Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Finality of The Cross P13 (09-06-21)
Who Is Jesus and for What Reason Did He Die on a Cross Only To Rise Again?
As you think about the fact that our calendar dates have B.C., before Christ, and A.D., Anum Domini, the year of our Lord, you have to conclude there is something significant about a person named Jesus of Nazareth and being identified as Christ or Messiah. Even though the world focuses so much on the birth of Christ, God views the world from the perspective of before the cross and after the cross, the true dividing line of human history. But we do know, just from the calendar, that Jesus was a historical person, who was born into this world, so the whole world must know he existed. To be referenced on our calendars, then he must have accomplished something. What is significant and unique about this person, Christ Jesus?
We come to understand that He is God in the flesh, as all the apostles testified and were eyewitnesses of all He said and did, and witnessed his death, burial and resurrection from the dead. And who has ever seen someone rise from the dead? But there were over five hundred who saw him after his death walking on the earth for some 40 days before He ascended back to heaven. They heard his words and heard him identify Himself as the promised Messiah. The prophets of old, who were descendants of Israel, spoke about that such a person who would come. With proof of all that this person would do, as foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus fit the description perfectly of the promised Messiah who would come. But the ultimate proof being his resurrection from the dead. As far as what Jesus would do, they heard the testimony of John the Baptist, the last prophet of Israel, who said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
If you were a descendant of Israel, familiar with all the animal sacrifices, the shedding of bulls and goats, you would know what that Old Covenant system was about, to get your sins covered until next year. We can read about this history of the Israelites under such a system of Levitical law in the book of Leviticus. A high priest was the only person allowed to enter the Holy of Holies to sacrifice a bull and a goat on behalf of the sins of the people. Hebrews highlights some of the most important things to remember in contrast to a New Covenant God initiated with men through the death of His Son, who is Christ Jesus (Hebrews 9:16-22).
In Hebrews 10:16-18, we read about this covenant where God will remember our sins no more and where these have been forgiven and where there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. In Hebrews 9:16-22, we read about how the burial of Jesus, after dying on a cross, was proof of his death so that a new will, a new covenant, a new testament could by ushered in. We read about how the Old Covenant was the Law with its rules and regulations that they must keep but man could not keep, and included in that Law was the ten commandments but also all the dietary and ceremonial laws, and how even under that old covenant, the shedding of blood was required for sins to be forgiven. The Old Covenant was a temporary system to cover sins until next year, and had to be repeated year after year until Christ Jesus came.
So in contrast to that, where the shedding of the blood of animals could never take away sin, the shedding of the blood of God Himself in the person of Christ Jesus did. As John the Baptist said, it was a perfect, sinless human being that was the only sacrifice that can take away sins. He referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God because that is an identification of a sacrifice so familiar with those under an Old Covenant system in regard to dealing with sin but also to identify the difference in what Jesus came to do.
We all understand that man has a need for forgiveness. Man knows there is something wrong with him when he lies or steals or does something else. Even in human relations we know that we need forgiveness from one another. But we also need forgiveness from the one who created us. However, that sin is a symptom of a deeper problem inside of man, that he is empty inside, not having the Spirit of God living in him. He is, in essence, dead, or separated, from the life of God. This is referred to as being spiritually dead. The Spirit of God left Adam because of sin and so he died. Therefore, sin and death entered the world through Adam and all mankind is born dead in sin.
Because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), man has a need for the cross. The reason we need the cross is because we need life. If God was going to give us life called eternal life then he was going to have to deal with sin once and for all. Man is dead and in need of life but man was also sinful and in need of forgiveness. When we see those two things, we were able to see why God had to go to the cross. Sin had to be judged and it had to be punished. If there is no punishment associated with a law, then the law is meaningless. But that Law, holy, just and good as it is, is set against us who are weak in our natural selves and cannot keep it. Jesus had to meet the demands of death for sin for us for no man can die and live. Christ stood in between the wrath of God and man, and said, “I will take the punishment.”
So it is the love of God, seeing the pitiful fallen state of mankind, that God came down from heaven in the person of Jesus Christ on a rescue mission. He ultimately paid a price he did not know for us who owed a debt we could not pay. God so loved that He gave. It was God’s desire for all men to be reconciled to God.
God in Christ reconciled the world unto Himself, not counting our sins against Him (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). In turn, He gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Those who put their faith in Christ, in what He has accomplished for him by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus, have entered into a New Covenant. By His death, we have been reconciled, and that before we were born. We were declared guilty for our sins by the law, the punishment was death, but Jesus paid it all by His shed blood on a cross. His burial proved His death and therefore ushered in a New Covenant. That New Covenant states that He will remember our sins no more and there is now no more sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:16-18). His resurrection from the dead provided the means for Jesus to offer what He really wanted to offer, which is eternal life, putting the Holy Spirit in us. Because of the eternal consequence of the cross, we who are in Christ Jesus have the Holy Spirit living in us, who can never leave us, unlike Adam when he sinned in the garden of Eden, because of sin.
So as a new creation, a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus, we have become qualified as ministers of that covenant, telling everyone their sins are forgiven. And since they are forgiven, come to receive what Jesus really came to give you, which is life from the dead. That is the ministry that you and I have today, called the ministry of reconciliation. What is that ministry of reconciliation? It is the pronouncement that God in Christ was reconciling the world unto Himself, not counting people’s sins against them. Why is He not counting sins against them? Because Christ took the counting of sins against us upon Himself. He paid the price that He did not owe to us who owed a debt we could not pay. So he tells us he committed to us this ministry of reconciliation and called us His ambassadors.
So salvation is the receiving of life, God’s life, called eternal life. Jesus gave his life for us. Christ died for sins once and for all in order that He might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). He did this to bring us to God. He died for us then so raised from the dead to live in us now, and so living in us now, to bring us to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
In Him we have become the righteousness of God. Are you in Him? What have you become? The righteousness of God. He did it for us because we could not do it for ourselves. This reconciliation provided for us then has to be experienced by faith. It is the grace of God that initiated it. We receive it by merely believing it. Faith is not something to work up a bunch of it or a little of it. It is saying, “God, I believe you.”
What do we believe? What Christ accomplished for us so we may have new life. We receive that forgiveness through Christ. That forgiveness was provided then at the cross, where the sins of the entire world are put on the back of God never to be seen again. You were forgiven then but that forgiveness is received in Him (Ephesians 1:7). If you are in Him, it is not faith to ask Him for something you already have. If you are not in Him, coming to faith in Christ is receiving life, and what was provided then, the forgiveness of sins is received in that new life of Christ placed in you. In receiving new life, the Holy Spirit of God, that was lost in Adam, is placed in you the moment you believe.
It is in Him that we have forgiveness, and not only forgiveness but every spiritual blessing in Christ, including eternal life, since Christ has risen from the dead. In that new life, the Holy Spirit alive living in you, you have everything you need for life and godliness.
In order to do that He had to do something with sin more important than just covering sins. He had to take them away. That was a necessary preparation for life to be given. So listen now as Bob George shares from the scriptures how Jesus came to take away the sins of the world ushering in a New Covenant we are under today in contrast to what the blood of bulls and goats, called atonement under an Old Covenant system, could never do. Ponder over Colossians 2:13-14, 1 Peter 3:18, 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, Hebrews 9:26-28 and Hebrews 4:1-14 where this is explained in the scriptures.