#45 RETURNING TO GOD

In his brief statement about the death of Christ in 1Peter 3:18, Peter makes four clear points:

It was a death ‘for sins’ – it happened because of and to deal with sins.

It is effective for all time – it happened, and needed to happen, only once.

It was a substitutionary death – the ‘righteous’ died for (in the place of) the ‘unrighteous’.

It has a specific purpose - to bring us to God.

This purpose of bringing us to God assumes at least three truths:

That, without this death, we are in some way alienated from God.

That reconciliation with God and access to God are desirable.

That we cannot achieve reconciliation with God by our own efforts.

Our human alienation from God began in Genesis 3. There we, the humans, rejected God. From that point onwards, not only are we alienated from God by our human choice in our common ancestors, we, as sinners, are also excluded from God’s presence by his prohibition.

This is evident in the banishment from Eden [Genesis 3:22-24].

This is symbolised in the veil that prevented human entry to the symbolic presence of God in the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle and Temple [26:31-35.

It is stated clearly: ‘... no one can see me and live’ [Exodus 33:20].

It was understood, and feared: ‘Woe to me! ... I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty’ [Isaiah 6:5]. ‘Your eyes are too pure to look on evil ...’ Habakkuk 1:13].

It was an inescapable and unsurmountable problem: ‘your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear’ [Isaiah 59:2].

This banishment from God is our default position as sinners.

But this prohibition, this banishment, this state of enmity, this impossibility of entering the presence of God has been overcome and removed by the death of Jesus Christ for those who believe in him:

‘And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom’ [Matthew 27:50,51].

‘... when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son’ [Romans 5:10].

‘God ... reconciled us to himself through Christ’ [2Corinthians 5:18].

‘God was pleased ... through him to reconcile to himself all things ... making peace through his blood shed on the cross ... Once you were alienated from God and were enemies ... but now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death ...’ [Colossians 1:19-22].

‘For through him we both have access to the Father’ [Ephesians 2:18].

‘Therefore ... since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith ...’ [Hebrews 10:19-22].

The one, sin-bearing death of Jesus Christ has achieved for us that which was impossible. Because of the death of Christ for our sins, we now have permanent, present, unimpeded access to God. Never again can our sin separate us from God. Never again can we be banned from his presence. Never again need we fear either to enter God’s presence or that we will be rejected by him.

Rather, we now can rejoice in God:

‘... we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation’ [Romans 5:11].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018