“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
When most people die, they lose that which is most precious to them — their lives. When Christ died, he gained that which was most precious to him — the lives of countless millions of people past, present, and future. I say “past, present, and future,” because the Bible clearly explains that, up until the time of Christ, there was no true forgiveness of sins granted for anyone’s soul — no, not the eternal type, that could gain them entrance into heaven. Their entrance to heaven was therefore only permitted in light of the future suffering of Christ: if this had not been a ‘sure thing’ there could have never have been any forgiveness granted to anyone prior to the coming of Christ. For we read, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:4)
Thus, in reality, the sins committed before Christ came into the world were ‘unatoned for’. By ‘atonement’, we mean, “that which covers over a person’s sins. That which causes their sins to no longer be active in the sight of God. That which cancels their penalty, and pays their debt.” It is CHRIST who is God’s lamb of God, and no one else! It is HE who makes the real atonement. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:15) (notice Mary is not included here; you should not be praying to Mary). So, then, Christ is this man, and he was also this same man even before he came into the world. The promise of Christ’s coming was made, in fact, all the way back in the Garden of Eden at the time of the first sin: (God speaking) “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
This was no mere man. He was born to suffer, and to lay down his life, so that he could take it back up again — that along with countless millions of others. You see, the suffering of Christ was a sure thing the day that Adam and Eve first sinned. In spite of their sin, God had mercy on them by allowing them to live and procreate. God, being a God of justice, could have destroyed them all immediately — and there would never have been the chance for anyone else to continue. In a very real sense, because of his love, God was “forced” to decree that — at the moment of mankind’s first sin — he was going to send forth his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to pay the REAL price for sins, or else all would have been lost, then and there. It was a tough decision for God to make. But he made it. And I’m glad that he did, aren’t you? If he had not, where would we all be right now? This, I hope, also helps us to gain a better appreciation of how important it can be, sometimes, to be patient with others. Through God’s patience (in that he did not judge Adam and Eve immediately) we are here today. And God continues to be patient, so that more and more people will come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, let us be thankful for the Lord our God, who, because of his patience, has seen fit to bring us to where we are today. “Lord, help us to be more like you. For it is in Christ’s name that we pray. Amen!”