The Remedy for Redemption: The Final Framework of Truth

What in the World are You Thinking?

Having established a biblical understanding of the origins of man and of evil, we move to an explanation of redemption, i.e. the solution to evil. The question we must ask ourselves is not, ?Why hasn?t God done anything about evil?? but rather ?What has He done about evil and what will His ultimate solution be??

Todd WagnerOct 26, 2008

We are doing a little series that I mentioned briefly called What in the World Are You Thinking? We're talking about the idea that ideas have consequences, that thoughts lead to things. We're talking about the fact that the lens you see through matters. God loves you and cares for you, so he wants you to be informed with truth so that you may not follow fools.

Jesus said this in Matthew, chapter 15, verse 14. _ "And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." _ So you'd better make sure that the guy you're leading is wise lest you be a bunch of lemmings that just go walking off some precipice to some undesirable end. I've been speaking these last weeks about the primary framework that defines every worldview.

I talked about how origins… In fact, I will tell you that what you say about God, what you think about God, your view of who he is, is the most important thing about you. It is the foundational truth that begins to be the base that you build all the rest of your understanding on. The origin issue, the creator issue, who we are, why we are here…it is the first in foundational principle in the framework of what comprises an individual's understanding of reality.

The second one is evil or fall. Where did evil come from? Why is the world that we live in, that a God did or didn't create, why is this world so broken and imperfect? Then lastly…What do you do about this world that is so broken and imperfect?How do you make it right? That is the framework that your lens fits in that you then come out of that and say, "How then shall we live? What do I do with this world that I'm in?"

You will do with this world that you're in what you think is true about origin, evil, and redemption. What I want to offer to you is that God is looking at you saying, "Hey, man. Are you a little whipped? Have you been following the wrong thing? Have you done what seems right to you or right to others? Have you been following the philosophy of the day?

Have you been following the latest idea put forth by man or the latest calling of your flesh and has it brought sadness into your life? Then, _ "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." _ I want to allow you to relax." Jesus says, "Look, you're going to yoke yourself to something. You're going to tie yourself to some understanding of reality. I would like for you to tie yourself to that which is true."

All of you are yoked by some basic foundational orientation of your heart. Jesus says, "Learn from me because I am gentle. I am humble. You'll find rest when you follow me. _ 'For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.' _"Follow me. Now we have talked, as I've said, these last weeks about primary questions.

Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Are we the products of nothing plus time plus chance? Why is the world so broken if we are not the products of nothing plus time plus chance? If we are, in fact, people who are created by an all-knowing, all-loving God, then why is the world that we are in so all-knowingly messed up? Why are death and disease and despair such a part of this wonderful world that God created? Then what do we do about it?

Now what I want to do today is dive in and talk about solutions to evil. Now obviously, your explanation for evil will have a lot to do with your solution to it. If you go through a number of different worldviews that are out there, you would expect that their solutions to evil would be different.

The atheist, the naturalist, or the humanist. I'm going to just throw them together. They would tell you again that evil is really just a result of us not doing well in our evolutionary history and that the solution to evil is that we have to get it right and that we have to take care of evil through self-reliance and self-advancement. That's how we deal with evil. Now what I would say to individuals who put forward that solution is, "Why?" Why?

The materialist is the same thing. A materialist… Again, don't think North Dallas infatuation with possessions. That is a different kind of materialism. The philosophical worldview that is materialism is that which is here and that which is real matters. We are just who we are. The universe is a machine, so it's just kind of cranking along.

What I want to say is, as Dawkins said in the book River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life, he said that, "DNA just is. And we dance to its music." You'd better hope that it has a waltz going and not some mosh pit where we're going to bang up against each other and hurt. Their solution to evil is, "Let's make this thing the best we can because we have to get along."

I say, "Why?" If evil just is as the machine continues forward, then why put up with it? If we came from nothing and we're going to nothing, then why would we put up with any suffering? I say we throw one grand party, have a great time, and then just hand out shotguns as party favors. Say when we can't foot the bill anymore, when unwanted pregnancy, when disease, when fighting because we both want the same thing or because we both want different things at the party is going on and it's just not worth the effort for the party to rock anymore, then just check out.

Why would you hang around? You have no purpose or no foundational basic meaningful reason to stay here. But here's why we don't live that way. Because God has said, "Look, I created you in my image. I set eternity in their heart. So even though you want to throw out this idea that I don't exist and that I'm irrelevant, you know better."

You don't just act like you came from nothing and are going nowhere. You know that there is something about you that is greater than just this little dot on this ray of existence so you don't live that way. You can say, "Evil is just what happens," but you know there's something else going on, so you don't check out when it gets painful.

Finite godism. That's Harold Kushner's idea. Again, remember what I said last week? Evil is there because God is all good, he's just not all-knowing and all-powerful. His solution? Pray your God eats Wheaties. I don't know. Pray that he has a better day. Pray that the bad gods don't overtake him. Pray that he develops more power. It just kind of leaves you hauntingly hanging there, not certain what to do.

Pantheism or Eastern mysticism is the idea that God is one, God is in everything, and all that you see in this world is an illusion. It's kind of the antithesis of materialism. Or positivism, which says, "Hey, don't worry about origins. Don't worry about evil. Don't worry about things we don't know. Just deal with that which you are positive about."

They would just make a case that all we're positive about is that we don't want things to be bad so let's work to make them better. I'm going to go, "Well, why?" Unless you're positive that there's a reason to do that. Pantheism would say that what you have to do is you have to meditate. You have to move yourself forward. You have to visualize world peace.

You have to meditate yourself to a higher plane where you become one with the godhead and identify yourself with that which is real and true and right and good. Their solution to evil is just to rise above that which is not pleasant to you. Get in touch and center yourself with all that is good. The problem with that is we cannot meditate ourselves out of death. We cannot meditate ourselves out of real suffering that is all around us.

By the way, that whole idea of that worldview and where it leads? One of the things that people do with that basic worldview is it gives them permission to not interrupt the karma or the lack of connectedness of others to that which is right and good. In fact, they'll say people who are suffering are suffering because they have not actualized themselves enough to all that is right and good in the past and they are now paying the piper for that.

If you intervene into fate, if you intervene into the judgment that has fallen against them in their poverty, in their disease, in their suffering, what you are doing is messing with God's instructional tool to them. So you shouldn't show them mercy. You should let them wallow in their death and sickness and their poverty and want and keep walking in your higher level of worldly blessing, leaving them alone to let God deal with them so they can evolve back, having learned their lesson and get it better and more right the next time.

I'm going to tell you what. Ideas have very real consequences. People play with these things. There are many, many more. I want to tell you that we think this stuff matters. Both of our presidential candidates were asked not long ago what they think we should do with evil. Should we contain it? Should we ignore it? Should we negotiate with it? Should we defeat it?

One said we should confront it, that we should confront it with humility. Another one said we should absolutely [audio cuts out], and they went on, both of them, to talk about it. What my leaders think about evil and, in fact, think about origins, what they think about reality matters to me. Now ultimately, I'm not going to form my hope on what anybody else says. I'm going to form my hope on truth and I'm going to live responsibly before that truth, but I know I am not running this race alone.

So it does matter to me where they lead the corporate body of which I am a part. By the way, next week we're going to begin now to move from these basic frameworks to application. So next week, the very first thing we're going to focus on is the understanding of government. Why is it here? What's its purpose? What's its role? How should we participate? What should we make of it? What should we not make of it?

We're going to look at it from a biblical worldview, having made the case, hopefully at the end of this week, that this is the best solution to origins and explanations of why we are here, having looked at the best explanation for evil and what it is and what it isn't and looking at the best resolution to evil. We're going to make a case that God's Word is true. Every bit of it has been tested.

It says in Proverbs 30:6, _ "Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar." _ We're going to establish this truth and now we're going to go, "Okay, what does God's Word say?" If we are followers of him and we want to, in fact, let him lead us, then where would that leadership take us in our understanding, week one, of government? So lock in on that one with me next week.

What's the evil? I will tell you. God's solution to evil is to defeat it! Absolutely defeat it. Now I want to just go back and say one or two other things about a biblical understanding of evil and even go back and touch on a few syllogisms that I mentioned last week and make sure that you have a very clear understanding of God, of creation, and of evil.

Some people would make the case that God cannot be there because evil is still here and if he was all-good, he would do something about evil. If he was all-powerful, he could do something about evil. Evil is still here. Therefore, God is either not all-good or he is not all-powerful. We said last week, what you have to be careful about is just because God hasn't done something about evil ultimately yet, it doesn't mean that he will not.

So we answered the question last week…Why hasn't he done something yet? I gave you a biblical response to that. Somebody came up and told me last week that in Bill Maher's little movie recently, that's been one of the questions that's been thrown in people's faces. "So you say your God is going to do something about evil. Why hasn't he yet?"

The answer is, "Because of you, Bill. Because God loves you and he takes no delight in a death of wicked. He hopes you're going to come to your senses, that you'll bump into somebody who has been at Watermark recently and has an answer for your questions. So that if you want to have your folly understood and informed by rational, well-informed, Christ-loving people, you can listen and you can understand why Christians are not idiots and simpletons but they, in fact, deal with reality in ways that you won't, as you hide behind humor and hide behind straw men.

If you want to really talk, the Scripture tells us, _ 'Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes.' _ If all you want to do is just jibber-jabber back and forth that same Scripture in Proverbs 26 says, _ 'Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him.' _ So which one do you want? Do you want to call each other names? Then I'm out, but if you have honest questions, we have good answers. Let's go."

Now we said last week that God is the author of everything. Then we went through and said, "If God is the author of everything, then evil is something because we don't have the Eastern view that it's an illusion, then we have to say it's something. If God is the author of everything and evil is something, therefore, God is the author of evil."

We came back and said, "If God is the author of evil, then he can be defined in his character by his work, and his work isn't very good." In fact, if you want to, I encourage you to go back. I did a series called What If the Skeptics Are Right? George Carlin did about a five-minute rant on religion. He was the original Bill Maher.

I answered that five-minute rant. You might want to pick that up and listen to it. One of them is on the question of…What do you do with evil? I use some of these same syllogisms in there, but do much, much more in that little series. What we want to be careful with is defining evil correctly. We said that evil is not nothing, but we said it's a no-thing. It's the absence of what should be. We made the case last week that we don't measure cold. All cold is is the absence of heat. We said that darkness… You don't measure darkness. You measure the absence of light.

Now interestingly enough this week, I came across a little bit of work by a guy named Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards actually came up with a very excellent analogy, which is pertinent to us this week and will move us into God's solution for evil, but we have to make sure we understand this.

We have to make sure that we understand what we mean when we say that, "God is not the author of evil." If evil is a no-thing, I want you to know something. God still is ultimately responsible for evil here because he is sovereign. Job knew this, by the way. Job who, for 37 chapters of his story, responded to his wicked friends who accused Job of suffering because surely an all-good and all-knowing and all-loving God would not let a good, righteous man suffer.

Job said, "I'm a righteous man! Read chapter 1. It says that I am blameless. It says that I am righteous altogether and that I'm pleasing in God's sight. Then, boom! Read the rest of my story." The guys go, "Well, you must've gotten that wrong. He must've had the wrong guy, because this doesn't happen to good people."

Job kept saying, "Oh, yes. Something else is going on here, and I know that God is ultimately responsible for what's happening to me." What he would do when he was away from his friends is he would go, "Hey, God. Get your tail down here and answer me. Explain to me how what is going on with me can make any sense."

I love what God says in Job, chapter 38. After listening to 37 chapters of nonsense, finally it says, _ "Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, 'Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?'" _ Great way to start a conversation, by the way. I sometimes do that with my kids. They come in. They say, "Hey, Dad!" I go, "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? What do you mean you're going to question my judgment?"

He went on to say, "Now look, Job, you want to get on with me? You want to have this conversation over a beer?" _ "Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me!" _ Then he just runs him through a little cosmology. He runs him through some astronomy. He runs him through some animal husbandry. He runs him through some biology. He runs him through some geology. He runs him through some oceanography.

He just says, "Job, you don't have a clue what you don't know! So don't ask me to dump my infinite wisdom into your little finite brain. You can't handle the truth." In some sense, that's what God says to Job. "You need to know this. That I am all-good and I am all-knowing and I am all-powerful and I love you. I'm up to something that is bigger than you. So trust me and quit demanding that I explain myself to you. Know this. Just because you can't see that what I am doing is good doesn't mean that what I am doing is bad."

In other words, some people would make the case that, "Look, I see no good purpose for evil." I'm going to come back to Edwards in a minute. But he says, "I see no good purpose in evil, and it all must have a purpose for everything. Therefore, an all-good God does not exist." Here is the problem. Just because we don't see the good initially doesn't mean good isn't there.

You go, "Wait a minute, Wagner. Are you going to tell me that there is some good in child abduction? Are you going to tell me there's some good in the Holocaust? Are you going to tell me there is some good in evil in this world? You can't tell me that God says that what's going on in this world is good. If he is sovereign over it, then though he may not be the active agent in it, he is responsible for it."

All right. Now hang in there. Because I want to let you know something. God is sovereign over evil, and he lets it go. He lets it exist. I marvel at the way he lets his children suffer so that others still may respond to his solution to evil. I marvel at his longsuffering and patience. I marvel at the way that he allows his name to be maligned because he waits. I marvel at the way that he allows himself to be mocked and accused.

He says, "I'm willing to do that because what's happening in the midst of evil is I am being more fully revealed. My goodness and my glory are going out. The more my goodness goes out, the more my glory is established, the more people will be drawn to me. The more they choose me, the more they will experience life."

Watch what Edwards says. I pulled this from a sermon that a guy named John Piper gave as he was just discussing the decree of God. Edwards answers the question, "Is God the author of sin this way?" See if you can't see something similar to what I was saying. "If, by 'the author of sin,' be meant the sinner, the agent, or actor of sin, or the doer of a wicked thing…it would be a reproach and blasphemy, to suppose God to be the author of sin. In this sense, I utterly deny God to be the author of sin."

In other words, God has never been the reason, actively, that we experience what we experience. I'm going to tell you again the reason tonight, and I'm going to show you what God has done to defeat it. I'm going to call you to respond to it like never before. He goes on to say this. This is Piper now commenting on Edwards.

"But, he argues, willing that sin exist in the world is not the same as sinning. God does not commit sin in willing that there be sin." I'm going to show you what it means that God wills that there be sin in just a second. "God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by God's permission, but not by his 'positive agency.'"

In other words, God will never sin. God will never cause people to sin, but what God will do is he will create perfect creatures. Perfect creatures must be able to love. In order to love, you must be able to choose. If you are able to choose to follow goodness and walk in righteousness, you are also able to leave goodness and righteousness.

Edward's quote, "God is the permitter…of sin, and, at the same time, a disposer of the state of events, in such a manner, for wise, holy, and most excellent ends and purposes, that sin, if it be permitted…will most certainly and infallibly follow…" What are the "wise, holy, and most excellent purposes that sin, if permitted…" will bring about? What is the greater good that great evil allows for?

This is it. I want to show you guys that if God did not allow a world where people could walk away from him, we would never ultimately know about the justice of God. We would never know how great holiness and righteousness and goodness are if we did not taste of the bitter nectar of rebellion. We would never see grace activated. We would never see unconditional love demonstrated. We would never see sacrificial leadership employed. We would never see longsuffering modeled.

God wants us to know the fullness of his greatness. The Scriptures tell us that God created, first, the angelic realm, not because he was lonely. Because God reveals himself as three in one. He said, "I've never been alone. I've eternally existed in this person the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Community, oneness, and love have eternally been a part of who I am. I'm not lonely, but I cannot deny who I am. Because I'm a loving being, I need to create individuals who I can share my goodness and glory with."

So first he creates the angelic realm. They were free to love him and adore him and to enjoy his presence. It happens that one of them led a rebellion where a third of the other angels followed him and said, "You know what? We think we can do better than God. Maybe he is doing fine up here, but we can do better and we don't want to be number two anymore. We think that we can be God." "I will exalt myself," Lucifer said, "and follow me and I will exalt you. We'll do better than we can do with God."

God cast him out, and it was clear at that moment that his power was manifest. What was not clear at that moment was his goodness was not proven. What if this challenger could, in fact, administer a community of beings that prospered more under his leadership than God's? God said, "Let's let him go. Let's see how he does in his world. I'll give you a place. I will make you ruler over Paradise."

God placed him on the earth and he created an Edenic state, Paradise. Then he put something in his image right there: a man in his image to dwell in that paradise. He told man, "Listen. Follow me. I will walk with you. I have already demonstrated my goodness to you in that I have perfectly provided for you in every way necessary. All you need is to know me and love me.

There is a tree over there. It is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you don't have a faith in me and you don't think that my provision is perfect and you don't think my word is the word of [audio cuts out] you can choose not to love me, but I will warn you. The day you eat of that tree, you will surely die."

What you will find is that God, in that moment, when he first created the angelic realm and then beyond that when he cast the angelic rebels away and then created humankind on earth in Paradise, he knew long before that that it would to the manifestation of evil. He knew that evil would move from a philosophical possibility to a practical reality.

He knew what he would do to defeat it, because evil cannot exist in God's presence, and if God is omnipresent, if he is Lord over all, evil must be defeated and vanquished. Yet he allowed it so that he could reveal his goodness and glory and, in revealing his goodness and glory, allow those who, in his redemptive program, who responded to him, to enjoy the fullness of him in ways that they never before could. It was for the glory of God and the good of his creation that he permitted evil.

Now here's what God did in the midst of that. Edwards talks about the fact that God is like the sun. He uses this metaphor. He says that the sun brings forth light and warmth in its nature, but it does not bring about dark and cold by dropping below the horizon. In other words, the sun is not the reason we have darkness and cold. The reason we have darkness and cold is because the world turns from the sun. The sun is fixed. We are moving around the sun and when we move away from the sun, we move into darkness and cold.

If you stay away from the sun, you will have death and despair. You will have no life. It goes on to say, "If the sun were the proper cause of cold and darkness, it would be the fountain of these things, as it is the fountain of light and heat: and then something might be argued from the nature of cold and darkness, to a likeness of nature in the sun…" In other words, if the sun created darkness and cold, we could say that the sun is not ultimately good, but the sun does not create darkness and cold. It is the turning from the sun that creates darkness and cold.

So the sun is authoritative over things except it allows itself to shrink below the horizon, even though it's the sun, and to let the effects of it not being present in that moment work its way. He goes on to say, "So, inasmuch as sin is not the fruit of any positive agency or influence of the Most High, but on the contrary, arises from the withholding of his action and energy, and under certain circumstances, necessarily follows on the want of his influence…"

What does that mean? It means that, in one sense, God wills that what he hates to come to pass as well as what he loves to come to pass. He will allow us to turn from him and to pursue evil so that he can enter into evil. Unlike the sun, God moves. He enters into darkness and cold and brings warmth and light and he calls those out who are prisoners of their despair, who are walking into the pit, and says, "Follow me. There is life over here. You are here because you have followed the Deceiver."

This is what it says in Genesis, chapter 3, verse 1. It says, _ "Now the serpent…" _ We know the serpent from Revelation, chapter 12, verse 9. It says, _ "And the great dragon…the serpent of old…" _ That's what he is called in Revelation, chapter 12, verse 9. _ "Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made." _

He came right away and he said, "Don't follow God. God doesn't want you to eat of that Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil because God knows that as soon as you know what I know and what he knows, you won't need him. God wants to rule over you and hold you down." God said, "I don't want to hold you down. I want to spare you from where you will go when you reject me as sovereign and righteous altogether."

The Enemy said, "No, he doesn't. No, he doesn't. Follow what seems right to you." He said, "Doesn't this look good to eat? Doesn't it appeal to your flesh? Doesn't this look good to the eyes? Isn't this desirable to make you wise? Don't believe God. You won't die." Then the woman takes it.

The very first sin, I believe, was not the woman eating of the tree which God told her not to eat of. I think the very first sin is found in what is referenced next. _ "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate…" _ Then it says, _ "…she gave also to her husband with her…" _

I believe that the very first sin was the silence of Adam who did not love and cherish and protect and speak up and stand firm, wasn't strong. He did not, in love, say, "No, that's a lie. Do not go there. God is good. He has never failed us." I think the silence of Adam was the first sin in all of humanity. Then it was followed by the woman taking it, eating it, giving it to him, and then watch what men's solution to evil was.

One of the things that we try and do with evil is cover it. It says that they take fig leaves right there and they try to cover their nakedness and shame. It was a nanosecond after they had eaten it that they realized that the divine enlightenment did not bring about its full promise. There was, in fact, mistrust. There was alienation. There was fear where there was once peace with God.

Satan's promises, the ways of man, the ways of the world, never deliver. That is why God says, "Look man, why would you yoke yourself to that which is going to bring destruction? Follow me." God, right away, was not surprised by what happened. He knew from eternity past that that would happen. Guess what he is going to do?

He is going to show up and he is going to defeat evil. He will not let us cover evil. He won't let us isolate evil. He won't negotiate with evil. He won't confront it with humility. He will absolutely speak up and say, "That deserves death. The wages of sin is death. I told you that you would die. I told you there would be judgment, and it will be complete."

So many of us try and cover our sin with good works. They go, "God, it was just a moment. Or maybe it was year or maybe it was 10 years, but I have 30 years that I can cover it with." God says, "You don't understand me. I am perfect. So even the smallest shred of offense absolutely terminates your ability to be one with me, because I will have nothing to do with sin.

So don't tell me that you're 99.9 percent pure, because I can't mix that with my perfection and still remain, as we become one, perfectly pure. I must judge that which is not like me. I must defeat evil, judge evil." In that moment, he rejected man's provision. Some of us try and cover evil by deluding ourselves with pleasures on this earth, and yet it haunts us.

No matter how much we have, no matter how much we possess, no matter how many pleasures we experience, there's always a longing for more. No matter what high we get, no matter what drunken stupor we go to, there's always a sobriety that reminds us of the reality that we live in. No matter how much we meditate ourselves out of some moment of despair, there's always a time to get up and walk in our broken world. There is always death which looms.

We cannot cover it, though we wish we could. We'll invent reincarnation. We'll invent annihilationism. We'll come up with worldviews that say, "We came from nothing and we're going to nothing. Don't fret it." But our conscience betrays us. And God has said, "This truth will haunt you. You need a solution for your evil."

Right away, God provides it. It shows up in Genesis 3. It's called the protoevangelium. It is the anticipation and the first telling of his good news. Now folks, I want to say this. It isn't good news to you if you don't know your destiny. People are not that impressed with God's solution to evil because they're not often aware of the level of his disgust with that which defines us: the flirting with darkness and the love of cold. God says, "I will have none of that."

By the way, I want to just give you this little deal. This is why Jesus tells us, "Man, look, fix your eyes on me." In Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 2 he says, _ "…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…" _ In other words, if you keep your eyes on the sun, it says in Proverbs 4, _ "But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day." _ He says, "Fix your eyes on the sun. Don't let me shrink below your horizon. You need to keep your eyes fixed on the sun and move toward warmth and light. There is life here."

What we do is we move away from him and we lean on our own misunderstanding. We think there's no judgment to it, and darkness and cold grows. But God in the garden, first in Eden and later in Gethsemane, says, "I will not accept the solutions of man. I will not accept the coverings of man. Take off your leaves."

First, I think he tells Adam and Eve, "You put on the clothes of this animal skin." Where do animal skins come from but from dead animals? So there was an innocent animal whose blood was shed that they could cover themselves in the sacrifice of that animal. So death did come, but I want to ask you this: Why does God allow sin, and what is his remedy for it? Here's his remedy.

There must be perfect provision for the perfect offense of moving away from warmth and light, from truth and from love of God. What is that? We find it in Romans, chapter 3. In Romans, chapter 3, it says, _ "…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…" _ What's that mean? It means that all of us are less than the men and women who God wants us to be.

There are certain people where the image of God is more defaced than in others. We always think of Hitler and the image of God, though it is still there in him, has been largely defaced, but not ultimately erased. In you and I, there are moments when we see what God wants us to be as a man, as a woman, as a leader, as a husband, we see it threatened. We see us become less than what God wants.

God says, _ "For the wages of sin is death…" _ Now watch this. _ "…being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…" _ Who is Christ Jesus? He is the one whom John the Baptist identified upon first seeing him as, _ "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" _

God instituted for a long time a system where sacrifices could be made as an object of faith until such a time as the perfect sacrifice would come. Check this out. He says, "Who is Jesus?" He is the one _ "…whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation…" _ Which means an appropriate sacrifice. _ "…in His blood through faith." _ So that you could experience grace.

God did this, he [audio cuts out] world where evil could exist, that he might show his view of evil and he could demonstrate his righteousness. Let me ask you, why did Christ die on the cross? If you say, "First and foremost because he loves you," you are shortchanging the character of God. He died on that cross because he chose not to consume us ultimately and utterly at the beginning.

God reveals his goodness in those whom he created to have relationship with him, who spit at him and walked away from him, he pursues them in cold and darkness. Rather than utterly annihilating them, he says, "Watch this. I will allow them to come back to me and still not compromise my character."

_ "This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." _ Here is God's solution to evil: an utter and complete sacrifice that came from himself as, _ "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." _

What God did is he said, "I could wipe y'all out, but I am too good for that. I just can't wink and nod at evil. It can not be negotiated with. Evil must be judged. What you need is an eternally perfect provision that will satisfy the eternally perfect one whom you have offended. There is none like that but me. So, Son, we are going to work." It says Philippians, chapter 2, that that Son,

_ "…did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." _

Now I want to let you know this. That doesn't mean that Jesus stopped being God. It means that, "I'm not going to hold on to my ability to act in my own independent sovereignty as the eternal Creator of the universe. I am going to walk as a man. I will be the perfect man, because I am still the God-Man, but I will not sin and I will not just whip out my deity card and use it when I want to use it.

If the Spirit of God calls me to use it for his glory, if the Father tells me to use God-ness to my glory, I will do it, but not on my own initiative and accord." So there was a moment when Jesus was in the garden and the Father is saying, "Son, we're going to go to work again today, but this time, it's going to lead to a cross."

Then he says, "My God, are you sure, Father? I don't want to go to that cross. I can't see anything good coming from the cross. You told me to come and serve you. You told me you would exalt me. You told me you would care for me. You told me you would protect me. You're now going to hand me over to wicked men who I created with you, and they're going to spit on me, they're going to mock me, and they're going to leave me for dead.

They're going to impugn my character and yours. I'm going to suffer like no man has ever suffered. Father, if there's any other way, I wish we'd do it, but at the end of the day, Father, it's just not for me to understand. I'm not going to ask that you dump into my humanness our infinite plan. I will walk with you. I know you, Father, that you are good, and I know that you are wise, so if I cannot trace your hand in this plan, I will trust your heart."

Jesus did what Job did not do. He surrendered, and he walked to a cross. It says, _ " _[God] _ made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf…" _ It says in Isaiah 53, that he, _ "…like a lamb that is led to slaughter…" _ It says, _ "Yet He Himself bore the sin of many…" _ and, _ "He made Him who knew no sin…" _ to carry our burdens. Now folks, I'm going to transition right now to one of the most famous illustrations that's ever been given for this story, but I want you to understand this.

The illustration I'm about to use is an imperfect one because it illustrates God's provision for you as an accident. It illustrates that you're some innocent making your way through life and that what God had to do… All you were was some victim of some powerful angelic force that tricked you and the bride that you were with to follow him and all of a sudden you found yourself in darkness and cold, and you're largely innocent.

I mean, the woman he gave to you, that's why you ate. The woman said, "The serpent that was here that's wiser than me, he's the one who tricked me. I'm largely innocent and I'm just sailing through the life that you've created, God. So you ought to make provision for this." No, we are not innocent. God has called us into relationship with him, and we've spit in his face, not just once, but repeatedly through sins of omission and sins of commission.

The story is this of a young man who worked a drawbridge that was raised when boats would come through and lowered when trains would come. His son always wanted to go work with his father, was fascinated with what his father did. So the day that he got to go with his father, he was sitting there and just peppering his dad with all kinds of questions. As the father got more and more enthralled with his work, all of a sudden he realized the questions had stopped.

The bridge was up, and all of a sudden he heard the whistling of the train coming. He said, "Son, it's time to lower the bridge. I want to let you do it." He looked and his son wasn't there. He looked and he saw that his son had climbed down from the station that he was standing at and was now in the gears playing.

He realized he didn't have time to run down and get his child before he lowered that bridge in order that people would not be coming, unknowingly, to their certain death. So the father had a decision to make. Would he sacrifice his son so the multitudes could pass on into life or would he let them die? The father made the decision that his son must be engulfed and that the gears must go to work so that those who would otherwise die might live.

Now folks, let me just tell you this. That's a difficult story. It's even more difficult to watch. I'm going to give you a glimpse of it, but make no mistake. This was not a panic that God got pushed into because of a divine gaffe. You need to know that God allowed evil to show you this is how much he loves you. This is how good he is.

He is so good that he would say to his Son, "We're going to work, and you are going to get on the gears of the cross, and I am going to sacrifice you so that non-innocents who march happily to their destruction might pass through and trust in your provision for them and you would become the bridge of life back to me as your eternally holy self would be sacrificed to appease my eternally holy righteous nature. Let's go." And the Son said, "Let's go to work, Father." Watch this.


That's not easy to watch, but I'm going to tell you something. It's going to be more difficult to face that Father and to spit in his face at his solution for evil, which is to utterly defeat it, when he and his Son went to work. I want to remind you. What happened with God was not a knee-jerk response to a surprise problem that was created.

No, when he created free creatures who would love him, he knew that those free creatures would choose not to love him and in moving away from the Son, would move toward darkness and cold. He sent his Son to remove you from that domain of darkness into the kingdom of light. This was not a stop-gap measure or a patch job because of a divine oversight.

This is God willing that his glory and grace and goodness and offensive unconditional love would be displayed through a cross. You spit on that cross or you travel in a train of indifference in your life in facing that cross, and you prepare yourself for a conversation. Folks, I want to tell you something. Evil offends God. It is real and it is the antithesis of his being, and he hates it.

The wages of it is death. The consequence of choosing not to trust in his solution is eternal separation from him. He calls you away from that. He loves you enough in your little heroin-induced, pleasure-seeking, indifferent floating world to come to the reality of his sacrifice. You need to know, it wasn't the Father saying, "My God, my God, what has happened?"

It was the Son identifying with you and me saying, "God, can you be good and let evil happen?" He says, "I am good. Son, what you don't know in your humanness is that this most evil act is the greatest good that you and I, in our eternal goodness, designed together. You'll be reminded and you'll be lifted up, but this was our plan to go to work, to reveal our glory that they might come."

Folks, if you don't come to that, I don't want to be around when you get what's coming to you. God's view of evil is that it needs to be destroyed and that his grace needs to be displayed and that you would then follow him and love and give yourself away as he did until such a time as he deals with it ultimately when his program of redemptive history is done.

I want to just give you Scripture. I want to remind you. This is God's Word. In Acts, chapter 2, on the very first message ever preached about the cross, you need to understand that this is what was said. _ "Men of Israel…" _ I say to you, men and women of Dallas. _ "…listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over…" _ Check this. _ "…by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God…" _

This was on purpose. He was nailed to a cross, not by men who had run wildly out of control but men working within his permissive will to fulfill his command. His providential will was accomplished on this evil day on the cross. It says in Isaiah 53, _ "But the LORD was pleased to crush Him…" _ Because he loves you.

Now what you do with that has your eternity resting on that decision. That amazing grace, the Scriptures says, will not go out forever and you should turn to him while there is still time. If you have turned to him, you should declare his goodness with every fiber of your being. You should declare it to others who are whistling by on trains unaware of the love of the Father that they, too, need to deal with.

I want to call you to come. If this is your moment to understand the sacrifice of the Father, to deal with your sin like never before and say, "I want to trust. I want to put my faith in that perfect provision. I want God to deal with my evil through his perfect sacrifice of love," come. There's another application. That is that you would go, if you have come already, that you would go into the world and make disciples.

That you would know truth and you would teach it. You would tell people to identify themselves with the goodness of the Father, Son, and Spirit. You would teach them all that he has commanded so they can follow him and not blind men who put forth their endless worldviews and philosophies that lead people to despair and pits and wars and darkness and cold and death.

Engage, and you do it by the power of Christ, who will be with you until a time that he himself comes to declare things once and for all, but you must go. If you have never come, if you have never gone with fervency and a sense of stewardship and responsibility, you go because you know the story of the Father's love. That's his amazing grace. We will sing it, and you are dismissed. Please come and please go.

About 'What in the World are You Thinking?'

How do you look at the world? What influences your perspective on the challenges and people you interact with every day? In this 10-part series, Todd Wagner explains why your worldview ? the lens you look at the world through ? matters. You?ll discover what it means to have a biblical worldview, and how our failure to look at the world through God?s "lens" impacts our lives, culture and our world.