**Note:  I encourage you to read the references given so you can have a broader understanding of what I am saying.  (And, if you find a mistake or disagree with me, let me know!  You could be right!)  And, as always, do not take my word for it.  Read God’s Word for yourself.  II Timothy 2:15 says:  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.

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Romans 5:8-9 says:

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

This is one of the most comforting, powerful, faith-invoking scriptures in the Bible, in my humble opinion.  Think about it:

Christ suffered such tremendous persecution.  He was mocked.  Cursed.  Accused of blasphemy.  Misunderstood.  Laughed at.  Beaten.  Crucified.  Pierced.  And He died.  And He – the God and Creator of the universe – did this all for us before we chose to repent of our sins.  Before we chose to follow Him – at a time in our lives when we still mocked Him ourselves.  And make no mistake, if you have chosen to ignore His call in your life, if you have refused to give in to the Spirit, you are still mocking Him.  The Bible is clear that if you are not a child of the Living God, you are His enemy. 

BUT, there is hope!  The Lord in His graciousness CHOSE (in other words, He did it because He loved us so very much ~ see John 3:16)) to send His only Son to die a horrific and painful death upon a cross.  He allowed Jesus to take on the weight of the world, literally, in order to redeem us to Him so that we might spend eternity in His presence, instead of in the depths of the fiery abyss, which is hell.

I know what my life was like before Christ.  I know where I went, what I did, who I listened to, and the terrible choices I made.  In one way, it hurts so much to look back at where I’ve been, and know that the Savior and King of the world endured so much pain and suffering for me – before I learned the truth that set me free.  (John 8:32)  On the other hand, it is such a relief.  I know that my Lord planned for my redemption and salvation unto Him long before my life began.  To me, that is just an absolutely amazing thought.  He knew what my life would be like before I accepted the salvation He so mercifully offered.  He knew the choices I would make (if you participated in the mission trip to Pachuca in 2005, you have heard my testimony – otherwise, it is likely only a few of you have heard it).  And yet, in spite of all that, He still chose to die so His blood could be the atonement for the sins I would commit (and for clarification, ANY sin separates us from Him – see Romans 3:23) – against Him.  AGAINST HIM.  (That is something we tend to forget in our modern society – that our sins are NOT just against one another, they are sins against God Himself – but that’s a subject for another blog post!)  If we are not redeemed through the blood of Christ, we have no hope of spending eternity with Christ. (Romans 6:23)

So, think about what that actually means:  would you risk – no, scratch that – would you give your life willingly for any one person who did those things to you?  What about for an entire planet or race of people who cursed, mocked, and seeked to crucify you?  Would you die such a lonely, terrible death for them?

As Christians, we are to turn the other cheek.  Look the other way and extend our hand to the needy, even when they curse us.  Sometimes, it is so hard.  It is a very difficult thing to love someone who hates us so much. 

I think this verse speaks to us, not only about the abundance of agape love Christ has for His bride, the church, but also for the forgiveness we are to extend to others.  After all, Christ provided a way for our forgiveness before we were willing to accept it. 

If He did that for us, isn’t it the very least we can do to make the choice to forgive someone, even before they deserve our forgiveness and mercy?

The second part of this week’s scripture tells us the benefit of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf:  we will be “saved from wrath through Him.”  Have you ever seen a father when his child completely disobeys?  No matter how much he loves that child, he knows he/she must be punished for his/her wrongdoing.  There will come a time, through death or the return of the King of Kings (the Second Coming – not the Rapture), that our chance for salvation will be passed.  At that time, only those who followed Christ with their whole being – heart, soul, mind, and strength, will be able to stand before God blameless.  That is our promise for being faithful and believing in and trusting in Jesus Christ.  But for those who have refused that call, for those who have spoken belief, and not lived it, there is coming a wrath such that man cannot fathom its horror.  And like the father of an unruly child, God – even though His love is pure and good, in fact BECAUSE it is pure and good – will have to punish those who have hardened their hearts against Him.  God knows our thoughts, and our hearts.  So He knows when our faith is genuine and sincere, and when it is just “for show.” (Luke 6:46;  Psalm 78:35-36;  Proverbs 26:23;  Matthew 7:21;  Mark 7:6;  Titus 1:16) But the promise of being saved from that wrath is there for all who will choose now, this day, to live for Him.   (Joshua 24:15)

 Totally ~ heart, mind, soul, and strength.

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