Is Christianity A Difficult Religion to Comprehend?
The Lord Jesus Christ revealed to us that even young children could understand Christianity by saying, “I thank You, Fr., Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes” (Matt 11:25). He also said, “…no one knows the Son except the Fr.. Nor does anyone know the Fr. except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt 11:27).
Moreover, He promised us that the Holy Spirit would teach us everything and remind us of all His words. He said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Fr. will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (Jn 14:26).
The Holy Spirit reveals the Fr. and the Son to us. He reveals all what concerns salvation, redemption, and the importance of the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. The Holy Spirit reprimands us for our sins, and shows us our need for salvation; thus teaching us that achieving eternal life is only through Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit Who reveals our true unpleasant nature, whenever, we are deprived of the grace of salvation, justification, and sonship to God. It is He who admonishes us, making us realize our grave predicament, as a result of being rebellious to God and violating His commandments.
In paradise, Satan influenced, encouraged, and tempted man to contradict the commandment of God. He made man doubt God’s love. Satan told him that God does not want man to become like Him, knowing good and evil. When man doubted God’s love and ate from the tree that God had warned him not to eat from, he fell under the power of the devil, and the authority of sin.
Due to sin, corruption entered the nature of man, and death was introduced as a result. When in the tombs we find decaying corrupting corpses being eaten by worms, we recognize the result of sin, and that its wages is death (see Rom 6:23). The state of corruption that man reaches in a tomb is proof for the corruption that resulted from sin. Observing this, man begins to think of a method of escaping this life of corruption. He yearns for salvation from death and its corruption.
A state of hostility between man and God emerged. It is true that the wages of sin is death, but man started to fear God, and is no longer able to recognize His love. He needed someone to reconcile him to God, he needed someone to rescue him from the authority of sin, to give him the strength to become victorious over sin, to heal his nature from sin, and to restore him to the life that he had lost due to his sin.
It was impossible for God to abandon man, without exerting Himself for man’s sake, since God loves man and knows it was the devil that tempted and deceived him.
However, it is not possible for God to forgive man without proclaiming His wrath against sin. How can God forgive man without paying the price of sin? God did not want vengeance; but God’s holiness needed to be revealed. He should show the extent to which He hates sin. In the meantime, He wants to save man and show him the degree of His love for him.
Redemption and Atonement:
God wants to reveal to man the viciousness of sin, so that man would hate sin. It is not adequate that God forgives man or pardons him, He has to cure him. If He forgave him without paying the price of sin, God’s holiness would not be revealed clearly (in man’s viewpoint). Man might feel that: God can accept sin, is not concerned with it, or does not care about it since He deals with it lightly. Consequently, man would consider sin easy and natural, not trying to be liberated from or abandon it. God had to act in a way that would cause His love and His holiness to meet, in order to show man the extent of his hatred for sin. Hence, there should be redemption and atonement, for God to forgive and pardon, since God’s forgiveness cannot be priceless.
If He left sin without accountability, then for God, sin is simple and not a concern or a care. This would be an offense against God. If we said that God does not care for sin, or that He might accept it or let it pass, then how can He be Holy.
It is true that God is full of love, yet simultaneously He is Holy, therefore He should manifest His wrath against sin and His love for man. Manifesting His wrath against sin causes man to fear sin, which helps man understand God’s love for him. Here emerges the importance of redemption and of the salvation that Christ fulfilled on the cross.
The Conditions for A Redeemer:
Christ carried our punishment, which was death. By carrying our sins, although He is righteous, devoid of sins, and undeserving of death; He is able to redeem us and pay the price for the sins of mankind. For God, the value of this redeemer is beyond measure. Not anyone can become the redeemer.
A redeemer should be someone who never sins against God and is all righteous, for how can he redeem others when he himself deserved death. The value of this redeemer should be limitless and vast. According to God’s economy, there is no one more precious to be offered for the redemption of man, than His only Begotten Son, the Incarnate Word. Consequently, in the gospel of Saint John, our Lord Jesus Christ says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16). In other words: God loved the world, to such an extent that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The Solution to Man’s Problem:
On the cross, man’s problem was solved. How? For the answer man needs to know two things about God simultaneously. He should know that God profusely hates sin, and at the same time, God limitlessly loves him. If man only knows of God’s loves for him and overlooks his sins, then God’s image (in his eyes) is unholy. Sin would become delicious and light to man, and he would not hate it. On the contrary, if he only saw God’s wrath against sin, and did not perceive His love for him, he would fear God. His relationship with God would be full of enmity, and he would not feel His Fr.hood. It might be a problem for man to grasp this concept, but not for God.
It is written in the Psalm, “Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed” (Ps 85:10). On the cross mercy and truth met together, but how? We saw on the one hand mercy, and on the other truth, justice, or righteousness. God wanted to show us how much sin upsets Him.
When the Lord Jesus Christ carried our sins, and paid the price, we saw Him whipped, tortured, and suffering. We begin to ask ourselves: “Christ did nothing wrong, why should he suffer all this? Is this all because of my sin? Does sin hurt God’s heart to this degree? Does God hate sin to this level? A level that would make Christ, the righteous and holy, the only begotten, suffer to this extent in order to pay the price of my sin?”
This makes man feel sin is hideous. He witnesses the Lord Jesus Christ being whipped, and tells himself, “The Lord is being whipped for my sake. He is paying the price, because He loves me and wants to save me from eternal destruction. The whip does not touch me physically, but I feel as if I am the one being whipped because this is caused by my sin. God wants me to feel ashamed. I feel the whip is hitting my feelings. As if God wants to tell me, ‘Is this the pleasure of sin that you enjoy and love so much? I am here paying its price. Are you going to love it again, or will you start to hate it?” Consequently, Man starts to hate sin.
In spite of God’s love for a sinful person, the sinner does not sense God’s love when he is being punished for his sins. However, when God carries the punishment, and He pays its price, man feels that he caused the suffering of the righteous and holy One. He then feels he should repent and hate sin.
The Story of a Sailor:
Once there were two brothers who were sailors on deck of the same ship. The older brother was a saintly and righteous person, while the younger was and an evil and sinful person. One day a tempestuous storm rose up and the ship was about to sink. Since the amount of people on deck was greater than the lifeboats’ capacity, the captain decided to cast lots. Whoever’s name was picked went into the lifeboats, and the rest stayed on deck to meet their fate.
It happened that the name of the older brother was picked to go into one of the lifeboats and be saved, but the name of the younger brother was not picked. The younger brother wailed and cried because he felt he was close to death. His older brother told him, “Do not weep, take my place and go into the boat, and I shall take your place and stay on deck.” The younger brother asked him, “What’s your fault that you should take my place?” His response was, “If you die at this moment while in your sins, since you have not yet repented, you will be ruined and will go to Hades, and finally Hell. I love the Lord Jesus Christ and I am eager to be in His bosom. Through His grace I shall go to paradise, I am “…having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phi 1:23). It is better that I should die since my death will not lead to my destruction, while yours will. I have one condition however: that you lead the life that I used to lead. I am going to die in your place; so you should live for me. Do you agree to this condition? Can we make a covenant on this condition?” The young brother agreed, so the older hugged him and kissed him and left him to depart and enter into the lifeboat in his stead. The lifeboat went into the sea and was rescued. The younger brother started to repent and regret his sins, while the older was waving to him from the drowning ship. He kept waving as if he was reminding him of the covenant and of his promise; as if he was telling him live my life as I am going to die in your place.
This story shows us what the Lord Jesus Christ did for us. If we carried our sins we would be eternally destroyed, but not if He carried them; He never perishes, since He is life. It is written, “In Him was life” (Jn. 1: 4), and He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14: 6).
The Power of Life:
The power of life that was in the Lord Christ was stronger than the power of sin. God wants to make His hatred of sin evident, and wants to demonstrate how much it angers Him. When the Lord Jesus Christ carried all our sins and paid their price, “…the just for the unjust” (1 Pt 3:18), He declared His wrath against sin. Death could not take hold of our Lord Jesus Christ while it can swallow us never to be freed again, unless Christ Himself frees us from its belly.
When Satan wanted to move Adam to sin, he asked Eve to look at the tree. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Gen 3:6). To carry out this deception, Satan concealed himself in the serpent who was more cunning than any beast of the field (see Gen 3:1).