God’s grace is not cheap, and the Christian life is not easy. Both take commitment. But, let’s consider the options for a moment. You and I know goodness when we see it – the birth of a child, food on our plates, the beauty of nature – all are examples of goodness in this world.
But, we also know bad things happen. Why do so many babies suffer disease and death? Why do not all have the abundance of food that we do? What about hurricanes and tornadoes that destroy human life? And, at the core of it all is this question: If God exists, why isn’t He fixing these problems?
To know the answer, we have first come to grips with the nature of the problem. I am the problem. You are the problem. Humanity is the problem. The simple fact is that the goodness we see is marred by suffering because our ancestors (Adam and Eve) chose – and we choose today – to turn away from God’s goodness and love. We rebel against his commandments. That is called sin. And, the result of our sin against God is death, both physical and spiritual (Romans 3:23). And, unless and until you and I accept this fundamental truth about the human condition – your condition, my condition, our condition – the rest of the story will fall on deaf ears.
God, then, has three options concerning us and our sin: He can punish us forever; He can act like nothing happened; or, he can forgive. Thankfully for us, God chose forgiveness. But, what is the substance of that forgiveness, and how is it appropriated to us?
Well, in ages past, God made a covenant with Israel, giving them a means to propitiate his wrath against their sin – animal sacrifice – described in Leviticus, Chapter 16 – 17. Notice the significance of the shedding of blood. Without the shedding of blood, atonement (at-one-ment) with God is not achieved.
Now, notice also that this event occurred every year. This very fact demonstrates that the sacrifice was insufficient to the task at hand. In other words, while the animal gave its life, it wasn’t responsible for the sin. And, while the priest “mediated” the sacrifice between God and the people, he himself was also a sinner, and therefore unable to sufficiently mediate between God and man. Again, were the sacrificial offering adequate, it would’ve only occurred once. What to do?
God answered the problem of human sin by sending Jesus – fully God and fully human – to make atonement for human sin. By living a life of perfect obedience to the will of God, Jesus (the second “Adam”) did what the first Adam failed to do and won the victory over sin. And, because Jesus was fully God, he was able to be the perfect priest, mediating between the wrath of God and the sinfulness of humanity.
Grace is not cheap.
The perfect life Jesus Christ led stirred the full wrath of human wickedness, and we hung him on a cross to die, charging him with blasphemy for saying He is God. Yet, it was precisely the sacrifice of this Suffering Servant on the hard wood of the cross that made the perfect sin offering for our sake – once for all – never to be repeated. For, on the third day he rose from the dead, showing himself the victor over the power of the sin and death, which opens the portals of God’s grace to us, and is appropriated to us through baptism and profession of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
The Christian life is not easy.
That we struggle as humans is a given. The question is, “Will you struggle against God and continue in a path of self-destruction that leads to eternal death, or will you engage with God and struggle against the sin that produces death in you?”
At CTR, we are committed to struggling together – with God – to claim the victory Jesus won for the whole world! Our vision is nothing short of God’s vision. Our mission is Christ’s own Command and Commission. Our values are those foundations upon which the Church was built. And, our expectations are that we all participate, using the gifts God has given us. Please review them on the Welcome page of our website.
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