One of the things I love about the Church calendar is that it gives us the opportunity to take specific times in the life of the Church to reflect on specific things and themes in Scripture and redemptive history.
Advent is one of those times. During Advent we not only look back at Christ’s incarnation but we also look forward to his return. When he returns he will consummate his Kingdom here on earth and it is in heaven and will restore all things to their rightful place and order. What a day that will be!
Yesterday we reflected on Matthew 5:17-19 at South City Church. I encourage you to go and read this text before reading further.
We tend, today, to look at the Law as given in the OT and say things like, “Yeah but we don’t have to do that anymore.” Or, “Yeah but that was just for the Israelites.”
Both of those assertions would be wrong I believe. The Bible is clear. The only way we may come before God is if we are righteous and holy. God has made clear in his Word how we are to be holy and righteous; that is by keeping his Law.
I want to dispel a lie for you right now. You hear all these preachers and others say things like, “Come as you are” or “God loves you just as you are.” But this is not what the Bible says. The Bible says that God hates sin and will destroy those who are unrighteous. I realize that there aren’t a lot of preachers saying things like this these days. We live in a world that doesn’t like objective truth.
But whether we like it or not, the Bible is clear. We may not come before God as we are in our sin and unrighteousness. God takes sin much more seriously than we do.
So in this text we have some good news and bad news. The bad news is that Jesus sets an impossibly high bar for his followers. I mean, just read chapter 5 of Matthew. Can you do all those things?
Which is kind of the point.
Questions 4 and 5 of the Heidelberg Catechism are instructive for us here. Question 4 ask this: “What doth the law of God require of us?” The answer: “Christ teaches us that briefly, Matthew 22:37-40, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and the greatest commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Question 5 follows: “Canst thou keep all these things perfectly?” And the answer: “In no wise; for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.”
We have a problem, the same problem the disciples had. It is impossible for us to keep the law. So then how are we to come before God?
The Heidelberg Catechism helps us out again in Question 18: “Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, and a real righteous man?” The answer: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
If we could do all this ourselves then salvation would be attainable by us in our own efforts. Salvation would not be of God then and we wouldn’t need a Saviour, a Mediator. But we do. We cannot keep the law. But Christ has.
He is both the giver of the Law and the keeper of the Law. What God has required he has provided!
See, the Law is clear that we, God’s created human beings must be righteous. But in our fallen humanity we can’t do that. So the One who has to be righteous on our behalf had to be human. But only God is righteous. So the One who could be righteous must be God.
This is why Christ’s coming, his Advent matters. Without him coming to us as fully human our humanity cannot be redeemed. Without his perfection as God the Son, righteousness cannot be accomplished.
But Advent has come. Christ has come. In his humanity he mediates for us as sinful humans. He lived the perfect and sinless life that God requires. In his deity he has accomplished what only God can do: righteousness.
And so we look to Christ as our righteousness by faith.
Soli Deo Gloria!