It is said in Scripture, "
We walk in faith, not by sight," and again, "without faith it is
impossible to be well-pleasing unto God." So, walking by faith, we
accept the statement of Heb. 9:22, "Without the shedding of
blood there is no remission." I believe therefore that in the wisdom
of God, it was not possible to save men in any way other than by the
death of His Son.
The terrible condition of the world when Christianity began
its conquest is graphically set forth in Romans 1. The writer
impresses us with the corruptness of pagan idol worship, the immorality of
their lives and the baseness of their heathen character. This chapter shows
the absolute failure of human systems of religion and the helplessness of
human philosophy to life mankind. But why go to Romans 1 for such a picture?
One could almost find its counterpart in the world of our
day: hatred, war, lust, greed, immorality. Instead of rejecting Jesus Christ
for philosophy, pseudo-science and atheism, why cannot the world learn its
lesson from the past and see that it is the religion of the Son of God that
has lifted civilization to its highest point, and not worldly wisdom? The
hope of the world today is not science, nor higher education, nor modern
religious philosophy, but Christ crucified, raised and glorified.
Passing from the moral and spiritual condition of the
Gentiles in Romans 1, the apostle pictures the condition of the Jews in the
next two chapters, showing they had utterly failed to keep the law given
them by the Lord, then concludes, "all have sinned and come short of the
glory of God" (Rom. 3 :23) . There was no peace, no love, no hope; a
picture terribly dark!
We see the first ray of light beginning to break through the
dark cloud when the angel, speaking of Mary, said to Joseph, "And she shall
bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for it is he that
shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21) . That ray of
light becomes a brighter gleam with the joyous song of the angels, as they
say, "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who
is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). A Savior, that was the world's need.
Today it needs to recognize and turn to Him who came as such.
John Bore Witness That Jesus Was Our Sacrifice
John bore witness of Him, saying, "This is the Lamb of God
that taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) . And Jesus said,
"I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly" (John 10:10)
. I wish we had time to trace the course of His life, making a careful note
of the tenderness of His touch, as He contacts the leper, lifts the fallen,
cheers the suffering, noticing the impartiality of His appeal as he calls
all men unto Himself.
He makes no special bid for the rich, the great, nor the
wise, yet He never excludes them. All are included in His appeal. In His
life we see Him laying the foundation for a great brotherhood of man in the
family of His Father. He seeks to reconcile and save the lost.
It would be good for us if we had the time to follow Him
minutely through the Garden, then go with Him to the house of Annas, and
stand with Him before Caiphas, then to the Sanhedrin where He was tried by
the Jews and condemned to die. From there He was taken to Pilate, who, upon
hearing that Herod was in town, sent Jesus to him. Herod mocked Him and sent
Him back to Pilate, before whom He was condemned to death by the civil
government and sent away, bearing His cross to Golgatha. Betrayed by His
assc;ciate, condemned by the religious and civil authorities, and forsaken
by His friends, He stood alone in that awful moment.
But death could not hold its prey. Triumphantly He arose on
the morning of the third day, the victor over sin and death, ready and able
to save to the uttermost all who would come unto God by Him. Let us consider
some of the things accomplished by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Christ's Life and Death Accepted For Us
1. In His triumphant life over sin, in the offering up of
Himself in death, He became the sacrifice, which for the sinner, God
accepts. The apostle declared, "Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our
behalf; that we might become the righteouness of God in him" (2 Cor.
5:21) . While John wrote, "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation of our sins; and not for
ours only, but also for the whole world" (I John 2 :1-2) . The
righteousness of Christ becomes the sinner's possession when he puts on
Christ, when he becomes conformed unto His likeness.
This the Holy Spirit helps us to understand as He says,
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in
Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his
blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins
done aforetime, in the forbearance of God; for the showing I say, of his
righteousness at this present season; that he might himself be just, and the
justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus. Where then is the glorifying? It
is excluded. By what manner of law? Of works? Nay: but by a law of faith"
It was this righteousness by faith through the sacrifice of
Christ, that Paul wished to possess. "And be found in Him," he said, "not
having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that
which is through faith in Christ, the righeousness which is from God by
faith" (Phil. 3:10).
2. The sacrifice of Jesus broke down the middle wall of
partition, i. e., it removed the law which separated the Jews from the
Gentile, by taking it out of the way. This gave to both Jew and Gentile
equal standing before God; and also, it gave to each equal opportunity to be
saved. Hear the Scriptures: "But now Christ Jesus ye that once were far off
are made nigh in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both
one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his
flesh the enmity, even law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he
might create of himself of the two one new man, so making peace; and might
reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the
enmity thereby: and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and
peace to them that were nigh: for through him we both have our access in one
spirit unto the Father" (Eph. 2 :13-18) . The law had now served its
purpose, it was taken out of the way, having been "nailed to the cross"
Christ's Sacrifice Brings Reconciliation
3. Another thing learned from the reading of Eph. 2:13-18, is
that reconciliation to God for both Jews and Gentiles is effected in the
sacrifice of Christ. "That he might create in himself of the two one new
man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one body unto God
through the cross," says the Holy Spirit. Through the death of the one body
of Christ upon the cross, the one spiritual body of Christ, the church, was
brought into existence. It is in this one body, the church, that both find
their fellowship with God and peace one with the other.
To the individual at enmity with God there awaits him, when
he turns to God in Christ, a peace and joy that passes understanding. "For
it was the good pleasure of the Father that in Him should all the fulness
dwell; and through him to reconcile all things unto himself; having made
peace through the blood of the cross; through him, I say, whether things
upon the earth, or things in heaven," said the apostle (Col. 1:19-20).
The communion and fellowship with God, enjoyed by man in Eden, but severed
by sin, is restored and perfected in the sacrifice of Jesus.
4. Another thing, and by no means a little one, the sacrifice
of Christ is a sacrifice that does not encourage further sin, but condemns
and forbids it. The apostle asks, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue
in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we
any longer live therein? Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized
into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore
with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the
dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of
life" (Rom. 6:1-4).
In the reconciliation to God, through the death of Christ,
the sinner dies with Christ. In dying with Christ, he dies to sin. In
baptism, the apostle has just said, "we were buried with him."
He continues in verse 6, "Knowing this, that our old man was
crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we
should no longer be in bondage to sin; for he that hath died is justified
In dying with Christ, the individual is justified from sin,
in which death he dies to sin, says the apostle, therefore no longer to walk
in it. The apostle was able to say of himself, "For I have been crucified
with Christ, and it is no longer I that liveth, but Christ that liveh in me"
(Gal. 2:20). And again, "if I must needs glory, I shall glory in the
cross of Christ, through which I have been crucified unto the world, and the
world unto me" (Gal. 6:14).
5. And now the last observation we make concerning the
sacrifice and cross of Christ is that it is God's drawing power, by which He
draws men unto Himself. Jesus said, "No man can come to me except the Father
that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day" (John
6:44-45) . And again "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw
all men unto myself. But this he said signifying what manner of death he
should die" (John 12:32-33).
The crucified Christ becomes the power through which God
draws men; but the gospel is the medium through which God presents the
Christ, through whom He draws men unto Himself. Said the apostle, "I am not
ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone
that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is
revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, but
the righteous shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:16-17) .
In consideration` of this, Jesus said, "Go ye into all the
world, and preach the gospel to every creature, he that believeth and is
baptized shall be saved, but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned"
(Mark 16:15-16). Christ had offered Himself up as the sacrifice for sin,
the sacrifice by which men should be justified; but His sacrifice as God's
drawing power is revealed in the gospel, therefore the gospel must be
preached. 1\len appropriate the blessings of the sacrifice when, in baptism
they put on Christ; in putting on Christ they become new creatures in Him,
dead unto sin and alive unto righteousness. This discourages further sin.
In summarizing the sacrifice of Christ and its benefits, we
find: (1) It is the sacrifice acceptable to God and perfectly adapted to the
needs of man. (2) In it all differences between Jews and Gentiles are
removed, so far as relation to God is concerned. (3) In the sacrifice of
Christ, Jew and Gentile should be reconciled unto God, in one body, the
church. (4) It is a sacrifice that discourages further sin, the individual
being a new creature in Christ. (5) It touches the hearts of men, changing
them to God.
Will you be one to accept the sacrifice of Christ and the
salvation God offers in Him? To all who will, the Lord says, "He that
believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that disbelieveth shall be
condemned" (Mark 16:15-16).
Truth Magazine - March 1961