When dealing with the cross, our minds usually focus on the sufferings. This is right, as we need to try to understand to some extent what His love for the Father, and for you and me, cost Him. However, I want to consider here what momentous accomplishments were made. First, He took our place! He substituted for us, took our punishment! We, who know Him as Savior and Lord, are declared legally not guilty! We go free! Nevertheless, He suffered beyond the power of human vocabulary to express. He did it so that we wouldn't have to suffer in hell. As if all this wasn't enough, God placed us, positionally, in Jesus on that cross. When He was nailed there, we, in Him, were nailed there! When He died, we died! When He was buried, so were we! When He arose in a glorious burst of resurrection life, we arose, in Him, to walk (live) in the newness of His Life within us! Our sin and sins were placed on Him and His perfection and righteousness were credited to us. What an exchange! What happened to the sum total of all our sins? "As far as the east is from the west (never the twain shall meet), so far hath He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12) "Alive in Him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine.." (Charles Wesley). Now, wonder of wonders, that amazing truth, so well stated by Major Ian Thomas. "God wants to use our humanity to express His Deity!" We in Him, He in us, what Grace! Selah! Live in the blessed consciousness of His Presence in us. We are His sanctuaries! That is a Holy privilege and solemn responsibility. Ron
"He shall see the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied; by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities." (Isaiah 53:11)
It was a miracle, a special creation of God, an absolute necessity. I speak of Jesus' Virgin Birth. When Adam and Eve sinned, the entire human race inherited a sinful nature. This infection is passed down to us through our bloodstream. "For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof…." (From Leviticus 17:14) God, by the agency of the Holy Spirit, created a body in Mary's womb. It was untouched by the parent's blood. (For an excellent treatment of this by Dr. M. R. Dehaan, an M.D., read his book, "The Chemistry of the Blood" – a classic). Because he was virgin born, His sinlessness was not changed. He was, He is, and He continues to be perfect. One particle of inherited sin would have rendered Him unable to atone for us. How wonderfully God has planned and provided for our salvation! What a great and wise God! Let's sum up what we've dealt with over the last few days: Adam and Eve sinned, rebelled, and the race became infected with a sinful nature. Sin is horrible beyond the ability of words to describe. God cannot and will not compromise with sin. It must be judged and the penalty for it, paid. God's Son (Who is Himself, God) was sinless and infinite and paid our sin-debt in full. Our sins and our corruption were nailed to the cross and, for all who receive Him as Savior and Lord, God credits them with the perfection of Christ. What an exchange! Selah! God had all this provision ready to be made before He tested our first ancestors. What a great God He is! Ron
"Therefore, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His Name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)
The New Testament clearly teaches, affirms, and demonstrates, that Jesus is God. Now, I am not going to cover that ground here. You can read it for yourself with an open heart and you will be satisfied as to it's truth. I can recommend good books on the subject. What I am going to do, first of all, is to mention a very valid argument. Either Jesus was a deceiver, or deluded, or Who He says He was! In the case of the first two points, He would not be suitable to follow and the human condition would be forever beyond hope. In regard to the third point: He is God, therefore deserving our surrender to and allegiance to His rightful rule in our lives. Secondly, my focus in this article is this: No one else could have made atonement for our sins! Why? Because , no one but Jesus is perfect. Only because He is God can He be perfect. However, even if He were a perfect human, He could only atone for and take the place of one sinner. Since He is God, He is infinite and, therefore, made an infinite substitution and atonement. There is a further consideration. We have no acceptable righteousness. We are Spiritually bankrupt! Because He is infinitely righteous and perfect, He can and did provide in His death a perfect righteousness for all mankind. (It is provided but only benefits those who receive His gift of salvation). Selah! Our sin, sins, and self-righteousnesses were nailed to the cross and paid for, in full! For those who receive Him, God credits them with Christ's perfection and righteousnes. Just think of that! Can you see why His being God is our only hope? Ron
"For He hath made Him, Who knew no sin, to be sin ( i.e; a sin-offering [an atonement]) for us, that we might be made (i.e; credited with) the righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:21)
Calvary was the price God had to pay to provide a payment sufficient to meet our deepest need. How glibly or casually many have reminded us of this. If we had a son that we loved and we had to give him up to die to save someone, how would we feel about that? (We probably wouldn't do it). Suppose, however, that we did. How would we stand it? That would hurt beyond our ability to cope. Keep in mind that our love is only human love. Our love is but a very dim reflection of God's infinite love for His Son. Can we have even the slightest hint of how God hurt? Have you considered how much that He loved us to make such a sacrifice? Can you imagine how His Almighty heart grieved over His Son bearing our sins in His Own Body on the cross? Can you even begin to grasp the extent of His heartbreak when He had to turn His back on His Only son? He did all of this, not for someone good, not for someone noble, not for a friend, but for His enemies. Us! Astonishing! How have we responded to that overwhelming outpouring of His great love? If we are unsaved, are we going to receive His Son as our Lord and Savior. Have we expressed our gratitude? If we know Him, have we given our all to Him? This is the only logical response to that depth of love! How can anyone resist love like that and then appear before God and try to excuse their rejection? Selah! Meditate on the magnitude of His love. It can bring great change to your life. Ron
"But God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
The cost of sin is beyond human calculation. Everything that is wrong in the world is because of sin. The first humans were cut off from God because of sin. Every person since Adam and Eve has been infected with sin. We, too, are born "cut off." The physical creation has been damaged by sin. Sin blinds people's minds to their desperate need of salvation. Being a nice person in many ways, trying to do nice things, attempting to not do certain wrong things only further blinds us. It clouds our thinking so that we don't see the "full picture" of the sin and sins of which we are guilty. Only when His Light shines in our hearts can we begin to understand how exeedingly horrible sin is, how corrupt we really are, and how we have sinned against and severely offended a Holy God. Only when we begin to recognize our hopeless and helpless condition and our ultimate fate do we see our urgent need of Divine rescue. Sin also robs us of the blessings which a loving God desires to bestow on us. Until we see our need and own our guilt, we are never more than one heartbeat away from living forever in hell. There is no guarantee that we will be granted even one more breath! People need to prepare to meet their God (See Amos 4:12). Selah! Think deeply about what a world with no sin would be like and you will see more clearly, in some measure, the costs of sin. Ron
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one ." (Romans 3:10-12)
Let me add some more thoughts on yesterday's article. Sin leaves us with a depraved nature. No matter how much we do and are that's admirable, our nature is still self-centered. The only One that can furnish us with the power to make a fundamental change is God. Reformation is only surface change, regeneration is the means of internal change. Sin is rebellion against God. It is idolatry. Self, what I am and what I want, is what drives me. Without Divine intervention, I bow to the demands of self. Sin is treason against our Creator. Sin's corruption is progressive and intensifying. The more we sin, the more we want to. It destroys and degrades us. It is blinding. It is hurtful to others, directly and indirectly. It is rejection of God's standards. It is expressed in pride and egotism. I'll do things my way. I will have recognition. I will control my life. It is despising the love of God. It is maintaining a perverted love of self. Others are there for our use. It manifests itself in the countless ways in which men live out their lives. Vices, immorality, cruelty, hatred, resentment, unforgiveness, crime, wars, various other forms of perversion, greed, lust, jealousy, etc. are only a few of the symptoms. Sin leads ultimately to hell. Selah! As horrible as it is to think on eternal fire and unsaved people being there forever, think how horrible to be forever where there is only evil and not a speck of righteousness anywhere. Ron
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
(Who can discern the full extent and impact of sin, who can even begin to grasp the magnitude of wickedness)? There is a Savior for "Whosoever will!"
Sin is almost always underestimated, even by Christians. My next statement may seem radical, until a person stops to really think about it. Most would say that stealing a penny is wrong but minor compared to, let us say, stealing a car or even murder. In one sense that would be true. As far as the effect on the victim is concerned, certainly some sins are worse than others. However, stealing is sin regardless of the value of what is stolen! Stealing one penny could not be simply excused by God as of no great consequence. That sin of stealing, even just a penny, would have required Jesus' death on the cross. Sin's penalty must be met. Otherwise, God's absolute holiness is compromised. God cannot allow any sin to go unpunished and He still be Holy. Stealing, or any other sin that we commit, or any righteous thing that we fail to do, are only the result of something even more horrible: "Sin" in our nature, in our innermost self, is the root of all wrong. Sins that we commit are the fruit of our corrupted nature. God cannot and will not tolerate sin, in any form. He cannot and will not allow it to enter Heaven. It must be paid for. Jesus paid for it all on the cross. In order for it to be credited to us, we need to open our hearts and lives to Him, and receive Him as our personal Savior and Lord. We believe in Him, believe that we are sinners, and believe that He paid our sin-debt by His death on the cross. That kind of trust means that we trust Him to the point of surrendering the control of our lives to Him. From that initial surrender, we learn to (and want to) yield control of our all to Him. Selah! Before God can help us, we must come to grips with our offensiveness to a Holy God and throw ourselves on His mercy and grace and receive His forgiveness and cleansing. Ron (More on this tomorrow, Lord willing).
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, (acknowledge Him as your Lord) and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved, for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness…" (Romans 10:9-10a)
Lucifer, an angel of the highest order, led an egotistical, and doomed to fail, rebellion against God. He was later seen in Eden where he persuaded Eve to disobey God's reasonable and clearly stated command. Her failure led to Adam's defection. (See Genesis 3:1-6). As warned by God that they would die, they did die, spiritually (and would in time die physically). They became cut off; disconnected from the source of Spiritual life, from God Himself! They became infected and corrupted with sin and it became their nature to sin. It was a crime of rebellion and self-will against God, with devastating consequences. The infection was passed on to all their descendants, including us. Some would argue that that isn't fair. Why should we suffer because of our original ancestors' failures? You can dismiss that argument simply because God chose the most qualified people, of all of time, to be the ones to be tested. We would have failed the test, as well, and probably failed it more quickly and more decisively. We have been doing it ever since Eden. We are devoid of Spiritual life until we are born again. It is the new birth that gives us eternal life, God's kind of life, that restores and reconnects us to the life of God.(See Titus 3:5). Sin has severely damaged God's creation: man and his world. What is sin and what can be done about the sin problem? Selah! Sin is far worse than any of us think. It requires a miracle cure, a truly miraculous cure! Ron
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned." (Romans 5:12)
No book in the history of mankind has had the impact that the Bible has had on our world. No book has been attacked and resisted like the Bible has been. No other book has changed lives as has the Bible. As significant as these facts are, there is one consideration above all others. Christianity rises or falls on the issue of the Bible's absolute truths. If it is true and without error, and it is, then true Christianity is the only valid faith to guarantee our eternal destiny will be Heaven. It also shows us how to escape hell. In addition to showing us the way of and need for salvation, it shows us how to live and live abundantly. The Bible was written on three different continents, over a period of about 1600 years, by about 40 (human) authors, from different backgrounds and with many of them living in different lifetimes. These authors were controlled, directed, and inspired by God. He did not do this in a mechanical way. He worked through their personalities and experiences, all the while safeguarding them from error. The result: Its' subject is one coherent, unified, consistent, unfolding, redemptive drama. It answers the most basic questions. Why am I here, where did I come from, and where am I going? It not only gives us these answers but reveals God to us, informs us of His love for us and His grace to us. It explains the origin of sin and evil and shows the victory to come over sin and death. The critics come and go, the Bible, as it said it would, endures forever. Man would not have written the Bible, if he could. He couldn't have written it, if he would. Someone aptly said, "When the Bible speaks, God speaks and when God speaks, He doesn't stutter!" Selah! Don't you think that it would be very wise for us to listen? Ron
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…" (It is God-breathed)! (From II Timothy 3:16)
Note: If you have questions go to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll try to answer them, as time permits, or leave comments at this site.
Beginning tomorrow, Lord willing, I would like to start a series on "Basics of the Bible." I hope to do so in a meaningful and "down-to-earth" way. Do you know what you believe? Perhaps, your answer is: "Yes!" However, do you know why you believe it? Do you know why it is essential to believe certain truths? What difference does it make, if you do or don't believe it? I hope to approach the basic fundamentals from these angles. Please pray for wisdom for me as I try to write on these subjects for several days. Thank you! Ron