Mankind fell in Adam
When Adam turned away from God, he took the entire human race with him. It was humanity which rejected God because all humanity was encapsulated in the one man. Adam, at that moment was the entire human race, his life is the life which has been passed on to all of us, and the decision he made impacted on all who would later come from his life. Adam adopted Satan's principle of life (independence of God) and brought the human race onto Satan's ground. From that point on, every person who was born of Adam's race belonged on Satan's side of the controversy. This is where Adam put us.
In order for us to understand what Jesus did to save us and what qualifications He needed to accomplish our salvation, we must remove Jesus from the picture for a moment and look at the condition of mankind where Adam put us.
When Adam took humanity onto Satan's ground, all that was necessary to reverese the situation was that Adam should have made the choice to return to God. It seems very simple, but let us consider something: It is not possible for any being in the universe to turn to God unless the spirit of God is acting upon that person. According to Jesus, God alone is good (Matt. 19:17), and without the spirit of God, no creature can be good, or can desire good. Without the influence of God, we are naturallly afraid of God, and have no desire for union with Him. When Adam chose independence of God, this is the condition which he chose for humanity. Mankind's legitimate position was the same as Satan's position; Separated from God, wihout the influence of God's spirit and unable to choose otherwise.
“the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can it be.” Rom. 8:7
Humanity's only hope
There was only one possible hope for humanity and it was this:
If there could be found a human being, born of Adam's race, placed in the exact situation where Adam had placed humanity (separated from God), who could voluntarily make the choice to return to God, then such a human being would be able, in himself, to reunite humanity with God. But such a person needed to be able to do this, not only for Himself, but needed also to be able to pass His life, reunited to God, on to all other men. This particular point needs to be expanded into a complete book. This is the critical issue in the plan of salvation and it is very little understood. The whole plan of salvation was about God's way of reuniting Himself to the human race. He could not do it without man's consent. It was man who had chosen to be independent of God and since God has established His government upon the principle of freedom, free-will, free-choice, God could not interfere with man after man made his decision. If God were ever to reunite Himself to man, it had to be by man's voluntary choice, and man, without God, was incapable of making such a choice.
Only God is good
Jesus tells us that there is only one who is good, this is God. When we think about this we realize that it is an absolute truth. There is no creature in the universe who can be good unless he is united to God. If God's method was to impart goodness to His creatures independent of His own life and presence, then the statement of Jesus in Matthew 19:17 would not be true:
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. (Mat 19:17)
He did not say that there is only one source of goodness (meaning that God is able to give people goodness from Himself), no, He said, there is nobody who is good ... except God! The angels around the throne in Revelation 15:4 repeat the same truth in slightly different words.
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. (Rev 15:4)
God alone is good, God alone is holy and every place where genuine goodness is found, we can be sure that we have found the presence of God. The Bible has sometimes described men as being “good,” but this was only because the presence of God through the holy spriit of God, dwelt in such men .
Is Jesus good?
But when the Bible states that God alone is good, does this include the only-begotten Son of God? The Bible tells us that Jesus is “the express image of His person.” (Heb. 1:3). He is exactly like His Father and this was true even while He was here in the flesh. This is the truth expressed in John 14:9.
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? (John 14:9)
Jesus was begotten of God - the only being in the universe who originated in this way. He obtained His nature by inheritance and therefore must have the same inherent qualities of goodness and love as His Father. This is why He was fully able to represent God while He was here on earth, because indeed, He was God by nature and in Him all the qualities of God's nature and character were displayed.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
That glory seen in Jesus was the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. In other words, there is nowhere else that such a glory could have been seen. This glory was to be found ONLY in the only begotten Son of God.
So when Jesus Jesus told the rich young man, “there is none good but one, that is God.” He was not suggesting that He, Jesus, was not good. It was His way of forcing the man to think about who He really was. If true goodness was seen in Jesus, then it must mean that true divinity was in Him. He was truly God by nature. This is what He wanted the man to realize.
Divine nature - the key
This is why Jesus was able to be placed in mankind's position of total separation from God, and yet, be able to make the choice to be loyal to God, in spite of being in such a place. It was because He was good in Himself! The goodness in Jesus was not dependent on the indwelling presence of the holy spirit. No, we creatures cannot be good unless the holy spirit is dwelling in us. But Jesus is the Son of God, His source of goodness is Himself! Even when the spirit of God is taken from Him, He is still good, because God is good. True divinity is always good under all circumstances, but it is the only good in all the universe and that is why it took a divine being to accomplish man's salvation. Nobody else could have done it, not even the holiest angel for any angel, separated from God would have instantly become evil. This is what we learn from the experience of Lucifer.
No Grace for Christ
So Jesus, on the cross, took the place of humanity. He did not take the place of humanity under the influence of grace. Grace comes to us through Jesus Christ, but the grace of Jesus comes to us because of what Jesus did at the cross. So as He went to the cross, that position of grace did not belong to Jesus. He did not take our place as we are, benefited by grace, He had to take our place as we deserved to be, where we belonged when Adam made his choice, totally separated from God and without the help of the holy spirit. This was the meaning of that awful cry on the cross, “my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Yet, though He was totally forsaken of God, Jesus was still able to make a choice to remain faithful to God. How was He able to do this? He was able to do it because He was good by nature, because He was fully divine, by nature. The taking away of God's spirit and presence did not make Jesus turn to the way of self-preservation. This would have been the case if He was a creature who depended on second-hand goodness by means of the indwelling holy spirit. But He was God's Son, inherently good, and so, He was able to remain good even though He had become a man. So, by gaining this victory through His divine nature, in fallen human flesh, He was able to restore humanity to its place with God.
Of course, the benefits of this victory of Christ were being felt by humanity from the moment that Adam sinned. Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The instant man sinned, that instant the sacrifice of Christ began to benefit the world, thousands of years before Christ actually died. However, this did not diminish the reality that Christ did indeed have to die, that He did indeed have to go to the very place where man belonged. This is what God pledged from the beginning and Jesus had to fulfill that pledge in every detail, fully taking man's place.
It is evident that Jesus had to be a human being in the fullest sense, or else He could not have taken man's place and brought humanity back to God. It was a man who chose to separate us from God and only a man could reverse that decision. But Jesus had to do more than simply become a man. He had to make the decision as a human being, a descendant of Adam, under the exact conditions which Adam had brought upon the race; He had to possess the same limitations and disadvantages of fallen, degenerate humanity for this is where Adam had put us, and most importantly, He had to be, at the critical moment of the test, totally separated from the sustaining spirit of God. This is where sin put humanity and this is where Jesus had to go in order to deliver humanity.
However, we see also that Jesus had to be fully divine in the sense that He possessed in His spiritual nature, the very nature of God. This was absolutely necessary in order for Him to be separated from God, yet be able to choose God. His divine nature was essential for our salvation. Without this, He could not have accomplished our redemption. So He had to be fully human as well as fully divine.
Let us consider another point: When we say that Jesus was fully divine, does this mean that He possessed in Himself all the powers of divinity? We have already seen that He did possess, and had to possess God's nature of infinite goodness. This in no way detracted from the fact that He was fully a man. It simply meant that He was a good man. In every sense He was limited to the abilities and powers of humanity, but He was good by nature, this was the critical difference. But did He possess the abilities of omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence and all the other abilities of God? If He had, then how could He have been said to be fully human? Humanity necessitates certain limitations. Furthermore, if Jesus had been almighty and in possession of all knowledge, then in what sense could He have been forsaken by God at the cross?
Divine Power laid aside
The truth is, Jesus laid aside His divine power, His divine glory. He came to earth as a man, only as a man, limited as we are, made of a woman (Gal. 4:4), in a body which suffered all the genetic defects and limitations brought upon humanity by Adam's fall, multiplied by four thousand years of deterioration. He was truly one of us as far as His genetic inheritance was concerned. He did indeed come from the race of Adam.
The plan of salvation was something which had to be carried out according to certain definite limitations, within certain clearly defined boundaries. Why was this so? Because God had to do things in such a way that the universe would be satisfied that God had acted fairly and justly - even in dealing with Lucifer. There can be no room for the suspicion of deception or trickery on the part of God. Satan has accused God of being a liar and of being untrustworthy. The only way that God can defeat such an accusation is by being totally transparent and open in all His dealings.
If Jesus had possessed in Himself, all the powers of the almighty God, then all the sufferings of Jesus would have demonstrated nothing. It could all have been easily a pretense, a sham, nothing but role-playing. Satan could have made this accusation and how could God have proven that it was not? How could we be certain that it was not? If God sets out to play a role, what creature could ever discover that it was not reality? Nobody is smarter than God and nothing can compare to His power. If Jesus had possessed the power of almighty God in Himself, even as a man, then it is certain that Satan would have claimed that Jesus was never fully a man and did not overcome in merely human abilities and that He was not qualified to represent mankind, since He did not overcome as a man, but as God, dressed up in the body of a man. How could God convince us that it was otherwise?
Someone may answer, “well, we need to trust God.” Yes, this is true. However, we trust God because we have proven that God is trustworthy. We have proven that Satan is a liar, but where did we prove these things? Where did God demonstrate them? We proved them at Calvary, they were demonstrated in the great sacrifice made by God and His Son when Jesus died for us. If, in that sacrificial event there is room for the accusation that it was all a sham, a divine role-playing act, then the very event which was designed to establish trust in God is made null and void.
Satan has used many methods to convince the world that Jesus never really died, that the whole crucifixion story was a fable. What God accomplished in the passion, death, resurrection and heavenly ministry of His Son is the only hope for humanity. In Jesus, God did not give us merely a moral teacher, He did not give us merely a good example. In Jesus He gave us a Saviour, what we needed as sinners and the only thing which could save humanity. This is the truth which sets true Christianity above all other religions (inclusive of false Christianity).
Thank God for Jesus.