Sunday, November 29, 2009

An Allegory and the Truth

Let us say you are arrested and brought into the court on serious charges; charges that meant your death if you were found guilty. Suppose further that the evidence is so overwhelming concerning your crime that there is no doubt, and you are without hope. The court turns in the verdict: guilty, sentenced to die to satisfy the court’s justice. Suppose further now that there was a clause which could save you. An animal, a lamb as it were, was brought into the courtroom and stood between you and the judge who condemned you. While you are pondering what this meant, the judge explained.

“You are guilty of your crime before this court and worthy of death so far as justice is concerned; and justice must be satisfied in this matter. But here you see this lamb, an innocent, harmless animal who has done no wrong, nor could he, for the lamb knows no wrong. I am willing to allow that this lamb might be killed in your stead, only if you fully believe that by shedding his blood rather than yours, he is dying the death that this court demands from you.”
“You have but two choices,” the judge continues, “You may by faith believe that by killing this lamb in your place, the justice of the court is satisfied and your debt owed the court is settled; since a life has been taken, you are no longer in danger of being tried again. The lamb will die in your place as your substitute; you must simply believe that his death appeases the court’s justice. Otherwise, you may refuse the mercy of the court in providing a substitute to die on your behalf, and instead die yourself to satisfy the demands of the law. But know this: that you or the lamb must die. There is no exception.”
Would you then, presented with these two choices, spurn the offer of the court? Here stands an innocent one in your place who has done no wrong. Had he done wrong, he would have to be punished via the law’s justice for his own trespass, but this is not so; he is innocent, and therefore capable of dying the death you rightly deserve, having offended the court and broken the law. Or you may choose to reject the court’s mercy.
“I declare that henceforth, by the standard of the law I shall trespass no more,” you proudly declare, “I will not lie, steal, commit adultery or murder; I will honor my parents and tithe to charities. I will strive to walk upright in the sight of the court, and its law.” The judge would give you a stern glare and reply, “You ought to walk upright in the sight of the law, for that is what should be normal and common for you. That is only fitting for practice and behavior to conduct yourself in such a way, even if you walked uprightly for the rest of your life, it is no reward granted, for you are then only doing what the law of this court demands of you. But you have still trespassed the law, and broken it. You are guilty, and worthy of death. The reality of your outstanding felony is another matter entirely, one that shall be dealt with justly. Your good conduct does not appease the court’s justice.”
You consider, and then reply, “I don’t believe there is a law, or a judge to hang me. I am free to believe what I wish as I wish, and to live a life that is unhindered by any superior authority that supposedly lords over me.”
The judge, now quite irate, replies, “You stand in the court presently, and you live in such a way that you testify that you believe there is indeed a law to abide by. There are local and national authorities, and the authority of your parents that have been set over you, and you have never; no, not once, been utterly free from all rule and authority. If so with minor things, how much more with the very fabric of moral behavior that is ingrained in your very person?”
Pressed for answers, convicted by the reality of the conscience that accuses you and tells you that morality does indeed exist objectively, implying there is a standard by which you would be judged, and that standard in the court’s eyes is perfection. The moment you made your first argument you confessed, without thought, to the moral truth you inherently knew was real and subjective.
Hastily you speak, “The court is such a plastic government. Every man or woman has their own conception about its function and purpose, and how the court may be appeased be words, deeds, penance or confession. No one is right when they are sincere and repentant; the court is austere only to some who behold it so, while it is merciful and all-embracing to others, who deem it so. I am inclined to believe the court is not so concerned with my doings in daily life toward others that it would intervene to arrest and execute me.”
The judge, outraged but stoic, responds, “You are in contempt! The court, and the law of this court, as well as my person, speak clearly for themselves, having been given in so many pages to so many people, for their edification and betterment. I have issued a written and thorough declaration as to my person and this court’s function; so much so that no honest man reading my words could misunderstand me. It is for contempt of this court and my person, and a lack of gravity as to the serious nature of the crime committed, that you plead so poorly. Think you that redefining my justice, and then pleading this feigned thing would please me? Or would it release you from your bonds? You run to men of corrupt mind, already executed for their trespasses, destitute of power or ability to make their doctrines stand. Yet this court has stood longer than all; and will stand until all other pretenders have been broken and taken away. There is proof in my writings, proof in your own conscience, and proof in the reality of the world you dwell in that speak truth to anyone who listens. Yet you care not to hear what you need to; rather what you wish to.”
Now the judge would say, “Make your choice: you are guilty and worthy of death; who shall die? You or the lamb?”
In a heat of pride and passion you confess, “If I make either choice, I must admit that I am wrong, have sinned against your justice, and am deserving of this punishment!”
“That is true,” the judge answered.
“If I choose death, then I will be no more; if I choose the lamb, I acknowledge my own inability to save myself!”
“You again have spoken truth,” the judge tells you, “You can by no means preserve your life, or pay back the court, sufficient for the trespass you have committed. Justice must be done, but will you not in humble faith cast your crime on this lamb, and allow him to suffer for it, the innocent for the guilty? You have the court’s assurance that should you do so, you will be set at liberty; only recall the spilt blood of this lamb who was led to the slaughter without complaint. Keep him before your eyes, should you accept this substitute, and remember that when you were without strength, yet this lamb died in your stead. As a free man, honor his sacrifice, and walk worthy of this new liberty with which you could be freely granted, solely on this court’s mercy.”
“I have come to the end of myself,” you might lament.
There is one who has stood in the stead of every guilty sinner that has ever lived, and will ever live: Jesus Christ. He is the end of the law of righteousness to everyone who believes, Romans 10:4. His sacrifice was once for all, to repeated no more, Hebrews 9:26; 28, 10:12-14. His sacrifice redeems. His atonement provides peace with God, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, Romans 5:1, Philippians 4:7. Peace with God, in that your debt with Him is settled. Christ died on the cross to provide a payment for your sins that you could never do. He was entirely without sin, lived a sinless life and upheld the law perfectly, but was made sin for us, 2nd Corinthians 5:21. What does this mean? The Son was made sin for us so that the Father might punish Him in our stead, punishing all of our sin without having to actually punish us in the process. Christ vicariously suffered what we deserve, the torments of separation from God, while He agonized on the cross. He tasted death for us, which in the Bible, implies separation, Hebrews 2:9, John 8:51-52. Then we have the peace of God, in that we may now live life as it was meant to be lived; in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, who abides in us through faith, John 14:26; 16:13. We may be anxious for nothing, but always petition our heavenly Father with our requests, Philippians 4:6. The Father established that faith in the Son of God as the only approach to Him He finds acceptable, John 14:6, Acts 4:12. Our iniquities have created this gulf between us and God, Isaiah 59:2. Our sins have separated us from Him, and brought His displeasure and wrath upon us, Isaiah 53:5-6. Yet the Father was pleased to bridge this gulf, this impassable barrier (on our part) through His Son, the narrow way, and the Door, Matthew 7:13-14, John 10:7-9. In both passages Jesus refers to broad ways which lead to destruction, and thieves and robbers who apparently haunt this broad way. Anyone treading it, this moral or religious highway, is actually descending to Hell; i.e., destruction.
The atonement Jesus provides is free, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9. Anyone may receive it if they come with empty hands. For only an empty hand is capable of taking something from the Lord. This gift is eternal, John 3:15-16; 10:28; 17:2-3. It will never be taken back by God, Romans 11:29, and can never be forfeit or removed by any created being, including ourselves, Romans 8:38-39! Once you are saved by grace, you are saved forever, even presently, the instant you believe! Don’t believe me? Go to the thief on the cross, and see the gift of God abundantly given, Luke 23:42-43. Why can it never be removed, forfeit, or otherwise lost? Because salvation was never based on our merit, worth, or achievement, but solely on Jesus Christ, His merit, and His achievement, Titus 3:4-5, Hebrews 1:3. Jesus Christ is our great God and Savior, Titus 1:13, and the One who shall judge the living and the dead at the Judgment, 2nd Timothy 4:1, Acts 10:42. So I pray today when you hear His voice, do not harden your heart, as in the rebellion, Psalm 95:7-8. He proclaims liberty for condemned sinners, and lives to save such as we are. Believe in him, I implore you, for your everlasting good. Amen.

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