Q. 12. Since, then, by the righteous judgment of God we have deserved temporal and eternal punishment, how may we escape this punishment, come again to grace, and be reconciled to God?
A. God wills that his righteousness be satisfied; therefore, payment in full must be made to his righteousness, either by ourselves or by another.
Q. 13. Can we make this payment ourselves?
A. By no means. On the contrary, we increase our debt each day.
Q. 14. Can any mere creature make the payment for us?
A. No. First of all, God does not want to punish any other creature for man’s debt. Moreover, no mere creature can bear the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and redeem others from it.
Q. 15. Then what kind of mediator and redeemer must we seek?
A. One who is a true and righteous man and yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is at the same time true God.
There once was a group of believers who were meeting by a river when one of their group fell into the water. It was obvious that the man couldn’t swim, as he thrashed about wildly. One of the believers was a strong swimmer and was called on to rescue the drowning man. Though he was able to save him, he just watched until the wild struggles subsided. Then he dove into the water and pulled the man to safety.
When the rescue was over, the rescuer explained his slowness to act. “If I had jumped in immediately, he would have been strong enough to drown us both. Only by waiting until he was too exhausted to try to save himself, could I save him.”
It seems to be all too easy for us to be like that drowning man. Our self efforts can actually prevent us from being saved! Unfortunately some people must reach the point of being too exhausted to continue trying to save themselves (by dealing with their own sin) before they become willing to trust in the Savior and accept his gift of salvation.
We cannot save ourselves; the water is too deep, the debt is too great. We need a savior who knows the danger (our sin), but is also stronger than the waves. We need Jesus!
Father God, we know our debt is too great to repay. We thank you that in Christ, you have removed our sin as far as the east is from the west. Help us to trust and rely in him alone for our salvation.
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.