We human beings are naturally and universally in a bad state. That dismal point might be self-evident from just looking around. But perhaps our primary problem is hidden: we are all and each “miserable offenders” (Common Prayer language, there!), having failed at acknowledging and thanking God. Acknowledging the Creator as Lord over every segment of our lives, including our intellectual life. Thanking Him formally and informally. Both the proof and the result of being out of sorts with God is death in all its presentations.
Well, there is one human whom God fully approves. Jesus, who was with God from the beginning, sent from God into the human race, and in the face of all the pressures and temptations like the rest of us have faced, came out spotless. Not the kind of “spotless” we might associate with self-righteous or holier than thou; but from every conceivable angle, Jesus was the human in full, the perfect expression of what the Creator intended when he set about making man and woman.
We know that God fully approved Jesus because he brought him back up out of the grave, as certain eyewitnesses attested. More than that, and what no eyewitness could have seen: God has done with Jesus what he intended to do with man when he first made him. He has placed this Man at his right hand over every rule and power in heaven and earth. So Jesus is Lord. Lord over angels and demons and nations and all earthly powers that aren’t the state (including Google and that vague combination of moods and ideas we call ‘zeitgeist’). Lord over everything. That’s already good news, knowing that there is someone over everything everywhere everytime, who is perfectly just and wise and resourceful, and backed by Almighty God.
And the good news isn’t over. While noting that God raised Jesus from the dead because he fully endorses him as a human being, we can’t skip over the fact that he was indeed dead. Why would God allow that to happen to someone he loves? Answer: Jesus is the Christ, the King who acts in behalf and in the stead of his people. In his death Jesus took upon himself the punishment for man’s deceit and anger and shallowness and mismanagement… and the disregard for God that lay behind all of this. He willingly offered himself as atonement for all of that. And paid for all sins of every one of his people. For the sins repeated a thousand times, for all wrong that was done, and all duties left undone, for the millions of small unjust slights that are done ignorantly or unconsciously. Every sin fully paid for. Forgiven. Every one.
Jesus’ people are forgiven, and in Heaven’s records are in the right; at the final judgment they will be officially declared to be justified, deserving of eternal life. But (review) not because of anything they did, or didn’t do, but because of the virtue and sacrifice of the Christ – Jesus.
And who are Jesus’ people, who are right with God and heirs of a glorious and eternal Life? THE BAPTISTS. That’s a little humor, there. No, Jesus’ people are all those wretches (“Amazing Grace”) who simply listen to what God has done for them, the ‘miserable offenders,’ and believe. They turn from disregarding God, even if that disregard had a moral or religious look, and they turn to acknowledging what is true about God in Jesus Christ, and so what is true about them.