The implications of these last two chapters (see Who is God? and Who Are We?) are massive. How we relate to God in light of what we now know is of first importance. As we see God and ourselves correctly, we are faced with a sober reality: God is good, and we are not. God is the just judge, and we are the guilty sinners. God is merciful, but we have a moral inability to come to him for this mercy. Because of our sin, we deserve God’s just punishment as lawbreakers (James 2:10-11). God’s judgement is a place of eternal torment (2 Thess 1:9), day and night forever and ever (Rev 20:10). It is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13:50), a conscious burning that can never be quenched (Luke 16:23-24). This place, Hell, is the place reserved for the devil and his angels, but the place where the unrighteous dwell forever (Matt 25:41). How is it that sinful mankind can be right before a holy God?
This great God of love is not ignorant to this problem. He knew that mankind had sinned against him, and in and of themselves they could not be reconciled to him; and he loved them (John 3:16). The high and holy One who inhabits eternity, entered into time as the man Christ Jesus (John 1:14). God the Son, Jesus Christ, was born in Bethlehem of the virgin Mary, of the lineage of David the king (Luke 2). He lived under the law of God (Gal 4:4), was tempted in every way as we are, yet he never sinned (Heb 4:15).
And while he had done nothing wrong, he was put on trial, beaten, mocked, and eventually killed on a Roman cross outside of Jerusalem (Mark 15). But why did he die? If the wages of sin are death (Rom 6:23), then what are the wages for the sinless? Jesus deserves to live as the sinless one. But Jesus wasn’t crucified for his own sins (Heb 7:27). On the cross, Jesus was accomplishing salvation for all those who would believe (1 Tim 4:10). There was a divine transaction being made on the cross: Jesus was taking our sins onto himself, and he was gifting us his own perfect righteousness before God (2 Cor 5:21). And he was not merely receiving the cruelty of men, but he was taking the righteous wrath of God for our sins (Rom 5:9). Our sins deserved divine punishment, therefore God himself provided a substitution for us (1 Cor 15:3). Jesus took the wrath that we deserved, and God, in complete consistency with his character, justly punishes sin while justifying the sinner (Rom 3:26).
Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb on Friday, and on that Sunday, he rose from the dead (1 Cor 15:3-4). Everything that Jesus had said and promised was confirmed at the resurrection. God was bearing witness that Jesus truly was the son of God. After his resurrection, he appeared to his twelve apostles and over 500 witnesses before being taken into heaven to sit at the right hand of God (1 Cor 15:5; Heb 1:3). Jesus now sits as our mediator (1 Tim 2:5) and King (Rev 19:16) and is waiting until all of his enemies are put under his feet (1 Cor 15:25).
But how does God apply this salvation to sinners? By God’s grace, sinners are gifted faith in God and repentance of sin (Eph 2:8-9). Everyone who looks to Jesus and fully trusts in his sacrifice has their sins removed and are justified by his grace (Rom 3:22-25). Those who were once dead are now united to Christ and are new creations in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:5; 2 Cor 5:17). Each person who believes is given the Spirit of God to live in them (John 7:39). By the gift of the Holy Spirit, all believers are thus empowered to live the Christian life and actively put away sin (Rom 8:13). Not only this, but because of this right standing with God, there is the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7). Each Christian will one day be in God’s favorable presence for all of eternity (Rev 7:15-17). This will be a place of fullness of joy and eternal pleasure (Psa 16:11). There will be no more sin, no more sorrow, no more death and disease (Rev 21:4). Christians will be given new bodies and they will dwell forever with the Lord (1 Cor 15:42-44; 1 Thess 4:17).
You might be thinking, “What does this mean for me?” If everything that I’ve just said is true, and it is, then you have a decision to make. Will you continue to trust yourself, or will you humble yourself and agree with God? Will you let God be God, and let him be the authority? Your only hope is that you trust in Jesus Christ to be saved from your sin. His commandment now to you and to everyone else is to “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Will you listen?
Are you trusting in yourself or Christ to be saved?
Are you allowing God to speak authoritatively in your life?
©️Jacob Crouch 2020