Published March 26, 2013

Paul's Epistle...
"Why The Cross?"

Why the cross? Why was it necessary that God's own Son – God Himself as second person of the Trinity – needed to physically die on the Cross? Why did He need to shed His precious life's blood in the most gruesome, public and humiliating way the Romans could devise?

Ironically, it was the result of love. God's love.

The best-known verse in the New Testament, John 3:16, makes it clear that God's great love is why He made a way for sinful mankind to be forgiven: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

But how did God express this great love? By – and through – His grace. Grace is God's unmerited favor. And that's clearly what was functioning here. We didn't deserve salvation. Put another way, we weren't worth saving from the penalties for our sin. We did not merit His favor. God is holy. God is righteous. God cannot abide sin. But He loved us so much He made a way that we, even though sinners, could be forgiven.

God had to do it. His perfect grace would not allow Him not to do it. He had to be the One to make the way because, just as the perfect definition or example of love is God (1 John 4:8), God is also the perfect definition and example of grace. There is absolutely nothing we can do on our own that would merit salvation. We can't do enough "good things" in this life to offset our sins. There's just no way.

God knew that. But He loved us so much that He made a way.

Paul, in Ephesians 2:8-9, tells us, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

God's amazing grace made it all possible. His grace provided the solution. Creator God showed us His grace by creating a way that we could spend eternity with Him – instead of our default (and totally deserved) destination of hell.

But there is a penalty for sin. And it had to be paid.

That's why Christ came. He came to pay the penalty once and for all. Nobody else could do it. The lamb had to be "spotless." That Lamb of God had to be sinless so that price being paid would be for others' sins and not His. And that Lamb of God was Christ Himself.

What was the penalty? Death. Scripture tells us "...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Hebrews 9:22). The principle was foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament. Christ — the perfect sacrifice — came to pay that penalty by dying on the Cross. Christ paid the price of sin – so we wouldn't have to. He paid a debt He did not owe – to pay a debt we could not pay.

The oft-cited acrostic for "GRACE" says it all: "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." God's riches in glory are available to us only because Christ paid the price at Calvary.

That's how far God would go to save us.

God's greatest expression of His love and His grace was shown by the Cross.

- Paul

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