Deliverance from what?
An excerpt from Discovering the Character of God
Written By George MacDonald
Compiled, Arranged and Edited by Michael R Phillips
The Lord never came to deliver men from the consequences of their sins while those sins yet remained. That would be to cast out the window the medicine of cure while still the man lay sick. Yet, feeling nothing of the dread hatefulness of their sin, men have constantly taken this word that the Lord came to deliver us from our sins to mean that he came to save them from the punishment of their sins.
This idea has terribly corrupted the preaching of the Gospel. The message of the Good News has not been truly communicated. Unable to believe in the forgiveness of their Father in heaven, imagining him not at liberty to forgive, or incapable of forgiving forthright; not really believing him God who is fully our Savior, but a God bound – either in his own nature or by a law above him and compulsory on him – to exact some recompense or satisfaction for sin, a multitude of religious teachers have taught their fellow men that Jesus came to bear our punishment and save us from hell. But in that they have misrepresented his true mission.
The mission of Jesus was from the same source and with the same object as the punishment of our sins. He came to do more than take the punishment for our sins. He came as well to set us free from our sin.
No man is safe from hell until he is free from his sin. But a man to whom his sins are a burden, while he may indeed sometimes feel as if he were in hell, will soon have forgotten that he ever had any other hell to think of than that of his sinful condition. For to him his sin is hell. He would go to the other hell to be free of it. Free of his sin, hell itself would be endurable to him.
For hell is God’s and not the Devil’s. Hell is on the side of God and man, to free the child of God from the corruption of death. Not one soul will ever be redeemed from hell but by being saved from his sin, from the evil in him. If hell be needful to save him, hell will blaze, and the worm will writhe and bite, until he takes refuge in the will of the Father. ‘Salvation from hell’ is salvation as conceived by such to whom hell, and not the evil of sin, is the terror.
God takes our sins on himself, and while he drives them out of us with a whip of scorpions, he will yet make them work for his good ends. He defeats our sins, makes them prisoners, forces them into the service of good, and chains them like galley slaves to the rowing benches of the gospel ship. He makes them work toward salvation for us.
Jesus came to deliver us, not rescue us from the needful consequences.
I believe that Jesus Christ is our atonement, that through him we are reconciled to, made one with, God. There is not one word in the New Testament about reconciling God to us; it is we that have to be reconciled to God.
Verily, he made atonement! We sacrifice to God? No, such was a mere Old Covenant shadow. It is God who has sacrificed his own Son for us. There was no other way of getting the gift of himself into our hearts. Jesus sacrificed himself to his Father and the children to bring them together – all the love on the side of the Father and the Son, all the selfishness on the side of the children.