Chapter 3 Continued from Chapter 2
“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
An Email Ministry for the Glory of God
A series of Bible studies on
SALVATION IN CHRIST
THE ISSUE OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
PART A’: SALVATION IN CHRIST (#3a’)
(A’: Earthly and eternal beneficial results of our salvation)
The central message of the Bible is Christ’s redemptive death on the cross and His resurrection. The Bible says that He “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom.1:4). HE died in our place so that we may be saved from God’s judgment. His resurrection is the seal of God’s approval that Christ has paid with His blood our sins. His resurrection was the proof of the justification, which was imputed to us, for our reconciliation and for our peace with God. This is confirmed by the following verses: “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; it shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom.4:23-5:2).
When Jesus was on the cross, HE cried out, “IT IS FINISHED” (John 19:30)! The work of our salvation that He had come to accomplish was finished by offering Himself (Isa.53:12; John 10:11; Rom.5:6) according to His Father’s instructions. In this way, God’s justice and love for us were manifested: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Ps.85:10). On the cross, the severity, the justice and the love of God were manifested… Jesus Christ’s cross became the place of meeting and reconciliation of man with God. Christ’s mission was accomplished! His mission was to save those who were not worthy (the weak, the sinners and even His enemies like you and me), provided they would sincerely repent and believe in Him. The sin’s penalty was fully paid and man could be accepted by God. How regrettable it is to see men trying to “save themselves” by their good works! They try to accomplish what is already accomplished while their salvation depends on what Jesus has done! They try to open an open door! Forgiveness is granted only on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross! This constitutes the miracle of His divine grace.
Jesus Christ’s death was not a haphazard event of a common man. It was the death of a certain “man” in a certain period of history, decided in advance, before the world was created, for the salvation of the world and took place when the time was fulfilled! “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross” (Php.2:8). He was … the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev.13:8) for our salvation. The glory of such a salvation belongs “to Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev.1:5). Everything was accomplished according to the Holy Scriptures! Thus, it was proved that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Tim.3:16).
If we have been crucified with Jesus by faith, then we are dead to the world and our debt does not exist anymore! You cannot say to a dead man, “You owe or you do not owe.” He has escaped from the LAW and passed into another world, where the LAW cannot follow him. God has “… blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col.2:14-15). It is a pleasant message for all those who are disappointed from themselves. The law made me to die and obliged me to take refuge in Christ. We should not, therefore, turn our eyes to ourselves but we must set our eyes on the Beginner and Finisher of our faith, our Lord Jesus Christ (Heb.12:2), Who died for all, that they who live should not from now on live to themselves, but to him Who died for them, and rose again (2Cor.5:15). We are therefore, new creatures… all things having become new for us (2Cor.5:17).
- 1. Christ’s resurrection and its eternal results
Only one person has ever defeated death… That person is Jesus Christ. He is alive and soon, one day, every true believer will live with Him forever! Death has no more the final word. Satan’s defeat was predicted right from the dawn of mankind! In Genesis 3:15 it is written: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” God’s plan of mercy and grace were conceived before eternity. In spite of the difficulties, man’s enmity, the bloodshed throughout the ages, the apostasy, etc., nothing could stop God from the accomplishment of His plans. Jesus Christ’s resurrection was not a haphazard event. It was foretold by the prophets (Ps.16:10; Ac.1:22) and by Jesus Himself! (Mat.20:19; Mrk.9:9; 14:28; John 2:19-22). So, the Old Testament Scriptures and Jesus’ words were fulfilled (Luke 24:45-46) and constitute the proof, what I have already mentioned in the previous chapter, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Ps.2:7; Ac.13:33; Rom.1:4) and that the Bible is inspired by God (2Tim.3:16)!
The Bible tells us that He appeared after His resurrection to Mary Magdalene, to certain other women, to the apostles and to many other believers, even to Paul who persecuted Christ’s Church! In addition, our Lord’s resurrection was attested by angels (Mat.28:5-7; Luke 24:4-7), by the apostles (Ac.1:22; 2:32; 3:15; 4:33) and even by His enemies (Mat.28:11-15). His resurrection was followed by His exaltation (Ac.4:10-11; Rom.8:34; Eph.1:20; Php.2:9-10). He gave, in this way, many infallible proofs! Therefore: “Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom.8:34).
If Christ had not been crucified and raised from the dead, our sins could not have been forgiven (1Cor.15:17) and God could not have justified us (Rom.4: 25; 8:34). Christ’s work on the cross and His resurrection are the basis of our lively hope and for our own resurrection (1Cor.15:19; 1Pet.1:3). So, we can preach the Good News with boldness and assurance. We should not forget that He is coming again to receive to Himself those who belong to Him! We should not also forget that Christ’s work has far reaching results: “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Col.1:20)!
- 2. The restoration of our relation with God and among men
God’s purpose was first to reconcile us to Himself and that we have peace with Him, and second, to reconcile us men, among ourselves! This is the meaning, respectively, of:
- Eph.2:16: “and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity”, and of
- Eph.4:1-3: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation with which you are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”!
For those who have lost their orientation or have become backsliders, it is indispensable to come back and to take refuge in Christ’s sacrifice. If we ever understand the importance of the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, we cannot move away from this truth! This truth does not leave any place for our personal or for our religious or denominational pride. Unfortunately, the Deceiver tries to focus our attention on things which, though Biblical, are of secondary importance and make us lose from our sight the truth of the cross of Christ. The cross and our arrogance cannot coexist just like light and darkness. One cannot say that he is “holier” than his neighbor: If I deserved a cross and you deserved a cross, what is, therefore, the difference between us two? If there is no difference, that means that, in reality, there is no problem of superiority between you and me. The cross constitutes also the solution to all racial problems! May the Lord give us such a heart and help us to take the proper humble stand before God and men! In addition, the fact that we were redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice means that we do not belong to ourselves! “What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1Cor.6:19-20). We conclude, therefore, that there are certain privileges on account of His cross but at the same time certain prerequisites: Truth, humility and commitment.
- 3. Who is the Victor and who is the defeated foe?
I repeat partly what I said previously: The victor is Christ and the defeated enemy is Satan. That victory was not for HIMSELF but for us… For you and me! For you and me, so that our sins may be blotted out and that we may have everlasting life. Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). And this was done in order to restore us to our previous position of glory and honor before the fall of the human race into sin. His victory became our victory! The resurrection day is waiting for us… Then God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Rev.21:4). Our Lord Jesus Christ assured us that the ruler of this world, that is Satan, had nothing in Him (John 14:30). Peter says that the Lord Jesus Christ “did no sin” (1Pet.2:22); Paul says that He “knew no sin” (2Cor.5:21); and John says that “in Him was no sin” (1Joh.3:5). It was then, in the days of His death and resurrection that the judgment of this world took place and it was then that the ruler of this world was cast out (John 12:31). The Holy Spirit confirmed through the Apostle Paul, in 2Thess.2:8 that when the lawless one will be revealed, the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
Jesus, in order to achieve His goal, ‘partook of flesh and blood, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those, who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage’ (Heb.2:14-15). And again, we are informed through the lips of John the Apostle that the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of Satan who has sinned from the beginning (1John 3:8). Again, the same apostle informed us prophetically that the Devil, who deceived men, will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone together with the beast and the false prophet. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev.20:10). If what the Lord has achieved is not a great victory for Himself and for us, then what is true victory? May we all put it in full good use both for our own blessing and for the glory of God!
To be continued…