Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What is the Gospel?

This is the third part of the answer on what is the gospel. See No 1 here and No. 2 here. In this article I seek to show you that Christ alone is the only God-appointed Saviour of sinners. It is only wise to not only know Him, but also believe Him!

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THE POWERFUL REDEMPTION OF CHRIST
In view of man’s helpless condition in sin, God in His love and mercy provided salvation with His own arm. That provision is Christ. Christ is the only way of salvation because He is God’s appointed way. Christ was sent by God to bring salvation. He fulfilled many of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament – prophecies regarding his lineage, the place of His birth, the time and circumstances of His triumphal entry, His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, and many others. He will fulfill the remainder of the Messianic prophecies at His Second Coming. Christ is the Son of God. He is truly God, the second Person of the Trinity, existing from all eternity. Jesus claimed to be God, proved He was God by His miracles, received worship, and was declared to be God by His Apostles.
In the fullness of time the eternal Son of God took on human flesh in time and became the Son of Man in order to take upon Himself the sin of mankind. He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and laid down His life at the cross for the sins of the world. His atoning work on the cross is the essence of His salvation for sinners.
Christ died for our sins. The Bible uses the following words to explain the death of Christ:
(1) Sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26, 10:12).  He fulfilled the Old Testament sacrifices; for example, He is the true Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), and Hebrews 9:25-26 compares His sacrifice with the temple priestly sacrifices (in Leviticus 16).  Most of the sacrifices were because of the offerer had sinned and was asking God for forgiveness.  The animal was killed instead of the sinner.  So Christ was a sacrifice “in our place”, “for” us (John 10:11, 15:13, Romans 5:6,8, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15,21, Galatians 1:4, 2:20, Hebrews 10:12, 1 Peter 2:21, 3:18).
(2) Blood (Romans 3:25, 5:9, 1 Corinthians 11:25, Ephesians 1:7, 2:13, Colossians 1:20, Hebrews 9:14, 10:19, 13:12,20, 1 Peter 1:2,19, 1 John 1:7, Revelation 1:5, 5:9, 12:11).  The blood of animal sacrifices was poured out around the alter (Leviticus 1:5, 3:2, 4:7) to show that it was dead. 
The “blood of Christ” means that Christ died as a sacrifice, not that there is something special about the blood in His body.  His blood was just like ours.
(3) Obedience (Romans 5:19, Philippians 2:8).  He came from the Father to do His will, and He perfectly obeyed (Hebrews 5:8-9).  As one without blemish He could die for us (Hebrews 7:26-27), just as the animals were to be without “spot or blemish” (1 Peter 1:19).
(4)Propitiation (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 2:2, 4:10).  God’s wrath is upon sinners, but Christ has suffered the punishment sinners deserve, and so God’s wrath is removed from them.  As an illustration, in traditional religion the elders would seek to turn away the supposed wrath of God in times of drought and disease by offering a certain sacrifice. 
(1) Ransom (Matthew 20:28, 1 Timothy 2:6, Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 1:18-19).  A ransom is a price paid for release.  We are released from our bondage to redemption because Christ gave His life as a sacrifice for us.
(2) Redemption (1 Corinthians 6:20, Galatians 3:13, 4:5).  The word ransom emphasizes the price that was paid; redemption emphasizes that the price paid brings release.  When we say that Christ is our Redeemer, we mean that by His death we are set free to serve God!
(3) Reconciliation (Romans 5:10-11, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, Ephesians 2:16, Colossians 2:20-22).  God Himself has removed all obstacles to our fellowship with Him through the death of Christ, so that we are now at peace with God.
Note:  Propitiating God, dying for our sins, redeeming us by a ransom price, and reconciling us to God, are all things that Christ accomplished by His death.  Nothing needs to be added.  Do not miss the assurance in Romans 5:1-2,9-11, 8:33-34!  Christ’s death is powerful.
Christ’s death was substitutionary – We deserved eternal damnation, eternal death. But God intervened in Christ, who took upon Himself the penalty due for our sins, by dying on the Cross. His burial proved that He actually died. But His resurrection from the dead, three days later, proved that God accepted His death as payment for the sins of His people and demonstrated His victory over death on our behalf. Christ was our substitute, just as the sacrificial lamb, innocent and without blemish, was the substitute of the offerer in the Old Testament.
Christ death was effective and powerful to save to the uttermost. When Jesus died on the Cross He satisfied the just demands of the Law of God on our behalf, becoming a curse for us. His propitiation perfectly appeased the wrath of God that burned against us. God imputed our sin to Christ, as if He had sinned. He laid on Him the iniquity of us all. And God imputed the righteousness of Christ to us, as if we had never sinned. On the basis of this heavenly transaction, God declares us righteous. This is called justification.
This justification is based wholly on the righteousness of Christ, not on our works, and is received by faith. If we believe on Christ, our sins are no longer imputed to us, they have been forgiven, washed away, removed from us forever. Therefore we have been reconciled to God and have peace with God through Christ. Only sin separates man from God, but in Christ we are brought near to God. Christ purchased us from the bondage of our sin and has made us His own. We once were slaves to sin, but now we are slaves to righteousness in Christ. We were once dead in sins and trespasses, but now we are alive in Christ.

FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE?
Christ the Mediator:
“By His perfect obedience to God’s law, and by a once-for-all offering up of Himself to God as a sacrifice …, the Lord Jesus has fully satisfied all the claims of divine justice. He has brought about reconciliation, … for all those given to Him by His Father” (Sect.5 of the Baptist Confession of Faith)
The Confession states that Christ died for the elect, for those given to Him by the Father (John 6:37-39, 17:24).  Many people think this means that Christ’s death was not able to save everyone.  But the real question is, “What was God’s purpose in giving His Son to die?” 
According to the following verses, for whom did Christ die?
Isaiah 53:11, Matthew 20:28, 26:28     many
John 11:52                                                 children of God;
Ephesians 5:25                                          the church;
Hebrews 2:16                                            Offspring of Abraham
Hebrews 2:17                                            his brothers
If Christ died for the purpose of saving everyone, then why is not everyone saved?  If His death was a ransom for all, then why is not everyone ransomed?  If Christ died for everyone, and everyone is not saved, it means that Christ’s death is not sufficient to secure the salvation of anyone.  It would then depend on Christ’s death plus something else in man, such as faith. Such a thought is blasphemous as it shows that His death is not sufficient or powerful enough.
There are a few verses that appear to teach Christ died for all (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 1 Timothy 2:6).  Others verses use the word world and supposedly teach that Christ died for everyone (John 1:29, 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:19, 1 John 2:2).  Note that “all” can mean all types of men without distinction (1 Timothy 2:1), or many people (Matthew 3:5-6).  “World” can mean Gentile as well as Jew (John 1:29, 4:42), sinners as opposed to God’s people (John 17:9).
Therefore,
(1) Let us have full confidence in Christ and His work to save us completely.  Spurgeon likens Christ’s work to a bridge.  One bridge is wide enough for everyone to go on it but it only goes half way across the river.  The other bridge is narrower but it goes all the way across to glory! Which one is more effective?
(2) The Bible never presents the gospel as “Christ died for you.”  Rather we must present Christ as a Person who, by His finished work, is fully to be trusted to save any sinner who comes to Him in faith and repentance. 
Because I would like to deal with John 3;16 as the passage for 2015 Christmas, may I leave this matter at this point. Ask me about John 3:16 next week!

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