Friday, March 25, 2011

The Death of Christ Is Pleasing to the Father

In our age of radical skepticism within intellectual establishments regarding the death of Jesus Christ at Calvary, and the absolute abandonment by many of the concept of substitutionary atonement, it would be helpful for every Christian to be reminded of why the sufferings of Christ at Calvary are deemed so important from a biblical perspective.

I received an email from someone who read my blog regarding my time in jail in Mexico, and he wrote that "I was captivated by the story until you started speaking of the conversion of your cell mate." Then, the writer said, "your emphasis on Christ and the the prisoner's 'conversion' to faith in Christ caused me to lose all interest."

I appreciate my pen partner's honesty. Unfortunately, the gentleman who wrote me that letter is at odds with His Creator. In short, he has insulted God. He has called unlovely what God calls lovely. It is like someone ridiculing an artist's masterpiece. You may enjoy the freedom to share your opinion, but don't expect to be friends with the artist. In like manner, God gives every man the freedom to ridicule the death of His Son, but don't expect God to be friends with the person who finds tasteless what God finds incredibly delightful. Let me show you what I mean.

Hebrews 2:10 says, "For it was fitting for Him (God), for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the Captain of their salvation (Jesus) through sufferings."  This verse says that the sufferings of Christ at Calvary were "fitting for" God (NAS) or "becoming to" God (KJV).

The little phrase "fitting for Him" (NAS) translates the Greek phrase eprepen autoi. Without going into the interesting etymology of the word "eprepen," it is sufficient to illustrate the use of this rare biblical word with modern illustrations using the English translation.

To say something is "fitting" or "becoming" to a person means that it represents what the person likes, or who a person is. For example, my wife Rachelle is a very classy lady. She has her hair cut (see picture above) in a very "fitting" or "becoming" style for her, at least in my opinion.

The Bible says that it was "fitting" or "becoming" for God that the Son, Jesus Christ, would be made perfect through His sufferings at the cross. The cross represents the gracious character of God, in that He sent His Son Christ to suffer all the legal penalties of God's law, for His people, in order that Jesus might be the Captain of our salvation and bring "man sons to glory (heaven)." In other words, God is very well pleased with the the sufferings of Christ at Calvary. It is something beautiful for Him. The substitutionary death of Jesus Christ at Calvary is "fitting" and "becoming" to God.

To ridicule the need for the death of Christ, or to abandon the concept of atonement as a relic of a tasteless or crude religion, or to find the sufferings of Christ at Calvary irrelevant to faith in God is to mock the very thing that God finds "fitting," "becoming," and beautiful.

It would be similar to you insulting my classy wife by making fun of her hair cut. The difference is the consequence for anyone insulting God by rejecting the cross at Calvary, the very thing that represents His character and He considers intensely beautiful, is far more severe than any insult of my wife.  When you reject Calvary, you insult God.