In This Lesson
Sin — An Ugly Word | What Is Salvation? | Meaning of the Name | The Lamb of God
The Blood of Christ | The Doctrine of Imputation | Is Everyone Saved through Jesus' Sacrifice?
"The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10 KJV) That not only sums up the meaning of Christianity, but it's what makes Christianity different from all other religions. Christianity admits that man is sinful, wretched, spiritually bankrupt, and unable to save himself.
The message of Christianity is the salvation of man outside of himself. Other religions, and even some churches or denominations within Christendom, attempt to interpret the high ideals of life based on the mistaken presumption that man is basically good. They insist that if a person's good actions outweigh the bad, then he can save himself. And whenever something bad happens, they mistakenly think they're being punished for something they've done wrong.
Some other religions even claim that a person can become his own god. Or, they believe they can attain a state of, or similar to, Nirvana1 by personally overcoming or conquering evil and fleshly desires, usually through countless reincarnations. In all of their striving for perfection and the ultimate reward, however, their gods and doctrines don't empower the person to live victoriously over sin, nor do they offer any guarantees concerning when or if the person will ever attain to that blessed state of being.
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Sin An Ugly Word
Sin is defined as "a transgression [evil-doing] of God's will", "estrangement from God", "a breaking of divine or moral law".
Notice that none of those definitions includes the word "intentionally" or even "knowingly". In other words, whether we do it intentionally or as a result of ignorance, culture, family or peer pressure, in response to an injury or harm done to us, or any other number of excuses we can come up with, sin is still sin.
The Fact of Sin
As we've already discussed in the lesson "Who Is Jesus: Son of Man", we are all born with "original sin", or what some call a "sin nature". If you don't believe that, just look at a small child. Interestingly, you don't have to teach that child to lie. The first time he accidentally breaks your favorite figurine, he will deny it or blame someone else. Even if he shows up with chocolate all over his face and hands, he will deny sneaking in and eating the chocolate chip cookies. It is our nature to sin, and we must teach our children to not sin to not lie or steal or hit or bite or be selfish or disobey parents, etc.
Can we save ourselves? Will it matter if our good deeds outweigh the bad? To answer that, we must turn to the Bible, the only truth and authority over the affairs of mankind. God's Word asserts conclusively that we're all sinners incapable of saving ourselves, no matter how good we are.
"Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you." (Psalm 143:2)
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 'I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.'" (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
"...as it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.' 'There is no fear of God before their eyes.'" (Romans 3:10-12) [cf. Psalm 14:2-3; 53:2-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20]
Now that we have established that we are all sinners, what do we do? Is there no remedy for this universal malady called "sin"?
The Penalty of Sin
The Bible tells us that we have all sinned, we have all committed evil acts. As a result of our sin, we deserve God's anger and judgment. The only just punishment for sins committed against an infinite and eternal God is an infinite punishment.
"The soul who sins shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4, 20)
"Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." (James 1:15)
"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:12-15)
The Bible also teaches, not only that sin must be punished, but that the only acceptable punishment is death by the shedding of blood not bleeding only and not death only, but a violent death by the shedding of blood (cf. Exodus 24:8; 29:12, 16, 20-21; 30:10; Leviticus 3,4,9). The first recorded act of an animal sacrifice for sin is in Genesis 3:21 when God shed the blood of an innocent animal to cover Adam and Eve's sin and nakedness.
"Indeed, under the law [Mosaic Law] almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (Hebrews 9:22)
The Bible goes on to teach that, as hard as we might try, we cannot save ourselves.
In fact, the Bible says that all of the "good" things we do are as filthy, disgusting rags when compared to the utter holiness and perfection of our God. "We are unfit to worship you; each of our good deeds is merely a filthy rag." (Isaiah 64:6 CEV) [To make the comparison even clearer, several Bible translations use the term "menstruation cloths" instead of "filthy rags". The point is, nothing we do can ever make us righteous enough to approach our holy God!]
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." (Proverbs 14:12)
"God doesn't accept people simply because they obey the Law. No, indeed! All the Law does is to point out our sin." (Romans 3:20 CEV)
"But we know that God accepts only those who have faith in Jesus Christ. No one can please God by simply obeying the Law. So we put our faith in Christ Jesus, and God accepted us because of our faith." (Galatians 2:16 CEV)
"You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God's gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn't something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about." (Ephesians 2:8-9 CEV)
That is why we need a Savior!
God's Remedy for Sin
Just when it appears that we're doomed and lost forever, Jesus Christ comes to men in all walks of life, everywhere, and offers free salvation. You don't have to work for it or do anything to earn it. In fact, you can't. But Jesus Christ says to us, "You have failed, but you can succeed. You may be stained with the guilt and shame of sin, but I can make you clean!"
"...God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3)
Jesus Christ came to earth and died in our place. Jesus' death was an infinite payment for sins we have committed against an infinite and eternal God. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. He paid the price so that we would not have to. And Jesus' resurrection from the dead proved that His death was sufficient to pay the penalty, to meet God's righteous judgment against our sins.
This is the message of Christianity. While all the other religions make you work for salvation, Jesus Christ offers it, not because we deserve it, but because He can! He's the only One who can! He's the only God who cares enough to put on flesh and pay the penalty for all of our sins. No other god has done that. But that's because no other god could do that!
The good news of the Gospel is that the Messiah has come to be the Savior of all mankind. When Jesus was born, an angel told the shepherds in Luke 2:10,11: "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!"
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What Is Salvation?
Before we study about Jesus as the "Savior of the World", it might be helpful to take a look at the nature of "salvation". What is salvation?
Definition of Salvation
The word "salvation" is defined as "the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil" or "deliverance from sin and damnation". We might better understand the word "salvation" by also defining the word "save", which means "to rescue or keep from danger, destruction, or harm", to "bring into safety",
When applied to the work of Jesus Christ, all of these definitions are appropriate. He not only saves us from the penalty of sin, but He is at work in us everyday rescuing and delivering us from the power of sin.
The Bible is very clear in saying that freedom from sin comes only through Jesus Christ. "Christ loves us, and by his blood he set us free from our sins." (Revelation 1:5 CEV)
So, in defining salvation, we can say that it is deliverance from sin and its consequences.
Who needs this salvation? As we already discussed, everyone has sinned and is under an eternal death sentence of separation from God in utter "darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:12, 13:42,50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30; Luke 13:28)
All of mankind is in need of forgiveness of sin and deliverance or rescue from eternal death, as found only through faith in the one true living God who became a Man in order to redeem us.
Nature of Salvation
The words "salvation" and "save", as they are used in the Bible, are great, all-inclusive words. To save is to rescue from danger, to deliver from captivity or judgment, to keep in safety, and to heal. Jesus, our Savior, rescues us from the power of Satan, frees us from the captivity of sin, takes our place and guilt in the judgment, brings us to a place of safety, and gives us health for body and soul.
Jesus' primary mission when He took on flesh was to save us from the lostness and dangers of a life separated from God. Humankind has lost its way. Apart from God, we wander around in the darkness of a purposeless, wasted life. Everyone wants eternal life, but instead eternal death awaits us.
But Jesus has come to rescue us, to bring us back to God. As we discussed in the previous lesson, He turned on the light in our sin-sick souls and turned us in the right direction, giving us the light of His presence, and bringing purpose and meaning into our lives. Jesus calms our fears, gives us joy and peace, leads us away from the destruction that threatens us, and will one day take us to our eternal home. Write Luke 19:10 again:
Jesus came to save us from the power of sin and Satan. He sets us free from our own sinful, rebellious, selfish nature and gives us the new nature as children of God. He breaks the power of temptation and frees us from desires and habits that destroy our health and harm our souls. In Jesus, we find safety from the attacks of Satan. We still have battles, but Jesus gives us victory: "But now that you have been set free from sin…" (Romans 6:22)
2 Corinthians 5:17
The Effects of Sin
You hear different preachers say it. We say it. "Jesus sets us free from the effects of sin!" What do we mean when we say that? What, exactly, are sin's "effects"?
- Loss of Grace...
...on the individual level resulting in dehumanization as seen in sexism, racism, materialism, and an assortment of other "ism's", all of which contribute to humanity's moral and physical decline.
The effects of sin are recorded early in Genesis, chapter 3, where we're informed that the result of sin in Eve's case is sexism and difficulty in child birth. Yes. Sexism. Contrary to the claims of our opponents that sexism is a result of religious teaching, the Bible teaches that sexism is a result of sin in fact, the first sin. Prior to sin, there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that Adam was to rule over Eve. Together they exercised dominion over all creation. "And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" (Genesis 1:28 emphasis added) It was only after sin entered into the relationship that God put the woman under the authority of the man: "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Genesis 3:16)
God's Word tells us that the immoral desire for men to dominate women is also a result of sin, not a part of God's plan. Under the present circumstances wherein sin has taken up residence in the structures of the world, men continue with the monstrous drive to dominate not only one another, but even the one who is their created equal.
Obviously, there is nothing inherently wrong with domination or dominion if it's done within the framework of God's grace for instance, human dominion and stewardship over creation, each of us submitting to one another, etc. After sin, however, the quest for domination looks more like an unruly monster of selfishness and contempt than the grace God intended.
Beginning with Cain killing his brother because of petty jealously, we've been killing each other ever since. It's one of the effects of sin. We're created with the God-given pulse to rule, as in ruling over God's creation. Sin warps that pulse by ripping it from God's grip.
- Environmental Chaos
Without humans exercising effective stewardship over the earth as God instructed our first parents, the earth is in captivity to futility. Creation simply cannot cooperate with broken, sinful humans.
But it gets worse. God cursed the ground because of man's sin. "...cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life." (Genesis 3:17) The environmental chaos of today was unimaginable in Eden, but it now defines our everyday reality. From killer earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis and hurricanes to sickness, accidents, disease and death they all manifest the effect of our sin.
Arbitrary boundary lines turn former friends and allies into competitors, enemies, and eventually warriors.
As if the other two effects of sin weren't enough, nationalism rears its ugly head in Genesis 11. The demise of authentic humanity continues virtually unchanged from Genesis chapter 4. God's creation reaches its peak in a need to dominate and they decide to build a tower. Why? Consumed with pride in their own presumed greatness, the text tells us the people wanted to "make a name" for themselves (see Genesis 11:4). What arrogance! They weren't concerned about the creation or fulfilling their God-given responsibility. They wanted nothing more than to construct a tall building so everyone would know how important they were.
But God knew, that unless He intervened, humanity would continue its downward spiral. So God dispersed them and gave them different languages in order to reverse the trend. And what did the little groups of sin-filled humans bent on domination do after God separated them? They soon started competing with one another for that illusive great name.
And now . . . 6000 years later . . . we see what graceless humans with power and imagination are capable of doing against one another. Propped up on pedestals of our own making, millions of people were killed in the last century so people would remember the names of Stalin, Hitler, Mao Ze-Dong, Leopold II, etc. But perhaps the worst atrocity committed against other humans for the sake of personal rights and gain is the legalized murder of ± 50 million unborn babies in the "greatest country" in the world.
[Portions of the preceding excerpted from a blog at "Hopeful Living Where Shards of Light Cascade Down" by Ben Overby http://hopefulliving.wordpress.com/]
"What are the effects of sin?" Do we really need to ask...?
The Effects of Salvation
Obviously, we are virtually powerless to escape the environmental effects, conflicts over international disputes, or religious prejudices to which we're all subjected as an effect of mankind's sin. But when we come to Christ and choose to submit once again to God's rightful authority in our lives, then He brings us His peace for body and soul.
And some day, not only will He give us new bodies that won't be subject to disease, but Jesus will also establish His rule on earth and purify the earth from all sin.
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now." (Romans 8:19-22)
And in that day, even nature itself will be freed from violence and destruction. Everything will be restored to the perfection it had before sin entered the world. What a great salvation!
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Meaning of the Name
Whether you use the English name "Jesus", the Aramaic "Yeshua", the Hebrew "Yehoshuah" or "Yoshua", the Greek Ie-sous, or any number of ethnic and cultural variations (e.g., de Jesús, Jesu, Yesus, Jecho, Jessus, Jezus, Josu, etc.), the Person and His completed work remain the same. The meaning of the name "Jesus" is "YHWH/Jehovah/Yahweh will save".
God the Father chose this name for His Son when He became human. He sent an angel to tell Joseph what to name the Baby whom Mary would soon deliver. The name "Jesus" would remind them constantly who Jesus was and why He had been born. He was the Son of God, coming to earth to save us from sin. "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)
The Name of Jesus
So then, the very name of Jesus actually proclaims good news for us. Through Him, YHWH/Jehovah/Yahweh, the Eternal, Self-Existent God of the universe came into this sinful world to save you and to save me! "God will save"! That is the promise that we possess every time we pray to the Father in the name of Jesus . . . when we whisper the name in worship and in prayer . . . when we sing about Jesus the Savior. He is the only Savior the only One whom the Father sent to save us.
Why Wasn't Jesus Named "Immanuel"?
Concerning the coming Messiah, the Prophet Isaiah wrote: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14) And the Apostle Matthew confirms the fulfillment of this prophecy in Matthew 1:22-23. This does not mean, however, that the Messiah’s name would actually be Immanuel.
There are many other names given to Jesus using the phrase "shall be called", in both the Old and New Testaments. This was a common way of saying that people would refer to Him in these various ways. Isaiah also prophesied of the Messiah: "...his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) Obviously, none of these titles was Jesus' actual name, but they were descriptions people would use to refer to Him. In chapter 1 of the Gospel by his name, the Greek physician Luke records three different names or designations for Jesus: "He will be . . . called the Son of the Most High" (v. 32), "the Son of God" (v. 35), and "prophet of the Most High" (v. 76). However, none of these was His actual name.
In two different places, the prophet Jeremiah writes about the coming Messiah: "And this is His name by which He shall be called, JEHOVAH, OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16 MKJV)
Of course, we know that Jesus was never actually called "Jehovah" as though it was His name. Rather, His role was to bring the righteousness of YHWH/Jehovah/Yahweh to those who would believe in Him and to exchange that righteousness for our sin. Therefore, this is another one of the many titles or "names" by which we might know Him.
In the same way, to say that Jesus would be called "Immanuel" is God's way of letting us know that the Messiah to come [Jesus] is God, that He would dwell among us in His incarnation, and that He is always with us. Jesus was God in the flesh. Jesus was God making His dwelling among us.
No, Jesus' name was not Immanuel, but Jesus the Person who dwelt among us was the meaning of Immanuel: "God with us". Immanuel is one of the many titles for Jesus, a description of who He is.
[Portions of the preceding excerpted from "Why wasn't Jesus named Immanuel?" at Got Questions?.org]
Does It Matter How We Pronounce His Name?
There are some groups today that say we must pronounce the name of Jesus in a certain way or we are sinning. Some say Jesus' name must be pronounced according to the original Greek [in which the New Testament was written], while others say it must be pronounced as "Yeshua", which really is not Hebrew but Aramaic. Some even go so far as to say that the name "Jesus" is of pagan origin, deriving from the Greek god "Zeus". They say the name "Jesus" really means "hail Zeus".
Is there a definitive answer as to what the Messiah's real name is? Yes, and it is found right there in your New Testament.
As you have previously learned, the New Testament was written in Greek. If there were ever any original Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament, they don't exist today. We only have Greek manuscripts from that period of time. Since we only have the Greek manuscripts, it is from them that we need to investigate what the Apostles wrote about Jesus. In other words, we begin our investigation based on what we do have, not what we don't have.
But before we look at the word "Jesus" itself, let's ask this question: Is the pronunciation of a word the foundation or rule by which we determine if one is Christian or not? Of course not. It is the receiving of Jesus as Lord and Savior that makes us a Christian. We are saved by faith in Christ's work on Calvary, which can neither be undone nor made more valuable or precious by how we pronounce the name of our Savior.
In fact, to insist on a particular pronunciation, as if there is some mystical power in it, rather relegates its use to a form of idolatry. We are not to worship or venerate anything except the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as we don't worship the cross or the blood as somehow having some superior spiritual power, neither do we worship the name. We worship the Man!
The "God Who Died by Execution"
There's a story about the wicked Communist leader, Pol Pot in Cambodia, who sent his troops out to execute anyone rich, educated, or Christian. The soldiers went into the jungles executing people by the thousands. They came to one village where they rounded up everyone at gun point. The soldiers dug a wide and deep pit in the middle of the village, and then ordered everyone, including the children to stand at the edge of the pit.
Then a soldier took his hand gun, walked behind them, and started shooting them one at a time in the back of the head; and they would fall into the pit.
After shooting several people, as the soldier came to one woman and placed his gun on the back of her head, the little lady shouted aloud, "OH GOD! THE GOD WHO DIED BY EXECUTION! SAVE ME!" Suddenly, the soldier lifted his gun off her head, put his gun in his holster, ordered all the other soldiers back into their vehicles, and off they drove, never to be seen by those villagers again!
Those left standing at the pit, who knew they would have been killed next, just stood there in silence looking at the little lady who had just called on "the God who died by execution". She had never heard the name "Jesus". She only heard, one time in her life, that somewhere there was a God, who was the real and true God . . . and He died by execution...
Those villagers, who had served thousands of gods and knew nothing of Jesus, except what that little lady had shared, then got down on their knees and each and every one called on "the God who died by execution". After they got back up, they gathered up all of their gods and destroyed them.
Their testimony became well-known as those who "serve the God who died by execution". They still did not know His name or anything else about Him. All they knew about Him was "the God who died by execution" had saved all of them from certain execution!
It would be 14 more years before a missionary would visit their little village and tell them the name of the God in whom they had already placed all their trust!
[Taken from a story told by Pastor Jentezen Franklin of Free Chapel Church, in Gainesville, Georgia. View the video on YouTube.]
So, the question again is: Do we become Christians by how we pronounce Jesus' name, or do we become Christians by putting our faith in "the God who died by execution"?
The truth is, as linguists will tell us, no one really knows exactly how Jesus' name would have been pronounced in the ancient Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic languages. We might have a pretty good idea, but no one can be 100% certain of the correct pronunciation of any of the forms of the name of Jesus. Therefore, those who say we must pronounce Christ's name in a certain way, in fact, may themselves be mispronouncing His true name.
Don't get caught up in "name calling" or anything else intended to cause division among God's people. Instead, get caught up and passionate about the Man whom we call Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer, Healer, Provider, Sanctifier, Justifier, Shepherd, "God with us" Immanuel, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God and Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the One who was and who is and who is to come, the One who died but behold is alive forevermore, "the God who died by execution"...!
Power in the Name
We have all been taught that there is power in the name of Jesus! And certainly, that is true . . . to a point. But again, we must be careful not to assign some mystical power to the name itself. It is not the name that saves, but the Savior to whom the name points. When Peter said "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12), he prefaced it with "there is salvation in no one else." And he was answering the question put to him by the High Priest, "By what power, or by what name have you done this?" (v. 7); so he responded in kind with the same words so there would be no misunderstanding. Peter was making the point that the Jesus whom they had murdered was alive and working in men's lives today.
We must be careful not to separate the name from the Man! In fact, when some Jewish exorcists invoked the name of Jesus over a man with a demon, "the evil spirit answered them, 'Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?' And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." (Acts 19:15-16)
This is why, as we learned in "Studying the Bible", we must not take Scripture out-of-context. It is too easy to build a false theology. We must always view Scripture in its context to be sure we are receiving what the Spirit of the Lord intended when He gave us His Word.
Peter and John healed a crippled man in Jesus' name as Peter explained in Acts 3:16
Notice, after Peter says that the man's healing was by faith in the name of Jesus, he stated that it was "through Jesus".
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The Lamb of God
The title "Lamb of God", which John the Baptist used when he first introduced Jesus in front of a crowd of people (see John 1:29), refers specifically to Jesus' earthly mission to be the Savior of the world.
Did the people understand what John meant? Well, under the Levitical Law given to Moses, they had been sacrificing lambs for man's sins for several thousand years. The person who had sinned would confess his guilt before God and ask Him to accept the death of the lamb in his place. So they were familiar with the Law, the sacrificial system under which they lived, and the fact that God was one day going to send the Messiah to them.
But did they understand that the Messiah would die for them? They should have. Or at least, the religious leaders should have. But the Gospel records make it clear that they did not have that understanding. Even Jesus' own disciples, whom He told plainly that He had to die, didn't seem to grasp what He was saying.
"He was teaching his disciples, saying to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.' But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him." (Mark 9:31-32)
"'For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.' But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said." (Luke 18:32-34)
As such, we must not assume that the people who heard Jesus introduced as the "Lamb of God" understood John's point either.
But that doesn't change the fact that the Savior had come into the world to seek and to save those who were lost all of us.
Prophecy about the Savior
Through the prophet Isaiah, God told us how the Messiah would become the ultimate, everlasting sacrifice for our sins. He would be arrested and falsely accused but would not defend Himself. He would be mercilessly whipped, and then put to death like a criminal with other criminals. He would take on Himself all the guilt for all of our sins, so that even His Father would have to turn away from Him. He would die in our place, as our substitute, and He would be buried in a borrowed grave from a rich religious leader. Later He would come back to life, see the results of His sacrifice, and be satisfied. All this happened to Jesus exactly as Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 53
3 He was hated and rejected; his life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering. No one wanted to look at him. We despised him and said, "He is a nobody!"
4 He suffered and endured great pain for us, but we thought his suffering was punishment from God.
5 He was wounded and crushed because of our sins; by taking our punishment, he made us completely well.
6 All of us were like sheep that had wandered off. We had each gone our own way, but the LORD gave him the punishment we deserved.
7 He was painfully abused, but he did not complain. He was silent like a lamb being led to the butcher, as quiet as a sheep having its wool cut off.
8 He was condemned to death without a fair trial. Who could have imagined what would happen to him? His life was taken away because of the sinful things my people had done.
9 He wasn't dishonest or violent, but he was buried in a tomb of cruel and rich people.
10 The LORD decided his servant would suffer as a sacrifice to take away the sin and guilt of others. Now the servant will live to see his own descendants. He did everything the LORD had planned.
11 By suffering, the servant will learn the true meaning of obeying the LORD. Although he is innocent, he will take the punishment for the sins of others, so that many of them will no longer be guilty.
12 The LORD will reward him with honor and power for sacrificing his life. Others thought he was a sinner, but he suffered for our sins and asked God to forgive us. (Isaiah 53:3-12 CEV)
They Crucified Him
All four Gospels tell us how Jesus died for our sins. The religious leaders did not want to accept Him as the Messiah. They were jealous of Him because He was manifesting a God they did not know or want to know, and He was exposing their hypocrisy. As He grew in popularity, their disdain of Him intensified so that they determined to kill Him.
If they had known Jesus was truly the Messiah and that His mission was to die for mankind, they probably would not have plotted to kill Him. They hated Him so much that they would have done anything possible to thwart His plans. "None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Corinthians 2:8)
But they were mere pawns in the hands of a sovereign God who sent the Messiah to us to die for our sins.
"At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, 'Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.'" (Matthew 26:55-56)
"Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, 'Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.'" (Luke 22:52-53)
Even Judas, who betrayed Jesus, was doing the Lord's work and fulfilling prophecy: "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me." (Psalm 41:9) "[Jesus prayed...] 'While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those that You have given Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.'" (John 17:12)
They accused Him to the governor and hired witnesses to tell lies about Him at His trial. Pilate, the Roman governor, tried to appease the religious leaders by having Jesus scourged2 even though he knew Jesus was not guilty. But he cowardly gave in to the demands of the religious leaders to have Jesus crucified in order to avoid a riot.
Jesus was crucified. This was the punishment for the worst criminals. He hung between two thieves on a hill called Calvary. And there the Lamb of God spilled His life's blood and died the perfect sacrifice for our sins. "And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' And they cast lots to divide his garments." (Luke 23:33-34)
Attitudes toward the Lamb
Some on that dark day looked at Jesus with hatred, made fun of Him, spat on Him, and resented Him. Others seemed unusually indifferent or saw their hopes being dashed before their eyes. Some even gambled for His clothes while He was dying. Some . . . not many, but some . . . looked at Jesus with faith, hope, and love.
Three crosses [or execution stakes] stood there on the hill; three men died that day on Golgotha.
Really, in the attitudes of the people at Calvary, we can even see an accurate picture of the whole world's attitudes toward Jesus Christ today. And in the attitudes and responses of those two criminals, we may find a key to our own attitudes: "One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, 'Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!' But the other rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' And he said to him, 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'" (Luke 23:39-43)
The three images speak to us of:
On the cross of rebellion hung a man dying in his sins. He had wasted his life in doing wrong. Life had made him bitter and hard. Now he faced death a final defeat. If he had only believed, there was help right by his side. He was in the very presence of God. But the rebellion in his heart blinded him to spiritual truth. Within reach of the Savior he died in bitter agony of spirit full of hatred, resentment, and hopelessness.
Jesus died for our sins on the center cross in order to redeem us. Satan had deceived us, kidnapped us, and made us his slaves. The price for our ransom was the death of the Son of God. He redeemed us bought us back for Himself from Satan's power when He died in our place. 1 Peter 1:19
On the third cross a sinner died to his sins, was freed from them forever, simply by trusting in Jesus. This man was willing to face himself and the truth of who he really was; He confessed his wrong, and he recognized Jesus as the Savior, the Messiah.
Jesus was dying suffering the same fate as he was but the repentant thief believed He would rule the world some day. So he asked the Savior to remember him [have mercy on him, forgive him] when He came as King. What faith! One of the last things Jesus did before He died was to forgive the sins of the dying thief and give him eternal life.
Every person decides his own eternal destiny by what he decides and does with the Savior. Both thieves had the same opportunity. One clung to his rebellion and hatred, mocking the only One who could save him; the other went to Paradise. These men are a picture of us all. One was rebellious and lost; the other repented, confessed His need to Jesus, and was saved.
1 Peter 2:24-25
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The Blood of Christ
In the Western Church, we have many songs about the blood of Christ ["There Is Power in the Blood", "Are You Washed in the Blood", "A Fount Filled with Blood", "Nothing but the Blood", to name a few]. These songs are fine in their proper context of recognizing the result of Christ's blood as it pertains to His sacrificial death. However, there is no Scriptural evidence of the blood, or representations of it, having any real power or authority. The power is in God, not in the blood.
You may not agree with what we present here; and if you can provide corrections from God's Word, we will accept your correction. However, as we stated previously, we are not here to assent to our own opinions, church traditions, or previous errant teachings. We must seek at all times to align ourselves with God's Word, even if it feels uncomfortable or goes against what we've learned before. God's Word is the only authority and standard by which all truth is measured.
Too Much Importance on the Blood?
As with other religious objects and symbols, there are some who assign more importance to the blood of Christ than it deserves. Some tend to ascribe a magical or mystical significance to the blood, and even to Adam's blood, that is not supported in Scripture. For instance:
- the physical life is in the blood; the blood is not alive and is not the carrier of spiritual life;
- Jesus' blood was the same as that of every other human born to human parents;
- the blood was not taken to Heaven and put in a 'blood bank' where it's literally transfused to every believer;
- the material blood of Christ spilled onto the ground and is not preserved in a container anywhere on earth;
- the blood of Adam is not what imputes sin to us [see "Who Is Jesus: Son of Man" for a discussion about our inherited sin nature];
- the bread and juice during Communion do not become the actual body and blood of Christ; and
- apart from the emotional effects on the believer, there is no power or authority in "the blood name", "pleading the blood", or "sprinkling the blood".
In practicing some of these errant teachings, we have, in effect, made an idol of the blood of Christ. As is the case with which name we use for Jesus [as we discussed earlier], we must be careful not to spiritualize or form emotional or superstitious beliefs that Scripture does not support. When we do, we draw dangerously close to making an idol of that which really has little or no spiritual benefit.
The Biblical Importance of Jesus' Blood
The Old Testament sacrificial system only provided a covering for sin, whereas the sacrifice of the Lamb of God removed our sin from us. "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29 emphasis added)
While it's true that the actual shedding of blood was a necessary part of what God accomplished through Jesus' death, our attention must remain on Christ's death, not the blood. If Jesus had bled but not died, or if He had died but not bled, we would not have been redeemed.
A quick review of terms in the Old Testament reminds us that in Scripture the "shedding of blood" usually refers to a violent death (see Leviticus 17:4; 1 Samuel 25:31,33; 1 Chronicles 28:3; Psalm 51:14; Proverbs 1:16; Ezekiel 16:38; 22:6, 9,12, 27, 37; 23:45; 33:25).
Under the Levitical sacrificial system, the animals were violently sacrificed (throat cut), just as our Lord suffered a violent sacrificial death. Under the Old Testament system, forgiveness was not obtained on the basis of bleeding or merely on the basis of death. Forgiveness was granted because of the shed blood and death.
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:14 KJV)
"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." (Romans 3:25 KJV)
This is why He could not let the religious leaders kill Him when they were offended at His sayings and wanted to stone Him (cf. John 8:59; 10:31). His death by stoning would not have effected our redemption. It was the two the blood and the violent death working in concert with one another that purchased our redemption.
Jesus Did Not Bleed to Death
We must also remember that Jesus did not die by bleeding. He did not bleed to death; He suffocated. But to be even more accurate, Scripture tells us that He did not die by execution at the hands of the Romans or the hatred and impulses of the religious leaders. No one took His life; He gave it for us.
"For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." (John 10:17-18)
"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (John 19:30 emphasis added)
1 John 3:16
The Most Important Feature of Christ's Death
Although His death was brutal beyond words [skin torn off His body by scourging, 3-inch thorns piercing His scalp, His beard ripped out, spikes driven into the most sensitive area of His wrists guaranteed to cause the most pain...], the end result was His physical death and was no different than that of Adam and every other human who's ever lived. He died.
What made Jesus' death more important to those of us who have received Him as Lord and Savior is that He experienced spiritual death. "And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" (Mark 15:34) In that moment when the Father's heart was breaking as He was forced to turn away from His Son, when all of our sin was placed on Him, Jesus suffered the most unimaginable emotional and spiritual pain that far outweighed the physical pain He was enduring! He had never been separated from His Father. For all of eternity past, they had been One together, gloriously delighting and rejoicing in each other, head-over-heels in love with each other. And now, the Son was plunged into spiritual darkness to a depth that probably exceeded even His imagination, left to die alone . . . abandoned . . . forsaken...
We can't know the severity of that pain. We have never lived in a world where the Spirit of God is not present. And we have never lived in a world where God's total majesty and brilliance consume our every minute, our very existence being caught up with and an actual part of Him. We weren't with the Father when He spoke the world into existence, when He created the stars and planets and moons, when He brought light out of darkness, when He caused the great flood or parted the Red Sea or caused the sun to stand still. We don't know the depth of their love for each other, so we cannot know the depth of their pain that day.
Can we ever be worthy of a love so abundant that it compelled God to endure such dreadful suffering in order to bring us back to Him? What love! What a great and extravagantly-loving God we serve!
When the Bible says He became the "firstborn from the dead", it's not just talking about physically, but as our Sin-bearer who died spiritually, He also became the "firstborn" spiritually.
"For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Romans 8:29)
"And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." (Colossians 1:18)
What the Blood Accomplished for Us
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- Jesus' Death Was the Sacrifice for Our Sins
"But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)
"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit." (1 Peter 3:18)
(See also Ephesians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Peter 2:21-24.)
- Jesus' Blood Redeems Us from Sin
"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood." (Acts 20:28)
"...knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." (1 Peter 1:18-19)
"And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.'" (Revelation 5:9-10)
1 Timothy 2:6
(See also 1 Timothy 2:38, 41, 47; Ephesians 5:25.)
- Jesus' Blood Gives Forgiveness and Remission of Sin
"...for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:28)
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7)
1 John 1:7
(See also Hebrews 9:22, 25-28.)
- Jesus' Blood Gives Us Peace and Reconciliation with God
"Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." (Romans 5:9-10)
"And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him" (Colossians 1:20-22)
(See also Ephesians 2:12-16; Hebrews 5:8-9.)
- Jesus' Blood Justifies Us
"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God." (Romans 5:6, 8-9)
- Jesus' Blood Sanctifies Us
"...then he added, 'Behold, I have come to do your will.' He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:9-10)
"For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 'This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,' then he adds, 'I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.' Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin." (Hebrews 10:14-18)
- Jesus' Blood Defeated Satan
"We are people of flesh and blood. That is why Jesus became one of us. He died to destroy the devil, who had power over death. But he also died to rescue all of us who live each day in fear of dying." (Hebrews 2:14-15 CEV)
The Doctrine of Imputation of Christ's Life
Some religions teach that the sinless, perfect life of Jesus is imputed to the believer so that God does not see the Christian's sins; He sees only the perfect obedience and righteousness of Jesus.
This false doctrine of imputation of Christ's life to us basically says:
"The 'just requirement' of the law is the law's demand for a perfect life which man was unable to accomplish because of fleshly weakness. Without doing any violence to the text whatever we could paraphrase Paul in this way: 'You have proven that because of your fleshly weakness you cannot meet God's demand for perfection: therefore, stand aside and let Christ meet this demand for you.' ...Therefore, we can say that the perfect obedience of Christ is imputed to us because the law is fulfilled in us!"
R.L. Kilpatrick in Ensign Fair, quoted with approval by Arnold Hardin in Persuader, 5/28/78, via Neo-Calvinism)
"...faith in Him [Christ] brings to the sinner's account the merits of his perfect obedience (satisfaction of law) and death (satisfaction of penalty for the broken law)."
Arnold Hardin, Persuader, 5/3/77; via Willis, Truth Magazine, 2/9/78
Hence, this false doctrine claims that sinners need two things to receive eternal life: (1) forgiveness of sins, plus (2) a record of having kept God's law without ever having sinned. Christ, we are told, is our substitute on both counts. He died in our place so we could be forgiven and He lived a sinless life in our place. They say we are saved by His doing and His dying.
While it was necessary for Jesus to live a sinless life in order to take away the sins of the world, there is no Scriptural foundation for His life being a substitute for our lives. It is His death that atones for our sins, not His life.
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Is Everyone Saved through Jesus' Sacrifice?
We refer to Jesus Christ as the "Savior of the world". Does that mean that the whole world will be saved? Universalists claim that Jesus will redeem all people, whether they accept or reject Him as Savior. They say that all people will one day repent whether in this life or the after-life and come to a saving relationship with the Savior. The verse they use for this false and dangerous doctrine is 1 Timothy 4:10, which says:
- ESV "For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."
- NIV "(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe"
- KJV "For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe"
- CEV "We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, but especially of those who have faith. That's why we work and struggle so hard."
However, as much as we all would like to believe that everyone will be saved and no one will be lost, that verse does not prove what the Universalists hope it does. So the question becomes: Can Jesus Christ be called the "Savior of the world" and yet not redeem all?
Yes. All people are, by nature, born under wrath (cf. Ephesians 2:3) and deserve to die. The reason is simple. Because God is holy and we are sinners. As we've already discussed in this lesson, in fact, our sins against a holy, infinite God deserve an infinite punishment.
By the infinite graces of our infinite God, however, believers are saved by faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God," (Ephesians 2:8) What a wonderful promise and hope we have in Christ! But as beautiful and reassuring as that promise is, Jesus also told Nicodemus quite clearly: "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:18)
Did Jesus lie to Nicodemus? Of course not! Well then, why not just destroy the unbelievers? Perhaps the best explanation comes directly from our Savior's mouth in His parable about the wheat and the tares [weeds]:
"He put another parable before them, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, "Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?" He said to them, "An enemy has done this." So the servants said to him, "Then do you want us to go and gather them?" But he said, "No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn."'" (Matthew 13:24-30)
In the interpretation He gives later, He compares the good seed with those who are being saved. However, for the sake of the wheat [believers], the master of the field doesn't deal with the tares right away. He allows both to grow together until the harvest.
So, you could say that the tares were saved from judgment, at least temporarily. But the fact remains that they were eventually dealt with, and rather severely bound in bundles and burned.
All Are Made Redeemable
In calling Jesus the "Savior of the world", we are confirming that His sacrificial death made all people everywhere redeemable, capable of being converted. Without His sacrifice, no one could be saved. While all people are now redeemable due to the sacrifice of Christ, redemption is exclusively for those who put their trust in Him now . . . in this life.
"...it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment." (Hebrews 9:27)
It does not say, "after this comes another opportunity."
What about 1 Timothy 4:10?
So, what do we do with this verse? "For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe." (1 Timothy 4:10)
First, it's important to notice that the verse says "living God", not "Jesus" or "Christ". Yes, as we have previously established, Jesus is God in the flesh. But "God", in a rather generic sense, is also referred to as "Savior" in Scripture.
"...I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior." (Hosea 13:4)
"...at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior." (Titus 1:3)
(See also 2 Samuel 22:3; Isaiah 43:3; 45:21; Acts 5:31; 13:23; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; 2:10, 13; 3:4; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1:25.)
So, God is seen as the "Savior of all people" in that He has made salvation available to everyone. But not everyone has accepted it. Therefore, 1 Timothy 4:10 does not convey the assurance that all will be saved.
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1Nirvana n. (Hinduism and Buddhism) the beatitude of perfect bliss attained by the extinction of individuality.
2Scourging v. The Jewish method of scourging, as described in the Mishna [Judaism oral Torah], was by the use of three thongs of leather with nails, bones, pieces of pottery and thorns tied to them. Its purpose was to tear or rip the skin and to bring unimaginable pain. The offender would receive thirteen stripes on the bare breast and thirteen on each shoulder, the "forty stripes save one". Often the person being whipped would die.