Subject: Being Thankful Part 3: Acknowledging God’s Provision for Our Sin
1Peter 3:18 “Christ suffered once for our sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.”
British philosopher G. K. Chesterton was once asked by a newspaper reporter what was wrong with the world. He gave a very simple response: “I am.” His answer would draw heavy criticism in American culture today, where we are fixated on self-esteem and self-fulfillment. When things don’t go our way, it’s can’t be our own fault. There must be a good excuse for why I have fallen short of where I thought I would be. I just need to find it. The self-esteem industry is ready and willing to help me find that excuse.
But all of us, especially when we have reached adulthood, have a very uneasy sense of ourselves. No matter how much we try to tell ourselves how well we have been getting on in life, we are keenly aware that we do not measure up to our own standards, never mind anyone else’s. Chesterton again summarizes this reality for us: “Original sin is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.” All of us know we are sinners. As Chesterton says, all one has to do is observe daily life to verify this obvious truth.
Modern liberalism’s mantra of man’s innate goodness is the ultimate fairy tale. The truth is we are mostly suspicious of each other. Trust is at an all-time low. Which, of course, would not be possible if we were all amazingly good people. CS Lewis put it this way: “Human beings all over the earth have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and they can’t really get rid of it.” We know we miss the mark.
So where does one go to find the remedy to our inborn sin problem? In my line of work (scientific experimentation and business process improvement), we have one technique that is very helpful, known as ‘screening analysis’. This is where you eliminate potential causes for an issue based on information you collect and analyze. Applying this technique here allows us to eliminate one potential answer – and that’s ourselves. Logical thinking tells us we can’t expect to find the remedy for what has gone wrong among those who are themselves wrong. The solution has to come from outside of us – from someplace else.
And it is in biblical instruction where we discover the solution to our sin dilemma. We discover in the pages of the Bible that there is one way to have our wrongness made right. It is something that, once embraced, represents the very heart of this Thanksgiving Season. And it is provided by God the Father as a free gift to anyone who truly desires to fix their sin. It requires no work from me to try to earn it. The solution is based on the achievement of another, for me. You see, the heart of the Bible’s Gospel message is that the Father has provided the only way for you to have your sin removed in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The Bible explains three things each of us must acknowledge about Jesus Christ which makes Him able to take your sin away and allow you to stand before God as good and right in His eyes. The first is that Jesus Christ is God, who came to earth in human form, to bring His promise of eternal life directly to us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1,14). Why would God become a man? We already concluded that our remedy must come from outside of us. God takes it upon Himself to bring the remedy to us.
The second thing each of us must acknowledge is that Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross was God’s solution to your sin problem. As our verse for this week says, “Christ also suffered once for our sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” (1Peter 3:18). Notice it doesn’t say He suffered so that I could be with God. It says so that He could bring us to God. The only way to approach God the Father is if Jesus Christ brings you to Him. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). If you have done something that you think is unforgivable, you’re wrong. By trusting in Jesus Christ as your Savior from your sins, God promises that you can not only be forgiven but be reunited with Him as your heavenly Father!
The third thing each of us must acknowledge is that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. “For Christ was delivered up for our offenses, but He was raised up for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
The reason the resurrection of Jesus is so critical to Christianity is that if Jesus dies for your sins but stayed buried, then death would have defeated Him. But the Bible teaches that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead to demonstrate to the world that His Son has the ultimate power to forgive your sins because death cannot hold Him. Because Jesus Christ lives, when you turn to Him for forgiveness of your sins, you also shall live!
This is the remedy to our inborn sin problem. Next week, as we close in on Christmas and this season of being thankful, we will examine how to respond to Jesus Christ if we want Him to “bring us to God.”
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.