Everyone? H.C. Question 20

Are all people then saved through Christ just as they were lost through Adam?

Matthew 7:14 – But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

John 3:16-18For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

John 3:36 – Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

Romans 11:16-21 – If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.



Satisfaction: H.C. Lord's Day 6

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 6

Q 16. Why must the mediator be a true and righteous human?
A 16. God’s justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for sin; but a sinful human could never pay for others.

Q 17. Why must the mediator also be true God?
A 17. So that the mediator, by the power of his divinity, might bear the weight of God’s wrath in his humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life.

Q 18. Then who is this mediator—true God and at the same time a true and righteous human?
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was given to us to completely deliver us and make us right with God.

Q 19. How do you come to know this?
A 19. The holy gospel tells me. God began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise; later God proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs and prophets and foreshadowed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law, and finally God fulfilled it through his own beloved Son.

I love words; they have such power and ability to create meaning.  “Words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.”  This quote, from the movie V for Vendetta (a silent favorite of mine), articulates well what I think about words.  In the Lord’s Day 6, there are a number of words, churchy type theological words, that no longer take up residence in our Christian vocabulary, that do well in helping us to understand the reality of the Gospel, the reality of the cross, and are alluded to here in the Heidelberger.

Expiation – “Christ’s death removed our sin and guilt”

Redemption – “Christ’s death ransomed us from the curse of the law and the punishment and power of sin”

Reconciliation – “Christ’s death restored our relationship with God”

Propitiation – “Christ’s death appeased or placated the wrath of God”

These terms make up the fundamental biblical aspects of the cross.  They describe the good news, or Gospel, about Jesus that in Him and through Him our sins are forgiven, we are freed from the law, our relationship with God is once again made right and we can stand before God the Father in full confidence, knowing we have been made clean and righteous.  All of this often falls under the use of the word Atonement.

Atonement  – reparation for (making up for, repairing) an offense or injury, satisfaction of law and punishment

Again, this is the Gospel, the very core of what it means to be a Christian.  The Gospel itself does not summon us to “live a better life” or show us “what we can do for God,” it doesn’t talk about cultural transformation or even relevance.  The Gospel is simply the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again from the dead on the third day.  The Gospel is the truth that we do not have to work for our own salvation because it was accomplished for us in Jesus Christ and that, through faith, we receive the total, complete, and eternal forgiveness for our sins.

What the Gospel, or “atonement theory” describes is the act through which Jesus Christ takes on the curse of God, is the subject of the full wrath of God, and receives the complete punishment of God on the cross in place of each and every human being.  This was done because, though humanity was created in God’s image to live in relationship with God, the infection of sin left us without hope and the ability to save ourselves.  We were, as the book of Ephesians says, “by nature, objects of wrath.”  That wrath was the wrath of God against sin which Jesus took on.

The good news that is the Gospel is that, when we place our faith in Jesus Christ, righteousness is imputed to us.  Here, I think two more words ought to be defined well for us:

Righteousness – “the state of being right in God’s sight and in line with the attributes of God’s law, holiness, justice, morality, etc.”

Imputed – “attributed to, caused, represented as being done, assigned to, ascribed to”

This is the core of who we are.  There is nothing more important in Christian theology that this!!  People try to water it down (not really sure why) or alter it in different ways, but the reality is still the same for us.  The Gospel is the good news of divine self-satisfaction through divine self-substitution for the sake of us.  This happens through Christ, both completely divine and completely human, who is our mediator, our Savior, our Lord.



The Bible Tells Me So: H.C. Question 19

How do you come to know [Jesus Christ is the mediator]?

Genesis 3:15 – And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Genesis 22:18 – and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Genesis 49:10 – The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

Isaiah 53 – Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.  He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away.  Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.  He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.  After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.  Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 – “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.  This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.

Micah 7:18-20 – Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?  You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.  You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.

Acts 10:43 – All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Hebrews 1:1-2 – In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

Leviticus 1-7 (Lot’s of reading, but certainly worthwhile!  Use this link to bring you to it: Biblegateway.com – Leviticus 1-7)

John 5:46 – If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.

Hebrews 10:1-10 – The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Romans 10:4 – Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Galatians 4:4-5 – But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Colossians 2:17 – These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.



Jesus Christ: H.C. Question 18

Then who is this mediator—true God and at the same time a true and righteous human?

Matthew 1:21-23 – She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Luke 2:11 – Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

1 Corinthians 1:30 – It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.



Fully God: H.C. Question 17

Why must the mediator also be true God?

Isaiah 53 – Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.  He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away.  Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.  He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.  After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.  Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2 Corinthians 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.



Fully Human: H.C. Question 16

Why just the mediator be a true and righteous human?

Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned

Romans 5:15 – But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

1 Corinthians 15:21 – For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

Hebrews 2:14-16 – Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.

Hebrews 7:26-27 – Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.



Two for One Rescue: H.C. Lord's Day 5

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 5

Q 12. According to God’s righteous judgment we deserve punishment both now and in eternity: how then can we escape this punishment and return to God’s favor?
A 12. God requires that his justice be satisfied. Therefore the claims of this justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or by another.

Q 13. Can we make this payment ourselves?
A 13. Certainly not. Actually, we increase our debt every day.

Q 14. Can another creature—any at all—pay this debt for us?
A 14. No. To begin with, God will not punish any other creature for what a human is guilty of.  Furthermore, no mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal wrath against sin and deliver others from it.

Q 15. What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?
A 15. One who is a true and righteous human, yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.

In recent years, mainstream Christianity has taken a dramatic turn towards emphasizing social justice and taking up the banner of an increasingly visual social justice movement.  This movement has turned Christians into activists, pulpits into platforms, and people into protestors.

To be clear, social justice is an incredibly important aspect of the Gospel and something that, prior to the last 20 years or so, was something that far too often got pushed to the sidelines of Christian communities.  As the pendulum often does, we are seeing a swing to the far opposite side, it seems, and it is possible that a correction is in order.

“Why?” You may ask.  “If social justice is an important aspect of the Gospel, shouldn’t we be emphasizing it?”  Certainly, the answer is yes.  We cannot forget that the work of Christ in bringing salvation to the world is something that ultimately transforms the whole world… in fact, the entire universe!  As the body of Christ we should be about this work in our faith communities.

However, if the pendulum is swinging, that means it came from somewhere.  Perhaps the opposite side of the spectrum was the “turn or burn” mentality that has often been prevalent in the Christian church.  People standing on street corners with megaphones and signs proclaiming the coming judgment and wrath of God unless you make a decision for Christ on the spot.  This isn’t exactly the “loving God” that we come to know in Scripture.  However, it too is an aspect of the pendulum of justice, and it too is important as we have seen over these past few weeks.

The Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 5 emphasizes, once again, the true nature of the justice of God who is holy, perfectly just, and perfectly righteous.  Looking at this we once again see that God’s justice demands judgment against sin.  Does this make God unloving?  No.  As we discussed last week, God’s love and God’s wrath are 100% linked together.  Emphasizing one over the other does God an injustice.

It seems that lately, the emphasis has been on saving the world in the name of God’s justice.  This has, at least in some realms, come at the expense of saving souls.  When the pendulum of justice is balanced, this is a “both/and” of the Gospel.  Emphasizing the “save the world” campaign becomes a thinly veiled philosophy of work’s righteousness (earning our own way) where a “turn or burn” mentality sacrifices the real needs of people for the sake of an eternal transaction (often taking place outside the understanding of true faith).

In the parable of the sheep and the goats at the end of Matthew 25, Jesus talks about the importance of providing for the physical needs of people.  In doing so, we are actually serving as if we are doing it for Christ Himself.  Those that don’t do this, however, are told to “depart from me.”  The action-oriented social justice movement emphasizes these needs and providing for them, but we must not forget that this must be linked with a concern for the souls of those we come alongside as well.  James writes, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”  I think the inverse could also be considered true: what if we are too focused on keeping people warm and well fed but do nothing about the souls?  There has to be a balance.

What does this really have to do with the Heidelberger’s 5th Lord’s Day?  Well, simply put: Jesus is that balance.  Emphasis on the “earn your own way,” “works righteousness,” “save the world” mentality only says, perhaps not intentionally, that we can do this ourselves.  The Heidelberg, witnessing to Scripture, is clear that we can’t.  We need Jesus because we cannot pay this debt of sin ourselves and hope to live; no human can… and no creature can either.  We need our Savior who is at the same time 100% God, with the ability to take on the curse and wrath of God, and 100% man, who can stand in the place of humanity.  Jesus is both of those.

“I came that you may have life,” Jesus says in John 10:10, “and have it to the full.”  Jesus says this certainly referring to the eternal life that He offers.  However, the trajectory of Jesus ministry on earth also included a direct confrontation of sin’s impact in the world, both physically and structurally.  He challenged religious leaders, governments, physical illness, and even death itself, leaving a trail of defeated sin in His wake.  All the while, though, He kept the cross in His view knowing that it was not enough to simply provide physical saving, or spiritual saving, but that both were necessary to bring the true redemption, reconciliation, and restoration that God sought and seeks for each one of us.



Mediator: H.C. Question 15

Heidelberg Catechism Question 15

What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?

Romans 1:3 – regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David,

1 Corinthians 15:21 – For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

Hebrews 2:17 – For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Isaiah 53:9 – He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

2 Corinthians 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Hebrews 7:26 – Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jeremiah 23:6 – In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.  This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.

John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.



Can I Get a Sub? H.C. Question 14

Heidelberg Catechism Question 14

Can another creature—any at all—pay this debt [of sin] for us?

Ezekiel 18:4, 20 – For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die…

The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

Hebrews 2:14-18 – Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Psalm 49:7-9 – No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough— so that they should live on forever and not see decay.

Psalm 130:3 – If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?



Payment: H.C. Question 13

Heidelberg Catechism Question 13

Can we make this payment [for our sins] ourselves?

Matthew 6:12 – And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Romans 2:4-5 – Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.



Escape Plan: H.C. Question 12

Heidelberg Catechism Question 12

According to God’s righteous judgment, we deserve punishment both now and in eternity: how then can we escape this punishment and return to God’s favor?

Exodus 23:7 – Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.

Romans 2:1-11 – You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

Isaiah 53:11 – After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Romans 8:3-4 – For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.



True Justice: H.C. Lord's Day 4

Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 4

Q9. But doesn’t God do us an injustice by requiring in his law what we are unable to do?
A9. No, God created human beings with the ability to keep the law.  They, however, provoked by the devil in willful disobedience, robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts.

Q10. Does God permit such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?
A10. Certainly not. God is terribly angry with the sin we are born with as well as the sins we personally commit.

As a just judge, God will punish them both now and in eternity, having declared: “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.”

Q11. But isn’t God also merciful?
A11. God is certainly merciful, but also just. God’s justice demands that sin, committed against his supreme majesty, be punished with the supreme penalty—eternal punishment of body and soul.

There is a lot of talk about love these days.  Whether it’s the now famous slogan “Love wins,” or the rather unique and emotional poetic proclamation that “love is love is love is love is love,” it seems like everyone is proclaiming that love is rather important.

People do this too when we talk about sin.  They may shrug or scoff that Christians focus too much on sin and that the “hellfire and brimstone” God that used to be preached is not the God of today.  God is love; that is what He is.  So do we really need to talk about judgment, punishment, and wrath?  Isn’t God merciful?

Quite simply the answer is Yes.  Yes, God is merciful.  Yes, God is love.  Yes, God forgives.  Yes, God is also just.  As a matter of fact, these two things are inextricably linked together, woven and bound in such a way that you cannot have one without the other.

Far too often we talk about God’s justice, God’s wrath, and God’s punishment for sin as if it is somehow unfair.  If we are all sinners and have been since we have been born, it’s impossible for us to keep the law.  You wouldn’t punish your 8-year old for not doing his advanced calculus correctly; God shouldn’t punish us for sin, then, either.

The reality of our questions this week is that we were indeed created with the capability of following the law.  However, because of Adam, we all inherited sin.  We call this “Original sin.”  It is something that we are born into and something we have to face, even though, like Adam, we are created with the capability of following the law.  Simply put, though, we just don’t.  In the same way that we yell at the T.V. when a ref makes a bad call, so too is God angered by the sins that we commit against Him.  He has every right to be as well.

If God is holy, and completely set apart, He is the very antonym of sin.  As that is the case, sin (and all those who commit it) must be held accountable.  God is just in doing so.  When someone breaks the law, they have to pay a fine; that is the natural way of things.  No one questions a police officer for writing a ticket to a speeding driver or arresting someone who drives drunk.  Why, then, do we somehow think that God should just overlook sin in the name of “love” and “grace?”

Grace isn’t sweeping sin under the rug.  Love isn’t overlooking sin for the sake of the sinner.  What would God’s love amount to if He just let us get away with whatever?  It would actually be less fair, less just, and downright harmful to His creation.  Sinners need to be held accountable… sin needs to be punished.  “Overlooking sin does not exalt God’s mercy, it undermines it,” says Kevin DeYoung in his book The Good News We Almost Forgot.

Enter Jesus.

God sent His Son to this earth to take on that burden.  Jesus lived the perfect life as a human and then died, taking on the punishment of a sinful universe, all so that our relationship with God could be put right again.  God’s justice and wrath are satisfied in Jesus’ death… Sin as been dealt with in Jesus Christ and because of that (and only that) God can and does freely extend His grace and mercy to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Consider this parable of Jesus.  The debt that is owed by both men is not simply swept aside; the money lender doesn’t look the other way and not acknowledge the lack of repayment.  The debt is FORGIVEN.  This means that the money lender himself has to take that debt on, and the magnitude of the forgiveness is amplified by the amount of the debt.  So it is with us.  Thanks be to God!

Luke 7:36-50

Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”