THE DIVINE RESPONSE**
in Lesson One we noted that guilt is a universal human condition. The Bible proclaims that men are guilty because they are separated from God; that they are sinners. Is there any means of overcoming guilt, of being reconciled to the Lord of this universe? There is an answer, but it is not a human answer.
In the sixth century B.C., Jerusalem was destroyed by the armies of Babylon (II Chronicles 36). The prophets declared that Judah had broken her relationship with God by disloyalty to His covenant; she was alienated from Him and in despair. The fall of Jerusalem was the ultimate punishment of Judah's disobedience. Man was continually in conflict with God and could not resolve this conflict through his own efforts. But what man could not do, God could. The hope held out by the prophets was that God would act in a decisive way so that man would be freed from guilt. God would create in man a new heart (Ezekiel 36:16-38) so man could live in God's love. The creating of the new heart was to be accompanied by a new kingdom with a newly anointed king, or the Christ (Isaiah 9:1-9). God's kingdom was to break into human life in a new way, and in this manner the old human dilemma of guilt before God was to be broken.
Today, also, man can find no way of his own to remove guilt. The person who tries to overcome guilt by immersing himself in good works never seems to be able to do enough. Man may rationalize by telling himself that he is not so bad - that his sins are no worse than the sins of others. But even then, guilt is always showing up in new places, since the fundamental cause of his guilt separation from God - has not been removed. Guilt continues with him to the grave. SALVATION THROUGH GOD'S SON
It should be one of man's deepest concerns that he does not die without the meaning, direction, and purpose that God can bring to his life. The Old Testament conviction that mnan on his own plunges deeper and deeper into despair is supported by the experience of those in our time who attempt to live without God.
Israel could not reconcile herself to God and neither can we. Man has offended God by turning to other gods, and only He can restore us to His love in forgiveness. God indeed, in His Son, in His death and resurrection, has done for us what we can not do for ourselves.
In the death of His own Son, who died on our behalf, God has made possible our reconciliation to Him. "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). We cannot reconcile ourselves to God by our good deeds. Christ alone can do this. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (II Corinthians 5:16-20). We are alienated from God and cannot through our own ingenuity find the way back. But what we cannot do, God has done. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (II Corinthians 5:21).
Christ, therefore, is the answer to human guilt. Christ is the hope of the world.
THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
God in His love and forgiveness has accepted us, the proof of which is the death and resurrection of His son. We are free from guilt if we accept His love. The responsive acceptance of God's love brings a new outlook on life, for by His amazing grace we have been accepted by the God of the universe; He has taken our guilt away. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).
In Jesus Christ we have been born anew to a life of love, or of being accepted (John 3:3-5). In Jesus Christ we are freed from anxiety and sin and are now alive to the will of God who is the first and the last: the creator of this universe.
Men can expect conflicts and suffering because of their commitment to Jesus
Christ (II Timothy 3:12), but even so our life is filled with a deep and abiding
joy. "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations" (James
1:2). "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not,
yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (I Peter
1:8,9). In the words of our master, the one who accepts Him has tipassed from
death unto life" (John 5:24).
THE GLORY OF ETERNAL LIFE
The ultimate hope in Christ is that not only will we be freed from guilt, but our life itself will extend beyond the grave. That hope is even beyond the joy we know here. Paul states, "For I reckon that the suffei-ings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). We are freed to live life courageously not only because we have been freed from sin, but because Jesus Christ in His resurrection has removed the sting of death. We must face death, but because of His resurrection, and because it assures our own, what awaits beyond the grave is to be anticipated, not feared (I Corinthians 15:54-55).
The first battle with death has been won by Jesus Christ, and His victory assures our victory. The answer to human guilt and despair is therefore an answer which comes from God: Jesus Christ the hope of glory!
** For the remainder of the lessons, scriptures can be found by highlighting the passage reference, right mouse clicking, selecting search in Google (or other Web search) and then selecting "BibleGateway.com."
Lesson Three Coming