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GOOD FRIDAY 2017
THE GOSPEL IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?
As we gather tonight to remember the work that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross of Calvary many have lost sight of the big picture. What I mean by that is they don’t understand history. They don’t get why the cross is so important. They may know the stories but they don’t know the reason and reality of what took place almost 2,000 years ago!
That is going to be our focus this evening as we look at THE GOSEPL IN THE OLD TESTAMENT? I realize that may shock some of you but there are a few places we can find a picture of the Gospel in the Old Testament. We are going to only look at one of them this evening!
Our story starts out in the book of Genesis. And let me say this. When I say “story” I am not talking about some fairy tale or something that never happened. When I say “story” I am speaking of events that took place, they are real and they are important. You see, if you take Genesis out of the picture, then you really don’t have a need for a Savior, a Messiah, for Jesus!
But when you look at the evidence, that God created the heavens and the earth in six literal days and rested on the seventh, the evidence is overwhelming for creation! Genesis tells us that God created everything from absolutely nothing and as we look around us we see the hand of God, the beauty that He has given us. Yes, it is distorted today by sin, and we will talk about that, but there is still that beauty to His creation!
Now, on the other end of the spectrum, denying creation, we have evolution. That is man apart from God and man has to come up with how this all happened and presto – EVOLUTION! And for the evolutionist, no matter what they may try to say, there is no evidence for it and it is impossible for absolutely nothing to turn into everything! That is what they are telling us. There was nothing and now we have everything.
How did it all start? With a Big Bang or the Big Bang Theory! This is where all matter, space and time has come from and when you listen to their explanation of how this all happened, it sounds like a fairy tale!
This is from Popular Science magazine and just listen how they explain the Big Bang Theory. And keep in mind this is a science magazine that promotes evolution and not creation! They wrote,
In the beginning, there was nothing. Then, with a big bang, an almost infinitely small, hot and dense universe exploded into existence.
- Popular Science, February 2001, p. 70
And another science magazine, Discover, explained it like this,
The universe burst into something from absolutely nothing – zero, nada. And as it got bigger, it became filled with even more stuff that came from absolutely nowhere.
- Discover, April 2002, cover text
Do you see the problem here? I hope so. It is that absolutely nothing turned into everything and they call this science. Maybe science fiction but it is not science. Even evolutionists are having a hard time with this. David Darling who is an astronomer and author wrote the following in New Scientist magazine,
What is the big deal – the biggest deal of all – is how you get something out of nothing. Don’t let the cosmologists try to kid you on this one. They have not got a clue either. . . . “In the beginning,” they will say, “there was nothing – no time, space, matter or energy. Then there was a quantum fluctuation from which. . . .” Whoa! Stop right there. You see what I mean? First there is nothing, then there is something. And the cosmologists try to bridge the two with a quantum flutter, a tremor of uncertainty that sparks it all off. Then they are away and before you know it, they have pulled a hundred billion galaxies out their quantum hats. You cannot fudge this by appealing to quantum mechanics. Either there is nothing to begin with, in which case there is no quantum vacuum, no pre-geometric dust, no time in which anything can happen, no physical laws that can effect a charge from nothingness into somethingness; or there is something, in which case that needs explaining.
- David Darling, “On Creating Something from Nothing,”
New Scientist, Vol. 151 (September 14, 1996), p. 49
I have a much better explanation, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. Look up into the heavens and see the beauty! Look at how the sun, the moon, the planets are at the right distance from us and we live on a planet where life can live, which is a good thing. But that should not be surprising because God created this earth to be inhabited with man overseeing all of creation!
Look up at the heavens and then look down to the smallest thing you can imagine, and you find the intricacy of life, the complexity of life, that life could not happen just by random chance happenings. Look at the DNA, look at the code within it, look at the programs that run it, look at consciousness, look at life and it is not random chance happenings where everything came out of nothing but, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Now I also want you to note that when God was creating on those six days of creation we are told, “And God saw that it was good.” There was no sin, no evil in the world. When God created Adam and Eve on the sixth day of creation it was a beautiful paradise. God and man fellowshipped together! In fact, in Genesis 1:26-31 we are told, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
Man was created a triune being; a spirit, soul and body or flesh and it was the spirit that was guiding man and keeping his flesh under control. And, as we have seen, all of creation was very good! The lions and tigers and bears all got along. Man and the animals were vegetarians. Life was good, it was perfect until Adam sinned and then death entered this world!
God told Adam that every tree of the Garden was for him to partake of except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Think about that one for a minute. God said to Adam that there is only one thing I don’t want you to do, eat from this tree! And Adam was thinking, “Where is that tree?” That is how we respond when we are told we can’t do something or have something!
In Genesis 2:15-17 God tells Adam that all the trees of the Garden are for him except the one, like I have said. And as I read this story I see that Adam had a free will, he had a choice to make, but if he disobeyed the Lord, God warned him of the consequences, “. . . for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17.
This verse can be literally translated, “Dying, thou shalt die!” Here is what I believe the Lord is saying. The moment Adam disobeyed God, his spirit died and now his body appetites controlled him, the flesh. He lost that fellowship with God that he once had because sin separates us from God.
But, there was also another aspect to keep in mind. You see, the moment he sinned the death process started in Adam or the second law of thermodynamics. This law speaks of things wearing down, moving from order to disorder.
Prior to Adam’s sin he could live forever, but now, he would eventually go back to the dust of the earth from which he came from. Also, his sin would infect the whole human race that was to come and all of life on the planet, even the planet itself!
Paul speaks of this in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
Now, when you come to a “therefore” ask yourself what it is there for! Obviously, it speaks of all that Paul has spoken of so far, but I also believe it takes us back to Romans 3:23 where Paul said, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Now he is going to explain how we have sinned, where it came from. He tells us that through Adam’s sin, all have inherited Adam’s genetic makeup, not only his physical nature, but also his spiritual nature by birth.
It is as David said in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” That is true of all mankind!
Now some would like to deny this fact but every grave is evidence pointing to the spread and the reign of sin since the time of Adam for as the Lord said, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” Genesis 2:16-17.
Thus, sin is universal, affecting all of mankind and that tells us that death is also universal! The death rate is still one per person! And not only does sin affect our physical bodies but also our spirits, as we have been separated from God by sin and the spirit nature is dead, allowing the body to be controlled by its fleshly appetites.
If you still are having a hard time with this, think of it this way. You don’t become a horse thief when you steal a horse; you steal a horse because you are a horse thief! You see, it just shows what you are!
Thus, a person doesn’t become a sinner when he sins; he sins because he is a sinner! In fact, the verb “sinned” is in the aorist tense which tells us that it is a completed action in the past - no exceptions – we all have inherited sin from Adam, our spiritual nature just as we have inherited Adam’s physical nature!
One last point before we move on, and listen to what Bruce has to say regarding this section. He tells us, “To Paul, Adam was more than a historical individual, the first man; he was also what his name means in Hebrew – ‘humanity.’ The whole of humanity is viewed as having existed at first in Adam.”
Let me show you how this plays out in Genesis. In Genesis 5:1-3 we are told, “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.”
Notice what happens here. First God created Adam in His image, in the image of God. That makes sense because everything was very good. But then, sin entered the world and with that there was a separation from God.
And now we see that when Adam has a son he is not created in the image of God but in the image of Adam, with a sin nature. You see, his spirit is dead and his life is being controlled by the flesh, by the bodily appetites and that is not a good thing. Man’s communication with God is broken because of sin!
And thus, all of mankind have this inherited sin. The point being is all have sinned, Adam’s sin is the sin of all, and as we sin we just are showing our nature, we are just showing that we are sinners! And, as the Lord tells us in Isaiah 59:1-2, sin separates us from God, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”
And look at how this is played out for us, how humanity is separated from God. In Genesis chapter 4 we see Cain murder his brother Abel and God places a curse upon Cain. And then we are given the genealogies of Cain and what is interesting here is that as you look at the names of his descendants it shows us a picture of fallen man, of sinful man, man apart from God. Let me show you what I mean.
CAIN = AQUISTION
ENOCH = DEDICATED
IRAD = FUGITIVE OR WILD ASS
MEHUJAEL = BLOT OUT THAT YAH IS GOD OR WIPE OUT THE NAME OF GOD
METHUSHAEL = THEY ARE DEAD WHO ARE OF GOD
LAMECH = POOR AND LOWLY
Thus, this is what we see in man apart from God. Listen carefully. The Lord is telling us, that the ungodly are, “An acquisition that is a dedicated fugitive or wild ass who is trying to wipe out the name of God, saying, ‘They are dead who are of God’ and the reality is, they are poor or lowly!” I think that is a pretty good description.
Now when you deny the literal interpretation of the Scriptures, especially here in Genesis, then you have a big problem. What I mean by that is this. If God did not create the heavens and the earth. If He did not create Adam and Eve. If there is no original sin. Then why in the world do we need a Savior, a Messiah as I have said before?
Let me show you what I mean from this report from The Church of Truth. And their name is a misnomer! They have no clue what the truth is, they deny the truth. But listen to what they are saying,
The foundation tenet of Christianity is based on an event that didn’t happen – the “sin” of Adam and Eve. But, we are here because of Evolution.
As we now know, man, plants and animals evolved over a period of 3.5 billion years. There was no biblical Adam and Eve. There was no “original sin” to be redeemed by Jesus death. This alone is sufficient to prove that Jesus did not die for our sins.
Paul’s rationale is without foundation. His knowledge of “science” was limited to what he knew of Old Testament stories. If one acknowledges the truth of evolution, then one must also acknowledge that Paul’s conclusion, “Jesus Died For Our Sins” is based on a false, Old Testament verse and therefore cannot be true.
Think of this for a moment. One man writes one sentence based on an event (Adam & Eve) that did not happen and this misunderstanding of reality gives birth to the most fundamental tenet of the Christian church? Really?
Paul was a Pharisaic Jew. We will concede that Paul did not know about evolution when he evolved his “died for your sins” theory.
Do you see how they take this to the logical conclusion? No Adam and no sin and no Jesus to die for our sins. You can’t have it both ways. Either Genesis is literal and we are dead in our trespasses and sins, or it is not and there is no need for a Savior and for that matter, there is no God!
That is just plain foolishness and when you look at the totality of the Scriptures, with even Jesus saying that there was a literal Adam and Eve that were created in the beginning, you have to come to the conclusion that this is true and thus, we have a problem!
Listen to what has happened. We have seen that when God created the heavens and the earth, including all of creation, it was very good. But then sin entered the world through Adam and it was not very good any longer. Sin separated man from God and sin brought about the death process!
“Hey Pastor Joe, I thought you were going to show us the Gospel in the Old Testament? All you have done so far is show us how things deteriorated in this world very quickly and that sin has separated us from God. Where is the Gospel?”
Good question. Creation, Sin, Separation and now we need Redemption and that is found also in Genesis! Remember how the linage of Cain, their names, showed us fallen man. The picture goes like this, “An acquisition that is a dedicated fugitive or wild ass who is trying to wipe out the name of God, saying, ‘They are dead who are of God’ and the reality is, they are poor or lowly!”
But there is another linage to look at and that is through Adam! And you can read of the linage of Adam in Genesis chapter 5. What I am going to do is go through their names and tell you what they mean and then we will read how this is all played out. This is awesome and it is no accident.
ADAM = MAN
SETH = APPROVED
ENOS OR ENOSH = SUBJECT TO DEATH
CAINAN = SORROWFUL
MAHALALEEL = FROM THE PRESENCE OF GOD
JARED = ONE COMES DOWN
ENOCH = DEDICATED
METHUSELAH = DYING HE SHALL SEND
LAMECH = TO THE POOR AND LOWLY
NOAH = REST OR COMFORT
Now, why did God devote a whole chapter to these men who begot and be-gone or they died? Listen carefully to how this plays out as I list the meanings of these men like I did with the descendants of Cain. It goes like this. “The man approved to death, sorrowful. From the presence of God, one comes down, dedicated. Dying, he shall send to the poor and lowly, rest and comfort!”
That is the Gospel message given to us thousands of years before Christ came. It is the Good News to a world that was moving quickly into darkness and it is Good News for us today.
It is as Paul said in Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’”
Let me also share this with you. Did you know that Methuselah is the longest living person in the Bible, he lived 969 years! Also, in the year that Methuselah died the flood waters came upon the earth destroying all life except Noah and his family and the animals that were on the ark!
What is the point? This is awesome as well. You see, it truly shows or gives us a picture of the grace of God! Judgment was coming but God was patient and longsuffering, giving man every opportunity to repent before the flood came!
It is as Peter reminds us in II Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” God is so gracious and merciful to us! And like with the days of Noah, God is patient and longsuffering with us, not willing that any should perish and thus, this age of grace has lasted almost 2,000 years!
In those 2,000 years, we see this world getting darker and darker as sin flourishes! Bob Woods tells the story of a couple who took their son, 11, and daughter, 7, to Carlsbad Caverns. As always, when the tour reached the deepest point in the cavern, the guide turned off all the lights to dramatize how completely dark and silent it is below the earth’s surface. The little girl, suddenly enveloped in utter darkness, was frightened and began to cry. Immediately was heard the voice of her brother: “Don’t cry. Somebody here knows how to turn on the lights.” In a real sense, that is the message of the gospel: light is available, even when darkness seems overwhelming.
- Bob Woods, Pulpit Digest
We have had some 6,000 years of darkness on this earth where sin has grown and things are getting darker and darker. Now some like to deny that there is even sin in this world. For instance, Mary Baker Eddy who came up with the cult, Christian Science. The teaching of Christian Science is this, “All evil is an illusion. All sickness is an illusion. And even death is an illusion.”
I know she does not believe that now, she has been dead since the early 1900s! And if you think about it, Christian Science is actually like Grape Nuts. If you’ve ever had Grape Nuts, I don’t know why they named them that, they’re not grapes and they’re not nuts. And Christian Science is neither Christian nor scientific. But it sounds impressive.
And for the matter of evil being an illusion, just turn on the television and see if it is an illusion or reality. We promote all kinds of sinful practices like they are normal but in the end, we find out how destructive they really are!
But now we have a problem. If evil exists, if sin exists, then God must not be all powerful to prevent it or stop it? Is that correct? No it is not. Let me explain it like this,
The university professor challenged his students with this question. “Did God create everything that exists?”
A student replied, “Yes, He did!”
“God created everything?” the professor asked.
“Yes sir,” the student replied.
The professor answered, “If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.” The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.
Another student raised his hand and said, “Can I ask you a question professor?”
“Of course,” replied the professor.
The student stood up and asked, “Professor does cold exist?”
The professor replied, “Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?” The students snickered at the young man’s question.
The young man replied, “In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have not heat.
The student continued. “Professor, does darkness exist?”
The professor responded, “Of course it does.”
The student replied, “Once again you are wrong sir. Darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton’s prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn’t this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.”
Finally the young man asked the professor. “Sir, does evil exist?”
Now uncertain, the professor responded, “Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.”
To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”
The professor sat down!
- Source Unknown
How true that is, evil is a result of man turning from God and man apart from God is controlled by his flesh nature, his bodily appetites instead of the Spirit of God. And it does not seem good, it seems like there is no solution to this problem of sin, but there is. We have seen it in the Old Testament and we will look at it in the New Testament as well.
Let me put this in perspective for you, A. B. Simpson is reported to have said that the gospel “Tells rebellious men that God is reconciled, that justice is satisfied, that sin has been atoned for, that the judgment of the guilty may be revoked, the condemnation of the sinner cancelled, the curse of the Law blotted out, the gates of hell closed, the portals of heaven opened wide, the power of sin subdued, the guilty conscience healed, the broken heart comforted, the sorrow and misery of the Fall undone.” (M. Cocoris, Evangelism, A Biblical Approach, p. 29)
Praise God for the finished work He has done for us, paying in full our penalty for our sins and reconciling us to God. And for those of you who feel your sin is so horrible that God can’t forgive you, please understand that there is no sin you could ever imagine that is stronger than God’s love for you.
Maybe you are struggling with that but listen to what Jesus said in John chapter 3, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:16-21.
I think we all are aware of these verses but have we really dug into them and do we truly see what the Lord is saying to us? I hope so and I hope to expound on this so as you leave here this evening you will leave understanding God’s love for you!
In these 25 words, we see Jesus give to us the Father’s heart – He loves the world, you and me!
He then gives to us the Father’s plan – He gave His only begotten Son to be sin for us, to pay the penalty for our sins!
And lastly, He gives to us His will – that whoever believes will be saved, not just a quantity of life but a quality of life!
How beautiful those words are, and out of the 31,373 verses in the Bible, it may be the most popular, the most often used, but many people, even though they have read it, they know it, they have not applied it to their lives where they can have that abundant joy that is only found in Jesus!
And for those who think that if you die apart from Christ you cease to exist, that is not what the text is saying here. You see, that would “perish” is APOLETAI in the Greek and it is not speaking of annihilation for those that refuse to believe but a final destiny of ruin in Hell apart from God, who is life, who is truth, who is joy! God wants to save but He will not force anyone, He will invite them to come and then it is up to each individual to respond.
And for those who feel you just can’t, you just are not good enough, please understand what God has done here. First of all none of us are good enough, that is why Jesus came and paid in full the penalty for our sins. If we were good enough then there is no need for a Savior, but we are not!
And we see that when Jesus, Almighty God became flesh and dwelt among us, He did not come to condemn us. Why didn’t God condemn us? Because we are already condemned, dead in our trespasses and sins, thus, Jesus has come to give us life, to save us. That is why He came! HE IS OUR SAVIOR!
Think of it this way, “An old legend tells of a traveler circling the globe on foot, when, somewhere in his travels, he found himself trapped in quicksand. As he slowly sank, Confucius came by and said, ‘Confucius say, it is evident man should avoid such situations,’ as he went on his way.
Mohammed came by and said, ‘Alas, it is the will of Allah,’ as he went on his way.
Buddha came by, and said, ‘Let this man’s dilemma be an illustration for many,’ as he went on his way.
Krishna came by and said, ‘Better luck next time,’ as he went on his way.
Jesus Christ came by, reached out to the man, and pulled him out.”
That is what God has done for us. It is as Paul said in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
And Jesus said in John 5:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
Now the tragic response of some is they refuse to come to Jesus and thus they are and will remain condemned until they do. God has done everything possible to save us except force us, now it is up to us to receive that gift. But why won’t’ they come to Jesus?
Jesus tells us here in John that the reason they don’t come to Him is really very simple. They enjoy sin and thus, when the light of God exposes their evil, their sin, they fight against it, try to extinguish it, to put it out.
When I lived in Arizona I lived with my cousin Joe and we worked and went to school out there. Now I do have to admit we were not very good with housework, in fact we were horrible!
Thus, we had a problem with cockroaches. The interesting thing is when you turn on the lights they would scatter. Why? Because they do their work in the dark, they don’t want to be exposed.
Why do you think bars are so dark? Because you can go into those bars and not be seen as easily in the dark as compared to the place being all lit up. Light always exposes the darkness and when God shines on a person’s heart, if they refuse to receive it, they will flee from it. They don’t want to change and they don’t want their sin exposed, although now a day’s it seems like people have no problem flaunting their sin!
But why did Jesus have to die? Why did He have to shed His blood? Listen carefully, this is so important for us to understand. Paul put it like this in Hebrews 9:22, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
And The Amplified Bible drives this point home even more as it says, “[In fact] under the Law almost everything is purified by means of blood, and without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sins.”
So apart from the shedding of His blood we are dead in our trespasses and sins and thus, we are separated from God, there has been no reconciliation between God and man if Jesus did not pay in full the penalty for our sins!
Again, there are those who try to negate this truth but listen to what the Gospel message is all about. Paul put it like this in I Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
What did Jesus die for? He died for our sins and He did so according to the Scriptures. Sin separated man from God and Jesus came to be that bridge builder, to restore that relationship once again and the only way that could be accomplished is for the debt of our sin to be paid in full and it was!
We were redeemed back to God through Jesus Christ. And this word, “redemption” speaks of buying back something that had been temporarily forfeited. According to Dr. L. S. Chafer, he writes the following in regards to redemption,
Redemption is an act of God by which He himself pays as a ransom the price of human sin which the outraged holiness and government of God requires. Redemption undertakes the solution of the problem of sin, as reconciliation undertakes the solution of the problem of the sinner, and propitiation undertakes the problem of an offended God. All are infinitely important and all are requisite to the analysis of the whole doctrine of Christ’s finished work, a work finished to the point of divine perfection. Though parts of one complete whole, these great themes should never be treated as synonyms.
The biblical idea of redemption means to redeem a thing that is rightfully one’s own, but for a time is in the possession of another whose price must be legally met. Like every phase of the great doctrine of salvation, redemption is entirely the work of God Himself. When any man is redeemed, God Himself does it.
- Dr. L. S. Chafer
About 1830, a man named George Wilson killed a government employee who caught him in the act of robbing the mails. Wilson was tried and sentenced to be hanged. The President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, sent Wilson a pardon. But, Wilson did a strange thing: he refused to accept the pardon.
No one seemed to know what to do because of this, so Wilson’s case was sent to the U. S. Supreme Court. Chief Justice Marshall wrote the opinion: “A pardon is a slip of paper, the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.” And he was.
The cross of Christ is a revelation of God’s love for all people. We may do cowardly and disappointing things and bring deep pain to the Father’s heart, but in the cross we see that He never gives up on us. Something happened that day on Calvary that forever makes a difference in the relationship between people and God. Even when the love of Jesus was thrown in His face with spitting, mocking and cursing, it remained unbroken.
The death of Christ on the cross is the pardon God sent. But before it becomes a pardon, we must accept it in faith and obedience. It is through the cross, and only through the cross that we can be saved from sin and its consequence of eternal separation from God in hell.
Have you accepted God’s pardon in Christ Jesus? If not, will you?
- Morning Glory, July 29, 1995, p. 35
For some, the pardon is not accepted. The thing is this. What Christ has done for us goes way beyond a pardon! We are declared innocent, declared justified by grace through faith in Jesus, and like this story, we must receive Him into our lives! That free gift is out there for all to receive, Jesus died for us all. The thing is not all will receive that free gift and thus, as Paul said in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the [free] gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
How much does it cost us to purchase this free gift of salvation? Nothing, it is a free gift! How many good works do we have to do so that we might obtain this free gift of salvation? Good works don’t save us; it is a free gift that God has given to us. It cost Him; all we must do is receive that gift by faith! And if you want to try to work your way into heaven, God will allow it but the wages, what you get in return is death, eternal separation from God!
Paul, in Ephesians 2:8-10 makes this very point in regards to our salvation being a free gift and not of works. Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
We are gathered here tonight to remember what Christ has done for us, the free gift of life that is only found in Him. So let me share with you from John 19:17-37 where we are told, “And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews,” but, “He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’”’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’ Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,’ that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: ‘They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.’ Therefore the soldiers did these things. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’ Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced.’”
Prior to Jesus giving up His Spirit, after He paid the penalty for our sins, He cried out TETELESTAI in the Greek, or “It is finished.” The work of redemption was completed, the price had been paid!
It is as Paul said in Colossians 2:13-15, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
We were all spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins before we came to Christ! Think of it like this. We were not sick in need of a doctor, but we were dead in need of a Savior, in need of Jesus! And thus, God stepped in; paying in full the penalty for our sins and brought our spirits back to life so we could have fellowship with God once again!
In Isaiah 1:18 we are told, “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.’”
The Living Bible puts it this way, “‘Come, let’s talk this over!’ says the Lord; ‘no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!’”
This is a rational choice on our part. Once we see ourselves as sinners separated from God, our only hope, our only answer is Jesus, the Savior of the world and it doesn’t matter how bad you were, you are cleansed by Him, washed as white as snow!
Not only that, but God forgave us of all our transgressions, all our sins. Paul uses the Greek word CHARIZOMAI (khar-id’-zo-ahee) and it is the verb form of the ancient Greek word CHARIS or grace! Thus, we are forgiven or saved by grace through faith!
And this “handwriting of requirements” was the debt a person owed and the debt of sin condemned us to Hell, it “was against us.” And God has come, taken all our sins, nailed them to the cross, and they are completely taken away, and the paper which contained all our debts has written on it TETELESTAI or paid in full! Now some may say, “But what about this sin or that sin?” TETELESTAI! Jesus completed the work for us and all we must do is receive the free gift by faith!
If you haven’t received the pardon, come to Jesus, please come to Him and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and be Lord and Savior of your life. If you have done that, please don’t forget all that our Savior has done for us. May we remember the finished work on that cross for our sins every day as we look in the mirror and think, “God, thank you for saving a wretched sinner like me! What an amazing grace you have bestowed upon me!”
And I will close with this, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17.