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


Blogger *adelaine said...

dear TS, Sorry about being absent for so long- i have been so engrossed in my own life recently.. good thing im not religious or i would have been sin to go on for so long thinkking about just myself...

this article like many in the bible and other scared text again gives so many exmaple of good things.. glorious things done by so many great prophets/messenger of god/son of god... it was prophesied.. it was planned..

i wondered did the mytar had a say in this or it was his destiny all along..

how about those evil... did the devil whiper into their ear as they make their decision or was it also their destiny...

why is the right choice always destiny but to commit evil by your own free will...?

Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
- Mark Twain

April 27, 2005 11:36 PM  
Blogger Tin Soldier said...

Dear Adelaine,

I understand you were bed-ridden a while ago... hope you're getting much better now.

Thanks for your latest comments, here's some of mine:

I'm not sure if our being religious or not correlates with being sinful or not. Ravi Zacharias says that it is possible for all religions to be wrong, but it is not possible for all of them to be right. For a religious worldview to claim that humans have sin and for it to correspond to reality at the same time (ie. for the claim to be true), I would have to say that, to the god of the religion that deals with sin, we are sinful in the eyes of that god when we actually do sin against him. In that case it doesn't matter much if we believe in that particular religion or not (because one of our propositions is that that worldview is the reality). We can believe in something that happens to be right or wrong, but our belief about something doesn't make it right or wrong, unless we're assuming that all religions are merely fantasies or psychological placebos of some sort. Make sense?

It is easy to answer "how do I know I have a freewill?" and equally easy to answer "how do I know I have a prescribed destiny?" But it is a herculean task when we intend to answer "how do I know if I have a freewill and a prescribed destiny at the same time?" Not that there isn't an answer or that the the answer isn't working, but I believe the perfect asnwer that is offered by Christianity comes in such a shocking and humanistically hostile manner that we're not so sure we like it. Isn't the difficulty in accepting the paradoxical answer of freewill and destiny co-existing (though seemingly logic-defying at first inspection) a reflection of our soulish rebellion against our own wellbeing on a deeper level? I know I often find myself liking what's usually bad for me in the long run. But then again remember that our preference doesn't make a thing more right or more wrong. It simply shows that we glorious mortals are more inclined to possess moral autonomy than a spiritual unity with the ultimate answer-Giver, in which case Christianity is right on in its diagnosis of our dilemma.

I believe freewill and destiny can eventually accomplish the task of co-existing because it is the only solution to a difficult problem that plagues all of humanity. If we only have freewill then we have a god that couldn't care less about human suffering; if we only have destiny then we have a god that couldn't appreciate individuality. Either way we are doomed and there would be no point carrying this argument or any other further. And as far as whispering goes, I think both good and evil "whisper into our ears." It is our choice to "listen" to either that defines us. Is it our pre-determined destiny to tune in to one better than to the other? pre-determined as in our hands are tied in wanting to have it the other way round? I personally do not believe that that is the case, nor do I believe we have total freedom to do whatever we fancy, for as much as we'd like it to be, freewill does not equal freedom. Come to think of it, isn't it the nature of love to bind itself to the object of its affections?

With love & always in for a mental challenge,

May 01, 2005 8:08 PM  
Blogger *adelaine said...

psychological placebo, i like this phrase... i think religion is a paradox- if it is not so conflicting with so much room for interpretion they wouldn't be so many branches of christianity, islam, buddhism etc..

but psychological placebo sums up the counter argument for the existance of faith in a religion..

just read through msn gossip making a mockery of Tom Cruise's devotion to Scientology.. well one man's meat..

but yes we are all in sin... even by just being.. then why do we be..

anyways, i really liked road of desire ;) thanks for the book. I read something else on Christianity but it's more towards desire nothing but God- like what the book spoke against (desiring too little).

I am also learning a little bit about Jewish belief- just got to know a very pious jewish customer.. hmmm...

psychological placebos .. now money... status.. even happiness... that are all psychological placebos .. are you happy?

May 05, 2005 12:39 PM  
Blogger Tin Soldier said...

I have a great CD that I have burned for you and it has been sitting around with me. It's an apologetic speech delivered in a forum format by Ravi Zacharias on the uniqueness of Jesus in world religions.

You made an interesting point about the nature of religious beliefs and how it's shaping religious practices today:

i think religion is a paradox- if it is not so conflicting with so much room for interpretion they wouldn't be so many branches of christianity, islam, buddhism etc..

First a necessary clarification. You used the words "paradox" and "conflicting" to mean the same thing, as if both carry the meaning of contradiction. They don't. The word "conflict" could be used to mean self-contradiction, but the word "paradox" cannot be used to mean the same thing without twisting its intrinsic meaning. A paradox is something that seems to contradict itself but may nonetheless still be true in and of itself. In other words, a conflict in a thing cannot be reconciled to itself without help from an outer source; but a paradox is in no need of any help to resolve itself because the reconciliation is already built-in. Life is filled with both, but they are not to be taken as the same thing.

I think I can rightly take you to mean this: Religion is self-contradictory because people are deriving different meanings from the same source. But here's the difficulty in making that conclusion: Why should I believe any given religion to be false (ie. self-contradicting) just because someone tells me they think their way of looking at it is the right one, and that I am only wise to believe likewise? We know there are people who disagree with each other in their religious doctrine because they cannot come to terms with each other in their interpretations of their founder's directives. One Christian says Jesus said something and meant it in a literal sense and another Christian says He said it and meant it in a non-literal sense. Same thing applies to the Muslim fundamentalists vs. Muslim liberals about the claims of Muhammed and maybe the Buddhists about the claims of Gautama Buddha as well... This is what we have observed.

But what can we logically conclude from this observation? There is only ONE conclusion we can draw from observing that people interpret the truth claims of religious founders differently and it is simply this: People do have different interpretations!

It is an error to conclude that a thing is self-contradictory when all we have observed and put forward as argument is what people do with that thing. We might be able to point out that a particular belief (whatever it is) is wrong because of actual contradictory facts offered by the founder of the belief (that's all that there is to a religion). But we cannot say that it's wrong because of the different things people take to be true about a belief. The fact that there are different interpretations of a religion cannot be taken as an argument for that religion being self-conflicting. The argument only implies that people have a tendency to take something (usually something good) in many different directions - that some people understand the founder's intentions better than others. It doesn't tell us if that founder is right in his truth claims or not. To get that we need to examine the belief itself (ie. the founder), not the believer (especially not those who mistakenly identify themselves as believers).

Simply put, the statement is faulty logic.

Anyway I'll send you that CD.

May 06, 2005 11:11 PM  

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