One condition

I don’t know why people go all the way to the Himalayas to climb Mount Everest.  All they would need to do is call home owners to bring their mortgage papers over and stack them on top of each other.  You could have Mount Everest in your own backyard.

I had never bought a house before.

An expert real estate agent flipped through page after page of papers with unpleasantly crammed text for me to sign.  If there was a class on flipping, real estate agents could teach it.  They flip through page after page after page, pointing out where you must sign your initials and where you must sign your full name, taking time beforehand to highlight these places.  I guess you have to sign at the bottom of all those pages to prove you’re responsible and you have to initial all those slots to pretend you know what you are doing when you buy a house, I guess.  Actually, all you have to do is be able to spot the yellow highlighter.

Page 1, my signature said, I’m buying my first home! 

Page 10: I’ve never liked the capital cursive T that starts my name. 

Page 20: I wish I was a doctor so I could doodle.

Page 30: Wouldn’t it be great if my 30-year-mortgage was up by the time I finished signing these papers?

I know how to bake cakes and I can draw a pretty cute horse.  I don’t know much about accounting.  So my mom, who can–in addition to baking cakes–understand abstract financial concepts (but rarely draws horses), explained to me that if I missed even one payment on my mortgage, the bank could pursue taking my house away.  (I can draw even draw the horse’s mane, by the way.)

You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d think all this signing was to give the bank as many chances as possible to take my house away from me, the insurance as few chances as possible of having to pay for any damages to my home, and the previous homeowners no liability if the house fell apart the day after ownership changed to my name.  The reality, though, is that banks probably lose money all the time on foreclosures, insurance companies are scammed all the time, and previous homeowners would probably be sued for damages they weren’t even responsible for.

It’s easy for me to gripe about the small forest that became the paperwork for my new house contract, but the reality is, a bank wouldn’t be able to give money to me if they didn’t protect themselves, insurance wouldn’t be able to cover me if they didn’t have restrictions, and no one would be safe in selling their house if they had to constantly worry they might have to pay for damages the new owners made.  The contract is there for a reason.

A lot of people accuse God of some kind of unfairness for expecting people in the Old Testament to keep a contract with Him.  But God requires holiness.  I don’t expect the bank to give me a loan and never have to pay it back.  Really, my life is on loan from God.  He has given me my body, mind, and soul.  He has given me the breath in my lungs.  And He requires holiness.  He has every right as Creator to ask this.

But ever since the Fall, when Adam and Eve chose to follow sin instead God, holiness has been something that we cannot reach.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, ESV)

Not one of us has kept God’s contract.  Even the basic requirements He gave in Exodus are impossible for us to keep, because we are so in love with sin.  Leviticus spells out what holy living looks like, and yet not one person could follow God’s clear instructions.  Many tried, but they fell short, because holiness is to live perfectly, as God lives perfectly.  No one could perfectly follow God’s contract, and so no one could follow it at all.  Just as I can’t expect the bank to overlook it if I miss a year’s payments and then give $30 and expect everything to be all right, God cannot overlook our grave sins just because we sometimes follow His orders somewhat.

God would have every right to give us a contract that would send us to Hell if we couldn’t be holy like Him.  But from the first sin, He always gave an escape clause, throughout the entire Old Testament.

That escape clause in the Old Testament was the slaughter of animals.  When people broke the contract between themselves and God–as they always did–they could slaughter an animal to cover their sins.  The idea of animal sacrifices covering their sins dated back to the first sin, when God clothed the sinful and ashamed Adam and Eve with the skin of an animal.  It took a death for them to be covered.  Not paid for, but covered until payment would come.  It would be a little like a bank writing out I.O.U. notes and giving them to me when I missed payments.  The money hasn’t been accounted for, but I am graciously given more time.

Everyone in the Old Testament who believed in God died with all their I.O.U. notes unpaid.  They had to have faith that God would one day pay their notes.  In other words, they had to trust the banker to pay their debts.  Do you know any bankers who would do that?

In the New Testament, God stopped giving out the I.O.U.’s to those who trust in Him.  Instead, He made a whole new contract.  In that contract, Jesus would be the one to sign His Name.  He would pay for all our I.O.U.s with His blood, and He would live a holy life per procurationem (on our behalf).

There is only one condition.  Not ten million, and no thousand papers to sign.  There is only one condition: that we receive His signed, dated, and God-notarized contract for ourselves.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26, ESV)

Published in: on June 7, 2012 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  

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