That’s an easy question isn’t it? We all know the answer to that – or least we think we do. If I took a survey of Bible-believing and church-going Christians in America today, what response do you think I’d hear most? Or better, how would you yourself answer that question?
I think the vast majority would say “Jesus came to die for us and save us from our sins.” And we’d point to some of the most famous verses in the Bible that speak about God’s desire for our salvation to validate our answer – such as John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
That’s a good answer. Nothing wrong with it at all. Perfectly accurate and 100% in line with Scripture. God did send His Son into the world to save us from everlasting death out of His great love for us and no one can deny that.
But is that it? Is that all Jesus came to do? To give us salvation and take us to heaven with Him after we die? Or might there be more???
In other words, is Christianity an “after-death” thing only? Meaning that it only applies to us after we die and doesn’t really have much effect while we live? Is that really the goal of all Jesus did?
Imagine you wake up one morning with a tremendous pain in your stomach. The pain is unbearable. You can’t eat. You can’t sleep. You can barely move. Every aspect of your life is affected by this pain and you are willing to do anything to get rid of it, but nothing seems to be working. So eventually you decide to go to the doctor and tell him about the pain and about how it’s ruining your life.
The doctor then reassures you that he knows all about your ailment and has treated it many times before. You are not the first person to come in with this pain and he has the treatment ready for you.
“Great! Can’t wait to get my hands on that medicine doc!” you think to yourself.
And then the doctor gives you the medicine and says “take one pill every day for the rest of your life and if you do that, after you die, you’ll feel no pain at all. The medicine will completely solve your illness after you die. Have a good day.”
Huh?!?!?!?! What’s that? I beg your pardon?
Would you accept that from your doctor? I certainly wouldn’t. You don’t go to a doctor to find healing for sickness after death; you go to find healing RIGHT NOW!
So how about our Great Physician – the Physician of not just our bodies, but also our souls and our spirits? Does He have anything to help with our illness in this life? Or is His healing ability limited to only life after death?
Jesus once said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). In other words, His goal wasn’t just an “after-death” goal, but also a “while-we’re-fully-alive” goal as well!
Listen carefully and don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I’m not saying that Jesus didn’t come for our salvation; that would be ridiculous of me to say. I’m saying He didn’t ONLY come for our salvation. There’s more to it than that. Too many of us are living as if our only goal as Christians is to “be saved” and acquire some kind of “get-out-of-hell-free” card and that’s it.
But that isn’t what I see when I look through God’s Word. The God that I see revealed through Scripture wants way more for us than just salvation. He is the God of the living, not the God of the dead.
In other words, salvation isn’t the goal/end point; but rather it’s just the beginning.
For discussion: I’ll continue this discussion over the coming weeks leading up to Christmas. But for now, I'd like to hear your thoughts. What would you say? How would you answer the answer “why did Jesus really come to us?”
NOTE: If you’re looking for a good book to read during this Advent season, let me recommend to you the book that our church is reading together. It’s called ON THE INCARNATION by St. Athanasius of Alexandria (patron saint of STSA). A great read for this time of year and trust me, a lot simpler than you’d expect. Highly highly recommend it.