In recent years, and even in this publication, some have suggested that God didn’t really need the cross to bring forgiveness to sin. While I do not wish to start a public debate, I am compelled to respond.
The difficulty lies in the reality that if God is all-powerful and all-loving why would he need a cross to forgive us. It is difficult for some to reconcile a loving God using “violence” or an innocent sacrifice to offer his forgiveness. The problem is that once again the onus is being placed on God for that which we have chosen. So I would like to offer just four reasons why I believe God chose the cross:
1. I believe God chose the cross because God said he did.
The bible clearly says that Jesus blood atonement was necessary to pay sin’s price not God’s price. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (KJV)
2. I believe God chose the cross because history proves it is true. Whether I understand it all or not, it is what happened. History is clear and the evidence given in many other publications is beyond reasonable doubt. (see Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel and Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell.)
3. I believe God chose the cross because my sin requires it. In order for my entire sinful and selfish nature to be made new, this life must end and a new one begin. Only in Christ’s death can I do that and still live. The cross covers the penalty of my sin, so that a perfect God can enter my life and make me a new creation without my own physical death.
4. I believe God chose the cross because only the cross of Christ is powerful enough to compel my forgiveness of others.
Paul says in Ephesians 4:23, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (NKJV)
If we are going to forgive the way we have been forgiven, we must forgive anyone who sins against us while they are doing it! “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
If we could learn to live by this truth, relationships would not be destroyed over misunderstandings, or harsh words spoken, or even real and violent hurt, because the penalty for those sins has been paid. I can love those who are unloving and unlovely, because there is no doubt that Christ paid enough for their sins, and his payment has been accepted by me.
The cross is necessary, because it is the only penalty that can compel men and women to say to their captors, their abusers, their enemies, “Father forgive them.”
While some debate its necessity, God did send his only son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the whole world; and while others may be uncomfortable with this reality, I am certain that the cross was the only sufficient sacrifice to bring hope and new life to the world.
Dow Tippett is Associate Pastor with Faith Family Church.