Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Reflections

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

...these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).

It is Good Friday, and how good it is to reflect this day upon Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished by coming to Earth and dying on a cross. As I am in the process of reviewing the chapter titled "What's So Great About Total Depravity?" (part of my current book review series of posts), the doctrine of total depravity is on my mind. I see a definite connection between the two-- Good Friday-- specifically, Jesus dying on the cross for our sins-- and total depravity. What is the connection?

Total depravity teaches that all of mankind is spiritually "dead" in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3), and we are "natural", therefore unable to comprehend and respond to the truth of God, because such truth is spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14, John 3:3-6). Our spiritual condition is akin to Lazarus in the tomb-- just as a dead person doesn't and can't respond to anything, so we're insensible and unresponsive to spiritual truth. But when Jesus specifically calls our name ("Lazarus, Come forth!"), power is given to hear and to respond. We are no longer dead but born again, by the mysterious power of the Spirit (John 3:7-8). A miracle has happened and suddenly, the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ makes sense as it never has before.

The doctrine of total depravity reminds us how utterly lost we are outside of Christ. Though we have life in one sense, yet we are dead in another sense. That is, we have the natural life that we are born with and pertains to all things in this world. Yet we don't possess the life that is truly life- the life that mankind was meant to have-- eternal, spiritual life, in fellowship with God.

This life is what we are missing because of our sinful condition. But we are so lost in sin that we are not even aware of what we are missing, as by nature we suppress the truth of God (Romans 1:18). The wrath of God is set against us and we all stand guilty before a holy God (Romans 3:23). In this helpless and hopeless and sinful state (Matthew 9:36, Ephesians 2:12, Romans 5:8), Jesus came and died for our sins, which were separating us from life in God (Ephesians 4:18). He takes away those sins (John 1:29) and gives life to all those who will believe in Him and put their faith in Him (John 5:24; John 6:40,47). So much more could be said, but at this time I will point you to others who have also meditated on the meaning of the cross and eloquently share their teaching and reflections:

A Good Friday Meditation: Christ and the Meaning of the Universe by John Piper

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED ON THE CROSS?...Christ died for God - this is called propitiation by Steve Camp, CampOnThis

Easter Through the Eyes of God- Message series by John McArthur

The Joy Set Before Us by Jared Wilson, Gospel-Driven Church

A Crucifixion Narrative by Rick Gamache

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