Saturday, March 26, 2005

"It Is Finished", by Greg Koukl

Crucifixion is a cruel form of execution, generally reserved for slaves and rebels. Death is agonizing and slow, the result of shock, exposure and, eventually, asphyxiation. Hanging from a cross constricts the diaphragm, inhibiting breathing. The only way to get air is to release pressure on the arms by pushing up against the nails that pierce the feet, requiring continual effort that could go on for days. Exhaustion eventually overtakes the victim and he suffocates.

For Jesus, though, the pain of the cross paled in the face of a greater anguish. There was a deeper torment that could not be seen, more excruciating than nails pinning Jesus’ body to the timbers, more dreadful than lashes ripping flesh from His frame. It was a dark, terrible, incalculable agony, an infinite misery, as God the Father unleashed his fury upon His sinless Son as if guilty of an immeasurable evil.

Why punish the innocent One? Nailed to the top of the cross was an official notice, a certificate of debt to Caesar, a public display of Jesus’ crime: “The King of the Jews.” The certificate of debt was a list of crimes committed against the state that required payment. When punishment was complete, Caesar’s court would cancel the debt with a single Greek word stamped upon the parchment’s face: “tetelestai.”

Being king of the Jews was not the crime Jesus paid for, however. Hidden to all but the Father was another certificate nailed to that cross. In the darkness that shrouded Calvary from the sixth to the ninth hour, a divine transaction took place; Jesus made a trade with the Father. The full weight of all the crimes of all of humanity—every murder, every theft, every lustful glance; every hidden act of vice, every modest moment of pride, and every monstrous deed of evil; every crime of every man who ever lived—these Jesus took upon Himself as if guilty of all.

At the last, it was not the cross that took Jesus’ life. He did not die of exposure, or loss of blood, or asphyxiation. When the full debt for our sin was paid, and the justice of God was fully satisfied, Jesus simply gave up His spirit with a single Greek word that fell from His lips: “Tetelestai.” “It is finished.” The divine transaction is complete. The debt was cancelled. (Colossians 2:13-14)

This was not an accident. It was planned. The prophet Isaiah described it 700 years earlier:

Surely our griefs He Himself bore….He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way. But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Is 53:4-6)

No other man did this. No other man could. Jesus alone, the perfect Son of God, the Savior of the world, He paid the debt so that whoever relies on Him would not perish under God’s judgment, but have life with Him fully and forever.

“It is finished.” It only remains for us to trust in His promise.

About Greg Koukl




A writing to B on apologetics and Good Friday

Hi B,

I've checked out the verses in Acts and you were spot on. It's really obvious from those verses that the duty of apologetics lies in the hands of Christ's followers. And there's so much work to be done to equip ourselves for that purpose.

I'm reading the Bible and praying a lot more lately. And I'm really enjoying the moments, unlike before when I was only coming to God asking for stuff, now there's nothing I want more than to enter His presence and give Him daily the glory that is duly His. Can you tell me how is it that a man can experience extended joy in his God? That's what I have right now, nothing in my heart but "joy, joy, joy, tears of joy..." as Pascal put it.

So this Good Friday means a lot more to me than the ones commemorated before. At the service this morning a father sitting behind me quietly explained the meaning of Communion to his son as the leaders were calling the church forward to eat and drink the body and blood of Christ as He once instructed us to do in memory of Him. The father encouraged me and reminded me of a recent thought. Finally now I can know with full confidence that I will have a legacy to leave with my children, if I ever have them one day. And it would be something that will not perish - their father's love and longing for his Maker, in spite of his shortcomings.

The more I listen to people the more I'm convinced that there is no lasting hope or rest outside of Jesus. We have much to pray for. And I'm so glad to know that I'm not alone in this battle. Our comradeship in Christ is kept among the most treasured gifts in my chest.

Yours,
A




Sunday, March 20, 2005

A thanking B for introducing the Better Hope

Dear B,

I had a great day today. 'Great' is an understatement but it's all I can sum it up with. . .

My heart is still rejoicing. Nothing makes a man more alive and driven than knowing the pleasures he could bring to his Master, the living, loving and wonderful God. Thank you for sharing the truth of the Better Hope with me, B. I know I am forever changed because of it. My heart is so full I feel like a blowfish. I must commit myself to God more in my prayers so that I won't start feeling cocky and do something stupid. None of what is given for us to work at can be successful unless we depend solely and fully on Him to make them a success.

Thanks also for the new leads on books and websites. You continue to be in my prayers and fondest thoughts in the love of our Lord.

Yours,
A




Thursday, March 17, 2005

Immanuel

Myriad as His ways seem, He has only one plan throughout history, and that's so obvious it's too often overlooked.

Some call this single-minded plan of His the Immanuel Agenda: He will be with a people who value Him above every other blessing.

That's been so overlooked amidst our shattered dreams and temporal pleasures we can't see that experiencing God is in itself a source of greater pleasure than experiencing anything else.

Your life must adhere to the Immanuel Agenda. Nothing else will ever come close to being as important.




Wednesday, March 16, 2005

"Friends"

Summer afternoon

A sudden tap-tap-tap
on the windowpane

Two dog-eager smirks
framed in bored restraint.

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Sunday, March 13, 2005

First time. Found. Set free.

Strange thing that He'd be standing in the middle of the room and still no one would take a second look at Him, including those who claim to know and adore Him. They would talk animatedly about His charity and His credentials. But they wouldn't look at Him. Stranger even that He never took His eyes off of you even as you missed Him and joined in the small talks.

Now you're parting the crowd to get to Him - and how it fans and flares along your way to compete for your single-minded attention. You can see it even as you lace through the beleaguerers. . .

That look. . . The glares in His eyes. . . Quiet, intense, inviting.

First time. You're walking to Freedom - that's what some call Him though not many knows what that means. Otherwise they would have stopped chatting and jumped on Him.

"Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of joy. . ."

Found. No more searching.

"So if the Son sets you free. . ."

Free indeed.




Monday, March 07, 2005

More

It is suggested that you've done more for Him than you are confortable admitting.

"...do you really love Me more than these?"

No, not enough. He deserves more - much, much more. You always forget that.

"...do you truly love Me?"

Anything for Him... He's everything to you.

"...do you love Me?"

Do you love Him?... You know what to do.




Sunday, March 06, 2005

"Writer At Work"

He raises his pen,
dips its tip in ink, and
looks out the window.

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"Backstage"

There is a dim, hushed backstage
across from eternity
where all are dressed for their parts
eager to enter the light
when the drum rolls
horns blow
curtains rise
and the first act commences.

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Friday, March 04, 2005

Not quite dead yet

You just realized that some of the things you write are better left to yourself. Your restraint from explaining yourself is repeatedly causing friends to suspect tendencies toward the depressive and suicidal. But then again is death really all that scary?

Someone affirmed to you once: Death is the scariest thing of all.

But you honestly thought that you were going to die... Nah - you weren't even close. Why, the self is always hard to kill.

And no, death is not the scariest thing of all... Hopelessness is.




Thursday, March 03, 2005

"The Night Before I Died"

The night before I died...
There were still a million things
left to be done
My work was in a constant state of incompleteness
My bank account had more money
than I could spend in a day
My gym membership was overdue
My novel finally had a title
but I still couldn't decide on
what story to tell


The night before I died...
I stayed up all night
Just thinking
Imagining
The possibilities of a different life
Could I have been more brash in behavior
Or less indulgent with hiding?


The night before I died...
I hadn't clung to the lips of a girl
She had visited me countless times at night
But her face kept changing each time
I named her my "Porcelain Doll"
because I was "Tin Soldier"
I loved my Porcelain Doll with all my heart


The night before I died...
I was playing "All The Things You Are"
My Porcelain Doll and I were gliding
on the pool of my mind
We rested from our gliding and took a walk
She said to me,
"Finally come tomorrow,
morning will never again interrupt us."
She was referring to my promise to her
granted the day I died.

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