I don’t dwell on this all the time, but sometimes I find myself doing the mundane things of life and I stop and I thank God for being able to do those things. Here is a sampling: standing in the shower, going to the kitchen and making my own coffee, coming up the stairs to sleep in my own bed and driving to the grocery store and shopping. You see, four years ago I could not do any of that and a lot more. I suffered an accident and I was immobilized for more than three months. I found myself having to spend my days either in bed or in a chair. When I had to move, I had to use a walker. I had a complex pelvic fracture and could not put weight on my body.
What is the point of this introduction?
Most of us never miss what we have, until it is gone.
As we explore the “Heart of the Gospel”* further, Packer comments on the driving force in Jesus’ life.** He calls that a vital matter which really cannot be grasped until “you are on top of the truth of propitiation.” He also has other matters to consider, one of which is the destiny of those who reject God.
This raises the question, are there consequences for people who reject God? There are those who believe that rejecting God really has no consequences. Packer refers to them as Universalists, otherwise referred to as Unitarian Universalists. They espouse the theology that all human beings will ultimately be “saved” and restored to a right relationship with God.
Packer disagrees and uses Galatians 6: 7 as evidence of God’s ability to hold man accountable: “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Those in this life who reject God will forever be rejected by God. By turning to Judas, Packer further makes his case. A Universalist would argue that even Judas would be reconciled with God the Father. Packer says turn to Mark 14: 21 where it says “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Why would Jesus speak those words if He thought Judas would be saved?
He wouldn’t. Jesus knew that Judas turned his back on God and Judas would have to pay and his payment would be eternal.
In my previous post, I tried to explain Packer’s idea that Jesus had every reason to fear His coming fate on the cross. “Jesus was to be made sin, and bear God’s judgement on sin, that He trembled in the garden, and because He was actually bearing that judgement that He declared himself forsaken of God on the cross” [Packer, 193]. Think about it. He bore the brunt of our sins and in the process He experienced the wrath of God…
Expressed another way, Jesus knew what He was going to miss by being made sin. He knew He would lose all the God that he had in His life: He would lose His Father’s love, He knew He would lose “all sense of physical, mental and spiritual well-being,” all the joy of created things, and the comfort of friendship. In place of all this, His being made sin gave Him nothing but “loneliness, pain, a killing sense of human malice and callousness, and horror of great spiritual darkness” [Packer, 195].
It is a well-known fact that crucifixion is the cruelest form of execution in the world but the pain of the torture paled in comparison to the mental and spiritual anguish of Jesus. Jesus knew what He would be losing in His crucifixion and went through it anyway.
As ordinary human beings with little day-to-day awareness of the blessings God has given us, we can give into temptation and turn our backs on God with little sense of the retribution that will follow. We can’t conceptualize eternal punishment or rather we would rather not think about it.
I know a woman who has little in the way of material possessions. This is no fiction, no exaggeration. I have heard her give thanks to God for the sink in her bathroom, the water that runs out of the faucet and the light overhead. There is a saying that goes like this: “happy are those who take life day by day, complain very little and are thankful for the little things of life.” She notes the things in her life that she has because there was once a time when she had nothing. I listen to her and I realize how much I take everything for granted. Packer writes “In ordinary life, we never notice how much good we enjoy through God’s common grace till it is taken from us. We never value health, or steady circumstances, or friendship and respect from others as we should till we have lost them.”
Until we truly understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross, we run through life accumulating possessions, reveling in our life experiences, and trying to garner as much status as we can. It is good to slow down, maybe even stop and think about the most important things in life, that Jesus died for our sins and through His death, He made us right with the Father. Without His sacrifice, we would not have the relationship we have with God. We did not have the ability to communicate directly with the Father until the temple veil was rent in two. The veil in the temple was a constant reminder that sin renders humanity unfit for the presence of God. Through His death, Jesus gave us free access to God.
It is a horrible thought that man can be so distracted by this world that he can turn his back on God, but we would do well to remember Mark 14: 21 “It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Stop today [3/31/20] and ask what we are having to give up to be safe in world that is being altered by a pandemic. What are we going to learn from this as we have to shelter at home. Will we appreciate that meal we will have in the restaurant with friends? Will we appreciate going to that job that we did not appreciate in the past? Will we appreciate going back to church as we now have to close the church doors and avoid gathering in groups?
Stop and thank God for the good things that He has given us, those mundane things that we take for granted. God is so good to us. Never turn you back on Him. Packer writes “God help us to learn this lesson…may each of us be found in Christ, our sins covered by His blood”…
Especially, “at the last”……..
*Chapter 18 of J.I. Packer, Knowing God
**See the post “He Deserved None of It” St. John Studies