We have seen how evil came into the world and affected all people (the origin of evil). We have all broken God’s law of love and the natural consequence of sin is death. But something can be done and has been done. And it came from a very unexpected corner.
On one hand, God has a law that cannot be changed. The penalty for breaking this law is death. Justice demands that all who have sinned should receive their punishment. On the other hand, God has a longing that cannot be stilled. A deep desire to have His renegade creation be reconciled unto Him again. To you and me this looks like an impossible, unsolvable paradox. In order for reconciliation to happen, God would need to forgive. But if He simply forgave everyone there would be no justice and the law -which is a description of His own character- could be thrown away. In all His great wisdom, He knew the punishment of death could not be avoided. Someone needed to pay the price, so that justice was maintained, and forgiveness could be given.
A secret mission
Jesus came to earth fully divine and fully human -a concept we will probably never fully understand. He was born like any other man, under the curse of a sinful nature (we’ll talk about that more in the next blog post.) Jesus was tempted like any other man, yet He was able to overcome the temptations and live a life free from sin. He lived the life that we were intended to live, according to the perfect law of love. He showed the universe that through love, the law of God could be kept and showed that this was the foundation of God’s government.
When Jesus walked on the earth, neither His enemies nor His followers understood Jesus´ true mission. All expected their awaited savior to save them from the Romans and give the Israelites their kingdom back. But this was not what Jesus came to do. Neither was it, as many of us believe, to solely die on the cross. No, Jesus His mission entailed much more than that, His sacrifice was much, much greater. The punishment for breaking God´s law is not to die at the end of approximately 80 years, like many have experienced before you. This death is merely referred to as a temporary sleep and is a natural consequence of the destructive power of sin. It is the second death, the eternal separation from God, that is the punishment for breaking His law. Not an eternal suffering in fiery flames as many churches teach, but eternal death – we will talk about that more in later blogs. Evil will be completely destroyed and not a trace will be left anywhere in the cosmos. Thus, can love, purity and holiness again dwell without blemish in the kingdom of God. It was this second death that Jesus took on Himself, the death that you and I deserve as punishment for breaking God’s perfect law of love. Justice has been maintained, as the punishment was executed. Now forgiveness can be freely given to each that wants to receive it. God makes it available to every person but could not force it on people as that would be violating your free will. Your price has been paid, if you choose to accept it. Instead of being eternally separated from God in an eternal death, you can experience true life in eternity where there is no more crying, suffering, disease or pain.
None can fathom how much Jesus gave up for us and what He risked for us. Just before Jesus was to be handed over to His enemies to be tortured and killed, His true mission started to be fulfilled in the garden of Gethsemane. He became more and more separated from His father as the sins of the world were added on His shoulders. As He was taking on the punishment for sin, God withdrew His spirit from His Son. Jesus was suffering so intensely that He started to sweat drops of blood. Jesus risked being eternally separated from His father, so we would not have to be separated. When He said on the cross that He gave His spirit into His father´s hands, He said that He trusted His father to raise Him again from the dead. Jesus did not have to go through all of this. He did not need to risk His father not raising Him and being forever separated, eternally dead in our place. He did it for you. We will never even understand the full depth of the sacrifice, but we can be sure that the only appropriate response would be to fall to our knees overwhelmed with gratitude and love.
“Could one sin have been found in Christ, had He in one particular yielded to Satan to escape the terrible torture, the enemy of God and man would have triumphed. Christ bowed His head and died, but He held fast His faith and His submission to God. “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” Rev. 12:10.
Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His agenda was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings. Henceforth his work was restricted. Whatever attitude he might assume, he could no longer wait for the angels as they came from the heavenly courts, and before them accuse Christ’s brethren of being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin. The last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly world was broken.
Yet Satan was not then destroyed. The angels did not even then understand all that was involved in the great controversy. The principles at stake were to be more fully revealed. And for the sake of man, Satan’s existence must be continued. Man as well as angels must see the contrast between the Prince of light and the prince of darkness. He must choose whom he will serve.
In the opening of the great controversy, Satan had declared that the law of God could not be obeyed, that justice was inconsistent with mercy, and that, should the law be broken, it would be impossible for the sinner to be pardoned. Every sin must meet its punishment, urged Satan; and if God should remit the punishment of sin, He would not be a God of truth and justice. When men broke the law of God and defied His will, Satan exulted. Satan declared it was proof that the law could not be obeyed; man could not be forgiven. Because he, after his rebellion, had been banished from heaven, Satan claimed that the human race must be forever shut out from God’s favor. God could not be just and yet show mercy to the sinner.
But even as a sinner, man was in a different position from that of Satan. Lucifer in heaven had sinned in the light of God’s glory. To him as to no other created being was given a revelation of God’s love.
Understanding the character of God, knowing His goodness, Satan chose to follow his own selfish, independent will. This choice was final. There was no more that God could do to save him. But man (Adam) was deceived; his mind was darkened by Satan’s dishonesty. The height and depth of the love of God he did not know. For him there was hope in knowledge of God’s love. By beholding His character he might be drawn back to God.
Through Jesus, God’s mercy was manifested to all people; but mercy does not set aside justice. The law reveals the attributes of God’s character, and not even a tiny part of it could be changed to meet man in his fallen condition. God did not change His law, but He sacrificed Himself, in Christ, for man’s redemption. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” 2 Cor. 5:19.
The law requires righteousness, a righteous life, a perfect character; and this man has not to give. He cannot meet the claims of God’s holy law. But Christ, coming to the earth as man, lived a holy life, and developed a perfect character. These He offers as a free gift to all who will receive them. His life stands for the life of men. They have forgiveness of sins that are past, through the mercy of God. More than this, Christ fills men with the attributes of God. He builds up the human character after the likeness of the divine character, a goodly fabric of spiritual strength and beauty. Thus the very righteousness of the law is fulfilled in the believer in Christ. God can “be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Rom. 3:26.
God’s love has been expressed in His justice no less than in His mercy. Justice is the foundation of His throne, and the fruit of His love. It had been Satan’s purpose to divorce mercy from truth and justice. He sought to prove that the righteousness of God’s law is an enemy to peace. But Christ shows that in God’s plan they are indissolubly joined together; the one cannot exist without the other. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Ps. 85:10.
By His life and His death, Christ proved that God’s justice did not destroy His mercy, but that sin could be forgiven, and that the law is righteous, and can be perfectly obeyed. Satan’s charges were refuted. God had given man unmistakable evidence of His love.” Desire of ages – EGW paraphrased
The way to respond
If you understand your sinfulness, do not wait to make yourself better. You might be so overwhelmed by this abundant love, that you feel you need to be a better person first in order for it to be ‘acceptable’ to receive the gift. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to evil.” Jeremiah 13:23. God acknowledges and tells you that there is nothing you can do yourself to earn the gift of forgiveness and salvation. But the good news is, He is okay with that. We must come to Christ just as we are. It is grace, an undeserved favor. There is nothing we can ever do by our works to deserve salvation. But there is a way Jesus wants us to respond to His offer. It was your sin that Jesus needed to pay for and those sins were the reason why Jesus was separated from His father. Accepting Jesus means rejecting sin, because understanding this, makes it only natural that you want to turn away from a life with sin. The Bible tells us that you demonstrate this desire and understanding through baptism.
What baptism means is that you go into the water, you go under and come back up again. No special water needed, no special location, no special clothes. Baptism is an outward action, to reflect what you have decided in your heart. The water represents the grave -don´t freak out, just continue reading, you´ll see the beauty of it. You go into the water, admitting that you have sinned against God, that you have broken His law, knowing that you deserve the penalty of death. When you stand in the water, you stand there as a sinner in need of saving grace. Then for a moment you go under water. This symbolizes that you “die to self”. What does that mean? It simply means that you want to get rid of your sinful life. By going under water, you go into the grave where you will leave the sinful life behind. Because of Jesus you can, instead of dying the actual death you deserve, you can ´transfer´ your sinful life to Jesus who took the penalty on Himself. So, going under water means giving your sins to Jesus and He took them to the grave. Then what a glorious moment when you come up! You´ve become a brand-new person, washed clean of all your sins with an exciting life with Jesus ahead of you.
The call to respond
If you believe what we have shared with you in the previous and this blog post, and you want to choose Gods side, He will gladly accept you. This might be the very first time you hear this message, the first thing you hear about Jesus, He waits for you with open arms to come as you are. He is not going to reject you for not knowing enough. He is not going to reject you for not having read the Bible from cover to cover. He is not going to reject you no matter how much you have messed up in life. There is nothing, no sin that is too big, absolutely nothing, that is standing in the way right now to receive His forgiveness. That is the beauty of the gospel, through Jesus His death you receive forgiveness and are washed clean from your old life. You probably still have questions and I can guarantee that you always will have. Getting baptized, making a decision for Jesus is not the end, it´s just the beginning. You are to go through the journey of life, together with your creator, and you can find the answers to your questions along the way.
The cross showed what needed to happen to restore the damage that had been done by rebelling against God. The whole universe witnessed that Lucifer’s motive was selfish and led to pain, suffering, death and even reached as far as killing his creator on the cross. But God in all His love made a way for you today. Jesus stretches out His arms and shows you the wounds in His hands. He is telling you that He did it for you. If you want to accept Him taking your place, why wait until tomorrow? You do not know what tomorrow will bring. Why give the enemy time to change your mind? There is nothing standing in the way for you to be saved, except your own personal choice.
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.” Acts 16:25-33 NKJV