Last week in my Wednesday class we discussed the topic of being ransomed by God, out of Hebrews 9:11-28. To fully appreciate the work of Christ on the cross, we must understand the concepts of: satisfaction for sin, substitution for sin, propitiation, redemption, reconciliation, God’s love and holiness over against our human sinfulness that brings God justice and wrath.
God is love, yet cannot be in the presence of or condone our sin; so the wrath of God is consistent with his justice. This is the problem of forgiveness. God loves us and desires to forgive, but He cannot just let our sin go unpunished, which brings in God’s justice.
On the cross, God drew mankind to himself. Hebrews 7:25 states, “He (Christ) is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him” (NASB). The teaching of this verse is that Christ saves us to forever, not just in length of time, but in the concept of wholeness, perhaps meaning “completely” or “totally” or “fully.” Forever here can also refer to the function of Christ as the High Priest forever, as the writer leads toward in Hebrews 7:26. There is no longer a need for repeated sacrifices, Christ died once for all (Hebrews 7:27, 9:12, 26, 10:2, 10, 1 Peter 3:18).
But today, the question is, Christ saves us from what forever? I believe He saves us from being “cut off” from the kindness of God. Check out Romans 11:22 where the Bible says, “Behold the kindness [or goodness] and severity of God” (NASB). Paul goes on to identify in the very next phrase the people who are “cut off” from God’s kindness (“those who fell” or “disobeyed” – those who are not in Christ), and those who continue in God’s kindness (“to you” – those who are in Christ). He states point blank that there are two options, either to experience God’s kindness or to be cut off. Being cut off from God’s kindness is a very severe thing (Paul uses the imperative word behold).
In Zambia there is a popular saying that, “God is good, all the time” and “all the time, God is good.” I have come to realize that this is only a partial truth; God is good all the time … to those who come to Him by Christ. Those who refuse Christ are “cut off” from God’s goodness, (which btw, to be “cut off” from the goodness of God is the biblical definition of hell). Hell is not Dante’s version of a sadomasochist Creator who tortures sinners. Biblical hell is a prison where lawbreakers are cut off from the Creator’s goodness. Once goodness is removed, only evil remains.
So, where do you stand? Are you in or out? Are you experiencing God’s kindness or are you cut off?