The following is an excerpt from What You Need to Know About Heaven.
Let’s imagine the impossible. Let’s say a person is born, lives a full life, and dies without violating any of God’s commands. Let’s say the person never utters a falsehood, never harbors a millisecond of ill will toward another person, and never gives God less than 100 percent devotion. Let’s say the person’s every thought, attitude, word, and deed honor God.
In the context of eternal life, such a sparkling résumé would still fall immeasurably short of the standard required for atoning for sin and restoring the relationship with God. Even if no sin were committed, the person would still have an inherited sinful nature to answer for. No one born of man and woman could offer the perfect sacrifice that God requires for the atonement of sin.
A person conceived by the Holy Spirit and delivered by a virgin, on the other hand, would have no inherited sinful nature. If that person could manage the impossible—live a sinless life with absolutely no offenses against God—he would be a fitting candidate to bring about atonement.
Of course, this perfect candidate would have to agree to endure unprecedented agony—the kind of torture and death that would be unimaginable to anyone else. This innocent, blameless specimen of perfection would be subjected to the totality of God’s holy wrath and judgment for the sins of the world. The suffering and pain we deserve would instead be heaped on him. He who knew no sin would, in effect, become sin in God’s eyes—and be punished accordingly.
Only One could satisfy those demands. But in order to do that, he had to leave his idyllic existence in heaven for a life of rejection, ridicule, and betrayal on our sin-ravaged planet. He had to give up his autonomy and become a helpless baby. He had to lay aside his perfections and make himself vulnerable to pain, sickness, and exhaustion. He had to submit to physical limitations, such as hunger and thirst. He had to squeeze his infinite presence into a container of flesh roughly five-and-a-half-feet tall.
Only Jesus could have bridged the gap between God and humanity. Only Jesus did.
The above article appears in What You Need to Know About Heaven, which is on sale where magazines are sold within the United States and Canada.