Matthew R. Perry

Does Good Friday Celebrate Suffering?

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2008 at 9:57 am

Sadly, I am finding more and more college students and young adults influenced by secularism and humanitarian efforts who reject the God of the Bible because they cannot reconcile a loving God who allows suffering in the world. I did address this in a previous sermon which brought a great deal of help to many people who were struggling with various issues but could seemingly find no answers.

I always encourage people to look to the cross. While we do understand that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, to those who are being saved it is the power of God unto salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18). The majority of people in the world will see the cross as scandalous and a stumbling block on many levels:

  • Why couldn’t God just forgive? Why did He need to sacrifice His Son?
  • Some say, as Steven Chalke and Alan Mann did in a recent book, that the cross is simply “cosmic child abuse” of a Father to His Son;
  • How could one man take on the sin of everyone? Isn’t there something more that could be done?
  • How could the King of Kings and creator of the universe ever truly subject himself to death? That is beneath the dignity of a King.

It comes down to the penal substitution of Christ in placating the divine wrath of a holy God. This is not a “fly off the handle” type of wrath, but a wrath in which God is decidedly against the very thing that separates His beloved image-bearers from Himself — sin.

As God, Christ came to fulfill God’s Law (something we could not accomplish). As a man, He stood in our place as a substitute for our sin.

But to answer the question, I would like to echo Tim Keller’s comments from his most recent book, The Reason for God: to the human perspective, the cross seemed like the greatest injustice in history (which it was) but there was a tremendous cosmic purpose behind it. So when we look to the cross, we see that behind all the suffering (which came in due to the curse of sin) God is orchestrating a glorious plan to reconcile all things to Himself.

I have been reading through some really good books on the subject over the past few weeks:

  • The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul
  • The Cross of Christ by John R.W. Stott
  • Pierced for our Transgressions by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach
  • Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  • The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy

Also, some good articles are posted on the subject of Good Friday:

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