For centuries, many people have thought that in order for God to accept us, we must do one or more things for him: offer sacrifice, bring an offering, go to confession often, or work for Him. Many of these perceptions are still maintained today. Those living this way believe these efforts keep God from being angry with them, as if He must be appeased.
Was Calvary an effort to satisfy the need for sacrifice, so that God accepts us? Why are these thoughts so prevalent when Jesus taught us to repentively change our outlook toward life and receive God’s guidance? Who did Calvary really seek to reconcile, God to us or us to God?
A widely accepted perception today promotes the idea that the death of Jesus on Calvary was to satisfy God’s penalty for sin, so we would be acceptable to Him. Since we all die physically, no matter what we believe, and the spirit of life that comes from God does not die, (a) [see end notes for all Scriptures] what is the penalty for sin? Let’s start with the passage in Genesis.
In our human beginnings, God declared: “From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (b) The Old Testament Hebrew actually says: “for in the time that you partake from it you will be dying.” The penalty was not an immediate or eventual death, but an ongoing deathly condition during this life.
While God was disappointed with His straying kids, His love and care for us remains true, today. (c) The decision to accept the deathly course as a source of wisdom (d) resulted in a deathly strain in their fellowship with God. They even tried to hide from God’s presence as fear became a part of their consciousness. (e)
God was not the one with the problem; it was man who broke the intimate fellowship they had with God’s presence. Instead of repenting to restore intimacy and arise out of their deathly perceptions, they made excuses. (f) The erroneous choice and action planted a deathly condition in all mankind that leads us to cover up our errors and place blame elsewhere.
Calvary was God’s effort to reveal His forgiving nature to us. It was His way of declaring to all mankind that His forgiveness covers the whole world, everyone. (g) The Cross did not reconcile God to man but was God’s effort to restore our intimate fellowship with His presence. (h)
Calvary was God’s effort to reveal His forgiving nature to us.
Repentance and Reconciliation
The two prophets Amos and Isaiah declared God’s discontent with our messed up perception: “I have had enough of burnt offerings… Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me… I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts.” (i) What does this mean? The Eternal One said He was tired of our efforts to appease Him.
God’s desire for us is clarified further by Isaiah: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice.” (j) Ezekiel echoes the call for repentant change: “Cast away from you all your transgressions… and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit… therefore repent and live.” (k)
The Eternal One is always seeking to redeem, restore, and reconcile us into His fellowship. He can help us clean-up our messed up perceptions. He wants us to repent; changing our minds and actions. This is how we daily “work out our salvation” as God accomplishes His “work in us.” (l)
Jesus told the story of a Prodigal Son to illustrate a variety of conditions we can experience when we listen or ignore our Father’s insightful fellowship. (m) Like the Prodigal, a repentant attitude allows us to return to our Father’s presence, restore interaction, and allows us to receive the benefits of God’s insightful light and embracing love.
We want to realize repentance is more than admitting error; it includes our efforts to change. Making sacrifice a few times a year as old Israel did, or repeatedly confessing sin and then returning to do the same thing is not repentance. Repentance involves changing our thoughts and actions. We are not alone in such efforts for God says he will assist our resolve to change. (n)
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation… we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (o) Our repentance reconciles us to God.
The Eternal One is always seeking to redeem, restore, and reconcile us into His fellowship.
God’s Commitment To Us
The entrance into the Garden of God with its Tree of Life appears to be guarded by an angel with a flaming sword. (p) The angel actually illustrates God’s efforts to assist our repentant commit to change. Repentance invites the “Sword of the Lord” to cut us free from entanglements to error and the “Fire of the Lord” brings cleansing renewal to the wasteful effects of our error.
God is clearly after our repentant hearts and efforts to improve our actions. He wants a repentant willingness to change our ways. His desire is for all of His kids to walk in His ways, mature as His children, and live better lives. As a repentant, we even learn to forgive and become forgivers.
Our free-will allows us to accept, ignore, or deny God. We can even choose to accept just some of His ways. In any case, we cannot escape His undying love for us. “He says… I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy… have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” (q)
Paul confirms our Eternal Father’s commitment to our eventual well-being; “What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be!” (r)
Scripture also declares God’s love and care for all His offspring, which becomes obvious for all who respond: “The living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” (s)
So, who did Calvary seek to reconcile? The death and resurrection of Jesus amplifies God’s desire to reconcile us to Him and save us from ourselves. The Cross of Calvary was to illustrate that God is not interested in sacrifice, offerings, or confessions for our sin.
The Eternal One just wants us to repent, change our ways and become more responsive to His guidance. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (t)
May we seek our Eternal Father daily and become better images and likenesses of His heart!
The death and resurrection of Jesus amplifies God’s desire to reconcile us to Him and save us from ourselves.
a) Ecclesiastes 12:7; b) Genesis 2:17; c) Lamentations 3:22; Psalm 103:8; 136:1; d) Genesis 3:4-6; 1 John 2:16-17; James 3:15-17; e) Genesis 3:8; f) Matthew 8:22; Luke 6:60; Ephesians 2:1; g) 1 John 2:2; h) Romans 5:10; i) Isaiah 1:10-14; Amos 5:21; j) Isaiah 1:16-17; k) Ezekiel 18:31-32; 33:11; l) Philippians 2:12-13; m) Luke 15:11-32; n) Ezekiel 11:19-20; o) 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; p) Genesis 3:24; q) Romans 9:15-16; r) Romans 3:3-4; s) 1 Timothy 4:10; t) Hosea 6:8