Am I Safe with God?
I recently sat with a new missionary friend who told me the story about a former Taliban terrorist he encountered in another country.
One night in Afghanistan this Taliban terrorist was planning another attack. Suddenly a stranger named Jesus walks into his room and sits at the foot of his bed. This stranger begins explaining the gospel to him in simple terms, with love and patience.
As the stranger begins to stand and leave the Taliban man asked him who he was, to which Jesus replied, "I am God." Instantly he believed the gospel and shared it with the men in his home... who proceeded to try to kill him.
After narrowly escaping, he found his way out of the country into my missionary friend's outreach meeting and said to the missionary, "So when did Jesus appear in your bedroom?"
Wow! There are so many lessons here, but I want to highlight just one. Who was the terrorist in the story? Jesus?
So is God safe?
I guess that depends on what you mean? C. S. Lewis in his work, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has Mr. Beaver speaking to one of the children about Aslan, the Lion:
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
So is he safe in the sense that his love won't challenge our beliefs or comfort zones? No, he is not safe in that way. But it is his love and goodness in contrast to our beliefs, not his angry and unpredictable nature that may feel unsafe. His goodness may scare the hell out of you!
There is a word that the apostle Paul uses that gets a lot of debate for theologians, but for the average Christian, we just tend to gloss over it because we don't know what it means. It is the word, propitiation.
Some believe that the word propitiation means to turn away the wrath of God. They see this as happening at the cross. They imagine Jesus like a mother hen who shelters little chicks under her wings from the devastating fire in the barn. The fire is the wrath of God and we are protected from it because he took it on himself. God killed Jesus so he wouldn't have to kill you.
STOP! Wait a minute. There is a problem with that view. A BIG PROBLEM. The problem is that there are no scriptures that say God poured his wrath out on Jesus at the cross. Not even Isaiah 53 means that (which I explain in my Unshakable Gospel material).
So what do these scriptures mean:
Rom 3:25, “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed…”
Heb 2:17, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
1 Jn 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
The word "propitiate" is translated from the Greek hilasterion, meaning "that which expiates or propitiates" (which doesn't help us when a word is defined by the same word) or "the gift which procures propitiation". The word is also used in the New Testament for the place of propitiation, the "mercy seat" which the Hebrew calls the "covering". Some dictionaries insist it means the soothing of the anger of a god, or the anger of another person.
But look again. Who was angry at the crucifixion? God or man? Did God nail him to the cross or was it men? Did God shout at Jesus or was it men who hurled insults at him? God "gave" his Son to reveal the Father. He did not break his own Law and murder his Son. Acts 2:23 says, "YOU have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death..." WE were the terrorists!
What is God's propitiation? It is his response of mercy, "Father, FORGIVE THEM, they know not what they do!" It is that, "God demonstrated his LOVE toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died FOR us." It was God offering the "covering" of their sins in response to their offense at all that the Son represented. It was the perfect revelation of LOVE AND MERCY at their shedding of HIS BLOOD! It was good overcoming evil. Attempting to annul their anger.
Did you know that God is not angry with you?
Did you know that Romans 4 says, "For it is the Law that brings wrath"? Did you know that the last experience of the wrath of the Law was in AD 70? Here is what Isaiah prophesied,
7 “For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies I will gather you.
8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have MERCY on you,”
Says the Lord, your Redeemer.
9 “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me;
For as I have SWORN
That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth,
So have I sworn
That I would NOT BE ANGRY WITH YOU, nor rebuke you.
10 For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
NOR SHALL MY COVENANT OF PEACE BE REMOVED,"
Says the Lord, who has MERCY on you. (Is. 54)
He would never be angry, never speak harshly, never remove his covenant of peace. Notice this is an oath, a one sided promise based on the faithfulness of God, not based on your faithfulness.
So are you safe with God? Absolutely! Propitiation says that God relates to you through mercy! He stepped into our world in the incarnation, and is present in our worst darkness... even for a terrorist in Afghanistan. He will step into our self-destructive lives and self-destructive beliefs and reveal Truth. Are you ready?
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