Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Was I Really Worth It? Why DID Jesus Die? (Edited)

Anthony Brown and Group Therapy
You thought I was worth saving
So you came and changed my life

You thought I was worth keeping
so you cleaned me up inside

You thought I was to die for
so you sacrificed your life

So I could be free
So I could be whole
So I could tell everyone I know

Glory to God who changed my life

Because I am free
Because I am whole
And I will tell everyone I know

"Someone Worth Dying For"
Mike's Chair
Am I more than flesh and bone?

Am I really something beautiful?
Yeah, I wanna believe
I wanna believe that

I'm not just some wandering soul
That You don't see and You don't know
Yeah, I wanna believe, Jesus, help me believe
That I am someone worth dying for

I chose to include some of the lyrics for these two songs because they have been a major impetus for why I am writing this post.  Out of a desire to encourage people to feel good about themselves as Christians, I am concernced that these writers, among many others, have gotten the cart before the horse in their theology.  These songs are friendly and encouraging and have beautiful heart-moving melodies.  However, they do violence to the gospel.  They run the risk of misleading non-Christians who may hear these lyrics about their status before God.

It is not a bad thing to want to encourage Christians to understand who they are in Christ, so as not to live under condemnation, drowing in guilt and shame about their sin struggles.  And it is always good to revel in the amazing work that God has done in our hearts and lives through Christ.

But what we have here appears to be the man-centered, pop psychology that is so popular in our day.  It is served up as a feel good message in so many songs and from so many pulpits.  

Don't get me wrong.  There is certainly some accurate truth built in to both of these songs in terms of the lyrics that have been written.  However, the hooks of both songs speak to the understanding of the motivation behind Christ's death.  This understanding is built on the wrong premise all together.  Why do I say that?  Let's see.

Was I Worth It?

Let's answer this question first.  The answer is no.  I, nor any other sinner was worthy of Christ's death on the cross. 

Apart from Christ, we were "dead in our trespasses and sins"(Ephesians 2:1).  Since childhood, every intention of our heart is only wicked continually.(Genesis 6:5, 8:21).  "All our righteousness is as filthy rags"(Isaiah 64:6). "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"(Romans 3:23). "There is no one righteous, no not one"(Romans 3:9-20). 

These are just a few of the verses upon which I feel justified in arguing that there was absolutely nothing about us, apart from Christ, which made us worth dying for.  We were in fact worthless.  

The mistake that is being made is in confusing our worth, with God's love.  As I said, there was nothing about us which was worth dying for.  However, we know that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes him, would not perish, but would have eternal life"(John 3:16).  We also know that, "God shows His great love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us"(Romans 5:8)

So if Jesus did not die because we were "worth it", then.....

Why DID Jesus Have To Die?

I'm glad you asked.  There are so many amazing reasons that Pastor John Piper wrote a book entitled Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die.  Now, obviously I will not be listing them all here.  If you follow the link, you can actually get a free copy of the PDF of the book.  It is wonderful.  For my part, I will list three.

1.) That Our Joy May Be Complete

1 John 1:4, 2 Corinthians 1:24 both affirm that our joy is found in the good news of Christ's sacrificial death on the cross.  However, as I have said, scripture makes it clear that the cross was not about our worth but Christ's.  It was not motivated by a value of worth but out of a pure love which loved us in spite of ourselves.

I mention this because joy is a huge part of what it means to be a Christian and yet it must be focused on the appropriate object.  The lyrics above seem to represent a joy that is focused on our supposed worth rather than on the supreme sacrifice paid by Christ.   

We are inconsistent. Worth is an issue of self-esteem and as such will always be in flux.  However, when we esteem Christ and the cross; and recognize that our salvation is based on his perfect righteousness rather than anything of worth in us, then we can rejoice that our salvation is sound because our Savior is a firm foundation. 

We must keep the basis of our joy on the right object.  That is, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

2.) Substitutionary Atonement

This means that, because our righteousness would never be "worth" enough to cancel the debt of sin that we owed to the holy God of the universe, God sent a substitute.  He sent His own Son to live perfectly as the God-man.  Then as Jesus was hanging on that cross, God poured out all of the holy, wrath-filled punishment that WE deserved onto His own Son.  Christ made atonement for our sins.  Paul said it like this in Colossians 2:13-14,
"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross."
2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 

In this sense among others, Jesus absolutely died for all who put their trust in Him even while we were yet sinners.  He took the punishment for our sins and we receive the benefit of His perfect righteousness.  However, as emphasized above in John 3:16 and Romans 5:8, the motivation was His love for us, not our own worth.

3.) For The Sake of the Name

His love for us was one of the motivating factors for Christ's death however, it was not the primary reason.  There is one overarching purpose for which we were created initially and for which we were redeemed from the curse of sin and death.  

Isaiah 48:9-11, Ezekiel 20:9, 36:22-23 are just three of the many passages in which God tells us that it is for His name's sake that He saves nations and individuals.  We were created for His glory(Isaiah 43:7).  When we sinned against Him, we defamed His name and polluted His glory.  The only way to restore the glory of His name is to restore His people whom He has set apart as His own.  He did this at the cross. So you see, it was actually His worth that was motivating our deliverance, not ours.

As Christ was preparing to die on that tree, he was both concerned for His own glory and the glory of His Father in heaven(John 12:28, John 17:5).

You see, any worth we have ever had or will ever have comes from the infinite worth of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, His Son. It will never be based on us.

Our Responsibility

As believers, we have a responsibility to "study to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the word of truth"       (2 Timothy 2:15).  Whether we are preaching a sermon, writing a blog or FB post, singing a song, or simply holding a conversation we must ensure biblical accuracy in the message we present.  We must accurately depict the source of all joy as not in our worth but in the enduring and unending worth of God.

We are all ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ and at no point does the gospel ever suggest that what Christ did for us had anything to do with us deserving it or being "worth it".  It had everything to do with the love of the Father and the Son for all the sheep of the fold whom place their trust in Him.  

So please, write, sing, and even listen, always with the glory of God in view.  Read the passages I have listed and strive to understand how seriously God takes His own name. He is jealous that it be high and lifted up properly. He is the source of life and everything in it.  Who else would we glorify.  Let's do it right.  Let us find our greatest joy and satisfaction in the God of the universe because...

God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.-John Piper. 

May our satisfaction in Him cause us to be more careful in how we glorify Him.

In Christ's name,


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