Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Everlasting Gospel, Part 6

There is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved, Acts 4:12. Faith in Jesus provides redemption for sinful men that no amount of good works or lawful living will ever do, Acts 13:39. Solely by the grace found in Jesus Christ are we saved, Acts 15:11. It is as clear as glass: the gospel is the message of the Coming One who would undo the sinful state of man’s present condition by His victorious death, Romans 5:17-19; 1st Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-49.

By dying for sin and rising again, He has purchased the pardon that mankind has worked so diligently to achieve for centuries. He offers the pardon of sin with the singular stipulation that you come in faith, casting away any hope in your works, moral character, religion, or any other god who makes rival claims. There is life in Christ, and it is eternal life. When we receive Him we partake of that life. In short, He is our sufficiency.

But did the Old Testament reveal this with any degree of clarity? Paul believed so. Paul wrote to Timothy, “that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures (the Old Testament), which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” 2nd Timothy 3:15. Likewise, when Paul brought the gospel into Berea the Jews of the city compared his message of faith in Christ with the Old Testament scriptures, to see whether these things were so, Acts 17:10-11. The New Testament was the revelation of all that had been anticipated in the Old. Whereas the Old Testament was like a puzzle missing a few pieces, the New Testament provided what God withheld for a brief time, Hebrews 11:39-40; Colossians 1:26-27. The gospel in Corinthians is “according to the scriptures,” 1st Corinthians 15:3-4. What scriptures? The Old Testament, of course; the New Testament by and large had not been penned yet, although Paul attests that the truth of the Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection were found within the Law and Prophets.

The Tabernacle was no longer needed; sacrifice could be put away with Christ’s perfect offering. This was why the Old Testament saints awaited Christ in Hades, being unable to enter Heaven and the presence of the Father yet, see Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 27:51-53. Their sins were atoned for, or covered, but not paid for and put away. When Jesus died the veil was rent, and direct access to God and Heaven was available to anyone who died in Christ from that point onward, Philippians 1:23. Paul writes, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord,” 2nd Corinthians 5:8. While the old covenant reigned and the Tabernacle stood, the veil prevented the priests from entering from the holy place to the Most Holy. Sinful man was still awaiting unhindered access to his God and Creator. Jesus removed the veil and entered in to minister for us always; and anyone who has Christ may freely enter in after Him as He is our forerunner and Advocate.

It was the value of Christ’s person and sacrifice to God that makes the gospel efficacious to men. Our sins have been paid for by Christ, and the merit of His blood has made us clean enough to enter God’s presence again, Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51:7. Furthermore, He ever lives now to receive sinners, cleanse them, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, work in them the ability to live and serve God in an acceptable manner, Titus 1:15; 2:14; Ephesians 2:10.

In one of Peter’s first great sermons to the Jews he said, “Repent, ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ (the Second Coming), which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began,” Acts 3:19-22. Christ has come once in meekness; He will come again in holy power and majesty. His return will herald the restitution of all things—the restoration of the earth and the universe back into the orderly state it existed in prior to the Fall of man.

Those who have believed on Him for eternal life shall reign with Him; those who reject the gospel and choose to become His enemies will endure the blackness of darkness for eternity, since their sin was not covered by the blood of Christ: the only acceptable covering. Peter counseled and encouraged his fellow Jews to repent (change their mind) about Jesus Christ, to change their flawed views and thoughts regarding Him. During this era of grace, Christ suffers the creatures made in His image to spite Him, abuse His name and people, and make a mockery out of the death He died on their behalf. The essence of Jesus’ grace is to give it to people such as us, who lack merit of any kind. Soon He will return in glory, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 2nd Thessalonians 1:8. Recall Enoch’s ancient prophecy about God’s coming to judge sinful man and their rebellion against their Creator.

Today is not too late to hear the gospel and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He is the only way to God, John 14:6. He is the sinless Lamb of God, John 1:36. He is the Mediator of the new covenant; He died so He might redeem those that had transgressed under the first covenant (Romans 3:19; Galatians 3:10, 22), making or qualifying those who come to Him capable of receiving the eternal inheritance, Hebrews 9:15. Christ’s salvation is eternal: there is no entry fee, no particular church or ruler one must pass through to receive it, no hurdles to leap through or secret knowledge one must possess. Faith is humble trust that what God claims He has done has been done for us. When we believe, our faith is counted for righteousness, Genesis 15:6; Habakkuk 2:4. Faith trusts the character and reliability of the One making the claims. The gospel is “believe in Jesus Christ and live.”

Radical transformation of mind and action should follow on the heels of saving faith, as the Holy Spirit enters and makes His abode, renewing us into the image of Him who created us, Colossians 3:10. God’s desire for us is to reflect Christ’s image and glory by developing in us a maturity that honors God; a maturity that is the product of the Holy Spirit’s work in us, Philippians 2:13. Faith is reliance, which God desires us to possess; for which He has granted believers the privilege and responsibility of prayer. Prayer is not a magic key that opens the doors of God’s generosity: it is, in part, a tool that God will use to impart to us a spirit of dependence—daily dependence—on His provision and constant presence. This was the mind of Christ while on earth; this is the end of the Holy Spirit’s work in us: conformity to the mind of Christ, 1st Corinthians 2:10-16.

The gospel’s beauty is that of a loving God who stepped into man’s world, so man might come into His presence. Religion is man seeking God. The Bible is God seeking wayward man, to bring Him back into the loving fellowship that was shared in unbroken harmony and joy before sin separated them. God has not gone away; we have. Like the Lord called for Adam in the Garden of Eden, He calls every wayward sinner today, and His plea is one of pardon and grace. “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts,” Psalm 95:7-8. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Ian...Thank you for this message. My prayer is that today will be the day for some lost soul to reach out and accept God's free gift of salvation. Blessings. Lloyd

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