New City Catechism 23.2

Question 23: Why must the Redeemer be truly God?

Answer: That because of his divine nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective; and also that he would be able to bear the righteous anger of God against sin and yet overcome death.

Have you ever wondered why God the Son had to become man and submit himself to death for our sake? Would it have been possible for God to make atonement for our sins by some other way? What if, for example, God created a new Adam figure, an innocent man who was outside the sinful line of Adam who could become a substitute for our sins by an act of atonement? Would God have been able to punish this innocent man (who was not God) instead of giving his own Son over to death and redeem humanity by that means?

Actually, a moment’s reflection will reveal why that could not have happened. The destiny we deserve for our sins is the infinite punishment of Hell. Because our sins have offended an infinitely holy God, there is no point at which we can suffer the punishment of separation from him that is sufficient to pay our debt to his justice. That is why Hell is forever. Sin warrants infinite punishment.

Someone who is a mere creature could never fully pay an infinite price worthy of satisfying the justice due to an infinite punishment. A new Adam figure who was not fully God but merely man would have to suffer forever in our place, and as a result, his atoning work could never be finished. No mere man could make an effective atonement for our sins.

But Jesus Christ, because he is fully God, is a Person of infinite dignity, and therefore his atoning work is of infinite value. Consequently, Jesus Christ alone is capable of making a payment for our sins that can be completed. Because he is fully God and fully man, Jesus Christ is uniquely equipped to be our Redeemer.

Suggested passage for personal or family reading: Isaiah 53:4-6. What does this passage teach was the purpose of Christ’s sufferings? How should we respond to what this passage teaches us about Christ?


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