Christ is NOT Dead In Vain
Vol: 133 Issue: 27 Saturday, October 27, 2012
The Omega Letter is aimed at those who have already grasped the simplicity of salvation. A lot of what we focus on is what Paul calls the ‘strong meat’ of Bible doctrine.
For example, we’ve examined the nuts-and-bolts answers to hard questions like, “Why did Jesus have to die?” and “would a loving God send people to hell?” etc. But it is good from time to time to revisit the basic gift of salvation.
I have friends who can’t seem to ‘get’ how simple God made salvation. The miss the forest for the trees. Maybe you have friends like that too. They can’t grasp the basic fact that salvation is for sinners. They think they have to earn their way by doing good.
When Jesus was asked which was the most important commandment of God, He replied:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37-40)
Love God above yourself and love your neighbor as yourself. Simple.
A person cannot have a personal relationship with God apart from Jesus. There is a gap that exists between God the Father and sinful humanity.
God is completely holy and cannot tolerate the presence of any sin. But we are all selfish sinners. To redeem us, He had to become ONE of us.
To do THAT, He had to physically enter sin’s ‘quarantine zone’ (the earth’s atmosphere), conquer sin in THIS world, thereby defeating sin’s universal stranglehold on humanity. And then, having qualified as an acceptable Sacrifice, He paid the eternal penalty for sin on our behalf.
When Adam sinned, God cursed him, saying;
“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:19)
God covered the first sin of Adam by clothing his nakedness with dead animal skins. Sin, by definition, introduced death into the world. “. . . without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)
Jesus paid the penalty prescribed by Adam’s sin, just as every human being since Adam, but Jesus was WITHOUT sin. Having been born of the Father into this sin-sick world, He lived the life that God expected of each of us and then paid the penalty for sin that we deserve.
He was not under that penalty for Himself, which is why He could pay the price demanded on our behalf. Having defeated the cause of death (sin), He then defeated the penalty of sin (death) by His Resurrection.
Nobody who ever sinned, even once, has defeated sin personally, and all remain under sin’s penalty of death.
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27)
But death is in two parts. The physical death, and what the Bible calls the ‘second death’ eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire.
And so is the judgement. The believer’s sins were judged at the Cross, and the penalty for them has already been paid.
For those who trust to their own good works, there is a second judgement before the Great White Throne, where they will be judged according to ALL their works, good and bad.
There is no balancing scale. One sin earns eternal separation.
Our personal sin still earns the wages of physical death. We are spiritually and eternally saved, but the world in which we live remains under the curse. Sin has its consequences on the things which are in it.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Jesus sinless Sacrifice paid our eternal debt — there is nothing left to judge but our rewards. Nothing we could ever do could earn it, because it is a gift, freely offered to all men.
By accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf and committing to follow Him we are declared righteous by God on the basis of our faith.
Therefore as new creatures, recreated by the Blood of Christ, wearing His righteousness instead of our own, we are able to come before the throne of God blameless and cleansed, reestablishing our relationship with God.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
It has NOTHING to do with religion. Paul was preaching to the Church at Galatia, where a heresy had crept in that said Christians had to be circumcised like Jews in order to prove they belonged to God.
Paul makes it clear that Christians are neither Jews nor Gentiles, but something entirely new.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)
The difficulty in trusting Jesus is rooted in the failure to understand the ‘new creature’ for what it is. We’ve discussed this many times in the past, but for the benefit of new members and as review for the rest of us, the Bible teaches that there are four sentient spiritual creations of God.
First, God created the angels. Then, He created Adam in His Image and in His Likeness. At Adam’s fall, his spiritual state was changed, he became separated from God, and Adam was the father of the spiriitually unregenerate Gentiles.
Abraham, through faith, fathered the first of another new spiritual creation. Isaac was the first spiritual Jew, the father of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.
Since then, every person is born either a Jew or a Gentile, from the perspective of their spiritual state of existence. The first three sentient, spiritual creations of God, then, are angels, Jews and Gentile, descended from Adam, but in God’s Image, with an eternal spirit.
A descendant of Isaac can never become a Gentile. He can denounce Judaism, become a Buddhist, an atheist, or whatever, but in God’s eyes (as well as man’s) he is still a Jew.
A Gentile can become a practicing Jew, but he remains a spiritual Gentile, since his eternal spirit remains estranged from God apart from Christ.
Jesus introduced a new spiritual creation with His Resurrection. Those who trust Jesus are transformed into a totally new spiritual creation, personally indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, and restored to the fellowship lost by Adam.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12)
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)
Having been MADE righteous and restored to fellowship, Christians are neither Gentile nor Jew. Nor are they angels, either literally or figuratively. The Bible calls them ‘saints’ — something entirely unique in the history of the universe.
Jews and Gentiles are born what they are. Christians are REBORN into a ‘new birth’ — a new spiritual creation of God.
Salvation is a permanent transformation from one kind of spiritual creation to a different kind of spiritual creation. It is the misunderstanding of the new creature that is a stumbling-block to grasping the simple assurances of the Gospel.
At the point of salvation, according to Scripture, the old creature (Jew or Gentile) is “passed away.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
The Bible says the old creature is dead. Only God can raise the dead, not an act of man. God would be forced to raise the dead spiritual Gentile, and undo His new spiritual creation based, not just on an act of man, but on a sinful act.
If sin can force God to undo His own creation, then where is the victory?
The Bible says to repent (literally, change your mind), realize your sin will take you to hell, and that there is nothing you can do about it except to trust Jesus’ promise that by trusting Him for your salvation as the Lord of your life, you are now a new creation of God.
It’s so simple. So simple, in fact, that there are millions upon millions who just can’t get it. Paul spoke of being “wise in your own conceits” (Romans 12:16) not the least of which is the belief that our works contribute to our salvation.
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1st Corinthians 1:27)
If Jesus didn’t do it all, then He didn’t have to do it at all and He died in vain.
“I do not frustrate the grace of God, for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:21)
The Perfect Storm: Please pray for the millions who are in the path of Hurricane Sandy and the Nor’easter that is forecast to develop over the weekend. The storm threatens everyone on the East Coast from Washington DC to Maine and from New York City to Detroit.
Forecasts for the Buffalo area include gale force winds, five inches of rain and serious power outages — and the forecast is the same all the way west to Detroit.
If you are in the path of the storm, make sure you have enough fresh food and water to last at least three days. If you are not in the storm’s path, please pray for those that are.
May God preserve and protect us all and we’ll see you on the other side. . .