Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Finality of The Cross P21 (09-22-21)
The Bigger Picture of the Cross: In Him, We Have Redemption, the Forgiveness of Sins, and Eternal Life
Why is it that certain passages of scriptures are interpreted incorrectly? Passages like 1 John 1:9 are one of those passages.
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
It seems people will have tunnel vision on one passage and ignore all the rest of the passages where truth is clearly understood in light of the bigger picture of what Jesus accomplished. We are nit-picking a verse instead of seeing that the event of the cross took care of the interpretation of that verse, if you will let it.
As we recall that Jesus fulfilled the law because we could not do it, then died on a cross to pay the price of death for the sins of the entire world, a death no other man could pay, and then rose again, to offer us new life, called eternal life, that there is no way we could ever achieve. Only Jesus, being God in the flesh, could take upon Himself our sins and voluntarily lay down His life for us, and having no sin of His own, could be raised to new life for us. If we understand the New Covenant of grace ushered in at the death of Christ, as we read the promise of that covenant in Hebrews 10:17-18, how then can we interpret 1 John 1:9 as a means to keep short accounts with God so as to get back in fellowship with God, as if those parental sins have to be forgiven by God? Even Hebrews 9:22 and 1 John 2:2 (NASB) make it clear that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins and that Jesus died for the sins of the entire world.
17 Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”[Jeremiah 31:33]
18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
1 John 2:2 (NASB)
2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
People also fail to realize that Jesus’ death on a cross was part of a bigger plan. It was something necessary God had to do for man, so that after Jesus rose from the dead, God can offer us eternal life in His Son. In other words, His death on a cross solved the sin problem that caused our death, but His resurrection solved the real problem of man, which is death (Romans 6:23). Death is the separation from God, without the Spirit of God living in you.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When people do not understand the totality of the cross, they misinterpret scriptures such as 1 John 1:9. If there is going to be forgiveness executed on behalf of God toward man it required a sacrifice by the shedding of blood. An innocent animal had to die in the garden of Eden in order to clothe Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21-24). Something had to die in order to clothe the one who sinned. That was a picture of mankind from that point on and also a picture of Christ, what He was going to have to do at the cross, and that is to die in order to clothe us with His righteousness. Unless you wanted to strip that lamb of its skin while it is still alive, which is a little cruel, then the animal had to die. After it died is when it was skinned to provide for Adam and Eve. The same was true for our being clothed in the righteousness of Christ is His death for us, which cleansed us of all our own righteousness so that raised from the dead we would be indwelt by Him and His righteousness. It is all a part of a bigger plan than just forgiveness itself.
10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In light of that fact, when Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He meant it. What we have to conclude then, when Jesus made that statement, “It is finished” is that either Christ did it all or He did not do any of it (Galatians 2:21). Either grace is total or do not call it grace. Either all of our sins are totally forgiven or none of them are forgiven. How would you know which ones were and which ones weren’t? Salvation is either total or do not call it salvation, but just a little reprieve. Eternal life has to be something that lasts forever or do not call it eternal life. Just call it temporal life. We have to come to grips with the finality of the cross and let go of our preconceived notions before we will ever be in a position of being able to rejoice in the reality of the resurrected life of Christ Jesus.
So where is that forgiveness experienced? Where is it found? We know Christ did it for us. How are are we going to get a hold of it?
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
God has called us to live in freedom. But as Bob George shares, forgiveness is found in Christ Jesus and without that understanding you cannot live free even if you are free. Bob shares an illustration of how natives catch a monkey with sweet beans in a coconut with a hole in it. That dumb monkey will put his hand in that coconut to get some of those sweet beans but will clench its fist inside the coconut but will never unclench its fist to get himself free. His hand is stuck in the coconut until the monkey catchers come.
That is not unlike us, who will cling to whatever we have been taught by well-meaning pastors, and so we are, in essence, as dumb as the monkey to not let go of false teaching to grab a hold of what is true. So if truth sets us free, error is what bounds us. It sure sounds right to us, that 1 John 1:9 verse, with that poor translation into English, the verb tense as it is. How many people have you heard say, “But it says right here that you have to confess your sins”. Yes, but I am not concerned about what it says, but what it means in light of all that Jesus has already done for us, as other scriptures make so clear.
This forgiveness we have is not something we can experience apart from Christ. Bob George uses the illustration of money in a bank that is yours to get to explain how we receive forgiveness that was provided at a cross over 2000 years ago. It is like someone saying, “Bob, I put a million dollars in the bank.” “Well, I do not believe it.” “Well, then you are going to live like a pauper.” But finally you do say, “Who is it who told me he put a million dollars in a bank?” This millionaire who said it is your dad. That might make sense. He shows me a receipt. “Hey, I do have a million bucks. Where is that again?” “In the bank.” “Can I get it out here?” “No.” “Where is it?” “In the bank.” “Can I get it over here?” “No.” “Where is it?” “It is in the bank.”
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding
It is the same thing with forgiveness. Where is forgiveness found? In Christ Jesus. We cannot separate the forgiveness of God, inasmuch as it was totally provided for by the death of Christ Jesus. We cannot experience that in any place but in the life of Christ Jesus. The same one who provided His death is the one who provided His life. His death for us provided forgiveness for us but His life in us is where we experience that forgiveness. He does not call us unto Himself to come and get forgiveness. He says “Come unto Me”. And when we come to Him, we have forgiveness. When we do receive forgiveness is because forgiveness is found in Christ.
Ponder over the meaning of Ephesians 1:7-8, and see if what Bob George is saying is true. Consider also this passage in Romans 5:10.
10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Should we ever ask God to redeem us ever day? Why not? Should we ever ask God to forgive us every day? Why not? So if you have the forgiveness of sins, when do you get it? When you are in Him. And if you are in Him, what have you become? A forgiven person.
If we were reconciled by God through Jesus’ shed blood on a cross, and that while we were God’s enemies, then what saves us? Who ever had a life that we could never live? Is that life placed in you by the Holy Spirit? If you are born again, then you have the Spirit of God living in you. He gave you that at new spiritual birth (John 3). Who then is doing the living, if we let Him? This new life in Christ Jesus is called being made complete in Christ, being restored to God’s original design when He created Adam, except this new life, called eternal life, can never be lost due to sin.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Not only have you become a forgiven person, but a new creation in Christ Jesus, a child of God with the Spirit of God placed in you. His righteousness was given to you as a gift that you received by faith in Him, in what He alone accomplished for you by His death, burial and resurrection (1 John 12-13).
To explain this redemption of mankind, Bob George uses an illustration of a redemption center, more common in his day, where you turn in worthless green stamps for something much more valuable, such as a toaster. You go to a redemption center to turn in those useless green stamps. That is how we receive a new life. We turn our useless selves in to Christ, who is our redemption, and in exchange for our worthless life we get His eternal life.
This is the good news of the gospel of Christ, that in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin. All of that is in accordance with the riches of not what we do, nor of our confession, nor what some priest does, but in accordance with the riches of God’s unbelievable grace, that was lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding, not our wisdom or made up ideas, but of God Himself.