Tuesday, 12 October 2010

God, through Jesus, saving us by Holy Love

John Stott, in The Cross of Christ outlines very well Jesus' redemptive act on the cross, portraying it as the central consideration for Christian faith.

For, although indeed ‘God is love’, yet we have to remember that his love is ‘holy love’, love which yearns over sinners while at the same time refusing to condone their sin.    How, then, could God express his holy love – his love in forgiving sinners without compromising his holiness, and his holiness in judging sinners without frustrating his love?   Confronted by human evil, how could God be true to himself as holy love?... For, despite the truth that God demonstrated his righteousness by taking action to save his people, the words ‘righteousness’ and ‘salvation’ cannot be regarded as simple synonyms. Rather his saving initiative was compatible with, and expressive of, his righteousness. At the cross in holy love God through Christ paid the full penalty of disobedience himself. He bore the judgement we deserve in order to bring us the forgiveness we do not deserve. On the cross divine mercy and justice were equally expressed and eternally reconciled. God’s holy love was ‘satisfied’.

How was it satisfied?

How, people ask, can we possibly believe that God needed some kind of ‘satisfaction’ before he was prepared to forgive, and that Jesus Christ provided it by enduring as our ‘substitute’ the punishment we sinners deserved?  Are not such notions unworthy of the God of the biblical revelation, a hangover from primitive superstitions, indeed frankly immoral?

To be sure, ‘self-satisfaction’ in fallen human beings is a particularly unpleasant phenomenon, whether it refers to the satisfying of our instincts and passions or to our complacency…. But there is no lack of self-control or humility in God, since he is perfect in all his thoughts and desires. To say that he must ‘satisfy himself’ means that he must be himself and act according to the perfection of his nature or ‘name’

So God sent his Son out of love for us... His love for us isn't depended on the cross... but the cross is dependent on his love for us - that's amazing

No forgiveness without blood meant no atonement without substitution. There had to be life for life or blood for blood. But the Old Testament blood sacrifices were only shadows; the substance was Christ. For a substitute to be effective, it must be an appropriate equivalent. Animal sacrifices could not atone for human beings, because a human being is ‘much more valuable… than a sheep’, as Jesus himself said (Matt.12:12). Only ‘the precious blood of Christ’ was valuable enough (1 Pet.1:19).

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