Many Christians, when I confront them with the fact that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all mankind, inevitably, through a nearly predictable ‘knee jerk reflex response’ retort with a ‘yes but God!’ response!
I’ve come to the conclusion that this is because a dichotomy exists deep down in their thinking regarding God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.
As though they sub-consciously relate to them as being different, as divided, and as having two completely contradictory and opposing natures and different agendas.
This reminds me of the typical ‘white hat’ and ‘black hat ‘scenario in the old western movies when I was a kid. The hero, usually a clean cut ‘good guy’ type, always wore the white hat, and the ‘bad guy’ the black hat!
It seems that our early Christian mindset was formatted along these lines, I know mine was. I clearly recollect, that the earliest impressions made on my tender young soul about God at Sunday school 101, went something like this;
God was a mean old Judge and He was watching my every move!
He was an angry old man, with a white beard and robe, seated behind a huge book wherein He kept a detailed record of each of my sins, big and small. He was building a case against me in preparation for the Judgement day!
On that grim and fatal day, I would be dragged before the court of heaven in order to receive my punishment or reward!
As the book is read, and all our secret sins publicly exposed for all to see, the sheep and the goats will be separated! That day our mothers and grandmothers would wail of sadness and hang their heads in shame! The thought was terrifying!
If it is found that Andre had been a ‘good enough’ boy, St Peter would fling open the pearly gates, and I’ll be welcomed into heaven as multitudes of angels choirs rejoice!
However, if I tipped the scale on the ‘bad’ side, Andre, together with the other ‘damned and doomed’ ‘goats ‘would slide down into the open pit of hell as hoards of vile demons screech with delight!
There I would face the ‘vengeance’ and ‘wrath of God’…and there I would weep and gnash my teeth forever, as I roast in flames! I would now officially belong to the devil!
Yet, how both God and the devil somehow had a hand in my eternal torment was never fully explained!
God’s primary character was also introduced to me as that of an exceedingly jealous God, who hated all those who hated him, or by implication ‘sinned’ against Him.
There was no escaping His vengeance because God was going to exact His pound of flesh from you personally for ‘sins’ going all the way back to parents, grandparents and great grandparents …and possibly many generations beyond!
This fact alone, coupled with the notion that ‘you were conceived and born in sin’ made me a two time loser!
Not only was I probably sold down the river by my lousy family, I had lost my innocence when I had yielded to temptation myself! There was the grievous incident when I silently cussed a policemen driving by on a bicycle, to see if heaven would fall or lightening would strike me dead!
Not to mention the little blond girl next door, who insisted on playing ‘I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours?’ In God’s eyes I was toast!
Religion was fear inspiring and very confusing, but my parents insisted we needed it to be ‘decent folk’ and I especially needed it so I could make ‘something of my life!’
‘Dear gentle Jesus’, God’s Son on the other hand, was depicted as ‘meek and mild’ and all goodness and light! He was portrayed as a handsome, friendly, smiling shepherd, rubbing little kid’s on the head and radiating love and peace! He just loved everybody, did miracles to help people all the time and wanted us to be happy!
He loved me so much that He even died for me to save me from Gods ‘wrath’ and ‘anger’ and to force God not to send me to ‘hell’ because of Adam’s lousy mistake!
Jesus was somehow ‘saving’ me from God, the devil, my sin and from eternity in hell, getting my sins forgiven and taking me to heaven when I die!
It is obvious who wore the white hat, and who wore the black hat in my mind!
God was a mean Judge, and Jesus was my loving Saviour!
Yet ironically in the New Testament no fewer than eight occasions it is God who is called Saviour!
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour.” Luke 1:46
‘Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Saviour and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,’ 1 Tim 1:1
‘…but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;’ Titus 1:3
‘For to this end we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe.’ 1Ti 4:10
‘For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour,
Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth?’ 1Ti 2:3-4
‘….not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.’ Tit 2:10
‘But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared’ Tit 3:4
‘To God our Saviour, Be glory and majesty,Dominion and power,Both now and forever.Amen.’ Jude 1:25
This is of the utmost importance to our thinking and out theology!
This forbids, once and for all times setting in contrast the ‘love’ of Jesus over against the ‘wrath’ of God!
This absolutely forbids any consideration or viewpoint that suggests or implies that the life and work of Jesus the Son was about altering the attitude of God the Father towards mankind!
That defies any notion that insinuates that Jesus had to turn the wrath of God into the love of God on our behalf!
It debunks the idea that Jesus had to persuade God to withhold His hand stretched out to destroy!
Jesus Christ did not live and die to change the attitude of God the Father towards men!
No! No! No!
Jesus Christ lived and died to demonstrate what that attitude really is!