Tag Archive: redemption


The Gospel of Our Salvation

(Rom. 5:6-11)

Part 2

 Romans 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

In part 1 of this study, I noted that the gospel is a message concerning two primary issues: the spiritual condition of human beings and God’s response to that condition. In response to man’s need, God set in motion a plan of redemption by which the human race would be rescued and delivered from condemnation through the work of Jesus Christ. I noted that the entire Bible is about this unfolding decree of God whereby He appointed us to eternal life.

I called attention to the way in which Paul begins this section of his letter to the Romans. He describes a sinner’s condition at the point where the ministry of Christ becomes relevant. While we were still helpless, Christ died for the ungodly. (v.6) Paul uses a Greek term (asthenes) that means” to be weak, sick, feeble, without strength.” Paul is speaking of our spiritual condition. He is teaching that the sinner is incapable of delivering himself from the judgment of God.

Paul uses another term to describe fallen man’s condition apart from Christ. In verse 8, he refers to us as “sinners.” This is the simplest and most prevalent term used to identify fallen man in his relationship to God. As we continued working through these verses, we found that Paul uses yet another phrase to explain fallen man’s condition. In v. 9, Paul refers to us as being “saved from the wrath of God through Him.” If we are saved from the wrath of God in Christ, that means that we existed under the wrath of God prior to our deliverance.

One other descriptive term of man in sin is found in verse 10: “[W]hile we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” I suggested that it is quite unsettling to think of ourselves as enemies of God. He made us and yet we are declared to be hostile toward Him. To be an enemy of God is to be doomed. It is to have no hope of deliverance.

Having worked through Paul’s description of man apart from Christ, or man in sin, we began looking at the second primary element of the gospel, which is God’s response to our need. While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (v. 6) The first component of God’s response to fallen man’s need is recorded in this verse. God responded to our need by taking our guilt from us and placing it on the back of His own Son. And then, bearing our sin Himself, Jesus Christ gave His life as a payment for our transgressions.

A second aspect of God’s response to our need is found in verse 8 where Paul says that the coming of Christ for us was a demonstration of God’s love toward us. We must always remember that God’s response to our need was grounded in His love for us. God loves us; therefore, He did not require us to answer for our rebellion against Him. His love revealed itself in His plan for our deliverance, which, as we know, involved Another taking our place.

We are now ready to examine the remainder of this passage as we continue looking at how God responded to man’s lost condition.

A third aspect of God’s response to our condition has to do with our standing before God. As I have said several times, outside of Christ, we are condemned before God because of our sin. But the death of Christ on our behalf changes our status before God because the Savior took upon Himself our guilt and paid the required penalty, which was His own life.

As result, God declares and we have been justified by Christ’s blood.(v. 9) To be justified means that we are pronounced guilt-free and no charge remains pending against us. All of our sin is pardoned because our Savior died for it. Before, we were condemned with no means of escape. But after Christ, we are free and God views us as those for whom His Son made atonement.

This is an incredibly encouraging truth. At one time, we faced only the judgment of God and our condemnation was completely just. That judgment, however, fell on our Substitute. This is a change that only God by His grace could bring about. We could never have altered our standing before a holy God and, therefore, had no hope whatsoever while looking only to ourselves.

But when we look to Christ, we find a loving Savior who was willing to receive what truly belonged to us. Being pure and without sin Himself, Jesus became sin for us. With our guilt credited to Him, Jesus allowed Himself to be nailed to the cross where, in due time, He surrendered His life in our place. Only a sacrifice of infinite worth could atone for our offense against infinitely holy God. Jesus was that infinitely worthy sacrifice because He was God in the flesh.

So far, then, we have seen three aspects or elements in God’s response to man’s need: He sent His Son to die for the ungodly, He manifested His love for us in Christ, and He declares us justified as a result of having the blood of His own Son shed in order to atone for our sin.

That brings us to a fourth aspect of God’s response to our condition. It is found in v. 10. Previously, I noted that in this verse, we are referred to as the “enemies” of God. That was one of the terms Paul used to describe our status outside of Christ. Now, notice what follows that statement: “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” Note also that the same truth is stated in verse 11.

Reconciliation is one of the leading themes of the Bible. When this term is used in the context of redemption, it means that those who were enemies of God, those who were separated from Him due to sin, have been brought back into a peaceful and loving relationship with God. It was not God who needed to be reconciled to us, but we who needed to be reconciled to God. That has taken place, according to Paul, through the death of Christ.

We find ourselves in a relationship of peace instead of adversity. We have the assurance of everlasting life instead of assurance of inevitable judgment. And we relate to God as our heavenly Father instead of our offended Judge. In Christ, our eternal destinies have been settled.

This is the gospel. It is a message of profound implications for us as we live out our days in this world. If you have believed the gospel and have called upon Christ to be your Savior, then you may lead a life of contentment in a world of chaos.

To have peace with God is to have the peace that truly matters most. Knowing that God has received us as one of His redeemed, gives us joy and a steadfastness of heart. Our life is one of living in the saving love of God. Everything we experience is within the amazing love of God. This is life in the gospel.

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The Gospel of Our Salvation

(Rom. 5:6-11)

Part 1

Romans 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

The gospel is a message concerning two primary issues: the spiritual condition of human beings and God’s response to that condition. One of the chief aims of Paul in the book of Romans is communicating the fact that all people, Jews and Gentiles, come into the world alienated from God. We all have inherited the corrupt nature of our father Adam.

In response to man’s need, God set in motion a plan of redemption by which the human race would be rescued and delivered from condemnation through the work of Jesus Christ. The entire Bible is about this unfolding decree of God whereby He appointed us to eternal life.

The passage above comes from a section where the apostle is explaining how Christ served as our Savior. Having established the fact that all people are in need of the Savior because all people are, as I said earlier, alienated from God, Paul takes up the matter of our common Redeemer. God has appointed only one way of salvation and that is through His Son.

Please notice how Paul begins this section of his letter to the Romans. He describes a sinner’s condition at the point where the ministry of Christ becomes relevant. While we were still helpless, Christ died for the ungodly. (v.6) The first phrase of this verse speaks to the spiritual condition of man. We were “helpless.”

The context confirms that Paul is speaking of our status before God as we come into this world. He is addressing the results of man’s fall into sin. As a race, we were left “helpless.” Paul uses a Greek term (asthenes) that means” to be weak, sick, feeble, without strength.” Remember that Paul is not speaking of our physical condition, but of our spiritual condition. He is teaching that the sinner is incapable of delivering himself from the judgment of God. We do not have the ability to overcome the effects of man’s corruption due to the fall of Adam.

Adam was our representative and his conduct had immediate and critical consequences for all of those human beings who would descend from him. Right at the beginning of human history, therefore, mankind was confirmed in a spiritual state that left him estranged from God and liable only for God’s judgment.

Notice how Paul describes us, in our fallen state, as this passage continues. In verse 8, he refers to us as “sinners.” This is the simplest and most prevalent term used to identify fallen man in his relationship to God. While God is holy, man is unholy. God is unmarked by sin, but we are corrupt in every facet of our existence.

In the next verse, Paul refers to us as being “saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (v 9) If we are saved from the wrath of God in Christ, that means that we existed under the wrath of God prior to our deliverance. Apart from Christ, we are not in neutral territory, so to speak. From the point of Adam’s disobedience, every human being is conceived in a state of separation from God.

At no time during our lives do we escape the sentence of judgment that hangs over us. As Paul has already stated, the only way of escape is for us to have a Substitute to receive that judgment in our place. That Substitute, as already stated, is Jesus Christ.

The wrath of God does not disappear, nor is it simply set aside. The wrath of God must fall upon sin and all transgressions against a holy God must be atoned for. That is what happens for us in our Savior. In Christ, the necessary and unavoidable justice of God finds its fulfillment in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. And those represented by Christ, just like those represented by Adam, receive the benefits of what He attained.

One other descriptive term of man in sin is found in verse 10: “[W]hile we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” It is an unsettling thing to think of ourselves as enemies of God. He made us and yet we are declared to be hostile toward Him. We fall into a category of hopelessness because no enemy of God can ever overcome Him. God’s enemies are always defeated and destroyed because there is no wisdom or power in all the universe that can successfully contend with the wisdom and the power of God.

To be an enemy of God, therefore, is to be doomed. It is to have no hope of deliverance, no hope of escaping the inevitable wrath that a righteous God must inflict upon His enemies. It is not difficult to understand why Paul begins this passage by saying that we were “helpless.” There was nothing we could do to change our condition. Compounding this frightening truth is the fact that a fallen man has no desire to be reconciled to God, no desire to serve his Maker, and no desire to please God. (cf. Rom. 3:10-18)

Theologians use the term “depravity” to describe fallen man’s spiritual condition apart from Christ. This word means that there is no aspect of our nature that has gone untouched by sin. There is only one way of salvation and that is through Jesus Christ. By receiving His work as our own, our sins are paid for and we are granted eternal life in Him. In the Savior, God’s condemnation falls on Him as our Substitute.

With Christ as my personal Savior, God accepts His work on my behalf. As my Redeemer, Jesus was nailed to the cross where He suffered and died in my place. He paid the price necessary for me to be reconciled to God. When God came to this world in the flesh, He gave himself as a sacrifice of infinite worth. His death atoned for my sin.

Before I continue, let me emphasize that what has been said so far about man apart from Christ is true of everyone. Paul is not speaking about exceptionally wicked people only, he is speaking about all people. The helplessness Paul mentions applies to every human being, past, present, and future. Absolute helplessness is the state of all people—every man, woman, and child—outside of Christ.

If you will meditate on these disturbing truths about your spiritual condition, you will find great comfort and joy in the other aspect of the gospel that I mentioned earlier, namely, God’s response to our need. While we were still helpless, Paul writes, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Consider the implications of that opening verse. Christ died for us while we were in a state of estrangement from God. We did not love Him, nor did we have a desire to please Him, as I noted before. Christ did not die for us after we began to make an effort to reach God.

Christ did not come along and help us find our way back to our Creator. Jesus Christ came for us and delivered us while we hated Him and wanted nothing to do with the righteousness of God.

The word that is used to describe this act of selflessness on the part of our Savior is grace. Grace refers to God showing the unworthy sinner mercy even when that sinner was an enemy. Grace is seen in God’s willingness to receive the work of His Son in our place. Grace is in operation when the sinner receives the blessings of redemption without any demands made upon him.

Above all else, therefore, we must keep in mind that the gospel is a declaration of God’s grace toward us in Christ. We did not deserve deliverance from God’s judgment, nor could we ever achieve deliverance from God’s judgment on our own. It had to be done for us and it had to be done without requiring anything of us because we had nothing to give in exchange for the salvation of our souls.

While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (v. 6) God responded to our need by taking our guilt from us and placing it on the back of His own Son. And then, bearing our sin Himself, Jesus Christ, the blessed Lamb of God, gave His life as a payment for our transgressions. God in the flesh came to us in our misery. This was His response to our horrible dilemma. We had nothing to entice Him, nothing to give Him, yet He came from heaven to earth to save us.

A second aspect of God’s response to our need is found in verse 8 where Paul says that the coming of Christ for us was a demonstration of God’s love toward us. Talk about God’s plan of redemption and Christ’s work of atonement can become quite technical and, to a degree, academic. This is because we have to have absolute precision in our interpretation of these matters.

We must always, however, work within the context of God’s love. Christ’s ministry on our behalf was grounded in the love of God. The truths that we hold dear as believers, the joy that we experience in worship and fellowship with one another, the peace we have when contemplating our security in Christ—all these wonderful elements in our Christian experience are aspects of God’s love for us.

God loves us; therefore, He did not require us to answer for our rebellion against Him. His love revealed itself in His plan for our deliverance, which, as we know, involved Another taking our place. The love of God was not only declared to us, it was manifested, Paul writes, in the Person of Jesus Christ.

The love of God can be observed. It is not just a concept. God’s promises are followed by His actions. While walking the earth, Jesus referred to His mission many times. He taught His disciples that He was the promised Messiah who had come to deliver them from their spiritual bondage. And Jesus went to the cross to fulfill the things He had promised. I will say again, therefore, that the love of God can be observed.

As I conclude part one of this study, I want you to personalize the teaching of the apostle. I want you to think about the fact that you were helpless—helpless when it came to escaping that dreaded sentence of condemnation. You would still be under that judgment were it not for Christ. Without Him, your spiritual condition would never change.

You will never know the displeasure of God. You will never experience even a taste of his righteous judgment. You will only know the peace of God, the comfort of God, the patience of God, and the forgiveness of God.

If you have embraced Christ as Savior, then all of God’s displeasure with you was transferred to Him on the cross. And His righteous judgment was directed away from you and to His own Son. And what is true for you, is true for all those who have believed God’s promise of salvation in Christ. Together, we praise God for His saving love. Together, we worship Him each week and strive to live for His glory each day. We live a truly blessed life. We know God, we know His Son, and we know where we are going.

If you hear these words, but realize that they do not describe your life, you can change that today. God offers salvation to all who will receive it. It is a gift in the most magnificent sense of the term. You may call upon the Savior even now and ask Him to save you, to fill your heart with joy, and to grant you eternal life.

All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 1 Number 34

September 27, 2012

God’s Lovingkindness

From Pastor Bordwine

 

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

(Psalm 23:6)

My goal in producing these weekly devotionals is to provide us with an uplifting thought or two after we are well into our week and have, once again, faced the adversities associated with living for God’s glory in a world thoroughly corrupted by sin. Typically, I concentrate on some aspect of our faith that will encourage us and remind us of the marvelous work God has done for us in His Son. This week, I want us to meditate on God’s lovingkindness.

This term “lovingkindness” (Hebrew: checed) has a particular significance in Old Testament revelation. In passage after passage, this word is applied solely to the redeemed. It is an expression that embraces all that we have received by the grace of God with a special emphasis on His mercy.

Because we face a multitude of obstacles as we seek to honor God, it is easy for us to forget one of the most essential factors of our salvation, which is God’s lovingkindness. We need to keep in mind that our struggle in this fallen environment is not for our survival. We are not responsible for maintaining our standing before God, nor are we charged with earning God’s blessings. We have been chosen and secured by God in Christ and that status can never change.

Regardless of how well or how poorly we conduct ourselves on any given day, we are never in danger of being cast off by God. There is no possibility that He might grow tired of our stumbling and half-hearted efforts at holiness. If we were responsible for maintaining our status before God and if we were required to earn God’s favor by our behavior and if we were in danger of being dismissed by God for straying from the path of righteousness, then the idea of lovingkindness would not exist.

Lovingkindness represents the opposite of self-reliance and personal responsibility for our redemption. Lovingkindness implies another source for our deliverance. Those who experience lovingkindness are those who are acted upon from without—that is, by God through Christ.

Consider Psalm 23, from which I quote above: “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” This verse verifies the point I’m making. It is God’s lovingkindness that is responsible for our salvation and, as David says in this verse, for our perseverance through this life and into the next. The lovingkindness of God guarantees eternal life because, once shown, it cannot be withdrawn. Therefore, the state in which the lovingkindness of God puts us continues forever.

We did not call ourselves from darkness into light; we do not sustain ourselves in this condition. It is all of God and all through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. When the pressure of this world’s opposition bears down upon you or when you feel overpowered by your struggles to live according to the will of God, remember the “lovingkindness” of God. Refresh your heart with the knowledge of God’s all-encompassing grace. Take courage in the fact that God’s lovingkindness guarantees that you will persevere through all challenges so that your journey will end in His holy presence.

 

Should churches “close” on Christmas Day? The fact that this question is seriously considered by churches across the country indicates the dismal state of the contemporary evangelical church. It indicates a faulty understanding of the Bible’s authority and a deplorable comprehension of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Most evangelicals, I would maintain, do not understand the nature of the Fourth Commandment, which has to do with keeping the Sabbath. Many assume that this law is no longer relevant because it refers to the so-called “Jewish Sabbath.” This is, however, not what the Bible teaches. This Commandment concerns the principle of Sabbath, not a particular day of the week.

The primary focus of the Sabbath is the temporary cessation of our ordinary routines so that a period of time may be designated for worship and rest. The term “Sabbath” (shabbath) refers to rest, but this rest is actually “work” of a another kind—the “work” of worship. Periodically, therefore, God requires His people to set aside their normal labors in order to concentrate on the tasks of worship and rest.

From the beginning, the Sabbath was intended to be a picture of the coming eternal state in which the people of God will have uninterrupted worship of God while being freed from all the implications and complications of sin. The Sabbath is tied to the issue of redemption, which means that it is joined to the work of Christ. The Bible teaches that it is in Christ that the sinner finds deliverance from sin and the ultimate consequence of sin, which is eternal condemnation. By offering Himself in our place, Jesus paid our penalty thus guaranteeing that we would have a place in the presence of God forever.

In the fourth chapter of Hebrews, the writer explains the relationship between the Sabbath principle and the work of Christ. He refers to the leadership of Joshua who successfully established the people of Israel in the land of promise (cf. Heb. 11:8-10). That land was a type of the uninterrupted peace that God has prepared for His people in eternity. The writer emphasizes, however, that Joshua did not provide the final rest for God’s people, but only a picture of it. He concludes: “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” (Heb. 4:9) The text makes plain that the continuing Sabbath obligation has to do with the work of Christ. Only in Him can true and lasting spiritual rest be found (cf. Matt. 11:28, 29; Rev. 14:13).

As already stated, the Sabbath doctrine has to do with our responsibility to set aside a portion of our time for the worship of God and related activities, and this is done in anticipation of the coming day of everlasting rest. This is the time when the redemption of the human race is finished and the Savior presents redeemed humanity to His Father (cf. 1 Cor. 15:25-28). Before the work of Christ was completed on Earth, the day of perfect and eternal rest (or Sabbath) was yet future. Therefore, God commanded that the people work for six days and rest on the seventh. This illustrated the truth that the rest of redemption had not yet been achieved. The Jews lived their lives in light of the promise of rest and they looked forward to the coming of the Messiah in whom they would find true and unending Sabbath.

With the completion of His work and return to heaven, those existing after the completion of Christ’s ministry live in a time of redemption accomplished. The labor of the Savior has forever secured our place in the eternal rest of God. Our Sabbath keeping is also symbolic, therefore. The nature of our week testifies that the promise has been fulfilled, redemption has been accomplished, and we may begin our labors with that certain knowledge. The change from a seventh day observance to a first day observance of the Sabbath was necessary in order to reflect properly the redemptive work of Christ. Rest was anticipated, but now it is realized.

All of this means that a weekly Sabbath is not an option, but an obligation, which is why you find a law regarding the Sabbath among the Ten Commandments. Just as we would not consider dispensing with the Commandments regarding murder, stealing, lying, etc., so we should not behave as if the law of Sabbath is no longer relevant.

Old Testament believers “preached” the gospel by working six days and resting on the seventh at the end of their week. As stated, this pattern taught that salvation and eternal rest were yet future in terms of having been secured by the Savior. New Testament believers also preach the gospel in the pattern of our work week by reflecting the fact that Christ has completed His mission. By observing the Sabbath on the first day of the week, we announce the finality of our redemption before we begin our earthly labors.

The Church is, of course, the primary representation of the Savior’s post-resurrection ministry to this world. In our weekly gatherings, we teach the gospel not only in our words, but also by the way we arrange our days and weeks. Due to the nature of Christ’s work, it would be inappropriate to continue observing the Sabbath rest on the last day of the week. It had to be changed in order to declare accurately the progress of God’s plan of redemption.

This makes the matter of Sunday worship an essential issue. If Christians do not meet for worship on Sunday, we misconstrue what has been accomplished by our Savior. The same thing must be said about those churches that substitute a Saturday night gathering for a Sunday gathering, which many churches do when Christmas happens to fall on a Sunday. The gathering of believers on the first day of the week is a testimony regarding the death and resurrection of Christ. The Old Testament seventh day Sabbath was in the grave, so to speak, with the crucified Christ. His resurrection from the dead on the first day of the week forever established the primacy of that day.

The question of whether churches should “close” on Christmas Day should never be entertained. We are commanded in the Bible to observe a weekly Sabbath; it is an imperative. This duty may not be set aside, therefore, for any other purpose—such as Mother’s day, Father’s day, or football. Following apostolic teaching, first century Christians continued the six plus one pattern of the Old Testament, but reoriented the relationship between the days. Sunday became the Lord’s Day (cf. Matt. 28:1 ff.; Rev. 1:10).

The answer to our question is “no.” Evangelical, Bible believing churches should never be “closed” this side of glory. In light of the above teaching of the Bible, the reasons put forward in favor of dispensing with Sabbath observance on Christmas Day are indeed pathetic. But as I said, the very fact that this question is being seriously contemplated illustrates the troubling status of contemporary believers when it comes to grasping and manifesting the glorious work of Jesus Christ, the Savior of our race.