The Height and the Depth of Our Great Salvation
A Devotional Communion Service
Study Guide, June 25, 2017
The highest physical place on planet Earth is Mt. Everest. It is 29,029 feet above sea level. There is also less air at that height…only 33% of the oxygen that we have at sea level. That’s right about the limit at which a human can survive. It can also be 60 degrees below zero on Mt. Everest. Although it does warm up to 19 below in the summer. So that’s when you want to go.
As physical beings we tend to be impressed by the physical realities of our world around us. And that’s okay. God created an amazing physical world for us to explore and to enjoy. But as spiritual beings we are to be most impressed by the spiritual realities of our world around us. And it’s these spiritual realities that we are to foremost explore and to then enjoy. It’s like thinking about Mt. Everest as being the highest place on earth, physically speaking, and then realizing that, spiritually speaking, the highest place on earth is another mount…Mt. Calvary. This mountain, Mt. Calvary is to be our highest fascination because it was the highest demonstration of the highest love that anyone can ever know.
In fact, the love demonstrated to us on that hill of Golgotha, or Mt. Calvary, extended from there to a height that we, as yet, have no way of measuring. The Psalmist put it like this: Ps 103:11- “For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.” NLT Now, this is certainly the most stunning comparison the Psalmist could have made. In our day we now know that the Sun is 93 million miles away from the Earth. It’s so far away that the light that we see from the Sun left the Sun eight minutes before we see it, traveling at 186,000 miles per second. That’s what the speed of light is. But then if you think about our next nearest star, called Proxima Centauri, this star is 4.24 light years away, or over 25 trillion miles from Earth – nearly 300,000 times the distance from the Earth to our Sun. And that’s our nearest stellar neighbor!
So once again, when the Psalmist tells us that God’s love toward us is as high as the heavens are above the earth, he is not just telling us this to inform us of an amazing comparison. The reason he is telling us this about God’s love for us is to transform everything that we think and know about our God. Since God’s love is the greatest wonder even among the wonders of the heavens, then no wonder God did what He did when He came to Earth to save us, as He climbed to the place of the Cross on that highest spiritual mountain in the world – Mt. Calvary.
At times in our Youth led Good Friday services we’ve listened to a song by Third Day that says – “I’ve heard it said that a man would climb a mountain just to be with the one he loves…” And then in words as from Jesus it goes on… “I’ve never climbed the highest mountain, but I walked the hill of Calvary…Just to be with you, I’d do anything; there’s no price I would not pay just to be with you, I’d give anything…I would give my life away. I know that you don’t understand the fullness of My love; How I died upon the cross for your sins…And I know that you don’t realize how much that I gave you…But I promise, I would do it all again,; Just to be with you – I’ve done everything; There’s no price I did not pay, Just to be with you, I gave everything…Yes, I gave my life away.”
In seeking to understand God’s love for us it’s important to think more about the thoughts God has for us than it is to think about the thoughts we have towards God. In other words, we often limit our understanding of this wondrous love of God by focusing on the thoughts we have toward our God.
In that amazing Psalm, Psalm 139, in which David celebrates God’s creation of his very life and his human body, he also celebrates something else that we tend to overlook. And since we tend to overlook it, that is one of the reasons we tend to not celebrate our salvation the way David celebrated it. So here is the help: Ps 139:17-18- “How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.” NIV
David is not talking here about his thoughts toward God. No, he is overwhelmed by thinking about God’s thoughts toward him. And even in knowing that God knew everything about David…his faults and flaws and failings, he is not alarmed by that; on the contrary, he is comforted in that, and even feels more at ease with God. David knew that God knew everything about him, yet loved him all the same, because he also knew that God’s love for him was as high as the heavens are above the earth. Plus, God’s loving thoughts toward him outnumbered the grains of sand upon the earth!
Think about some of God’s thoughts toward us: Thoughts of forgiveness, of our renewal, of our encouragement, of our edification, guidance, son-hood and daughter-hood, and our present and future fellowship with us being God’s very own children that He did everything for in His life and in His death on a cross on Calvary just to be with us and to have us as His own family. Yes, all of these kinds of thoughts and more fill the mind of God as He thinks about you and about me. Have you thought much about all of this? The Psalmist did.
So again, no wonder David’s praise and joy and state of mind was so high. It was because his thoughts were filled, not so much with his own thoughts about God, wonderful as they were, but they were filled with God’s thoughts toward him…which are even more wondrous and even higher than the heavens are above the earth.
The deepest place on Earth, without going to the core, is in the Mariana Trench. This trench is 36,070 feet below sea level. Like you see in the picture, you could put Mt. Everest in this trench and still cover it with over a mile of water. That’s deep! But now spiritually speaking, there is another place on Earth that we could say is deeper still…or was deeper still; not in feet, but in meaning.
To think that the Creator of the Earth, the Lord of life, would one day have to experience death and have His body placed in a tomb in the ground…Or think about it like this: To think that the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth would go from the throne of Heaven to a tomb in the Earth…well, that is a depth that only God will ever experience and know. But once again, He allowed it all to be so, because God Himself loved us so. In fact, it was the only way that any of us could ever have any hope of becoming right with the God that we had wronged. Remember, Paul wrote: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Rom 3:23 And: “For the wages of sin is death…”; Rom 6:23 NLT
Mankind’s violations against a Holy and Just God set into motion the judgment of being forever separated from God. And nothing could remove that eternal death separation penalty. No amount of works could remove it and no amount of sacrifices could cover it…it was eternal. But then…let’s let Jesus tells us: Heb 10:5-8 – “You did not want sacrifices and offerings, but You prepared a body for Me. You did not approve of burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. Then I said, ‘I have come! (It is written about Me in the scroll of the book.) I have come to do what You want, My God.’” And then Hebrews tells us this: 10-14 – “We have (now) been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted Him to do by sacrificing His body once and for all. Every day each priest performed his religious duty. He offered the same type of sacrifice again and again. Yet, these sacrifices could never take away sins. However, this Chief Priest made one sacrifice for sins, and this sacrifice lasts forever. Then He received the highest position in heaven… with one sacrifice He accomplished the work of setting them apart for God forever.” God’s Word Version
Christianity is the only religion on Earth that teaches that its God came to Earth for the purpose, not just of living, but also of dying. Like a lamb chosen for sacrifice on an altar, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was chosen to be sacrificed on the altar of the Cross…because that was the only hope you and I had of having our sin sentence of eternal separation from God removed from us. It was the only way. If there could have been any other way to become right with the God we had sinned against, of course the Creator would have thought of it. But there wasn’t.
The world’s religions claim that there is another way to be right with God. They claim there’s another path to walk, or another set of sacrifices to make…that there is some other way, some other truth, some other life experience you can have in order to be right with God. But the One who left His home in Heaven to tell everyone on Earth how anyone can be right with God said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 NASU
There was no other way for the sentence of eternal separation, eternal death, to be removed from us than for God Himself to become one of us and then pay the price for sin’s penalty all of us, so that any of us who would call upon Him in repentance and faith could be pardoned of our sin and be spiritually born again. Because this love that God has for us is higher than the heavens are above the earth, Jesus was willing to die on a cross and be buried in the depths of the earth in order to pardon you and me and to give us life eternally.
If you have any questions about your own salvation, just pray to the Lord Jesus and open that door of your heart and ask Him to come into your life, to forgive your sin, and be your Lord and Savior. Remember, Jesus left Heaven just to be with you, if you let Him into your life.
Like the Psalmist, try to think on the thoughts that God has about you…and try to imagine the heights of the love that God has for you…try to dwell on the depths to which God was willing to go for you – just to have you; and then see how all of this changes you day after day.
(Astronomy information from: universetoday.com)