In the lyrics, Glory (Let there be Peace) by Matt Maher, the songwriter encourages us not to be afraid because “His love is strong enough” to save and lead us. Nothing will stand in the way of God’s love for us. One of the keywords in the lyrics is Emmanuel, God with us. Is he really with us?
Often we hear that our sinfulness separates us from God. Such a statement may give the impression that we need to be sinless to come to God. If this were the case, how do we explain Emmanuel? If our sinfulness separates us from God, the Son of God should not have come into the world.
The Scripture clearly states that God loved this world. The Son of God came not to condemn but to save humanity. Everyone who believes will not perish but has eternal life (John 3:16-18). Since God’s Son, God himself, came into this sinful world, our sinfulness does not separate us spatially from God (John 1:1-3). His love is strong enough to be incarnated into this world to save.
Although our sinfulness does not separate us from God, it fractures our relationship with him. Sinful humanity cannot repair this broken God-humanity relationship. The lies of the devil further complicate the fractured relationship. The devil accuses God of hating us because we are sinful (cf. Luke 8:12). This accusation is a lie. God sent Christ to die for us, his ungodly enemies, to reconcile us to himself (Rom 5:6-11). His love is strong enough to challenge the devil’s lie.
Humanity cannot repair this broken relationship because we have fallen short of God’s perfection (Rom 3:23). Our sinfulness stains us with permanent imperfection. Death is the only way to remove it (Gen 2:17, Rom 5:12-14). Based on this reality, God took up the responsibility to reconcile us with him.
This reconciliation is costly to God. While God does not hate us, he has to deal with our sinfulness. When Adam disobeyed God, he chose to reject God and his word. Adam’s choice became the root of our sinfulness (Rom 5:18-19). This root turns us away from God and his word (Rom 3:9-18; 7:18-19). The penalty for rejecting God is physical death and the second death (Rev 20:11-15).
God provided a way to reverse this condition by sending Christ to die for the penalty of rejecting him. God’s Son paid with his dignity by humbling himself to become a man. Sinful humanity tortured, tormented and tacked him to the cross for revealing God’s love to them. On the cross, God’s Son appealed to God the Father, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). All this suffering of God shows the strength of God’s love. His love is strong enough to endure suffering for us.
Based on Christ’s sacrifice, God offers everyone an opportunity to return to him through Christ’s blood (Heb 10:19). When anyone who trusts in God, who raised Christ Jesus from the dead for our justification, such a person is reconciled to God forever. Christ’s blood cleanses us from all sins, the root of sinfulness and our disobedience (1Joh 1:7; 1Pet 1:17-19). When we return to God through Christ’s blood, God no longer condemns us. He welcomes us in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1-4).
Despite this assurance of Scripture, many believers fear losing their salvation. While they trust Christ Jesus had died for them, many believers want to add to Christ’s salvific work with their sanctification. Some want to add because other believers urge them to bear fruits for their salvation, thinking that God cannot save them without their fruit. Many misunderstood God’s call to live out their salvation.
God desires his people “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Tit 2:11-12). This desire is not a call to add to Christ’s salvific work for our salvation. This call is for those who have received God’s grace of reconciliation to learn how to live rightly in this present age (Rom 6:11-13).
While God desires his people to pursue sanctification and bear fruit, he does not need our sanctification or fruit to save us. Our godliness cannot erase the root of Adam’s disobedience from our bodies. Growing in holiness is learning to resist the sinful urge to reject God and his word in this age. We can never return to our former glorious state by our righteousness. Only Christ’s blood is enough for God to raise us from the dead (Rom 8:28-20; 1Cor 15:50-57; Phil 3:19-20). His love is strong enough to glorify us even though we do not reach the standard of God’s holiness when we die.
Meanwhile, God’s love is strong enough to welcome us into his presence in this present age.Whatever we struggle with, we do not need to fear bringing our failures to him. God already knows what we have done and what we are going through. He invites us to bring our imperfections to him and seek his grace to grow in Christ. His love is strong enough to endure our ups and downs.
We know all these are possible because of God’s love. Matt Maher reminds us…
One child born in the stillness
Living with us
One love brings us together.
Now and forever.
Cheng Eng Hwa