There are many tensions in the bible, where it seems like we are told different things that don’t necessarily contradict each other, but do push against each other. For example, we’re told that God is sovereign but humans have free will; we’re told that God hates sin but lovingly runs after sinners; we’re told that God accepts us as we are but refuses to let us stay there.
Often times Christians like to emphasize one side of the coin and ignore the other side. That leads to an extreme that doesn’t accurately reflect who God is.
I personally get ticked when people only want to talk about one side of any Scriptural coin, but I have realized that I am often guilty of that in my preaching. In any one sermon, I can only preach about one side of a tension. I don’t always have time to qualify it (sometimes I dont even think to qualify it). Some bible passages are heavy grace. Other passages are heavy “pick up your cross and follow Jesus.” And to only hear one side of the coin can cause someone to think, “but wait a second…isn’t there something else in the bible that sounds different….”
In fact, recently in a sermon I was talking about how God was trying to interrupt my Me-time, and I didn’t want him to. And I came home that afternoon and Jess said something like, “I get your point, but you made it sound like Me-time is always selfish. And I don’t think it is. And I don’t think you meant to say that it is, but it sounded it like it.”
And she was right.
And as a teacher, I hate it when I might cause confusion.
But as a pastor, it reminds me of the importance of being plugged into community (and at True Life, that comes primarily through life groups). Because in community, we can wrestle through questions, we can honestly ask each other, “Yeah but how does that apply to my situation? What about when Jesus said ___.”
Heck, I would even argue that Jesus intentionally confused people at times, like in Mark 4 when he told the parable of the 4 soils. And He did it so that those who really want to understand would press in and ask questions and do the work of trying to understand.
I know my sermons often raise questions. Truth is, they raise questions for me too. I need people I can discuss things with, ask questions with, wrestle through Scripture with.
So the point is — understanding how any one passage of the bible fits into the overall story of God is a team effort. Get in – or stay in, or get back to — a life group!
For Good Friday…..
Fourteen year old John Smith, who had been rescued from an icy lake, was not responding to CPR. He had been underwater for almost fifteen minutes, few ever survive that. He was rushed to a hospital, all the while the paramedics kept up the CPR compressions. Dr. Kent Sutterer and his team continued to perform CPR on John with no success. They knew it was useless to continue, they felt the boy had, in truth, been dead for 45 minutes.
But his mother suddenly rushed into the hospital room and began to pray out loud. The mother shouted, “Holy God, please send your Holy Spirit to save my son. I want my son, please save him.” That’s all she said.
What happened next absolutely amazed everyone there. The lifeless boy’s heart restarted and his pulse returned. The doctors couldn’t believe it. But they thought, surely his brain, without oxygen for all that time, would have been irreversibly damaged. However, in a few days John could talk and he could walk. “A miracle!” That’s what all the doctors proclaimed. His return to life and health defied medical science and understanding. The same could be said of these people from the Bible–
The only son of a woman from Nain.
The dead daughter of Jarius, an official of a synagogue.
The wealthy man named Lazarus.
And now, in 2015, you can include John Smith of Lake St. Louis, Missouri.
All have one thing in common—they were dead, but by the power of God, through Jesus Christ, they were returned to life. Undoubtedly, many more have called on God to save a loved one and the Lord answered.
So, wait a minute…why didn’t God save His own son when he was in agony on the cross? Just imagine, a host of angels appearing in blinding white light at Golgotha, raising Jesus off the cross, bathing Him with life, restoring his body to perfection as the Romans, Gentiles, and Jews all watched in astonishment. There would have been no doubt, absolutely no doubt who Jesus was.
But…Our sins would not have been paid for.
Paul wonderfully says in Romans 3:21, “But now, a righteousness apart from the law has been made known.” Friends, there would have been no righteousness for us if Jesus did not stay on that cross. There could be no resuscitation for Jesus; it had to be a resurrection!
I am so happy for faithful Joyce Smith that the Lord, and the power of the Holy Spirit, proved themselves available to save her son.
Although I am pained and grieved every time I think of poor Jesus on that cross; I am forever grateful that no one tried to rescue him.
Because He was rescuing us!
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” John 12:27 (NIV)