Friday, February 18, 2011

Devotions for Lord's Days 5 and 6

The Mediator We Need

15 Q. What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?

A. One who is truly human and truly righteous, yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.

John 1:1-5, 14

A mediator is someone who brings two sides who are fighting into a relationship of peace. A mediator tries to bring about peace by representing both sides in a dispute. Jesus is called our mediator in the Bible. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

God wants to be at peace with human beings. He does not want to hold our sins against us. In love he sent his Son into the world. As Scripture says, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19).

In order to bring us back to God, Jesus is a perfect mediator, because he is truly human and also true God! He can bring us back to God because of his perfect sacrifice on our behalf. He could die as our substitute, because he is truly human. But at the same time, on the cross he could endure God’s anger against sin which was too much for our human nature to endure, for he is also fully God!

The first chapter of John shows us how perfectly God unites human beings to himself. Jesus has brought the divine nature into an everlasting union with our human nature. Jesus is God and he is man, and he will continue as the God-man forever.

Just as Jesus has united in himself the divine and human natures, so we too will be united to God if we believe that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God. John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” We are now in the family of the heavenly Father, if we believe in the Son he sent into the world.

Discussion: What is a mediator? How does God bring people peace through sending his Son into the world? Will Jesus ever stop being fully God and fully man in one person? What must we do to become members of God’s family who have peace with God, according to John 1:12?

Prayer Starter: In your prayer thank your heavenly Father for his desire to bring about peace in his relationship to rebellious sinners. Thank him for bringing you into his family. Is there a non-Christian you could pray for, who needs to become a child of God through faith in Jesus?

The Primary Purpose of Christ’s Coming

16 Q. Why must he be truly human and truly righteous?

A. God’s justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for its sin; but a sinner could not pay for others.

17 Q. Why must he also be true God?

A. So that, by the power of his divinity, he might bear the weight of God’s anger in his humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life.

Matthew 3:13-15; Hebrews 2:14-17

Jesus did not come from heaven to earth so that we might have a perfect example. Jesus did not come from heaven to earth so that we might know what is right and what is wrong. Jesus did not come from heaven to earth to give us a philosophy of life.

Why, then, did Jesus come? First and foremost, Jesus came to give us righteousness and life! Jesus came to give us a right relationship (righteousness) with God, and Jesus came to give us the life that comes from God!

In order to restore us to righteousness and life, the eternal Son of God had to become a man and live a perfectly righteous life. The second person of the trinity took to himself our human nature (without our sin) in the womb of the virgin Mary. Jesus passed through every stage of life: he was conceived in his mother’s womb; he was born; he passed through the stages of infant, toddler, boyhood, teenager, and into manhood. In every stage of life he lived without sin.

Then he died. All of our sin was laid upon his sinless soul at the cross. At the cross he bore all of our sins and God’s just anger against them. The Son was separated from the Father, so that we might be united to him forever --- restored to righteousness and life!

Now the Father is calling us to believe in his Son, whom he sent into the world in love. When we believe in the Son, we are restored as we are united to him. Christ’s righteousness is credited to us, so that the Father views us in the Son as righteous (justification). In union with Christ, we also possess the Holy Spirit who communicates God’s life to our souls! All of this happens because Jesus is truly human, truly righteous, and truly God.

Discussion: What was the primary reason for Jesus’ coming from heaven to earth? What response do we need to make in order to be right with God (justified) and experience the life of God?

Prayer Starter: In your prayer praise the Lord for what he has done for you. Use Q&A’s 16 and 17 to guide your praise. Ask the Lord Jesus for a fuller measure of the Spirit, so that you might experience God’s righteousness and life in union with him.

The Importance of the Incarnation to Our Salvation

18 Q. And who is this mediator---true God and at the same time truly human
and truly righteous?

A. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was given us to set us completely free and to make us right with God.

Romans 1:1-4

Questions 12-18 of the Heidelberg Catechism have been teaching us that Jesus is “true God and at the same time truly human and truly righteous.” Why is this so important? Why must Jesus be fully God and fully man in one person?

The reason this is so important is that we cannot have salvation if Jesus is not true God and truly human. If Jesus is not truly human, then he can’t save humans. If Jesus is not God, then he can’t unite us with God.

In church history there was a man named Arius. Arius believed and taught that Jesus was the highest creature God ever created. Arius falsely taught that there was a time when Jesus was not. There was another man at this time named Athanasius. Athanasius realized with the help of the Holy Spirit and Scripture, that if Arius was right, then Jesus was neither God, nor human! If Jesus was created, as Arius taught, then Jesus could not be God. And if Jesus was created as a creature before all other creatures, then Jesus was not man either! Athanasius realized that what Arius was teaching ruined our salvation.

We must believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be. Jesus claimed to be the eternal Son of God, who was a true man, a descendant of David. His resurrection was proof that he was just who he claimed to be! The first disciples were witnesses of his resurrection, and their witness has come to us! If we believe Jesus is who he claimed to be, then we can be right with God, and set free from our sins!

Discussion: What was wrong with Arius’ teaching? Why did Athanasius oppose the teaching of Arius? Who did Jesus claim to be, and what is the proof that his claim is true?

Prayer Starter: Address your prayer to the resurrected Jesus. Thank him for taking to himself our human nature. Ask that the same power that raised him from the dead might be at work in your heart, producing faith in him and love for him.

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