by Dick Innes
No Greater Love
Leslie Weatherhead, in his book Key Next Door, told about a benevolent ruler named Goho who, centuries ago, lived on the island of Taiwan. One ritual he desperately wanted stopped was the ancient custom of offering humans for sacrifices. He wanted them to substitute an ox or a pig for their annual offering.
For many years he succeeded. However, after one extremely poor harvest the tribal leaders complained that the animal sacrifices weren't working and they needed a human sacrifice to appease the gods whom they believed to be angry at them.
Unfortunately, Goho failed to convince his tribe of the error of their way and finally gave in to them. He said. "Go into the forest tomorrow morning. There you will find a victim tied to a tree. He will be wearing a red robe of sacrifice and a red cloth over his face and head. Strike! For this is your next victim."
The following morning the men went to the forest and found the victim just as Goho said. In a crazed frenzy they rushed in and decapitated him. When they uncovered his head they realized what they had done. They had killed Goho, their leader!
According to the story, Taiwan has never again had a human sacrifice. Goho accomplished through his death what his teaching failed to do. As a result, a red robe became a symbol of a changed life. When people radically changed their lives for better they wear a red robe and became known as "people of the robe."
In more recent times during World War II in the dead of winter the SS Dorchester with 903 troops and four chaplains aboard was headed across the icy North Atlantic. In the early morning of February 3, 1943, at 1:00AM the Dorchester was hit with a German U-boat torpedo. "She's going down," the men cried as they scrambled to don their life jackets and board the life boats.
One GI approached one of the chaplains, Lt. George Fox, saying, "I've lost my life jacket."
Fox gave the GI his jacket. The other three chaplains did the same before the ship sank. All four linked their arms and prayed as the Dorchester went down. All were awarded posthumously the Distinguished Service Cross.
Giving one's life to save others is without question the supreme sacrifice that anyone could ever make. It takes the greatest love and the rawest kind of courage.
As the Bible puts it, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."1 Apart from times of war, and even then, few ever do this willingly.
"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13.
But what about someone giving their life for an enemy? This is exactly what God's Son, Jesus Christ, did for us on the cross of Calvary. In the powerful words of Scripture: "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."2
"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:7-8, (NIV)
Many people, often very good people, reason that if they live a good life, don't steal, cheat on their spouse, pay their taxes, are thoughtful, kind, and generous, then that is all that God requires for them to go to heaven. The fallacy with this belief is that there is no one alive, or ever has been apart from Jesus Christ, who is absolutely sinless and qualifies for entrance into heaven.
Another fallacy with this teaching is that these people make up their own religion and in so doing put themselves above God which is actually the essence of sin. Adam didn't sin when he ate of the forbidden tree. His taking the fruit was the expression of his inward sin. He sinned when he set himself up as judge between God and Satan and acted as if he were God. This is basically what Satan did he wanted to be as God which caused him to fall and bring sin into the human race in the first place.
Another common argument is that if God is a God of love how could he ever send anyone to hell or eternal death? If God weren't a God of love and allowed sin into heaven, it would destroy heaven, and that wouldn't be loving at all. It would be disastrous. God also happens to be a God of holiness which means no sin can ever exist in his presence. Furthermore, God is a God of justice which means all sin must be judged and the judgment of sin is death
. Fortunately for us, God is also a God of love and he expressed his love in the giving of his only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die in our place to pay the judgment on our sin so that he can give us a total pardon and complete forgiveness. The critical thing is to come to God on his terms and not on ours. He has the gift of forgiveness and eternal life for all who acknowledge their sinfulness and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. And once this forgiveness is received it can never be annulled.
When a very generous doctor died, an examination of his books revealed that he had written over a number of unpaid accounts: "Forgive. Too poor to pay."
His wife, not being of the same mind, demanded that all these accounts be paid in full. She took her case to court and sued for the money.
The judged asked her, "Is this your husband's hand-writing on these accounts?"
"Yes," the woman declared.
"Then," declared the judge, "there is not a court in the land that can obtain money where he has written forgive.
And neither is there a judge anywhere in the universe that can demand that we pay for the debt of our sins if we have accepted God's forgiveness. When Jesus died on the cross 2,000 years ago he wrote as it were in his own blood, FORGIVE, against every account of your sins and mine.
Once we accept God's forgiveness, God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. We are set free. We no longer have to pay the judgment price for our sins. Jesus Christ paid that for us in full with his own life on the cross of Calvary! We, too, were too poor to pay. So Jesus paid it all in full.
The critical thing is to realize that of our-selves we cannot pay the debt of our sin. Only Jesus could do that. All we need to do is to admit our sinfulness to him and accept his forgiveness and free pardon.
1. John 15:13. 2. Romans 5:7-8, (NIV).