We have an amazing God! He is perfect love and goodness and beauty. He existed before time and space and had no need of anything. And then, in an overflowing of love from the Father to the Son, he created everything. Here’s the number one secret to understanding the universe: it’s not about us. It’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s all about the one it was created for: Jesus.
As humans, we were created to enjoy God’s amazing creation by first of all enjoying him. We were to revel in the fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and so revel rightly in creation. We were to rule over the creation with the same love and care that God rules over us. But the problem is: we didn’t. When Adam and Eve first sinned, it wasn’t about the fruit: it was about disobeying God. It was about putting the creation before the creator. It was about thinking they were the ones at the centre of the universe, they were the ones who got to decide what’s right and wrong. They thought God’s opinion was just one among many; they thought they could take it or leave it. And they left it. They decided they should be king and queen of their own lives. And it wasn’t just them. We’re born into their rebellion. And so we do it too. We reject God’s ways and choose our own ways.
But here’s the thing: God isn’t some pushover invisible Santa in the sky. He is good. Altogether good. Terribly good. He hates evil with a passion matched only by his love for the good. And now we have turned against him we have become his enemies. Objects of wrath. And he will judge us with perfect justice. If we were to go before God based only on our performance, perfect justice would demand our condemnation and punishment. Perfect justice would demand hell. That’s what we deserve. If we ask God for justice based on our performance, hell is what we will get. The truth is, none of us want this justice. Sure, we want justice when we are betrayed and hurt. But we don’t want God’s justice against us. We want his mercy.
And that is exactly what he has shown towards rebel humans like us. The eternal Son of God, who existed for eternity in perfect communion with the Father and the Spirit, worthy of all worship and glory and honour. The eternal Son humbled himself. Like a king taking up residence on a garbage dump. Except the descent was infinitely greater. He did it willingly. Lovingly. He did it for love of the Father. He did it for love of us. The Son came down. Took on frail human flesh and became man. He was tempted in every way and, where we failed, he succeeded. He voluntarily gave his life on the cross. And it wasn’t just physical human whips and nails he took as punishment, but much worse. He took the perfect fire of God’s anger against human rebellion onto himself, into himself, against himself. The only one who never deserved death or hell took hell into himself. And he quenched it.
So now there is hope for mercy. But there’s still a problem: we’re still rebels. We even rebel against God’s mercy. And so the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. And when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts, he turns us around. He stops us from rebelling and enables us to trust in Christ. He connects us spiritually with Jesus so his death becomes our death and his new eternal life becomes our new eternal life. Jesus sent his disciples into the world to proclaim his victory over sin and death. And wherever that message is proclaimed, there the Holy Spirit works to bring new life to those the Father has chosen. This is the message: ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.’ This is the good news. This is the gospel: eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. It provides hope for the future, meaning for the present and truth to live our lives by. Lights is all about the gospel. And we pray you find new life in Christ, just as we have. If you haven’t already, we urge you to repent of your sin and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. Call out to him today, for today is the day of salvation! Here is a prayer you could use:
Heavenly Father, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever dared imagine, but, through your precious Son Jesus, am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. Thank you for sending Jesus to bear my punishment on the cross and to offer forgiveness. Please forgive me. I turn from my sins. I surrender my whole life to Jesus, my rightful king and my perfect saviour from sin. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may grow in my love for you and in my desire to serve you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
For the Theologians …
If you want to get more technical, God bless you! Here are some confessions of faith we’ll nail to our mast:
We are catholic: as in ‘universal’ (not Roman). We join with the saints through the centuries confessing the Nicene Creed.
We are Protestant: we believe in the five ‘solas’ of the Reformation. That is, we believe that we are justified by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), in Christ alone (solus Christus), based on the authority of the Scripture alone (sola scriptura), to the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria).
We are Reformed: we believe that ‘salvation is of the Lord’ (Jonah 2:9) and so affirm the Canons of the Synod of Dort.
We are Anglican: we affirm the formulations of historical Anglicanism set out in the 39 Articles.