Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Reparation For Restoration

Comments to Sabbath School Quarterly #9, 2nd Qtr.

Some say, "relationships are what life is all about." Still others, usually those who've been hurt, hold the opposite opinion. To these individuals, accomplishing personal or career goals is the crux of life. Unfortunately, in our world not all is well with relationships. Difficulties occur such as misunderstandings, which depending on the unmet and unexpressed, or poorly expressed, expectations may lead to negative feelings such as dislike, and even revenge. Relationships brake, and when they do, hearts are broken too. It's difficult to restore a relationship when painful feelings of grief (such as anger or sadness) remain unresolved. The restoration of a relationship requires the breach to be repaired. For trust to be restored, the painful process of self evaluation, admission of wrong doing, requesting of forgiveness and restitution must occur. To genuinely engage in this process, there is a sweetness of humility that must take place internally, unfortunately, this goes against our very nature.

The fact that we all have sinned means that we have wronged God. A perfect God requires perfect restoration, and perfect restoration requires perfect reparation. We as sinners are incapable of offering perfect reparation, because all we do is tainted with Sin. Although God hates Sin, He loves us. However, God's law is plain and clear: death is the wage of Sin. The problem is that if we die to pay for our sin we will die eternally. If we were to continue to live, we would live in and perpetuate sin and never be able to pay our debt. God would never allow that to happen. To add to the dilemma, although God loves us and wants to live with us forever, He will not break His law. What's God to do?

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This decision was made from the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20) and at its appropriate time was fulfilled. The Holy Spirit prompted Isaiah to predict the event centuries before it happened, to prepare all who would read and receive his writings thereafter. A reading of Isaiah 53 will give us a glimpse of what Christ went through. Christ, the perfect God, gave up His sovereign position and privileges in Heaven to come to our imperfect and sinful world to save us. In this way God solved the dilemma. In this way our reparation is fulfilled and our restoration is made possible. The debt to the law is paid in full as Jesus paid to Sin its wages. Salvation may be likened to an unlimited line of credit that is given to all of us. But only those who use it will enjoy salvation.

Isaiah 53:5 says, "with His stripes we are healed." Sin has bruised and wounded us. We may not know this because we are used to grief and sorrows. When we believe that Christ, having made reparation, is our Lord and Savior then our restoration begins. This is the process of making us one with God. Christ's stripes begin to heal the wound Sin has caused in us. As we begin to heal, our transgressions and iniquities begin to disappear. While we once considered Christ stricken, afflicted, and smitten of God, now we consider Sin that way. We increasingly consider Sin something to be despised and rejected. We increasingly consider God Someone to be loved and accepted, even worshiped. We increasingly consider Sin the oppressor and afflicter, and Christ our deliverer. A transformation occurs that prepares us for the final act of restoration of our relationship with God. We no longer stray from our Good Shepherd, but respond to His loving voice as we walk with Him.

Do you believe this report (Isaiah 53:1)? Do you believe in Him who was given to us so we could have eternal life? Or will you choose to continue to believe Him stricken, smitten and afflicted of God?

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