This life we have here, in this form, on this planet, with our friends and family and opportunities is very short compared to our eternal potential. It is easy to get distracted now and miss a present moment for a future possibility. We shouldn’t be taking one step and then another on this walk just debating a future step that is unseen. Jesus sets us free to live eternally now. That may seem strange and paradoxical but so liberating. I used to fear all the time. I used to quake with the thought of tomorrow. I used to argue in my own head the possibilities of tomorrow and completely miss what I have right now. Religion has so many running the treadmill of future possibilities instead of living in the joy Jesus has for us now. We get to live His life. We get to be connected with hope and glory and joy and bliss and peace and a future that will be better than we can possibly contrive in our own imagination. My current investment in my current moment will provide a return in a future dividend. The accounting of Heaven however is based on my investment in the one who has already invested everything in me. Jesus came and died and rose again for me to have all of Him. That is my current reality. That is my eternal investment.
I don’t know if this makes any sense but I do feel it is so easy to get caught up in a debate about something we already have in response to a religious deceptive distraction. We need to be reminded of what Jesus has already done and who He really is.
For example even the word “forgiveness” has been distorted by a Penal Substitution perspective. Jesus came to set us free not cover us up. Jesus came to rid us of a disease not put bandages on sores. He came to eliminate a deception not pile on guilt. Jesus isn’t trying to clean us up, He has already made us perfect. God isn’t disgusted with our sin. He has removed our sin. God isn’t running from our rejection, mistakes, rebellion, bad choices, gross indulgences, addictions, hang-ups, moral infractions, stupid maneuvers, frantic expressions…no He took all that away on the cross. We were in Him on the cross and what came out of the tomb was something new. We came out a new kind of creation that is part human and part God. Just like Jesus we are joined to the divine. We are no longer just an Adam but now a Jesus.
I know this really stretches some. We have so many excuses why we don’t believe this truth. We actually re-write scripture in our minds to accommodate our experience and circumstance. These doctrines based on our paradigms become religious spears in the side of our savior. We want to “see to believe” when God clearly tells us we need to “believe to see.” So I challenge us to believe what God has said even when it is such a mystery and “impossible” to our understanding. I am beginning to believe this way. The changes in my life are so profound I really lack words. Can you imagine walking around in a continuous state of bliss most of the time? Well I can and have. Even when I make that kind of claim some are probably thinking “too good to be true Lance so I know you are full of it.” I’m not here to convince anyone of anything. I just ask that you use your mind of Christ and ask Jesus questions. He will answer.
Back to forgiveness. This word is aphesis in the Greek. It means to send away, let go, release or pardon. It can also mean to release someone from debt or obligation. In the ancient Greek manuscripts the word was used in the concept of divorce, relaxation, exhaustion and the starting point of a horse race. Does any of that sound like what you may have heard before? Check this out:
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, (ESV)
The word liberty in this verse is “aphesis.” Interesting don’t you think? This was Jesus declaring His mission on planet Earth. He came to set free the captives and the oppressed.
You can’t buy forgiveness. You can’t pay for forgiveness. That idea is nonsensical. Forgiveness is a pardon. If you pay for it then it isn’t a pardon but a payment and then you could say someone paid for your sins. But Jesus took away our sins. He forgave our sins. He pardoned, removed, let go and even forgot our sins.
“But Lance, Jesus did pay, don’t you read your Bible?”
That is a typical response to the goodness of God expressed outside the fear of religion. So yes I do read my Bible but I’m not trying to prove anything. That is a religious effort in response to fear that has no foundation since JESUS ALREADY FINISHED IT ALL. But since they asked….Jesus did “die as a ransom.” Want to see?
Matt 20:26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
I’ll skip all the Greek this time and go for the punchline. The disciples were talking about greatness. They were in “bondage” to power and recognition and importance (typical human idols). Jesus sets us free from all that by being our servant and paying for our freedom. He is paying us. In Him (which we were, I know great mystery) we were (as Jesus) a servant instead of a power-hungry egomaniac. Jesus could have given in to the natural tendency of a fallen human to seek power and recognition. Instead He was the lowest of the low. He did what we couldn’t do. That was His “ransom” or payment to us and for us. Not only did He save us and deliver us and join us…He pays for it out of His own life. Are you beginning to see how amazing your Father really is? OK, how about another?
1 Tim 2:3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
In this case we are coming to the knowledge of the truth. Jesus is revealing to us the truth as the mediator between God and man. His ransom was His testimony. He is paying us again. Can you “see” it? We “see” the knowledge of the truth in the dead body of Jesus. If one has died, then all have died. We have all died in Jesus and were “born again” in His resurrection (1 Peter 1:3). We are the “living hope” that everyone can see. Come on! But wait there is more:
1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
In this case Jesus is ransoming us from our futile ways. Our frustration and churning and working and striving and trying harder and doing worse all the time….over and over and over in our independence….because we are not trusting in God!!! Jesus blood is our proof that God is for us. His blood is more valuable than anything because it says that God will and has died for us to prove His allegiance to us. Jesus is Holy and pure and perfect. One tiny drop of His blood makes us Holy and pure and perfect. We are joined to holiness so we are holy. We don’t need to strive anymore or pay anymore. Jesus has done it all. We are good to go. That again is His payment to us.
I know it is just “too good to be true.” I know it hurts your head and breaks all the doctrinal rules you were inundated with in church…but it is truth. If you begin and end with Jesus you will come to know the truth and that knowledge of the truth will set you free. I know that every religious denomination, sect, clan, doctrine, dogma, etc. claims to have the truth and if you don’t believe theirs then, well, you get roasted in a torture chamber for ever and ever. So I am not trying to be one of those. I already know you are a new creation in Christ Jesus because God said so. I already know you are a born again child of God because God said so. I already know that you are so forgiven and pardoned and over-paid in the death of God Himself. I know that God accepts you unconditionally and without any reservation. You are His favorite and He died to prove it. I already know all that so I don’t have to pummel you with fear since God is love and love casts out fear. I know that when I say these things, you already know they are true since you are already made in the image of Jesus. God did all the hard stuff. God “predestined” and “elected you” and “chose you” from before the foundations of the Earth. So you get to choose Him now. He loves you that much. That is God’s way of balancing the books. That is Heavenly accounting.