God Won

it is salty

it tickles the fleshy underside of his foot a little

it is pooling in the hollows above his collarbone

warms him up

 

blood like a woman caressing the tendons in his back

blood behind his ears and in his eyes

and he can’t rub it out

blood won’t leave him alone

 

he has never noticed tiredness in his fingernails before

or in his skin

there is pain in his hair

that is new

 

someone in his skull is banging hard on the door

let me out

these gates are shut from the outside

you’re trapped in there for good

 

he wanted God

God wanted him

and God won

Nazareth!

“…Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Luke 18:37

Nazareth! Little village on a hill.

Remember those games without toys, invented by dust-covered, poor boys?

All the water jugs filled and brought home, Mama cooking on a stove of hot stone,

Every child to his house, every father sitting down,

Some folks saying bad words loudly, drinking buddies getting rowdy.

A million years, the same things happening. A million souls, the same sins committing.

Nazareth! So much moving, so much staying still.

 

Nazareth! Did you always know it?

Remember when they first came in, young parents with a toddler babbling Egyptian?

Their generations had left markings here, a typical mix of blood, vomit, sweat, tears.

Refugees returning, newlyweds still learning,

Grandma just around the corner, grandpa sure is looking older.

For you nothing much had changed. For them nothing was the same.

Nazareth! Did you realize who’d shown up?

 

Nazareth! Podunk town where God grew up.

Remember how he played those games, knowing all those dirty boys’ names?

Bringing water jugs inside for Mama, mediating sinful family drama,

Helping siblings to behave, callusing, learning the trade.

Angry men discussing politics, angry kids discussing gossip,

And him right there, listening to everything. To man-made things, man’s Maker assimilating.

Nazareth! You taught God a lot about us.

 

Nazareth! A certain time and place.

Remember when you kicked him out? It stung because you could not doubt

That he had loved and known you, that even his true self he’d shown you:

Every alley memorized, every neighbor analyzed,

Favorite haunts with friends and brothers, fresh-baked bread from second mothers,

Particular faces in obscurity. You, not convinced? An absurdity.

Nazareth! You saw the very face of grace.

 

Nazareth! Foolish little plot on the ground.

Imagine! The Son of God’s hometown.

A world of work and food and friends and sleep:

Sweaty human life, the very thing he came to redeem.

.

O My People

O my people
         Perdida mi gente
What’s happening to us?
                    ¿Qué pasa por aquí?
Insight escapes me
                    La luz se me va
But know that I love you
                    Me muero por ti

O my bloodline
                    La sangre nuestra
Do you still feel the pulsing?
                    Palpitante en el barrio
The rhythm is slipping
                    Vestida en rojita
We’re skipping some beats
                    Se derrama en el suelo

O family! children!
                    Los niños y padres
Are we happy, so far?
                    ¿Así lo haremos?
I’m carrying your faces
                    Me tienen abrumada
The distance destroys me
                    Por la culpa que tenemos

O people! O loved ones!
                    ¡Dios mío! ¡Mi gente!
The money and autonomy
                    La locura que buscamos
Are nothing and nowhere
                    Nos esquiva para siempre
Let’s just go home together
                    A la casa ya nos vamos

another king

…they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also… and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. Acts 17:6-8

You are living under tyranny. Brainwashed into trusting the systems put in place around you, you are convinced that the way you are living is “normal” and “natural” and even “necessary,” meanwhile oblivious to your progressing self-destruction. You are a willing subject of a totalitarian regime that steals not only your money and freedom but also your humanity and identity. You sit by, applauding your emperors, blind to their nakedness; boasting of your health, insensate to your cancer; admiring your wealth, ignorant of your destitution.

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Revelation 3:17

Then, probably without invitation, some people come along and start speaking to you of another kingdom–another king. At first these messengers come across as mild and perfectly harmless. They are not exceptionally charming, connected, or well-spoken. They never announce themselves. You simply find them in your life, by your side, still there when the others have left. Sometimes they whisper in your ear, sometimes they shout through your window. They often seem physically afflicted and in need, but they pay no mind, though without an ounce of self-delusion. They simply do not believe in the systems and norms of the world anymore. They do not even seem to trust their own perception or opinions. You soon begin to feel that they understand something you don’t.

…we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men… to the present hour, we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. 1 Corinthians 4:9-13

The stories your strange friends tell you about their king strike you as even more unfathomable. This king is a conqueror without an army, a master of nature who hungers and thirsts, a virgin friend to prostitutes, and a penniless friend to white-collar thieves. He answers questions with questions. He defies authority and practices courtesy. He is abrasive. He is meek. It seems that no one in the world understands him.

There was again division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said [of Jesus], “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” John 10:19-21

Finally, you find out that this supposed king, when he was still young, was brought to court by some religious zealots and sentenced to a humiliating death by the political powers who strutted the earth in his day. You would normally expect that the premature death of the leader of such a young movement would be its end. Yet your friends talk about his death as if it accomplished a purpose of extreme importance, as if the king himself planned the whole thing, even. You would like to brush this off as self-deception, but every piece of the story also seems to indicate that this king was in fact witnessed alive, walking and talking, three days after his burial, and many more times afterward.

Jesus answered [Pilate], “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” John 19:11

This king is clearly like none you have ever heard of, nor is his kingdom one you can find on a map. For the strangest reason, in light of what you have heard about him, everything you once cherished as admirable and rich now begins to appear to you rather cheap and pointless, actually. You find yourself thinking that your emperors are really quite powerless, your gold really quite dull, your lovers really quite boring.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 4:8

You find yourself in terribly difficult position. You are straddling the precipice. You have seen through the pomp and emptiness of your entire world, your entire basis for understanding the universe. All your former thoughts of safety, wellness, self-control, pride in your country or family–all were illusions. Nothing more than mirages of water in a desert of pure sand.

You have heard talk of revolution. You have been told about another king. You have heard him single you out by name, as it were. You realize that to join in will mean utter upheaval. Your friends won’t get it, your family won’t like it, your bosses won’t tolerate it. All your plans must change.

But you can’t get this other king out of your head.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46

What will you choose?

paralyzing failure and God

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go.” 1 Samuel 16:1

To me, how a person responds to failure is one of the truest tests of his or her character – who that person really is.

Samuel served Israel as a judge, priest, and prophet. He was much more than a distant military leader, symbol, or figurehead. “Father figure” is a better way to describe his relationship with the Israelite nation. The Israelites turned to him like children, on the one hand immaturely expecting him to solve their problems for them and acquiesce to their foolish desires, and on the other hand wisely recognizing him as a remarkable leader with a remarkable relationship with God (see 1 Samuel 7:8, 8:5). “I have walked before you from my youth until this day,” he told the people at his farewell address (1 Samuel 12:2).

Samuel was the real thing. He held the nation together as everything was falling apart, leading God’s people with transparency, integrity, and devotion. When the people of Israel demanded that Samuel step aside and replace himself with a king who could lead them militarily and compete with the monarchies of their neighbors, he obeyed, understanding that, fundamentally, their act of rejection was against God, not him. Therefore, he anointed (and thereby identified) Saul as Israel’s first king.

But Saul disobeyed direct commands from God. He became a proud, presumptuous, vindictive man, totally unfit to lead God’s people, much less to hold the title of king (a title previously reserved only for God).

Scripture says, “And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul” (1 Samuel 15:35). One can easily infer why Samuel grieved. Saul had transgressed God’s law, disappointed Israel’s hopes, and forfeited his royal title and dynasty. Saul had utterly failed as a leader and as a man of the covenant. To Samuel, it must have felt as if he had failed, too.

To be human is to experience failure. We often treat the two things as synonymous: “You can’t expect everything from her, she’s only human.” “Don’t get ahead of yourself, you’re only human.” In other words, “You are prone to failure and inadequacy simply because you are a human being.” Christian thought associates the undeniable reality of our imperfection with something called The Fall of Man.

When a Christian fails in a major way – or in a minor way, depending on how sensitive the person’s conscience is – there are three levels to it: failing God, failing others, and failing yourself.

Failing God is at once the hardest and the easiest of the three. He asks the most from us and is the least deserving of the offense, but he is also the most ready to forgive. God holds no grudges. Other people are rarely so forgiving, or so eager to repair trust. Perhaps, hardest of all, it is disappointing one’s own inner vision of oneself that hurts the most. “Is this what I really am, after all?” We ask, but we fear the answer.

How do you respond to failure? To letting yourself down? Maybe you wallow. Maybe you allow cynicism to harden your heart, or apathy to atrophy it. Maybe, by giving up on yourself, you give up on God and his promises to make you beautiful in his sight. Maybe, like me, and like Samuel, you simply feel paralyzed. Maybe you cannot stop grieving about Saul, and you have allowed your horn of oil to stay empty for far too long.

God had something to say to Samuel, and he has something to say to you too.

He wants you to know he is pleased when you confess your failures freely, without excuses or attempts at self-justification. What he wants from you is humility and a heart ready to receive grace; what he hates are eyes unwilling to see or lips quick to explain away (cf. Genesis 3:12-13).

Imitating our primeval parents with attempts to hide our failure, whether from God and the angels or mom, dad, and the world, is the last thing we should do when confronted with our own inadequacies. Running to Jesus (and Jesus alone) for the confidence to be transparent before even the harshest judging eyes is really the only thing for us. The cross says: you have nothing left to prove to God. With acceptance from the everlasting God, total vulnerability before our fellow mortals is the only thing that makes sense.

God is present in strength and success. He grants and blesses them both. He is not absent, however, in weakness and failure. There is truly a sense in which he is even more deeply present, more deeply there, in our weaknesses and failures than in our strengths and successes. We are closer to God at the end of our ropes than anywhere else.

The deepest mysteries of the gospel – the incarnation, when God became a man, and the atonement, when God died – speak of lowering, humbling, weakness, apparent defeat, and death. The gospel itself is the precedent for claiming God is deeply present in our failures and intensely near to us when we come to the end of ourselves. We are weak, but he is strong. Paul said it like this:

But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Not longer after, he said,

He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. 2 Corinthians 13:3-4

We who live with Jesus by the power of God are no longer at liberty to let our failure paralyze us. It precisely when we fail that we know Jesus’ strength, precisely when we disappoint everyone and ourselves that we know Jesus’ sufficiency.

God told Samuel to leave Saul behind, fill his horn with oil, and go. Jesus told Peter to leave his boats behind, “feed his sheep,” make disciples of all nations, and go. The Lord tells us, now, to leave our regrets and our failures behind, cling to him, hold on to our hope, and go forward: his mission in mind, his cross behind.

the problem with Santa’s list

A big difference between juvenile fiction and adult fiction is the complexity of the characters. In most juvenile fiction, there are two fairly clear groups: “good guys” and “bad guys.” There are heroes, whom we root for, and villains, whom we root against. Good guy-bad guy stories are fun to read and easy to understand. They do little to illuminate truth about the human condition, however.

The mythology of Santa Claus follows a similarly simplistic breakdown of the world. According to the songs, Mr. Claus divides all the children of the world into two camps: naughty and nice. The nice children get toys, the naughty ones get coal. Not that I have ever heard of children whose parents had the heart to follow through with the threat of coal in return for bad behavior, but still, that’s what we say.

For the Christian, Santa represents one way of viewing the world. Santa may know if you have been “naughty or nice,” but all he can see is your external behavior. He can tell whether you did chores or threw a tantrum, but he has no way of knowing why you did either of these things. To him, the child who does chores is good and deserving of a reward while the child who throws a tantrum is bad and punishable. It’s simple. Too simple. A worldview which breaks the world down into camps of “naughty and nice” people, like Santa’s list, does not, and cannot, address the heart.
The same is true of our judgment of each other. On their website Mark Driscoll and the guys up at Mars Hill church in Seattle say this:
Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people. The gospel says that the world is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.
People who understand the gospel understand that we are all more alike than we are different. They consider the sin in their own hearts as more weighty than the sinful behavior they see in the people around them.
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 1 Timothy 1:15
The Bible, thank God, does not fundamentally follow a good guy-bad guy/naughty-nice dichotomy. Its anthropology is much more sophisticated. Like good novels and honest biographies, the Bible exposes the contradictory truths about the human heart through both evocative story-telling and well-reasoned teaching.
It does make distinctions between the “righteous” and the “wicked,” especially when speaking of things such as oppression, abuse, and other evils perpetuated by people who have no reverence for God or people. We also must make such distinctions, as people concerned with holiness, justice, and righting the world’s wrongs. God forbid that we “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20) for the sake of appearing non-judgmental.
But we may not leave it at that. God says, look at yourself. Look into your own heart and see the evil there; if your circumstances have prevented you from seeing the darker side of your own depravity, consider what you might be like had you grown up differently and lived in someone else’s shoes. We’re more alike than we are different.
David, a man who wrote often about the wickedness of the wicked and the righteousness of the righteous nonetheless referred to himself as “feeble and crushed” under the weight of his own sin (Psalm 32:8). He stole another man’s wife and conspired the man’s murder; his children committed rape and murder against each other, largely because of his monumental failures as a father; throughout his life the man was prone to lust, pride, fear, and complacency.
Why would human authors, on their own, choose to include such despicable details of the life of their greatest king and hero? For that matter, why would David publish his private poems of confessional prayer, to be read and studied throughout his nation? Even today we are still studying his failures and confessions.
It is because the Bible’s anthropology does not fundamentally break the world down into good guys and bad guys, or naughty children and nice children. “No one is nice, no, not one” (paraphrasing Romans 3:10). All need atonement and grace; none are disqualified from receiving it.
Jesus makes Santa’s list irrelevant. That’s the gospel. As my pastor loves to say, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” Or, since it’s almost Christmas, “The ground is level at the foot the feeding trough.”
Gospel people treat Santa’s list as irrelevant too. That’s the gospel applied. No more treating outsiders as outsiders, as people who will never “get it,” or as people who need to clean up their act (and appearance) before they come to church.
Such Santa-ish thinking is exactly the opposite of what the church is here for.

thirsty souls and the God who satisfies

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David. Isaiah 55:1-3

Isaiah 55 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. God is a stunningly beautiful poet.

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Salvation and relationship to the living God are completely free. No one can pay in willpower, good attitude, or busyness. Likewise, no one who comes is ever disqualified, for “though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). Grace cannot be earned. It cannot be earned, it cannot be earned, it cannot be earned. The invitation is to simply surrender.

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” How many people do I know who are doing everything they can, using everything in themselves, to find some kind of happiness and peace in this world; young people looking for something to live for, old people looking for some reason to keep going. How many people do I know who want nothing more in life but to be loved by somebody, anybody; who commit crimes and destroy relationships in futile attempts to choke out love from their parents or friends; who hide behind false personalities, desperately hoping for someone to break in, inwardly crippled by the overwhelming fear that no one ever will; who exert every ounce of their willpower trying to live up to human-imposed religion, terrified they will never please God, empty inside because of broken promises. How many people do I know? How many people do you know? Are you one of them?

I lived like that completely, not long ago. Four years ago, Jesus broke through to me. For four years I have thanked God for the difference between that life and this one. For four years I have grown each year and each day in love for and satisfaction in the God who broke into this world in the person of Jesus Christ. I promise you, there is a different way to live than the life of desperation and emptiness. There is a life of satisfaction and joy and peace, because there is a God who offers himself to you, freely. That God says, “Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”

While on this earth, Jesus called himself “living water” (John 4:10) and “the bread of life” (John 6:35). “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day,” he said (John 6:53-54). Graphic, isn’t it? He intended it to be. He wants your attention.

Jesus is the “food” for our hungry souls of which Isaiah spoke. He is what every empty, loveless life is missing. He is the promised son and Lord of David, the Messiah, the hope of nations, the Savior of screwed up people. He wants nothing to do with fakers who pretend they are all right or hypocrites who condemn others without feeling their own shame. No, he wants broken people who put their “money” away and drink the “water” of his grace, grace which he purchased once and for all with the precious payment of his own life, sacrificed on his cross.

God ends the Bible, and I will end this post, with a final plea for you to consider Jesus and the life to which he invites you. “The Spirit” – of God – “and the Bride” – that is, the universal, invisibly united church – “say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Revelation 22:17).

the gospel

gospel = good news that brings great joy

There is no other place to start than with the gospel. The gospel is the central message of Christianity and the grand theme of the Bible. It is the starting place and ending place of the whole Christian life. It’s a story, and it begins with God…

Get a bigger idea of God than the one that you have. God exists: he is completely self-sufficient, independent, perfect, pure, and eternal. He exists in an eternal fellowship of three persons in one essence, whom we call Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. John 5:26

As for God, his way is perfect: the LORD’s word is flawless. Psalm 18:30

Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Isaiah 40:13

God created the universe out of nothing, from the vastest galaxy to the protons and electrons of the smallest atom. He created spirits and a spiritual world. He created the earth and everything that lives on it. He created all these things for his own glory and purposes, and for the love and joy of his creation. At the pinnacle of his creation on earth he created humans to “bear his image” (represent his qualities; hold in themselves a reflection of who God is) and to rule the earth: not autonomously, but in everything dependent on God; loving him, praising him, loving and helping each other, and willingly submitting their wills to his.

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. Nehemiah 9:6

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

Humanity rebelled, and has continued to rebel to this day. Humanity’s rebellion against God, called sin, is an exchange of the worship of God for the worship of self and things God has created. God hates it, for it is a perversion and distortion of what he has made. Its results are suffering, misery, evil, and, ultimately, death and the holy wrath of God.

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Romans 1:25

All humans participate in this rebellion. Not just occasionally, when they lie or steal, but constantly, whenever they fail to worship God with everything in them, or when they love themselves more than other people. All humanity has turned away from God and gone their own way, and as a result, the world is evil, violent, self-serving, and corrupt. All of us have rejected God and pretended we were gods instead. And all of us deserve nothing other than his anger and judgment.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3

[God,] your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Habakkuk 1:13

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31

Now, God – eternal, independent, all-powerful, self-existent, glorious – did not leave it at that. He never planned to leave it at that. In all love, in all kindness, in unimaginable grace, God the Son entered time and space as a man, a real man. He was conceived miraculously, was born naturally, lived sinlessly, was murdered unjustly, and was resurrected to life again after three days. His name was Jesus, which means “God saves.”

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Acts 2:22-24

Through Jesus and only through him, reconciliation to God and freedom from sin and death are freely available. He lived perfectly so that those who believe can be credited before God with his perfect record. He died on a cross so that their debt to God can be paid for and their sins forgiven by his own taking on of the wrath of God. He rose from the dead because death could not hold him. God accepted his sacrifice on our behalf and promises the same kind of resurrection life to all who believe.

He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” John 11:25-26

Through Jesus, the image of God in a person, once broken and distorted by sin, is restored. Through Jesus, sinful humans are recreated into what we were always meant to be. Through Jesus, the judgment of God is turned away and the love of God is lavished on us. Through Jesus, the unapproachable Deity becomes freely accessible; we are adopted into his family. Through Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God lives in us and changes us. Through Jesus come peace, joy, hope, freedom, value, and meaning. Through him comes true, indestructible life. He is the answer to our need, and the purpose of our lives. His love is the most incredible, truest reality in the whole world.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:14-17

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12

It is through faith – belief and trust in what Jesus has done – that any person receives this free gift of God called redemption. No one can earn it; any good thing a person does is merely what they ought to have been doing all along. And even the good things we do outside faith are distorted by wrong motives and self-love. If you think God will save you from judgment because you are “good enough” or because you try to love him, understand that you not good enough and that you hardly love him. Instead, understand, know, and believe that Jesus is in all ways good enough and that he has loved you first.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15