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New City Catechism 19.2

Question 19: Is there any way to escape punishment and be brought back into God’s favor?

Answer: Yes, to satisfy his justice, God himself, out of mere mercy, reconciles us to himself and delivers us from sin and from the punishment for sin, by a Redeemer.

Jesus Christ came as the one Mediator between God and men to satisfy the justice of God. But it would be very wrong for us to imagine that God the Father, for his part, was angry with us, but God the Son loved us and intervened to turn away the Father’s anger. That’s a bad picture of God’s saving work for us. It puts the Father and the Son at cross purposes and creates two different gods rather than acknowledging one God in three Persons. No, the wrath of the Father is the wrath of the Son, and vice versa (and this is also true for the Spirit). God is one, and we cannot divide him in this way.

That is why the Bible speaks of God’s love and mercy as his motivation for sending the Son to die in our place. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5).

The love of God for us is the love of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Father sent the Son, and the Son willingly came as the appointed Mediator of our salvation, empowered by the Spirit to fulfill his mission. The love of the triune God is the source of the good news by which God’s justice has been satisfied and his people have been freely forgiven of all sins.

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: John 3:16-21. Why did God not send his Son into the world, according to verse 17? Why did he send his Son according to the same verse? How is God’s love demonstrated in the cross?

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