There is a seeming inherent tension in God. How can he be both just and loving? How can God “desire all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4),” yet at the same time not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:7). The Bible affirms that God is just. Despite progress in technology and medicine, humanity as a hole remains bent toward malice. The Bible also affirms that God remains lovingly faithful to his people. This creates a seeming problem that theologians often call the “forgiveness problem.” How can God pass over the iniquity of humanity?
The Apostle Paul, writing to his protégé Timothy, said, “…there is one God and one mediator between God and humankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus Christ resolves the seeming forgiveness problem. Our mediator needed to be a human, because only a human could satisfy God’s need for justice on behalf of humanity. However, this person also needed to be more than human, to ransom his people out of sin and evil with him. Jesus Christ was human and at the same time truly God. Only he can stand as our mediator. Martin Luther once said, “I teach that people should put their trust in Jesus Christ alone, not in their prayers, merits, or their good deeds.” In Christ alone, our hope is found.
There is a story about a man walking down a street. He falls into a hole, deep and steep. He is unable to get out. A well-dressed business man walks by. The man yells up, “Hey buddy, can you help me?” The business man writes a check, throws it in the hole, and tells the man to buy a ladder. A doctor walks by and writes a prescription and throws it down. A pastor says a prayer. A teacher lectures the man on the merits of being careful where you walk. A psychologist asks him about his relationship with his parents. The man’s ready to give up. Then a man calls down, “Hey buddy, I know who can help.” He comes back with a smudged faced, disheveled, clothing-torn, beaten up guy. The man in the hole thinks to himself, “how in the heavens can this guy help me.” Then this beat-up man jumps in the hole. The man in the hole exclaims, “Are you stupid! Now we’re both stuck here.” The beat-up man replies, “Yea, but I’ve been down here before, and I know the way out.”
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