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resolved: student ministries went to Camp Barakel for winter retreat two weekends ago. On the drive north Friday evening, it started to snow and it didn’t stop until a foot of fresh snow had fallen. It was a wet, heavy snow that knocked out power across the northeast Lower Pennisula. The storm caused camp to lose power early Saturday morning and that, in turn, caused our winter retreat to be cut short because they could not heat the cabins in the near zero temperatures. But in all of the chaos of a Michigan blizzard and the changing retreat plans, I stepped outside the back of the East Side dining hall and was confronted with a beautiful sight. Green pines and tall brown oaks were totally white. It looked as if every tree and its branches were not real trees, but were made completely of snow. An iPhone camera just does not do it justice.
The chills that went up my back were not from the cold. It was a powerful reminder of the gospel-pointing beauty of God’s snow in Isaiah 1.18: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Because of the blood Jesus shed on the cross, the guilt of the sins of God’s people is effectively cleansed. But not only that, as Alec Motyer comments, “the Lord’s promise is not only to deal with the stain of sin but with the nature from which it springs.” That’s why the picture above was simply a gospel-pointing reminder. The trees were still there under all that snow… they were covered, but they were still trees. But if anyone is in Christ Jesus, they are a new creations (2 Corinthians 5.17). Jesus didn’t just cover our sins, He gave us new life in Him. Oh the powerful blood of our glorious Savior! As winter gives way to spring, may we remember the new life that springs forth in those who are in Christ. The cold grip in which death once held us is broken. Though our sins were like scarlet, they are white as snow.
“But God’s firm foundation stands . . .” 2 Timothy 2:19
The foundation upon which our faith rests is that “Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). The great facts on which genuine faith relies is, that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), that “for Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18), and that “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24).
In one word, the great pillar of the Christian’s hope is substitution. The vicarious sacrifice of Christ for the guilty, Christ being made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, Christ offering up a true and proper expiatory and substitutionary sacrifice in the room, place, and stead of as many as the Father gave him, who are known to God by name, and are recognized in their own hearts by their trusting in Jesus—this is the cardinal fact of the gospel. If this foundation were removed, what could we do? But it stands firm as the throne of God.
We know it, we rest on it, we rejoice in it, and our delight is to hold it, to meditate upon it, and to proclaim it while we desire to be actuated and moved by gratitude for it in every part of our life and conversation.
In these days a direct attack is made upon the doctrine of the atonement. Men cannot bear substitution. They gnash their teeth at the thought of the Lamb of God bearing the sin of man.
But we, who know by experience the preciousness of this truth, will proclaim it in defiance of them confidently and unceasingly. We will neither dilute it nor change it, nor fritter it away in any shape or fashion. It shall still be Christ, a positive substitute, bearing human guilt and suffering in the stead of men. We cannot, dare not, give it up, for it is our life, and despite every controversy we feel that “God’s firm foundation stands.”
~ Charles Spurgeon
(HT: The Resurgence)