The Forgiveness of Yeshua and the Fear of Death
NO ONE IS READY TO LIVE UNTIL THEY ARE READY TO DIE. One cannot argue that the terror of death can make living an unenjoyable experience. One only has to reflect on the wasted lives of such influential people as Howard Hughes who lived a life of fear — fear of germs, fear of disease, fear of people, fear of sex, fear of death.
The fear of death is increased and intensified by fear about our eternal destiny.
But the fact remains that Our Lord Yeshua came to our planet in order to dwell among men and to encourage them to overcome their fears. He lived and died among men giving them the prime example of inner peace and a courageous heart. He condemned none, corrected many, and enjoyed the company of real people. His paramount concern was with man’s guilt (the consequence of sin). He is on record as taking every and any opportunity to forgive men and women their sins. It is guilt, as the consequence of transgression, and the emotional feelings at the same time produced and impacted by that guilt, which drives human beings like a demon from hell into a cycle of habitual despair, habitual discouragement, habitual depression and the constant, nagging fear of death. As long as we entertain unreconciled guilt over our sin, or sins, we will forever sense that we are not forgiven.
But Yeshua has forgiven us our sins, and as a result we ought to have truly repented of them. The love of God is a love that will remain.
The apostle Paul summed this up when he wrote, to the Messianic Community in Corinth, “O death, where then is your victory? Where then your sting? For sin – the sting that causes death – will all be gone; and the law, which reveals our sins, will no longer be our judge. How we thank God for all of this! It is he who makes us victorious through Yeshua the Messiah our Lord” (1 Cor 15.55-57).
The apostle John, whom Yeshua loved, wrote, “As we live with the Messiah, our love grows more perfect and complete; so that we will not be ashamed and embarrassed at the day of judgment, but can face him with confidence and joy, because he loves us and we love him too. We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; his perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us, and shows that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us” (1 Jn 4.18).
Yeshua does not only love His people. He loves humanity, even a violent humanity that ultimately rejected Him and finally robbed Him of His life. It was humanity that scourged Yeshua with the Roman whip. It was humanity that brutalized His face and body, leaving it bloodied and bruised. It was humanity that tortured Him mentally and physically. It was humanity that nailed Our Lord Yeshua to the tree of crucifixion. It was humanity that stoned Him as the Lord writhed in agony stretched grotesquely in a dislocated form, and screaming in agony. Yet Our Lord Yeshua loves humanity, the humanity He Himself created, on a planet He Himself designed, in a plan He Self-sacrificially emptied forth from Himself.
This is why the Bible, which His Spirit breathed forth into the pens of inspired prophets, has so much to say about fear in relation to God’s love, and fear in relation to God’s forgiveness.
“The reverence and fear of God are basic to all wisdom” (Prov 9.10).
“Even though walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way” (Ps 23.4).
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Ps 27.1).
“Fear of man is a dangerous trap, but to trust in God means safety” (Prov 29.5).
“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Isa 41.10).
“And so we should not be cringing, fearful slaves, but we should behave like God’s very own children, sons in the bosom of his family, and calling to him, ‘Father, Father'” (Rom 8.15).
“For God has said, ‘I will never, NEVER fail you nor forsake you.’ That is why we can say without any doubt or fear, ‘The Lord is my helper and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me'” (Heb 13.5b,6).
“Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No!’ Yeshua replied, ‘seventy times seven!'” (Mt 18.21-22).
“Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Mashiach” (Eph 4.32).
“For God was in Messiah, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others” (2 Cor 5.19).
“God was in Christ restoring the Church to Himself.” How often have we read that view into the last quoted Scripture? But Paul does not use the term “church” — he tells us God was in the Messiah restoring the WORLD to Himself.
You see, God is really like a child. God is playing a “game.” It is a wonderful game called God’s Plan of Salvation. It is a game in which multiple billions of creatures of all sorts have a part, and a distinct role to perform. God’s plan, intent and purpose in this game for humankind was to “set up” a pair of original human beings in beatific Paradise conditions, and then, although they were made in His divine character image potential, He placed within them a carnal propensity to rebel. God knew humankind would “fall.” He knew humankind would not be able to obey His directives. Indeed, without the “fall” the game of salvation could not proceed.
Some believers will not have it so. They want to believe that man was given unlimited “free will.” They desire to believe Adam and Eve were made perfect to begin with. But this is not what the Bible tells us about our first parents! One only has to study closely the remarks of Eve in conversation with the evil Enchanter before she fell into transgression, to realise how human she was. An examination of her words to Satan, relating God’s warning and “game” instructions to Adam reveal how subtly she perverted God’s Word. This expansion of the “game rules” occurred BEFORE the transgression (Gen 2.16-17 cf 3.2,3). Not only so, but we have biblical evidence that Mashiach “was a Saviour from eternity” (1 Pet
1.20; Rev 13.8 Wuest). He was not a “Saviour from the disruption” or “fall” because that would make Yeshua a contin-gency plan in this game of salvation.
Yeshua the Messiah is no “contingency.” Mashiach could not be a “Saviour” from “eternity” unless it was God’s intent that sin and evil enter the human realm. If the “fall” in Paradise was an accident, God is not worthy of worship. Rather, Paul informs us very clearly and quite emphatically that it was God (not Satan) who subjected the creation to “the bondage of corruption” (Rom 8.19-22).
The “game” is so simple a child could understand it. Our trouble is that we think “we’ve grown up.” The pity is some of us have become sour adults and have lost the “Child” within. Despite our failure to throw the proper dice, or perhaps because of it, the game goes on. It carries on in a mighty way. Eventually the Ultimate Instigator of the game will grant salvation to all His creatures in an awesome and grand Recreation and Redemption. It even goes way beyond a mere “reconciliation.”
Would to God that we all could really catch the vision of God’s intention for an ultimate universal salvation. God’s forgive-ness launches us into yet another level of intensity in His game. Its an intensity and fervency of love: love toward God, and an unconditional acceptance of His creatures. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son, the kapparah [atonement] for our sins” (1 Jn 4.10).
We have no need of fear, for our eternal destiny is settled once and for all by the One in whose game we are privileged to play.
It’s not settled by us. It’s settled by God. Let’s have confidence, not fear, for our future.