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Friday, December 14, 2018

Cortez: God’s Christmas Gifts: Justice and Love

COULD God become man as well? Can the Creator take the form of flesh and blood, and be like his creatures? Can the Master of heaven and earth who is beyond the bounds of time and space allow himself to live under these realities of our physical world?

Perplexing as these questions may be, the answer is yes. On the first Christmas Day, the all-powerful God entered human history as a young baby -- conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Yes, he became like us, a mortal man in everything except sin.

But why would he do that? Because of two things – his justice and love.

God is holy, thus he demands holiness from us (Leviticus 20:26). In his time, everything that he has created was good (Genesis 1:31). However, in the Garden of Eden, our first parents Adam and Eve were tempted by the devil and disobeyed God (Genesis 3). Thus, sin entered the world, and consequently, what was created as good suffered disorder and corruption. As a consequence, man had to bear separation from God.

To restore man’s broken relationship with God, God’s justice demands that the penalty should be paid. And for this, the Bible tells us that the penalty or wages for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Now some may ask if this isn’t too harsh. But is it really? God is perfect holiness, so how can he possibly tolerate evil? What does darkness have to do with light?

Because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), then we all deserve spiritual death. For disobeying our Creator and owner, and for not living according to the purpose he has willed for us, God has every right to send us to the lake of fire for all eternity.

God as a just God can always do that, but God as a loving God derives no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23). With utmost sadness does he see the wicked perish.

One analogy often cited is this. A man enters a courtroom for the verdict of his case. The judge, who happens to be the man’s father, is tasked to give the verdict. With a heavy heart, he announces the verdict: “Guilty and deserving of death.” Devastated, the judge looks at his criminal-child. He has all the pity for him but his sense of justice must never be compromised.

In God the Father, who is like the judge in our analogy, love meets justice. To human race, which the convicted man in the story represents, he delivers justice tempered with love. God spared us, repentant sinners, by taking the penalty for himself.

Jesus, who, from the beginning is God as the Second Person of the Trinity, was sent by the Father as the atonement for all our sins, so that whoever believes in him will no longer be condemned but will pass from death to life.

In the Old Testament, only an animal without defect or blemish can be used as a sin offering. Never did our ancestors understand that this instruction from God foreshadowed Jesus. Not anyone can act as substitute for the penalty of others’ sins, except a man who is blameless and upright.

We are told, however, that no one is holy except God (Mark 10:18). No one on earth was fully righteous (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:12, 23, Psalm 53:10-12); all have sinned. Thus, the worthiness crisis: the problem of having no one among men qualified to be the savior of the world.

Man cannot do this, but God can. God, in his wisdom, therefore decided to send his only begotten Son to this world – the sinless one to die for sinners. Jesus, truly God, became truly man. Just like any mortal, he died, but only to live again. Dying on the cross, he put an end to our death, and resurrecting from the dead, he reconciled man to God and assured us believers of eternal life.

This is the reason for Christmas -- God’s gifts of justification and salvation, of justice and love -- wrapped beautifully in the innocent baby called Jesus.
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