By His Own Choice!
For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment (or authority) I received from My Father. John 10:17-18 NIV
Jesus was not a victim. Jesus could have saved Himself at any time, but He didn’t. I think this is the biggest problem with a movie that was produced a few years ago: it focused on violence and suffering, therefore giving the impression that Christ was at the mercy of brutal tormentors. This is completely false, because Jesus could have changed His mind at any time. People who saw that movie lost sight of the power that Christ was fully capable of.
Christ proved his power as he was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus arranged things so the soldiers could only arrest himself and not his disciples. All the soldiers fell to the ground, helpless and powerless, as Jesus stepped forward and sorted out the situation! Then Jesus miraculously healed a man’s ear when Peter cut it off.
Christ had plenty of power, right from the start of the whole crucifixion ordeal, and He proved it as He was being arrested. But throughout the suffering of the cross, Jesus Christ chose not to use that power to save Himself.
Jesus hung on the cross: naked, taunted, mocked, tormented, wretched. How could He hold his power in check and not strike them all dead for their blasphemy? But He didn’t punish them. He shed every last drop of blood. There wasn’t one more drop He could give – so then He died, by His own choice. And even as He was dying, Jesus forgave them.
Not Like Any Other
When we understand that Jesus died that awful death by His own choice: then we realize how important it is to recognize and honor the significance of His death. To lessen its significance in any way is to deny Christ and to hurt Him all over again: we dare not do that! And especially if we love Him!
Jesus is the only one who has ever done anything like this for mankind. To lump Him with other gods; well it’s a very serious problem. He’s not like all the others, not even close.
One Awful Symbol
The Cross of Jesus Christ reveals many things to us in one awful symbol:
- It is the revelation of the horror of SIN.
- The necessity for awful JUDGMENT on evil.
- The unbelievable LOVE of God who provided a way for us to be with Him.
- The inestimable VALUE of a human soul that is saved from sin.
God could have sent flowers to show us His love. But instead He sent Jesus Christ to live in desperate conditions among the lowliest of people, and then to die a brutal death on an ugly cross. The cross is quite frankly offensive to many. It represents loss, submission, dedication and discipleship. Those four words are not popular with people who want easy grace from an easy-going universal synthetic god.
But the cross of Christ is meaningful to those who suffer, and to those who are needy, and for those who need real hope for their damaged lives. When people are desperate, they want real answers. When something has them by a chokehold, desperate people are going to look for a more significant God than the wimpy god of Universalism.
We must not deny the cross of Christ and all that it means, because Jesus Christ is the only real hope for this broken, sorry world.
Do Not Deny His Name
Christians must be especially careful of the Universalist philosophies. There is a reward for holding fast to Christ, but there is damnation for those who deny Christ’s salvation in any way. To deny Christ and to deny his death on the cross is the worst we can do: such denial secures a place in hell for us.
Revelation 3:8-12 “I know your works (behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one can shut), that you have a little power, and kept my word, and didn’t deny my name. … Because you kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. ”
Hebrews 6:4-6 “For concerning those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify the Son of God for themselves again, and put him to open shame.”
Universalists believe they have an enlightened view of God that is superior to the narrow view held by specific religions. However, since their beliefs indirectly deny any need for the cross of Jesus Christ, we must conclude that they have a bogus view of God. The Universal doctrines are actually anti-Christ. Therefore, Christians who love Jesus Christ must reject the New Age theories of a universal god.
Can’t Plagiarize Love
No other religion makes the promises that the Bible does. No other religion has a Savior like Jesus Christ. No other religion invites us to be part of the family of God and to become rulers with him. No other religion makes so many promises of hope and blessing. No other religion teaches of a God who loves and cares for His people in such a personal and individual way. The Judeo-Christian theology has taught these things about God’s everlasting Love since the dawn of history.
Modern Universalism wants the Love, so they’re willing to plagiarize that part of Christian faith! But if they truly want God’s love, they must do things according to God’s plan and not their own inventions.
The Living God of Christianity is a God of action, power and emotion who passionately works on behalf of those who love Him. But He requires all my faith and love, not a self-serving token of acknowledgment.
Above it All
Modern Man wants to believe that God spans all religions. When actually: God is above all religions. And I say that in its most ironic sense. He is above it all, beyond it all… so far above and beyond that God has nothing to do with any of them.
God doesn’t look at religions or their followers. What God looks at is His Only Son and those who follow Him. Jesus didn’t come to start a religion; in fact Jesus was very antagonistic toward religious leaders of his day. Jesus said over and over that He wanted us to have a relationship with His Father.
True Christianity is a relationship with God, it is not a religion.
Test the Spirits
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. I John 4:1-3 ESV
Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 ERV
Any religion that does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the only Son of God, does not pass the test that is in the Bible. Universalism does not pass the test: it is not from God.
Apparently some of the Universalists are having mystical experiences and visions. Such experiences can be convincing, so that people believe they really are in touch with God. But the Bible verses above explain how to test whether something is from God or not. If the mystical experiences do not glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, then they are suspect.
- True guidance always draws us closer to Jesus.
- God never gives mystical experiences just for the fun of it; there is always a purpose that lines up with the Word of God.
Years ago I was involved in a small Christian singles group at a church. At one get-together, they took out a game with dice that was supposedly able to predict our future. The dice gave yes or no answers to questions that were put to it. The game’s instructions specifically said that we should not test the dice. Maybe this was a ploy by the makers of the game, but whatever the reason, I had a real problem with this rule. I explained to the others that the Bible instructs us to test the spirits.
So we carefully planned a test question, and then we asked the dice: “Is Jesus Christ God’s Son, Lord of all?” The dice said No. So we packed up the game and that was the end of that. I was glad we did, because some of those young people had already gotten bad news from the dice and our little experiment discredited the whole thing.
That dice game was a very mild type of divination; but it serves as a good example of why we need to avoid the occult, no matter what form it’s in. People are experimenting with all kinds of mystic experiences and divination, including the occult practices of channeling, levitation and out-of-body experiences. The Bible gives very clear warning: avoid all forms of the occult.
There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. Deut 18:10-11 ESV
How can I say this in a way that people will get it? You’re playing with fire. Actually, it’s worse than that: you’re inviting demons to play with you. And once you invite them; they often decide to stick around.
People think God is determined to ruin anything that’s fun. Actually, he’s trying to protect us from everything that’s dangerous.