Paid at Calvary

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As I write, young Ulsterman, Rory McIlroy, is leading the U.S. Masters golf championship at Augusta in Georgia.

But people with Ulster roots have often scaled the heights in the land of the free, sometimes moving from ‘Log Cabin to White House’.

The number of Presidents who appear to have had Ulster roots now stands at fifteen. Most of us can name a few, whether Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President, whose forefathers were from Dungannon, or Chester Alan Arthur, 21st President, whose ancestral home is near Cullybackey, or James Polk, 11th President, whose family had Coleraine connections, or Andrew Jackson, 7th President, whose family were from Carrickfergus.

Andrew was born shortly after his parents arrived in America in 1765. He grew up a skinny boy, with a feisty temper, and little aptitude for study.

He became a self-taught frontier lawyer, but business was slow, and he had a reputation of a boisterous life-style; doing a runner from several establishments, leaving his bills unpaid.

But then he took to soldiering, and eventually became head of the Tennessee militia. He gained a reputation for toughness. Someone compared him to a hickory branch, thin but impossible to break.

Thereafter, he was simply ‘Old Hickory’. Trouble with Indians on the frontier, and the menace of a British attack from the Gulf of Mexico, thrust him into the forefront of public attention.

When a British force threatened the city of New Orleans in 1815, the raw Americans under Jackson won a stunning victory against the battle-hardened Redcoats.

The biographer records that at that time one John Lister - from whose inn Jackson had departed without paying his bill - retrieved the old bill from his files, and wrote across it, “Paid at the battle of New Orleans.”

As we approach Easter, it is worth considering what Christ did for us at Calvary to make peace with God.

The doctrine of the atonement is multi-faceted; and no one picture can convey the immensity of that glorious truth. The New Testament writers went to the Temple, and saw the shed blood of the sacrificed animal, and said, “Christ, Our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us”.

They went to the law court, and saw a prisoner acquitted, and said, we have been justified, and Christ has borne the penalty we deserved. And they went to the slave market, and saw a slave ransomed from his bondage, and said Christ has ransomed us. Salvation, they said is, freedom secured at the payment of a price.

That’s the image Paul employs when writing to the Colossians stating what Christ had done at Calvary.

“He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code , with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2;13,14). Over the bill of our sins, God has written, “Paid at Calvary”.

Have you claimed the blessing of forgiveness secured at Calvary?

* TERRACE Row Presbyterian Church is holding a car boot sale.

It will take place in the church car park on Saturday, May 7 from 9am to 1pm.

Proceeds will go to the Smiles Foundation.