Herbert Spencer, whom we quoted earlier, wrote: "The task of religion is at-one-ment: atonement. If it fails to do this it fails at the vital point." Its ritual may be beautiful, its sanctions may be ancient, its precepts may be good, but if it fails to bring men and women into correspondence with God it fails vitally and irretrievably. All else is useless, for if the problem of evil is ignored or passed over, we are like the person who dreams about and plans next year's happiness while an incurable disease is eating at his vitals. The wonderful distinctive of Christianity is this - Jesus Christ has done something about the problem of being out of correspondence with God. He puts the hand of a penitent sinner into the hand of a pardoning God. Because of the nature of the problem - the problem of evil - no other solution is possible. Salvation is a task which only God could engineer. As one theologian puts it: "It is a task worthy of God." The ancient Greek playwrights used to warn their students that when writing a tragedy they should not bring a god onto the stage unless there was an entanglement worthy of a god. The presence of evil in this world, I suggest, presents an entanglement worthy of God. But it is no mere stage affair. It is a tragic fact. To deliver men and women from evil was a problem that challenged God's power and made the deepest claim upon His love. The cross is the answer. If we don't take God's way of salvation, then nothing else will do.
Father, I rejoice that You have brought me to Your way -t he only way. Help the millions who strive to earn their salvation see that the penalty for sin has been fully paid. And all they have to do is humbly receive. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
For further study:
1. What is at the heart of atonement?
2. What did John assure the believers?