Jesus didn’t die to save us FROM God.
Just let that sink in for a second. Maybe read it again. Go ahead, it is OK to read it again.
Do you know that the teaching of the western “church” since about 1000 AD and institutionalized in the reformation is that Jesus died to save us from God? Different words are used but the concept is the same. Most western church pews are filled with people terrorized by an angry God that Jesus is protecting them from. OK, maybe that is an extreme hyperbolic representation but I bet I have your attention. (Oh by the way this was a common technique used by the language of people at the time of Jesus and in the ancient Hebrew, just saying). The concept of Penal Substitution or otherwise known as Satisfaction Doctrine is that there is a payment required to God for our bad behavior. There is a penance needed for us to be right with God because God is disgusted with our nasty sinful slimy wormy pile-of-poop nature…there I go again, sorry. Here is the problem: that teaching is not Biblical. It is an opinion or an interpretation but not factual truth. Actually I would say it is contrary to the nature of God. Why? He loves us. He dies for us. He saves us.
Jesus died to save us TO God.
The issue is our fallen nature. God has been trying to rescue us from that stupid, poisoned-fruit, list-and-law, conditional-thinking, hiding-in-the-bushes nature from the very beginning. He came to us in the garden after we absolutely made the worst possible choice and “saved” us from our shame. He saved us from a totally corrupted and wicked and fallen-to-despair existence by escape in an Ark. He rescued us from Egypt. He brought us into the land of promise. He came to Earth as a man to live as a perfect-love human to save us from all the junk. He saves us from our fallen nature, sin, death, the enemy, satan, despair, hopelessness, depression, addiction, hurt, shame, condemnation, guilt, rejection, pride, arrogance, pain, sickness, disease, dysfunction, brokenness, anger, hate, violence, judgment, stereotyping, prejudice, injustice, oppression, subversion, mutilation, mutation.. I can go on an on. He saved us from not-God everything. He saved us from un-God stuff. He saved us from ungodliness. Instead He gave us Him. He gave us His life. He gave us His hope. He gave us His joy. We had made Him our enemy and now He makes us His friend, child, son, daughter, bride. He moves us from a wrong broken relationship into a right restored relationship. He made us right with Him and Him right with us. He makes us righteous. Can you see it now?
Often The Message translation really captures the heart of God:
Romans 5 1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (The Message)
I believe we are stepping into a powerful and new move of God. There is a revival breaking out everywhere and we are in the middle of it. God is restoring us to what He intended all along. He is making us right again. Our eyes are being opened to His goodness and His love all over again. He is bringing us into a revelation of His restoration, liberation, reconciliation and His victory. Jesus is King and we are His kids. We are the benefactors of His goodness. He saves us, really, practically and absolutely…TODAY. We are moving from “tickets to Heaven” to “vessels of Heaven.” He is moving us from “penance” to “liberation.” I don’t know how we got so messed up in our understanding and teaching. God is making it right.
Let me show you a contrast of Paradigm of Penance versus Paradigm of Liberation. I found this in Derek Flood’s Christus Victor article. I put a link to his book in the last post. Check it out. Here are a few questions with the two views.
Why did the messiah come?
Penance Paradigm says: to pay a penalty so we can be justly forgiven. This is a declaration that Jesus needs to save us from God. God has always forgiven us. He gives us what we need to be free of shame and doubt. WE in our fallen nature need to see the sacrifice. God doesn’t need the sacrifice. God desires mercy over sacrifice. God is not in a deficit status. His bank account is full. He as all He needs. He is infinite in love. There is no “moral absolute” with God. There is no “balancing of the cosmic morality code” with God. Those are man things not God things. He has proven over and over and over that He forgives without a sacrifice. Jesus forgave before He died on the cross. It is God’s nature to forgive.
Liberation Paradigm says: to liberate us from the hold of sin and restore us to the Kingdom of Heaven. Rom 6:6, we died to sin. Jesus taught the Kingdom of Heaven is near and in us. We are free from sin. Grace sets us free. If I mess up I know I am forgiven. Where sin abounds Grace super abounds. I have Jesus mediating the goodness of God in my direction. I have the Holy Spirit reminding me of how much God loves me. I have the Holy Spirit revealing where I am not trusting and believing in the promises of God. I have the POWER of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel, in me and with me to defeat the works of the devil. I am free indeed.
Why was the Messiah sinless?
Penance: to be a perfect offering (because God needs one)
Liberation: to model the values of the Kingdom (because man needs to see Him in perfect love)
Why did the Messiah have to suffer?
Penance: to appease authority (God needs a payment)
Liberation: to liberate us from false authority (sin, death, devil)
Where is the culmination of the messianic work?
Penance: on the cross where the penalty was paid (to God to protect mankind from God)
Liberation: the resurrection where Jesus is victorious over sin and death (for fallen mankind)
I filled in the first one with some detail. You think about the others. Which paradigm reveals an angry God that we need rescue from? Which paradigm puts the blame where it belongs? As you ponder, ask God to show you Him in the answer.
You have to ask yourself like Paul did, “why Jesus.” God will give you the answer. Here are some of my thoughts:
The power of the love of God is released when one man who never had anything but love, the perfect human in love and relationship, the one man who completely fulfilled the law of God for man (love Me and each other) that man died alone, completely rejected by all of mankind because He dared to love. That act of submission and obedience and love released resurrection love POWER. Now the love that Jesus brought to the world is released onto the world in POWER and PERSON and INTIMACY. Finally man is restored and joined to the restorer. We get to love like Jesus. We get to be like Jesus. We are empowered like Jesus. Finally we are dead to the victim thinking and powerless existence theories. We are like Jesus. The more we are free to love ourselves as Jesus loves us the more we can love another. The more we embrace his love for our humanity the more we become the perfect human. The more we surrender to His salvation the more we move in His resurrection. The more we can submit to His intimacy the more we are joined to the power of restoration. We are not an equal by no means but we are so important to him that he gave his life to us. He gives me His life. He lets me kill him so I will know and never doubt. I give Him my life and I get his. He is there on the cross helpless and abandoned by all of mankind and says “give it to me.” For the offended He takes the offense. For the offender He takes the offense. For the hated He restores. For the hater He receives the hate. Offense looses its power. Hate looses its power. Love is restored. That is our Jesus. That is our God.
Hopefully you are beginning to see. Hopefully you are experiencing a paradigm shift. Jesus came to save us from us and to God. Jesus did not come to save us from an angry God. God has always been on our side. He is our Father. He sets us free from all the junk that comes from a fallen nature and a fallen world. We get to live victorious now. We get to see His Godly Justice play out. We get to see His Godly Judgment in action. It may look very different from what we expect. Likely the offender and the offended both get saved. That is His nature. That is our God. That is our new paradigm. So I say yes to a much-needed Paradigm Shift.