Man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of the regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God, according to the hope of eternal life. (Assemblies of God Statement of Fundamental Truths)
Last week we saw how even though humanity was created perfectly in the image of God, that we fell through the voluntary disobedience of one man - Adam. That is the bad news. This week we learn about the good news. God loved us so much that He couldn’t leave us in a fallen state.
Right in Genesis 3.15 God tells Satan that He would one day bruise the heel of the seed of the woman, but that He (Jesus) would bruise the head of the serpent.. God begins planning immediately for the redemption of humanity. And what a plan it was. It started with animal sacrifices. When sin entered the world, so did death. So the only way to atone for sin was with the shedding of blood. These sacrifices, though, were just a shadow of what was to come.
At the perfect time in history, God himself becomes flesh, dwells among us, and takes upon himself the sin of the world. As Jesus dies, death itself begins to work backward. Through Adam sin and death entered the world. Through the Death of Christ salvation and life conquered sin and death.
In this statement of fundamental truth we find four basic elements.
Redemption comes through the shed blood of Jesus Christ
“Without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9.22) From the time when God covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness by killing animals and clothing them in the skins through the sacrifices of the Patriarchs through the sacrifices under the Law until the death of Jesus on the cross the bloodline of salvation runs through the Bible. Sin brings death and only a death can atone for it.
The sacrifices of the Old Testement were all flawed. No matter how perfect the lamb or goat or bullock or dove it was a creature of a flawed creation. It could provide only temporary atonement for sin. What was needed was a perfect sacrifice. But if everything in creation is tainted by Adam’s sin where can we find that perfect sacrifice? The only one who would qualify was someone not of this creation. The only one who would qualify was the creator Himself. So, the creator enters His creation and lives like us, being tempted and tested in the same way we are, but yet resisting all sin with His perfect nature. Then, He, himself, the pure, the innocent, the blameless one voluntarily lays down his life for His creation and is crucified like a common criminal in front of a mocking crowd on a lonely hill where even His own father turns away from him. That which the dove, the bullock, the goat, the paschal lamb could not do, the Lamb of God does. He takes the sins of the world not just for a year, but for all time. Then He, himself, carries the blood of the sacrifice into the throneroom of heaven as both sacrifice and high priest, and as He does so the veil in the temple which separated the people from the Holy and August presence of the Almighty God is ripped from top to bottom.
The final sacrifice has been made. The sin offering has been accepted. The plan is completed. We are offered the great gift of eternal life bought, paid for and ready to be delivered for the asking.
Salvation attained through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ
To fill a glass with water, you must first empty it of whatever else is in the glass. To fill a life with the new life God has for you, you must first empty yourself of your sin. The problem is that if you were able to do this on your own, Jesus would not have need to die for you. So, God has a solution. (He always has one you know). The solution is repentance. Repentance is expressing in words before God that you are indeed a sinner, that you are powerless over your sins, that you ask God to forgive your sins and cleanse you of your sinful nature. In so doing, you enter into a partnership with God to live a life free from sin.
When one with sincerity asks God to forgive them of their sins, God will do so. When we submit ourselves to the Lordship of Christ, then He gives us the power to resist the temptation to sin not in our power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit which He places within us at salvation.
We are justified by grace through faith
Once God forgives our sins, He wipes away all the charges lodged in heaven against us by the accuser of our souls. He makes everything new. It is as if we had never sinned. He makes us righteous in God’s sight. This is called justification. It is a free gift God gives to those who trust in Him. We cannot find this justification or righteousness in our own works. Morality, good deeds, giving to charitable works, or any other human action cannot produce justification. By our own efforts we can never attain the level of perfection that God requires. But when he looks at you through the Blood of Christ applied to our hearts He cannot see our sins, He can only see Christ’s atonement. “Blotting out the handwriting of the ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” Colossians 2.14. When Jesus blood poured out of his body on Calvary it spilled all over the paperwork of our indictment so that the great celestrial judge cannot read it. So, He throws the case out of court.
Man becomes an heir of God, inheriting eternal life
If all God did was to save us from the effects of sin in this life, it would be a great gift. When we look at lives which Satan has destroyed through drunkeness, greed, lust, drugs, jealousy, pride, violence, we know that salvation pays great dividends in this current life. But God has gone further. He has promised us eternal life in heaven. One of my father’s favorite scriptures is “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” (John 14.2) He says, “I’ve lived in cottages and shacks at times here below, but in heaven I have a mansion.”
And even more than that, He promises us that we become heirs and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. Think about it. We who must cry out for mercy for our sins, have in our future a life wherein we share with the glory of Christ. We who have wandered through the wasteland of this world as “strangers and wayfarers” have a home awaiting us that we cannot even imagine.
In the words of the old spiritual:
This world is not my home
I’m just a-passing through
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue
Angels beckon me from Heavens open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.
A. What does Jesus say was required of Him to do?
B. What was the result of this according to this scripture?
A. How did God show his love for us?
B. When did Christ die for us?
Romans 10. 13-15
A. Who will be saved?
B. What is required for them to do this? What does this tell us about our responsibility?
A. By what are we saved and through what?
B. Why does it say here that God chose that salvation not be through works?
Isaiah 53. 4-6
A. For whom was Christ wounded, smitten, bruised, whipped?
B. What sorrows can you think that Jesus carried for you? Tell about some of them.