The Church today is dying from bad theology. The Plan of Salvation (How to be saved) has been taken to the temple of Unity and sacrificed on the altar of At All Cost. Unfortunately the church has drank the “tolerance Kool-Aid” from our culture. We believe that Unity trumps obedience to God’s Word. But obedience is still better than sacrifice (1st Sam 15:22).
The reason why there is so much confusion today about “How to be saved” or “What are the things I must do in order to become a Christian” is that we are confused over what it means to be saved. And that issue rests upon what we believe it means to be lost. These two fundamental questions are dealt with in 2nd Corinthians 5:21.
In 2nd Corinthians 5 Paul is defending his Apostolic ministry and glorying in the Apostolic message. When he gets to 5:21 he gives, in my opinion, the most comprehensive statement about the Gospel in the New Testament.
“He”; he who? He, God, the offended one. The one in whom we have sinned against. He has sent his ambassadors, the apostles, carrying the word of reconciliation (5:19). Now we must answer our first question; “What does it mean to be Lost?”.
In What’s so amazing about grace? Philip Yancey tells a modern day version of the prodigal son story. It is about a girl who is fed up with her parent’s oversight. She is sick and tired of them condemning the clothes she wears, the music she listens to and the friends she hangs out with. So she runs away from home for the big city. There she is enlisted as a prostitute. At first she makes a lot of money and life seems to be fine. But later she goes broke, is strung out on drugs, beaten, battered and bruised. The girl wants to go home. So she calls home, leaves a message, buys a bus ticket and heads home not knowing how her reception would be. Just like the Biblical story she is welcomed with open arms and has a party thrown for her return.
Often when we say a person is “Lost” we mean this kind of scenario; their life is in a mess, they’ve hit rock bottom, have a bad conscious, have guilty feelings, and/or an evil heart. But the Bible portrays a different picture. To be “Lost” according to Biblical theology means you have offended the absolutely righteous and holy God and you stand in the pathway of the wrath of God. It does not matter if you feel lost nor does it matter if you even know you are lost.
Our problem in understanding what it means to be lost stems from our misunderstanding of God’s nature. Fill in the blank; God is ___________________. Did you say love? Why did you say that? I don’t want to read your heart but let me tell you why, I think, our church culture usually answer love. We often picture God through the eyes of man and come away with a comforting view of Him. But is love really his primary attribute?
Kipling, in his Jungle Book series, wrote a story called The Red Dog. In this story Mowgli hears about this pack of wild dogs (The Red Dog) who are coming through the jungle and will cross paths with Mowgli and his family. In order to find a plan on how to defeat them Mowgli solicits the advice of the wise Kaa. Attempting to devise a plan they begin to ask this question, “What is the King of the Jungle?”. The answer is “the one who turns aside for nobody”. But who is this? In the account Kaa says, “Hathi will not turn aside for the Striped One. Yet Hathi (elephant) and the Striped One (Tiger) together turn aside for the Red Dog, and the Red Dog they say turns aside for nothing.” But then they find one for whom the Red Dog will turn aside, the Bee. Therefore, the Bee is actually the King of the Jungle.
When the love of God and the holiness of God meet upon the pathway of an unredeemed sinner which one turns aside? The love of God must and does. The Bible declares that God desires for all men to be saved (1st Tim 2:4) yet not all are saved? The reason is that God’s holiness demands punishment but his love desires forgiveness. God could have satisfied His nature by simply allowing us all to go to Hell. If He were forced to love us then love would cease to be love because love, by its very nature, is freely given.
Therefore, to be lost is not to be abandoned by or left alone by God. It is to be pursued by the wrath of God whether you know it or not. And the wrath of God is undefeated; it will catch you at the Cross or at Judgment. To be lost describes a condition that exists in the mind of God. He views us in contempt of His holiness, demanding satisfaction for He has to. If God did not ultimately punish sin then He would be a coconspirator with it, as guilty of it as those who sin, an unjust God, and unworthy of our worship.