Thursday, September 07, 2023

The ‘If’ question is really ours to answer

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

When someone questions our ability to do something, it can provoke a sense of pride that wants to prove them otherwise. Some have stretched themselves to perform reckless acts with varying degrees of success. The Bible says: ‘pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall’. God is never guilty of pride, which is in a list of things that the Lord hates.

People have been heard to say: ‘If God would do this or that… I would believe.’ But God does not try to ‘prove himself’ on our terms. Faith in God is not about what we want Him to be or do, but accepting who He is and what He has done.

One day, the devil came to Jesus saying, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ Jesus was in the desert and had been without food for some time. The suggestion was that He satisfy His own hunger and thereby prove His power. But the Lord Jesus had not come to perform miracles to gratify His own desires, nor to showcase His power for popularity. His works were always for the glory of God. On another occasion, Jesus said ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.’ The work of God, His Father was more important to Him than physical food. Pleasing God was food for His soul.

Again, the devil took Jesus to the highest point of Jerusalem’s temple and said ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here’, suggesting that angels could preserve Him from harm. But He had not come to put Himself in danger’s way just to prove who He was. Yet, a few years later the Lord Jesus headed towards Jerusalem, knowing that harm would be done to Him. He was beaten, scourged and nailed to a cross. There, the mocking challenge was hurled by the soldiers. ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ One of the two criminals hanging next to Jesus added: ‘If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.’

Little did these people realise that death was the very purpose for which He came — to ‘give His life a ransom for many’. He came that the ‘world through Him might be saved.’ This is a very far reaching statement. His life and death reveal God’s love.

The ‘if’ question is often asked from the standpoint of unbelief, as a challenge, requiring God to act. But, in giving His only begotten Son, God has already acted so that we could be saved.

The ‘if’ question is really ours to answer:

If God is not a God of love who wants to rescue us from our sin, then why did He send His Son?

If Jesus is not the Son of God, then why did He live a perfect, selfless life and allow Himself to be so cruelly treated and nailed to a cross?

Why did He not come down from the cross when His miraculous power had been shown on so many occasions? Why was the tomb left empty three days later as He had said?

The centurion who witnessed the events on Good Friday felt that challenge. In belief he confessed: ‘Truly this man was the Son of God.’

There is another ‘if’ in the Bible for us to consider — and it comes with a promise:
‘If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.’

Written by Tom Merriman for Messages with Meaning (05/04/2021)/Your542Day


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