What Do You Care Anyway?

January 17, 2011

I am hoping to take a different approach with next few posts for the purpose of going over some of the basics of the Christian faith for any who may pass by this site unsure of how to become born again as Jesus speaks of in John 3. This is going to be long, so I pray your heart is prepared.

For those of us who have sought to tell others about our Lord and their need for salvation, there is one overall theme that seems to keep coming up from our non-believing friends…and that is “What do you care anyway?”

Why DO we Christians really care about those who don’t claim faith in God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ? To put it plainly, it is because HE cares. Jesus cared enough to die for us. In John chapter 3 we have this discussion between Nicodemus, who was one of the most respected members of the Jewish ruling council, and Jesus. The account of this conversation goes like this: “He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, NO ONE can see the kingdom of God unless he is BORN AGAIN.” How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

When a person takes that step of faith to do what Jesus said, become “born again”, there is an eternally life altering event that takes place. You become a brand new person. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

This newness is what inspires those of us who are here on this site and others to do what we do…defend the faith. We are no longer interested in our old ways. Speaking for myself that means things I no longer miss AT ALL such as going to keg parties, getting wasted, stealing, telling as many lies as I could to try to cover my other lies et al. We all have a past to some degree that we have happily left behind for this “new life”. God has replaced all that old crud with NEW and exciting things. We have been born again to a NEW life. When we are born the first time physically as Jesus was speaking of when He said “born of water” we are born dead to God in sin. This sin was inherited through the first man and woman that we all know as Adam and Eve.

You see, from the first book of the Old Testament (Genesis) to the last (Revelation), there is one consistent theme…God and man has experienced a separation…an alienation…a barrier. This barrier cannot be removed by man. The Good News is that God has removed it for us. This is why we are here. To tell any who are interested…and then defend why we believe this is true. But there is no use talking about Who Jesus is or why He came until we first understand the nature of this barrier that exists between man and God.

I am sure all of us know the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But it is painfully obvious there are many that don’t understand the ramifications of what exactly happened there and why it is such a big deal. This is why I am starting this new series that will probably be broken down into several posts.

Now, picture if you will, the first record we have of man’s relationship with God as recorded back in Genesis. It was a beautiful environment, and there was TRUE fellowship and communication between God and His creation…man. Man was free to do as he wanted. He was asked to do only ONE THING…not to eat of a one certain tree in the Garden. (I ask you to please refrain from the thought of free will at this point) But a legitimate question is “Why would God place a tree there and then ask them not to eat from it in the first place?” I believe that this was a test of man’s trust in God’s judgment to care for him. It was also a test of whether he wanted to continue in the relationship. You see it was not the tree that was evil…it was man’s choice to disobey God that was evil.

Please understand that before Adam or Eve ever took a bite from the fruit of the tree that was forbidden, there was something else that had taken place that would give them a reason to decide to rebel against God’s command…they had to believe a lie…a lie about God’s character. You see at some point they had come to a place in their own minds that God really didn’t have their best interests at heart. They had to have been thinking that God was keeping something from them that would make them godlike. The exact SECOND they disobeyed, a barrier was placed between themselves and God that could not be removed by man. The awesome fellowship and relationship that they had once enjoyed with God their Creator was INSTANTLY broken. Spiritual life was now dead. They no longer had the kind of Life that God has.

What we argue as Christians is that through all the religions, traditions, philosophies, good works and ideals of man, man himself CANNOT break down this barrier…only God Himself can remove it…on Grace alone. So the logical question now becomes “Why does there have to be a barrier at all?”

Well I believe that is a question that can best be summed up with this one answer…God is HOLY. The word Holy basically means “to be separate”. God and man are now separated because we are not Holy. That which is not Holy cannot be in God’s presence. Now before you go and say, “It’s God fault in the first place that man is now separated from Him. He should never have set such high standards.” Trust me, I understand. I deeply sought the answer to these questions myself in my own time of searching.

There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in Holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future. Our present state of sin keeps us separated from God’s Holiness. We have a sin debt that we owe to God.

To get a better understanding of this sin debt, we have to go back to the practices of the Roman Empire’s criminal courts. All Roman law assumed that every Roman citizen owed Caesar allegiance and obedience to his laws. As you probably know, Roman justice was swiftly enforced on any who dared break his laws.

If a person was found guilty of breaking the law and sentenced to prison, there was a list made that itemized every single infraction he made. Along with that was the penalty to correspond to each law that was broken. In essence, this list was a record of how the person failed to live up to the laws of Caesar. It was known technically as the “Certificate of Debt”. This Certificate of Debt was then nailed to the door of the prison cell so that when you passed by you would then see that the person inside had been condemned justly and see that the punishment given was limited. Once the person had served their time and was released, they were handed this really old, torn and weathered Certificate of Debt. At last there was good news for the one who was imprisoned for the debt he owed Caesar. On the Certificate of Debt were written three very important words for all to see…those three words were “Paid in Full”. No longer were they held accountable for not keeping the law or not upholding the standard that was set for them to meet. Their debt had been paid…they were free.

You may be able to see where we are going now. Man owes God PERFECT obedience to His Holy laws. Why? Because this is what God requires. We owe it to God to be perfect as He is perfect and since this is His requirement, his standard MUST be met. Remember, God is Holy and His Holy character demands that we be Holy. But because man continually disobeys God’s laws, he has become an offense to the very character of God.

To sin actually means “to miss the mark”. Imagine that you are playing darts and you MUST hit the bulls eye each and every time it is your turn. If you miss just once…ONCE…you have missed the mark. You have failed to meet the standard of perfection. If you want to think about in terms of a justice system, you could say that God, as the Eternal Judge has pronounced a DEATH SENTENCE upon all men…because “ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Romans 3:23. We have ALL missed the mark. We have ALL had one dart miss. ALL of us have. Also keep in mind that when you work for someone, that person owes you wages for the work you have done. Well, we in our sin nature work for God’s enemy, Satan. And the work we have done is sin…and the wages we have earned for that work is…you guessed it…death. As it says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In Colossians 2:14 Paul says, “having cancelled the written code, with its regulation, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross.” This passage indicates that a Certificate of Debt was prepared for EVERY person who would ever live, listing every sin they ever committed…every failure to live up to God’s Holy standard in thought, deed and word in accordance with the law of God was recorded and listed. This death sentence has become a Debt of Sin to God. As you know, if you have any debt, it has to be paid. If we are not able to pay this debt, then there must be someone who is qualified to take our place and pay it for us or the one to whom the debt is owed can choose to forgive the dept outright. This verse says that Jesus took our debt of sin and nailed it to the cross. In other words, our Certificate of Debt has been “Paid in Full”. Isn’t that Good News?

It is my hope that if we will be looking with much more detail in future posts regarding the implications of this debt of sin being forgiven with such terms as propitiation, sanctification and justification. We are only scratching the surface here in an attempt to keep the flow going without bogging down, yet seeking to cover the finer points of Grace.

The most beautiful thing about having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and not a religion is what happens on the inside of each individual who has God’s Holy Spirit indwelling them. He gives us new motivation to live, new hope and a new desire to face each day. Religion can only offer external programs, traditions made of men or a code of ethics that must be met in order to change the OUTER behavior or the outer man. Well that would be fine and dandy if that were the only problem…but it’s not. When someone has an outward renovation, it tends to blind them to the real problem which is the sin nature on the INSIDE of each person. It does no good to paint the outside of your house if the interior of the house is wrecked from years of parties and abuse. If the builder of the house wants to purchase it back, he will not take if only the outside if cleaned. The inside must be clean as well. Otherwise you only have a superficial representation of what was originally created.

This is what happened with Adam and Eve. What they failed to realize was just how disastrous it would be to be spiritually dead. When they sinned, they immediately felt alienated from God. They even went so far as to hide from Him. These were the first indications that they were dead spiritually. God had warned that “in the day they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they would surely die.” They didn’t die physically right then, but their spirits died INSTANTLY. The part of their life that could know and communicate with God personally had died. Now they were faced with a sense of alienation brought on by guilt.

Aside from all the other nasty consequences of man’s disobedience to God, perhaps the worst is that God withdrew from man His spiritual life and left man with a dead spirit…or a spiritual vacuum if you will.
You can just see the problem that arose between God and man. God had made man in such a way that communication with Him was possible through His Spirit. So now God had to communicate with man in ways that his five senses could comprehend.

That is the essential message of the entire Bible actually…God seeking ways to make fallen humans aware of His existence, His Love and His judgment against all sin. But God always takes the initiative to reach out to us in ways that we could understand through our physical senses.

So here we have a decent picture (I hope) of this universal barrier that separates man from God. We can’t tear this thing down and we can’t climb over it by our own efforts. The barrier MUST come down somehow though if we ever hope to have access to God again…and only God Himself can do that.

So the question still remains….”why?”

This is where we will pick up next time. As I said, I hope this is going to be a series of posts on the overall question of “Why?” as in “Why does sin matter? Why does sin cause a separation from God? Why did Jesus even have to be born just so He could die? Why did there have to be a sacrifice? Why are we sentenced to hell if we freely choose to reject this sacrifice? These are important questions that we all ask at some time in our lives and my desire is to take each one individually.

Stay tuned. 🙂

In Christ,

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3 Responses to “What Do You Care Anyway?”

  1. Kelly said

    ” Why do you care? “.. oh how I can get into that question, thinking of how many times in my life before Jesus, had I asked that to someone who clearly had been trying to love on me , regardless if it was Jesus in their lives. I never knew what that feeling was when someone truly cared enough about me to listen, or to just say ” I care, would you like to go sit awhile and talk abotu whats hurtig? “.. Bro, what I have learned in the last few years of walking in true honesty with Jesus, is that the questions I have about my faith,and my God, He truly does want to sit with me, and teach me what it means to fully embrace our Holy God. He longs for all of us, believers or not, to come to Him, and just sit awhile , while He speaks Love into our hearts.. Why does Jesus care? Because, He willingly took on our sin, and our greatest woundings just to show that we are in need of Someone to listen, and take our heaviest burden – our sin.. Rambled on, I am sorry. Just a question that , in everyone of our lives, where wounds are hidden, it is a universal reaction to fear, or pain.. but in all actuality, it is a question that can minister great Hope when we think we have no hope. Amen?

  2. H.C. said

    if we are born into sin, how can our nature be anydiffernt just because someone might start believing in jesus? Isn’t our nature always the same just because thats what and who we are? introvert, extravert, ect? ( I am not sure what nature you’re getting at, so this might sound totally stupid )

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