It’s the holiday season – first Thanksgiving and now we’re looking forward to Christmas – the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Today I give thanks to our Lord God who demonstrated His great love for us by sending His Son to die for our sins. As we move into the holiday season and all that we have come to know — shopping, decorating, running errands, projects, parties — let’s take the time to be still and know that He is God – the God who loves incomprehensibly. The following devotional from Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries gave me pause this morning to sing His praises (although a touch off-key) with thanksgiving. Let’s remember that we celebrate Christmas because of Jesus Christ. “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 12:46)
The sinful condition of mankind presents us with a dilemma: How can a holy, righteous God forgive our sins? If He deals with us only on the basis of His justice, every human being would suffer the eternal punishment of His wrath, which their sins deserve. But if He extends mercy instead of justice, no one would pay the penalty for sin, and God would then cease to be just.
There was only one way the Lord could stay true to His nature and at the same time forgive our sins. The solution was to satisfy His justice by pouring out His wrath on a substitute. Then the penalty for sin would be paid, and He would be free to extend mercy to sinners. This is the only plan that accommodates both aspects of His divine nature. So Christ came as our substitute; He took the punishment for our sin, enabling us to experience the Father’s mercy. Now, by placing faith in Jesus, anyone can be justified—that is, declared legally righteous.
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)
God’s plan of salvation is simple enough for a child to understand. Yet at the same time, the complexities of the transaction that occurred at Calvary are far beyond human comprehension. Although we may not fully grasp what transpired there, we can know that the cross is the greatest possible display of the Lord’s love for us.
Can you even imagine the cost of your salvation? The magnificent plan of the Father and the willing cooperation of the Son prove your tremendous value in God’s eyes. From His perspective, you are worth all the pain and suffering that was necessary to secure your eternal presence with Him in heaven.