Tuesday, July 17, 2012

walking through the gospel: the perfect sacrifice

This week our past four studies all come to the crux of the Christian faith {literally}: the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

So let's review a little. :)

God and Jesus {and the Holy Spirit, together all three equal the Trinity} existed before the foundation of the world. God created man, gave him a choice, or free will, and man chose to disobey God's command. At that moment sin entered the world, and separated man from God, and caused man to become mortal- to die.

Because God is holy, He cannot be in the presence of evil. When man sinned, he could no longer come into the presence of God- instead, he was destined to live in sin until the day he died. He was stuck in sin, so to speak.

You see, the consequence of sin was death.

Romans 5:
12Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—13for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

But God loved man so much that he made a provision for man to atone {pay for} of his sins. It was called a sacrifice.

Because death was the end to sin, a death had to happen in order for man to become blameless.

the sacrifice
In the Old Testament {the time before Jesus came}, the death that happened to atone for sins was temporary- it was called the animal sacrifice. Spotless animals were given to the altar as a sacrifice for sins. The sinless animals took on the sin of the person.

But the problem with the animal sacrifice is that it didn't change the heart of man. It purified him temporarily, but he didn't stop sinning or breaking the law, because sin had not been defeated yet. And so the same sacrifices had to happen over and over.

This is part of what we call the law. God created a law, or commands to be holy, so that man could see his sin. But man couldn't keep the laws of God- he kept disobeying them {lying, stealing, coveting, etc}. God wasn't surprised by any means. He knew that this would be the case with man, and He had a plan from the very beginning. He planned the animal sacrifice to foreshadow what was to come.

the one man 
You see, man needed a sacrifice that was perfect- a human that could keep all the laws of God. Someone blameless and holy in His sight could take the place of all of the sins of the world, and once and for all. One man's obedience could redeem the death that came through Adam at the beginning of the world:

Romans 5:
18Therefore, as one trespasse led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousnessf leads to justification and life for all men. 19For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

This one man's name was Jesus.

And God knew before He founded the world that Jesus would die for the sins of humanity. That He would die for your sins- that He would be wounded for our breaking of the law:

Isaiah 53:
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejectedb by men;
a man of sorrows,c and acquainted withd grief;e
and as one from whom men hide their facesf
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

You see, this is huge! Huge! Jesus was without sin, but he took our sins and died the worst death imaginable on the cross, so that we would not have to die. On the cross, He was separated from God and bore it alone so that we would not have to be separated from God for eternity!!

the reason
But why? Why did He, the God of the universe, send His perfect Son to die a sinner's death?
Here's the answer:

2 Corinthians 5:21:
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

He died, and His blood poured out so that the just nature of God would be satisfied. The payment for sins was made by Jesus. God did this so we could be righteous in His sight, just like Jesus!!

the love

He paid the ransom note for you so that you could be reunited with God! He did it to save us, because he loved us so much:
6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.11More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day because He defeated death! The power of sin and death could not keep Him in the grave like it does the rest of humanity!

Again, if you're like me it seems too incredible to understand!! Why did He do it? Why send Him to die and be raised again?

 20He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

He gave Jesus glory, so that your faith and hope are in God! This was His plan, to unite us to Him as sons {and daughters} of His own, to give us forgiveness and grace and show us love:

Ephesians 1:3-10
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined usb for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making knownc to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

God chose us before the foundation of the world to be His children! Isn't that incredible???

He has blessed us so greatly and wants us to come to Him and accept this perfect sacrifice as a free and wonderful gift from Him.

We will talk more about faith and accepting this salvation next week, and we will see how this wonderful sacrifice {and the Holy Spirit} brings repentance to our hearts and changes our entire life!

Q:  Has this sacrifice changed your life? If so, how? 

If not, are you seeking God? Do you want to know how to accept this sacrifice for your sins? 

next week: the gift of salvation and repentance


previous posts in the walking through the gospel series:

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