son and that in eternity He intends to lavish His grace on us. We also know from Romans 8 that even in this life God intends to extend His grace on us.

As the initial means of motivating someone to “accept” the gospel, God’s loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life is lame. Tell that to the believers who were covered in tar and set on fire as Tiki Torches at Nero’s garden parties. Tell that to 11 of the 12 apostles who were killed for their witness. Tell that to the Fathers, husbands, and brothers who watched their wives, daughters, and sisters raped by Roman soldiers or by worse. Tell that to the believers in Hebrews 11:36-40.

When you motivate someone to “accept” the terms of redemption for what it will do for them is dangerous. We don’t need to come to Christ in order to become happy, fulfilled, successful, better spouses, better parents, or better business people.

We need reconciliation. We need God to change His attitude and His relationship towards us. Why? This is the only way to escape the condemnation, judgment, and wrath of God that already rests upon us. As long as I am spiritually dead, as long as enmity, hostility and separation from God exists I am doomed to an eternity of judgment and punishment.

Yes, reconciliation is our greatest need. The death of Jesus Christ met our greatest need by his sacrifice, by his act of propitiation, by reconciling us to God, and thereby redeeming us as He forgave our sins.

So, what is man’s greatest need? Reconciliation! How did Christ’s death accomplish this? He accomplished by suffering the penalty set by God for sin, by removing the wrath, condemnation, and judgment of God against us, by overcoming the attitude and separation from God, and by buying us out the market of sin.

Yes, reconciliation is man’s greatest need which results in the forgiveness of our sin. Yes, forgiveness of sin is man’s greatest need which is accomplished through the “process” of reconciliation.

What say ye?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment!! Very true! God bless you!!

marylea said...

Well written, and well thought. I certainly agree that it is shallow and wrong to lure someone to God with a false promise of prosperity or even happiness. Being united with Him can mean (temporary) suffering if looking at the lives of Jesus, his mother, or his followers are any indication.

That word, "reconciliation" is a beautiful word indeed!

Thanks for visiting my blog today, too.

God bless you. Hope you get the opportunity to start a new church soon.

Dora's Daddy said...

Wanted to say thank you for visiting my blog. I am enjoying reading yours.
Love the Chambers quote!

WhiteStone said...

Thanks. Good explanation. And useful to me.