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The Great Exchange

(Part 2)

by Paul and Bunty Collins

God Turns the Tide

"Just as all people were made sinners as the result of the disobedience of one man, in the same way they will all be put right with God as the result of the obedience of the one man" Romans 5:19 (Good News Bible).

God would have been justified to have left rebellious Man to his ways, but that is not what he is like. His heart is a heart of tremendous love. So immediately he put into motion his plan of restoring mankind back to himself again.

At exactly the right time in history he sent another representative man into the world. This man, too, was to affect the whole of the human race. He was actually God, himself, taking on human form, with the express purpose of representing mankind. The Bible says:

"For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes him him may not die but have eternal life" John 3:16 (Good News Bible).

He was named 'Jesus', because it means 'Saviour', and that was why he had come. He'd come on a rescue mission.

He identified himself with us in every way. Someone has described his life this way:

"He came as a little baby, born in poverty in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpenter's shop until he was thirty, and then, for three short years he travelled by foot throughout the land telling everyone why he had come and showing them God's love for them. He never wrote a book, never held a political office, never owned a home. He never had a family, never went to college, never put his foot inside a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He never did one of these things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself. While still a young man the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He was executed in the fashion of that day, nailed to a wooden cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth...his coat. When he was dead he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave, through the pity of a friend.

But that man is the centrepiece of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life."

He was no ordinary man. He had come with a mission to fulfil. And that mission was to change the course that mankind had taken and bring us back to God again. There was only one way it was possible. Someone had to represent the whole of the human race. Someone had to stand before the legal court of Heaven and plead 'guilty' in our place. Someone had to have judgement pronounced on him instead of us. Someone had to take the consequences so that we could go free.

The story has been told of a young man charged with reckless driving:

"The atmosphere of the court-room was cold and impersonal. The youth hung his head as he stood before the bench. He didn't dare look into the judge's eyes. He had pleaded guilty to the charge. He'd never dreamed it would end up like this. It had seemed such fun at the time. His best friend had borrowed his father's car and the two boys had set up an obstacle course along a side street that had seemed free of any traffic. They had challenged each other to different feats...twisting and turning the car between the obstacles spread out along the road. It has been his turn at the wheel and he had managed to get around a really difficult one when another car had turned into the street. It had been impossible to avoid it. He had swung the car as hard around as he could but had still side-swiped it and, losing control, had crashed into the fences of one of the houses.

Now, here he was in court. The judge pronounced sentence...the payment of a fine plus all the damages or else a term in jail. For a second the boy's eyes lifted in shock to meet the eyes of the judge. Then he quickly lowered them again. How was he ever going to pay? It was a sum way beyond his means and, oh horror, he shuddered at the thought of jail. The judge's hammer hit the bench. "Case dismissed." The boy's mind was in a whirl. He'd have to leave school and get a job...but that wouldn't be easy...and that wouldn't do any good...he had to pay the fine now, or it meant jail. A hand on his shoulder pulled his thoughts back. He looked up, straight into the judge's eyes. The judge had left his bench and was standing next to him. The youth's eyes filled with tears. "Dad", he said, "I'm sorry..." The judge nodded. "I know, son" he said. He put his arm around him and, walking over to the desk, paid his son's fine."

We are all like that youth and can hear the judge's hammer and the pronouncement "Guilty as charged!" But God is also like that judge. Justice and truth pronounced the youth guilty...but the judge's love for his son brought him down from the bench to pay the fine himself.

When Jesus Christ appeared on the scene of history, it was the great Judge of the universe coming down to the earth to meet the demands of his own justice. Jesus said:

"I haven't come to judge the world, but that the world through me might be saved"

It is impossible for God to compromise his standard, and the Bible says that everyone of us has sinned and come short of his glory (Romans 3:23). There is not one of us that has lived up to God's high standard of holiness. We all have inherited Adam's polluted nature. But God is not only a righteous Judge, he is also a Father who loves us. There was only on e way he could meet the demands of his justice and his love...and that was the Cross of Calvary.

Go to[ Part 3].

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Copyright 1983, 1996 Paul Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.

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