Message No. 4 To Seekers, Doubters and Unbelievers in Coronavirus Times
Hello again. I wonder what the coronavirus situation is like in your country. Manageable? Improving? Unbearable? Here in Poland, I have some relatives who decided to leave the Polish capital Warsaw for a whole month and drive to their property right out in the countryside, where they hope to get away from the virus. Maybe they will succeed in that. But sooner or later, if the coronavirus doesn’t get them, another – more universal – virus will: a virus which really infects every single one of us.
You may recall what I was talking about in my previous message: Message No. 3. I was saying that the whole of mankind is sick – like sick leaves on a tree, because of everyone’s sinfulness. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad, religious or unreligious, or if you’ve only sinned a few times in your life or hundreds of times each day. We’re all in the same boat – heading for eternal separation from God after we die, because even one sin against Him is a terrible offence against His holiness, and punishable by eternal alienation from Him in the afterlife. If God is just, He has to punish us for our sins.
Message No. 4 - What God Has Done For You
You may say: “Yes, but surely God is loving and forgiving”. That’s true. But the fact remains that someone has to pay the price for our sinning. God is holy. He’s not like someone you can hurt all the time and he’ll just keep forgiving you. If God were like that, we’d have no respect for Him. He would be smaller than we are, because we’d be constantly ignoring Him and then expecting Him to just forgive us. Very many people think like that. And they continue to ignore and turn away from God all their life.
Our natural condition, then, is that we are all on the road to condemnation – on the road to hell. Everybody. It doesn’t matter what tradition we belong to – whether we call ourselves atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Muslims or even Christians. Yes, even if we are born into a Christian family, we are still born with a sinful nature. Unless this state of affairs changes, we too will die in our sins and be eternally separated from God. Trying to be good by attending church, getting baptized, reciting prayers, singing hymns or donating money will not remove the sin which we have inherited. We cannot save ourselves.
This information would seem to be terrible news. But the Bible is a book – actually a collection of books – which provides not only that bad news, but also, more importantly for us, good news: the good news that God, in His love and mercy, decided to do something about our unhappy situation. He decided to save us from our sins. Can you understand that? In every other religion, you and I have to do something to get to God. But in the Christian faith, we cannot do anything to get to God – and so God does something for us.
Do you know what God did for us? He – the great “I AM WHO I AM” – came to earth Himself, in the form of a person, the man Jesus, in order to save people like you and me from their sins. The Bible puts it like this: “The Word (in other words, the creative, outward aspect of God) became human and made His home among us”. God the Word had created the universe in the first place, but now that same Word was coming into His own creation as a man!
You can see that I’m telling you that Jesus was – and is – the Word made human. Or, to put it more simply, Jesus was – and is – God. This may create a problem for you if you have been brought up in a tradition which teaches that Christians believe that God had sexual relations with a woman called Mary, who gave birth to a baby boy called Jesus, who was therefore the son of God. Actually, not a single Christian in the world believes that. Every Christian will tell you that God chose to come into the world Himself, as the man Jesus – and without His earthly parents having had any sexual relations whatsoever.
Remember what I said in Message No. 3: that the hidden, invisible side of God is commonly referred to as God the Father. Jesus, however, is the creative, outward-going side of God made flesh: the Word becoming a human being. As a human being, Jesus usually referred to Himself as the “son of man” –
indicating that He had come to earth in the humble form of a true man. But other people in the Bible, perhaps unfortunately, referred to Him as the “Son of God”, emphasizing His divine nature. So please remember that “Son of God” is just a title of the highest respect. It is not a description of Jesus as God’s little son! Actually, Christian teaching calls Jesus “true God and true man”, meaning that Jesus had two natures – human and divine – in perfect unity. So God and Jesus are one and the same. Jesus said: “The Father and I are one”.
Just pause to think for a minute. How can a holy God save sinful man? Well, how can you heal the sick leaves on a tree? Can you heal the leaves individually? No. You have to heal the tree itself. The sick leaves will fall off and die away. But once the tree is healed, new and healthy leaves will grow from the branches.
Jesus the God-Man didn’t come so much to heal individual people – though He did that as well – as to heal the whole tree of mankind, which was sick and dead in its sins. Was it His teachings that healed mankind? No – that wouldn’t have been sufficient. Was it His healing miracles? No – because they merely concerned individual people. God had to do something much more radical to save mankind from the devil’s clutches.
What God actually did do was so amazing that, even today, Christians find it hard to grasp. Remember that, because God is just and holy, a price always has to be paid for sin. You would expect the price for your sins to be condemnation by God. In actual fact, God, in His mercy, decided to let you go free, and He paid the price for your sins Himself – through Jesus Christ! What other religion teaches that God Himself pays the price for man’s sins?! This was the real reason why God came into this world as Jesus in the first place.
How did God pay the price for your sins? In the times of the Old Testament, the Jewish nation would sacrifice a lamb to pacify God, who was angry at the sins they had committed. But now, with Jesus, the Word of God become human allowed Himself to be willingly sacrificed for your sins and my sins, through His crucifixion – His suffering and death on a cross 2,000 years ago. Instead of an animal, it is the God-Man Himself who is sacrificed: Jesus the Lamb of God. One single sacrifice for all time. Nothing else needs to be sacrificed.
The Bible teaches that, through Jesus’ self-sacrifice, God is reconciled to mankind, and man need no longer be condemned to eternal separation from God. Let’s say it again: we are sinful and deserve to be damned forever by God, but God made a self-sacrifice to release us from that penalty. The consequence of our inherited “original sin” is therefore removed, and the tree of mankind is healed, so that it has the possibility of producing healthy leaves and good fruit. We have all, as it were, been given a second chance. But remember, it cost God an enormous price to buy us back – or “redeem” us – from the devil’s clutches. It shows the great depth of God’s love for all mankind, including you and me.
Jesus’ death on the cross was a precious sacrifice for God, but a victory over the devil, because the devil now no longer has a claim on us on account of our inherited sins. The power of sin has been removed forever. We couldn’t do it, but God did it for us.
Ask yourself these questions. Are you aware how sick you are because of your own sinfulness? Are you aware that, without God’s help, you would die forever in those sins of yours? Are you aware that, no matter how hard you try, you can’t stop yourself sinning once and for all? Can you imagine how much God loves you, despite your sins, and was prepared to sacrifice Himself so that you could avoid being punished for them?
Preview of Next Message
I’ve covered a lot of ground in today’s message. In my next and last message, Message No. 5, I will explain more clearly what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross, because this might be hard for you to understand. Yet it is so crucial to grasping what the Christian faith is really all about: not about anything you must do for God, but rather about what God has already done for you. God bless you.