(Continued from yesterday)
Now let me give a little theology before I respond to skeptics. When man sinned, the result is spiritual death or eternal separation from God:
• Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death,
However, God loved us and did not want us to be forever separated from Him, so He offered to take our place:
• Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
But there is a problem. God is eternal and cannot die:
• 1 Tim 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
In order for God to die on man’s behalf, He had to become a man:
• Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
This is called the incarnation. Thus Jesus has two natures – His original divine nature as God the Son, to which was added His human nature when He became man.
What some people do not realize is that Jesus did not take on a human nature for only the 33 years while He was on earth, but even after His resurrection and ascension:
• Lk 24:39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.
• Jn 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
• Acts 1:11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
So contrary to what cults and some people believe, the divine Christ did not descend on the human Jesus for only 33 years and then leave. God the Son actually became man for all eternity after the incarnation.
Let’s get back to the skeptics. The trouble with them is that in their minds, their view of man (themselves) is too high, while their view of God is too low. From God’s perspective, the significance of Christ’s sacrifice is that the sinless Son of God offered Himself to substitute for man. The emphasis is on His deity. Since God is infinite, Jesus’ death is sufficient to atone for the sins of all men throughout human history. That would be a large number, but finite. The suffering is not just on the physical scourging and crucifixion, even though that’s one of the most cruel and painful tortures invented by men. The anguish is more on the spiritual and emotional, with Jesus carrying all the sins of all humanity on Himself:
• 2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The skeptics, however, see Jesus as little more than a man, may be even less, as some people have suffered longer or more intensely than He. They do not see the condescension of the Creator of the universe becoming a creature in the incarnation, nor what’s involved in atoning for sin. The incarnation gap, by the way, is infinitely more than say man becoming an ant, as both man and ant are creatures, and man does not have power to create even an ant. So skeptics dwell only on the physical, human level, thinking how short is 3 days compared to eternity. That’s not even the right perspective. No wonder they got it all wrong! Jesus took on human nature for all eternity future. He rose after three days to show that God is pleased with the atoning sacrifice, otherwise it would have to be repeated as in OT sacrifices. Foreknowledge of the resurrection does not lessen the mental anguish and pain of all the sins of all mankind bearing on Him, something the skeptics could not even begin to imagine. His sacrifice is acceptable to the Father, but not the skeptics. What arrogance! What ingratitude!
God is not too small, and Christ’s sacrifice is not too puny; the depraved mind and the darkened heart of the skeptics is. God offered them His best, but they just couldn’t see it, treating it as dirt with disdain. Reminds me of Mt 7:6:
• Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
But our task is not to judge but to proclaim the gospel. So we try to be gentle and patient as the Lord leads us. Hope this helps.