This morning, particularly grieved over my sin, I decided to pray. As I began to pray, I noticed that my parents’ dog was barking at the front door. Bark. Bark. Bark. I have to admit, it was annoying. With every shrill note, I felt like someone was poking my side with a fork. It was difficult to concentrate. I closed my eyes tighter as if it would help me ignore this distraction.
I read the words of the apostle Paul, and how he said he was “the chief of sinners.” And in my mind, I think, “I am the worst. No way could he had ever done what I have. No way could he so easily do these things. No way.” Plucking my eyes out and severing my limbs would do nothing for me. My mind and body would adapt like a blind man adapts to the dark and how a cripple adapts without limbs. In some cases, other senses are heightened, and it would be no different for me. All new sorts of evil would be created in my mind. The issue is with my heart/mind (there is no distinction between the heart and mind in Scripture). Out of my heart flows adultery, anger, self righteousness, pride and more.
Martin Luther was depressed one day, and his wife took notice. She went to their room, and came back out dressed in black. He asked her what in the world she was doing. She responded something to the effect of, “Well, I thought Christ died again.” And Luther remembered that Christ was alive. I get it. My mind works over time to remind myself of the gospel. And at the same time, my mind wants to tell me, “You’ve done too much wrong.” My mind just gets cloudy and foggy and distracted and I just don’t “feel” it. I’m reminded that the object of our justification isn’t faith. It isn’t works. It certainly isn’t feelings. It’s Jesus Christ.
God is a triune being. Let me illustrate – I am 1 being: human. I am 1 person: Chris. But the God of the Bible is described as one being: God. And He is described as 3 persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Before creating the world, God the Father purposed to elect a people out of all of humanity, despite the fact that they, like all of humanity, would be born in sin. These people, out of their sinful nature, like the rest of humanity, would live lives sinning against God, constantly breaking His laws. But God the Father purposed that this record of lawbreaking would not be held against this elect. The rest of humanity would be destroyed forever – an eternal punishment that should befall any who disobey God. But how is it that this elect could escape God’s wrath? After all, we all commit both good and evil acts in our lives. And we’d be crazy to think that we’d be relieved from receiving punishment if went before a court of law and said, “Hey, judge, I know I’ve broken the law, but there were times I didn’t.”
God the Father sent Jesus, God the Son, to the world. He was born of a virgin named Mary. He became a human all while still being God. He grew up, lived sinlessly (not breaking His own law), and was later killed on a Roman cross. As far as the people at the time knew, Jesus was killed for claiming to be God, which was considered blasphemy – a crime punishable by death. And it’s no secret that Jesus walked the earth and was killed by the Romans. Even secular historians have written about this. What his murderers didn’t realize though, was that something much more amazing was happening on the cross. Jesus’ death in this fashion was no surprise to Jesus. In fact, even though the Father purposed to send Jesus to the cross, Jesus went willingly. Jesus had even said that no one was taking His life from Him, He was giving it up Himself. Let’s be honest, this is God we are talking about. It’s not exactly like humans would’ve been able to do this had He not let them.
Anyhow, this Roman cross was the point in history in which God had purposed to take out His indignation on Jesus. This indignation should have fallen on the elect, but Jesus took it upon Himself. The punishment that should’ve fallen on this elect, fell on Jesus, so that the elect would never face God’s wrath. The elect had a debt against God that God paid for Himself, so that the elect would never face retribution. His life and death are counted to the elect, and their sins were counted to Him. He didn’t become a lawbreaker before God. He was just treated like one. Jesus died, and was placed in a tomb. Now, anyone can claim to be God, die, be out in a tomb and stay there. Many people who have claimed to be God are still dead. But, Jesus came back from the dead three days later, as He had predicted He would. He showed His authority over even death itself by coming back from the dead. He wasn’t like a zombie, who is mindless and still dead, only to be destroyed later. He came back from the dead and stayed alive.
Those who hear this good news and believe are part of the elect. His perfect life and death are counted to the elect as though they were the ones who lived perfectly. The reason they believe is because God the Spirit causes them to believe. The reason He causes them to believe the truth is because their sins had been washed clean by what Christ had done on the cross. It wasn’t as too many say, the Jesus died on a cross, and if you believe, then His payment is applied to you as though men finish what God starts. Nope. Even believing this good news is impossible unless God makes us. He then sends God the Spirit to indwell all who believe. God the Spirit acts as a down payment for the things to come.