Read - John 6v37-40
Message - Scott Woodburn
If we are to really impress Santa then 365 days of good behaviour is exactly what is required. We've known this from childhood and none of us ever wanted a bag of ashes from the big man in the red suit. If Santa is impressed by such obedience then what must we do to be saved? Two years good behavior? Three? A lifetime? Unfortunately even the best of us falls far short of the glory of God.
What is to be done? Thankfully God has taken the initiative. We heard on Tuesday about the covenant of redemption. Before time began, the persons of the Godhead agreed to redeem a people from sinful humanity. Paul explains that God the Father chose a people to be saved before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1v4). But how would such a people be redeemed? Perhaps God was going to overlook their sin? Maybe like an earthly parent who turns a blind eye to their children's flaws, God would pretend He didn't see our depravity. No. The Lord is just. Sin, if it was to be forgiven, required a payment.
The apostle highlights this in Hebrews 9v22. Without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin. A sacrifice was required and in eternity past God the Son willingly volunteered to be that sacrifice. Jesus makes this clear in John 6v38. He comes and takes on flesh to do the will of the Father. The Father has willed a people to be saved and so the Son comes to do His will. Christ is born in a lowly estate and becomes subject to the frailty and limitations of humanity. He comes under the law of God and keeps it perfectly both passively and actively. Eventually Christ is sent like a guilty sinner to the cross and knows the agonies of hell and death itself. Then on the third day He stands again on this earth.
Jesus fulfills all the conditions of the covenant of redemption and so the Father rewards the Son's obedience with the salvation of the elect. If today you are saved, it is because the Father chose and the Son came to die. It certainly puts a different perspective on Christmas.
Yet before you toss Santa in the bin, I would remind you that the historical Santa believed in Christ. You've probably heard the story about him punching a heretic called Arius in the face. We shouldn't build our house on such a story. If it happened, it probably didn't work out the way the story is told, but nevertheless, we have reason to believe that Saint Nicholas was a Christian who believed that Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, without whom we would be lost.
The covenant of redemption isn't some obscure bit of theology. The Father's plan to redeem a chosen people would cost the sinless life of God the Son. It needed to be this way. For our sins to be forgiven they couldn't be hidden under the carpet. They needed to be paid for and indeed they are! Christ is the perfect sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God (propitiation) and through faith in Christ our sins are forgiven and remembered no more. This Christmas might be very different but the Gospel hasn't changed. God is still just and the justifier of the one who trusts in Christ (Romans 3v26). Thanks be to God!
Q42 What is the sum of the ten commandments? The sum of the ten commandments is, to love the Lord our God, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.