Sunday, April 1, 2012

What the Sacrifice of Christ Teaches Us

Why was it necessary for the Word, who was Christ, to become human and suffer a painful death to pay the penalty for our sins? Was there not some other way God could work it out?

Jesus said, all things are possible for God. "But Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible' " (Matthew 19:26). See also Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37, and Luke 18:27. Jesus knew that when, the night before He was crucified, He prayed that God would spare Him. "And He said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will' " (Mark 14:36). Perhaps He remembered the example of Abraham who was told to sacrifice his son, but was spared having to go through it after he had proved he had a willing attitude.

For humans, one of the penalties of sin is death (suffering is another penalty). That death penalty had to be paid, and that is what made Christ's sacrifice necessary. Yet it was God who set that penalty. God, who could foresee that making death the penalty for human sin would require the sacrifice of Christ, could have set a different penalty, one that humans could pay and still live, so that Christ would not have to suffer and die.

Yet it was God's will to work things out as He did.

God is teaching us lessons for eternity. He is determined to teach us a way of life that will bring maximum blessings to His family forever and to teach us those lessons the most effective way possible.

By making death the penalty for sin, God teaches us in the strongest way that His law, a law of love, must be obeyed. There can be no compromise with the law. We must not sin. For all eternity in His kingdom, we will not sin. This is the lesson of the death penalty that must be paid, that sin cannot be tolerated, that God's law must be taken very seriously. Then, Christ paid the penalty for us to teach us one aspect of that law, that is, love. God the Father and Jesus Christ set the example of love by paying the death penalty for us. That also is part of the law, because God's law requires love.

So by making death the penalty of sin, God teaches us in the strongest terms that sin cannot be tolerated and we have to give up the ways of sin forever in order to be in His kingdom. We must be willing to live 100% the give way, the way of loving God and neighbor, if we want eternal life. There is no other way. He will not give us eternal life if we still insist on our sinful ways. And by the sacrifice of Christ, God reinforces the lesson by showing that love is the way of life that He and Christ live. It is because of God's love for us that Christ was sacrificed, and it was because of the love Christ had for the Father and for us that He was willing to be that sacrifice.

In this whole plan of salvation, God is showing us that He is living a perfect way of life, the way of outgoing love towards others. And the way of life He is teaching us is the way of life He and Christ also live.

In no stronger way could God teach us the lesson.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

Passover -- the Sacrifice of Christ, Chapter 2

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