article

Jesus Came to Make Us Fit for the Presence of God

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Contact us

Each summer, for the past thirty years, The Discovery Channel has aired a weeklong television event known as Shark Week. One summer, I remember Shark Week featuring interviews with people who had survived shark attacks. The show featured stories of the survivors and ended with them being asked if they had resentment or hatred of sharks because of being attacked. All of the survivors answered no to that question, and they emphasized that these attacks only happened when humans entered into the domain of the shark. These survivors recognized that they had gone somewhere they were not created for.

It is quite obvious that humans were not made to flourish in the deep blue sea, but beyond geography, what were we made for? The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins by stating that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We were made to know Him and to delight in His presence. The tragedy of the fall is that our sin disqualifies us from knowing and enjoying God. This is why we need Christmas. 

Thorns and Thistles

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve experienced perfect intimacy with God. They had constant communion with the Almighty. In Genesis 3, this harmony was disrupted. When Adam and Eve sinned, intimacy and communion were lost. They were no longer fit for the presence of their Holy Maker. God told Adam of the consequences of his sin. Even the ground was cursed, as thorns and thistles abounded. Death was certain. God forced Adam and Eve out of the garden because they were no longer fit for His presence. 

Over and over throughout the storyline of the Old Testament, we see how sinners cannot stand before a holy God, that sinners are not fit for the presence of God. In Exodus 3, we find Moses tending to the flock of Jethro when he sees a bush that is burning but not being consumed. When  Moses approaches the bush, God commands him not to come near. Moses was told to take off his sandals, for he was on holy ground. He could not draw near to God because he was not fit for His presence. 

Just as Adam, Eve, and Moses were not fit for the presence of God, neither are we. We are all plagued by sin, and we have sinned against this holy, just, and righteous God. We are unfit for His presence. 

What We Needed

In His righteousness, God cannot simply tolerate our sin or turn a blind eye to it. He must deal with it. There is nothing we can do to get to God; there is nothing we can do to make Him love us. We cannot earn his affection and we cannot atone for our sins. We need to be acted on by another. We need a new birth.  

Just before one of the most well-known verses associated with the Christmas season, John highlights that there is nothing we can do to be born of God. The birth we need is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of man (John 1:12). No amount of resolve, money, or earthly status can make you right before God. The political power of the president of the United States offers no advantage; the bank account of Bill Gates cannot help; the athletic prowess of LeBron James is of no avail. There is nothing any of us can do to stand in the right before a holy God.  

The apostle Paul tells us the same thing, describing us as dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). We are born as “children of wrath” (3). There is no advantage to being Jew or Gentile, for no one seeks God and all have fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:9–11, 23). 

He Came to Us

This reality should cause us to praise God for Christmas. When we could not get to Him, He came to us. C.S. Lewis explained the incarnation by saying, “If Shakespeare and Hamlet could ever meet, it must be Shakespeare’s doing. Hamlet could initiate nothing.”[1] Hamlet, a character of Shakespeare, was confounded to the pages of a script. The only way for Hamlet to know Shakespeare was for Shakespeare to write himself into the play.  

Our Lord stepped into the play, clothed in human flesh. As John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus came to us to make us fit for the presence of God. He came so that our status as sinners would be changed to children of God. He accomplished this by living the life we could not and by going to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He absorbed God’s wrath so that we, who were disqualified from his presence because of sin, are now covered in His righteousness.  

If you have trusted in Jesus for salvation, you have glimpsed the glory of God in Christ. He has made you fit for His presence. You can draw near to the throne of grace in your time of need. There is no need to dread condemnation because there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1). God has put His very Spirit inside you as a guarantee of the eternal inheritance you will receive. 

This is our hope. We have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus has made us fit for God’s presence. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us and now we live each day longing for that day when we will stand before Him with unveiled faces. When that day comes, we will know His perfect presence forever. He will wipe away all tears from our eyes and death shall be no more. At last, the dwelling place of God will again be with man. O come let us adore Him. 

 

[1] C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, 227.

Eric Roberts serves as an Assistant Editor at Radical. He is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Hoover. Eric and his wife Morgan live in Birmingham, Alabama.
Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Contact us