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Archive for Salvation

Jesus

by Mike Moore

Who was and who is Jesus Christ?

First, there is the tense. Tense means time. Time is not important or limiting to Him. Dr. Mark Cambron, a great Bible teacher of years past, always said, “Time is an island in the sea of God’s eternity.”

People have trouble deciding whether to say, “Jesus was” – past tense, or “Jesus is” – present tense, or “Jesus will” – future tense.

All are correct. But He must never be left in the past. He is not some First-Century teacher who ran contrary to Roman law and was executed. He is not some long-dead reformer or religious founder. He is not in a tomb in a Judean hillside. He is now, and He is alive. The well-known American news magazine was wrong when the cover story asked, “Who WAS Jesus?”
More has been written about Him than about anyone else. He is the center of it all.

But just who was and is Jesus Christ?

The theories and ideas are legion. Islam, that come-lately religion which swept out of Arabia in the 600s, says He is the next-to-the last prophet. The cult known as Jehovah’s Witnesses says He is a created being. Many in the pablum-sounding liberal mainline denominations say He was a good man, an example.

The Bible says He is God and He is Man.

There is no “good man” middle ground. Good men do not go around claiming to be God. He is something different.

Many, if not most people, certainly in America, may give Him no thought at all. There is not time. People must climb the business ladder and watch their favorite team and take the kids to soccer and play golf and go shopping.

It is time to stop and consider this story and the claims of this Person. Because if it is true that He is what He claimed to be and that He came back from the dead, it is worth our time.

He is different than Gandhi, or Buddha, or George Washington or another famous person of history.

Jesus Christ was born to a teenage mother in a small village about five miles from Jerusalem. He lived on earth for 33 years. He was killed. Then He came back from the dead. He said He will return.

I believe Him.

Why Did Jesus Die on a CROSS?

Why did Jesus Chricrossst die on a cross? That seems to be a strange question to ask. He obviously died there to pay our sin debt. But why did He pay for sin on a cross? It seems like it would have been more appropriate for God to allow Christ to die on one of the altars mentioned in the Old Testament—the bronze altar or maybe the mercy seat. Or maybe God should have erected an altar for Christ to die on. Where did the idea of the cross come from?

The cross of Calvary had everything to do with the Mosaic law. We have learned that no one ever received life from God by keeping the Ten Commandments. In fact, only one person ever kept them perfectly, the Lord Jesus Christ. Speaking of this, Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets. He came to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17).

Christ fulfilled the law in three ways: He kept it perfectly (John 8:46); He was the permanent sacrifice to which all of the temporary sacrifices in the law pointed (Hebrews 10:1–5); and, most importantly, He took its curse (Galatians 3:13).

The law of Moses is made up of many more laws than just the famous ten. It actually includes hundreds of laws and ordinances found throughout the books of Exodus and Leviticus. The whole complex system of commands, ordinances, and sacrifices was intended by God to make known to man His righteous requirement and man’s sin. Far from giving life, the law written on stones is called a killer, a minister of death, and a minister of condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:6–9).

How could this be? It is true because the law makes clear that we are sinners and separated from God. Because the law reveals man’s sin and death before God, it is God’s executioner. It pronounces that every member of Adam’s race is guilty before God and condemned (Romans 3:19).

The law shuts every mouth! It says to everyone—good, bad, moral, immoral, religious, or evil: “Quiet! You have sinned before God, and you must die” (Romans 3:10–17; Romans 3:23). The curse of the law is illustrated graphically in the Old Testament. Catch this glimpse!

“If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” (Deuteronomy 21:22–23)

If a rebellious son committed a sin worthy of death, he was to be stoned to death and hung from a tree. His body was not allowed to remain on the tree all night; he was to be buried that day. The body hanging on the tree was a vivid reminder that the prisoner was accursed by God. The tree exposed the curse of sin. Keep this thought in mind as we investigate further.

Jesus Christ, God’s perfect lamb, died as the permanent payment for sin. To understand how Jesus died, we must recall how Adam died. Remember that death means “separation.” Remember also that Adam was separated from God the moment that he sinned (Genesis 2:17, 3:7–8). This unseen death was passed on to the entire human race (Romans 5:12). Every person born into this world from then until now has been born physically alive but spiritually separated from God (1 Corinthians 15:21–22).

Jesus Christ, having no human father, bypassed Adam’s sin and came into the world as the first freeborn human being. He was born not only physically alive, but also spiritually alive. He was the only one of His kind. He remained spiritually alive until He died upon the cross.

Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45–46).

How did God make known to us that the curse of the law had come upon His Son? Jesus Christ as the second person of the Trinity had throughout His life referred to the first person of the Trinity as “Father.” The Father and Son had enjoyed a special relationship throughout eternity. They had never been separated from each other. But here on this Roman cross was a tremendous contrast. About three o’clock Jesus Christ screamed from the cross, not “My Father, My Father,” but the impersonal words, “My God, My God.”

Why did He refer to His Father using the name God? Because His sinless, uncontaminated flesh was bearing at that moment the sin of the imperfect flesh of those connected to Adam’s sin. God the Father placed upon His Son all the guilt and penalty of our sin. Christ was separated from His Father and at that moment received in His body the curse that the law imposed upon us. He bore our sin in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).

Paul applied the curse of the death on the tree in Deuteronomy 21:22 to the Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)

When God placed our sin upon Christ, the law became God’s minister of condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:6–7). It cursed God’s most precious one. Jesus Christ bore in His body the curse of the law that was meant for us (2 Corinthians 5:21a). By bearing in His body the curse of the law, He destroyed forever the condemnation that the law had pronounced upon us. God removed the curse of the law (which Paul called the certificate of debt, consisting of decrees that were against us and hostile to us). He nailed it to His cross (Colossians 2:13–14).

We owed God a debt that we could not pay. We have all violated His law. The certificate of God’s law was hostile to us, that is, it was enough to condemn us to judgment and hell because “cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them” (Galatians 3:10). But when Christ died on the cross, He canceled the debt.

No trace of the debt remains to be held against us. Because of that old rugged cross, our forgiveness is complete.

 

Propitiation: The Final Forever Sacrifice

October 21, 2015

Paul’s instruction for us to look not upon “things that are seen” but rather upon “things that are not seen” has been the anchor truth for many of the glimpses I have received into God’s grace. How can one actually see things that are not seeable? Jesus said, “Let those who have eyes to see, see.” It is obvious that He was not speaking of physical eyesight. There is one invisible truth that, in this writer’s mind, stands above all others. It has everything to do with the interesting words found in Exodus 25:40. God told Moses to make sure that he built the tabernacle according to the special pattern that had been given to him on the mountain (Sinai). Why was this the case?

A very familiar and dramatic moment in ancient Israel was when the high priest entered a small room in the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies. He did this once every year carrying blood to sprinkle on the solid gold plate on top which was called “the mercy seat” (Heb. 9:7). Under the mercy seat inside the ark were three seemingly insignificant articles: a pot containing fragments of manna, Aaron’s rod that had budded, and shards of broken tablets of the Ten Commandments. These objects represented Israel’s rebellion against God. Shortly after the Exodus, the Jews revolted against God’s provision of food (the manna), against God’s leadership (the rod), and against God’s law (the Ten Commandments). The people had sinned against God.

Replicas of two cherubim were positioned at either end of the ark representing God’s righteousness and His justice. They symbolically looked down upon the mercy seat and at the objects revealing the sin. The wages of sin before a holy God was death. But the blood carried by the high priest was spread upon the mercy seat, satisfying God’s righteous demand against the sin of the people for one year. It is very important to realize that the High Priest entered that little room alone, out of all human sight. (Heb. 9:7).

Enter Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, who appeared in the presence of God in heaven, far away from the probing eyes of all human creation. Christ came as High Priest of a tabernacle not made with human hands (Heb. 9:11-12). This was the real tabernacle in heaven from which the earthly pattern was taken (Ex. 25:40). It was into this heavenly tabernacle that Christ entered the Most Holy Place once for all, obtaining eternal redemption.

Christ never once entered the physical earthly tabernacle made with hands, but He went into heaven itself to appear in the presence of God for us. After He made one (heavenly) sacrifice for sins, forever, He sat down at the right hand of the Father. It is from this vantage point that He is waiting for His enemies to become His footstool.

It is fascinating that at the foot of the cross upon Mt. Calvary many eyes were looking intently at a man dying there. It is here that Paul’s unseen truth comes into crystal clear focus. In heaven, out of the sight of any human eye, our High Priest was Himself becoming sin for us. He was performing His work before the real mercy seat of God. The word that sums this all up is the word propitiation. It means “satisfactory sacrifice.” Jesus Christ and His heavenly service was indeed the final forever sacrifice for our sin. What can we add to that?

For a more detailed look at Propitiation, go to the article on our web page.

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

April 13, 2015

Many friends and I have been empty_tombgrieving the death of a college classmate recently. She and I were freshmen together. I looked forward to meeting her along with others at a local restaurant for coffee. I was aware that she was in the building because of her laugh. What a laugh it was! When she laughed, she really laughed. And it was contagious. Others seemed to catch it and laugh with her. She lived her life with eternity in mind, especially during the last couple of years when she endured much suffering. She will be missed. I could not help but think of her when I penned these words.

During His ministry on earth Jesus, the God-Man, demonstrated His amazing power over nature, angels, disease, demons, and death itself. Amazingly, He raised three people from the dead: the widow of Nain’s son (Lk. 7:14), Jarius’ daughter (Matt. 9:25), and probably his most famous resurrection was that of Lazarus (John 11:1-27).

Lazarus never said a word, but his story is still speaking around the world today. His testimony begins in the little town of Bethany. It was located about two miles from Jerusalem where Jesus was staying. Jesus received word that Lazarus, a dear friend, was sick. Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word to Jesus, possibly thinking that Jesus would come right away. Instead, Jesus sent word that Lazarus was not going to die but that his sickness was to shed light upon the Son of God.

The text clearly says that Jesus loved all three of these siblings: Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. But He waited in Jerusalem two more days. Two more days! Why? It is simple. He waited for Lazarus to die. When He was at last ready to depart for Bethany, He told His disciples that Lazarus was asleep and it was time to go and wake Him up.

The disciples’ response was understandable. Sick people need rest and it’s good that he is asleep. It is obvious that they were not yet tuned in. Then Jesus rocked them by announcing that Lazarus was dead. Dead! But He quickly followed up with these incredible words. “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to Him” (John 11:15). Lazarus is dead and the Lord is glad? I can’t begin to imagine how these men must have responded to these words. “That you may believe” was possibly lost in the moment.

When Jesus arrived on the scene, He discovered that Lazarus had been dead four days. Four days! I’ve often wondered what went through Mary and Martha’s minds during this time. Where is He? Why doesn’t He come? Does He really care for us? He did so many wonderful things for so many people, why not us? They must have had a myriad of thoughts, and some of them not good. And He was only two miles away! Then comes the majestic moment.

Jesus met Martha face to face. The air must have been ripe with emotion. Martha’s cried, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died.” It’s hard to know how her words came out and what she was really thinking. She followed up quickly by saying that God may yet do something.

Jesus’s words, “Your brother is going to rise again,” may have simply hung in the air as Martha tried to process them. She obviously missed the true meaning. She exhibited poise, however. She filled an awkward silence by choking out, “I know he will rise at the resurrection.”

Our Lord’s words should be indelibly emboldened upon every believer’s heart. “I am the resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me – though he may die – yet shall he live.” And His next words reveal the most miraculous truth of all. “He who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” I imagine Him saying it softly, like this: “Martha, Martha, look at Me. Don’t you know who I am? Martha, I am the resurrection! When I am here, the resurrection is here. I am the One who gives life. When I am here, life is here.”

I am awed when I think of the truth of these words: “He who lives and believes in me will never die.” Believers that die go instantly into the presence of Jesus Christ. For us nothing comes between leaving this world and entering the next. We do not die! The very millisecond that this physical life ends, we are face to face with Christ. We are absent from the body and present with the Lord. Halleluiah!

The supernatural moment finally came. Jesus asked those around to move the stone away from the grave! Hold it! Lazarus had been dead too long! His body was already a stench. “Move it away,” Jesus commanded. They obeyed. Then Jesus spoke boldly, “Lazarus, come forth.” He wasn’t saying it loudly for Lazarus to hear. After all, He was the One who spoke all of creation into existence. He was the One who breathed life into Adam. He was the One who said, let there be, and it was. No! He wanted all those standing around to hear. He wants us now to hear. He wants those who read this who are spiritually dead in their sins to hear. Lazarus immediately obeyed His command. The one who was dead came to life and walked out of that tomb.

Our Lord’s words, Lazarus come forth, shout to us now and continue to reverberate down thought the corridors of human history. Jesus said that He was glad for “your sakes that you may believe.” Believe what! Believe that only God can give life to the dead. Jesus Christ is God, and only He can give you life. “And this is the record that God has given to us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:11). Do you believe this?

I Am the Bread of Life

March 10, 2015

John 6:11-51bread

The hungry crowd was astounded at what had happened right in front of their eyes. Twelve men had suddenly become waiters in a wasteland, carrying basket after basket of bread and fish, feeding a multitude of thousands. The food was inexplicably coming from a small boy’s lunch. What a miracle!

At the center of it all was a man called Jesus. The crowd began to follow this remarkable stranger who had given them food like they had never had. Jesus knew what they were thinking, and told them that they were seeking Him not because of the enormous miracle He had performed but because they were hungry and had been fed. He instructed them not to strive for physical food that could bring only temporary satisfaction but for the fare that He could give – everlasting life.

They understandingly asked Him for another sign (hopefully one that would end in another meal). Jesus reminded them of a time long ago when their forefathers were trapped in a vast wilderness with nothing to eat. He told them how God had supernaturally rained down upon them bread from heaven (the manna). He then gave them this glimpse of His grace. He said, “I am the bread of life.” The manna was symbolic of Him. He was the real bread of life that the Father had given. Whoever would come to Him would never hunger and whoever believed in Him would never thirst. Wow!

Note the powerful words then spoken by the greatest communicator who ever lived. “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). I have pondered the depth of these words numerous times. First came the giving and then the coming. The meaning is magnanimous! I did not come to Him because I stumbled across the marvelous gospel given in a clear way, nor because I had the good sense to believe the gospel when I heard it, and not even because I had the discernment to place my trust in Jesus Christ. No! I came to Jesus Christ because of a transaction that took place long before I was ever here.

God the Father gave me to Christ. I received the gift of God’s grace because I am a gift of God’s grace. Praise Him! God orchestrated my whole salvation experience: the hearing the gospel, the understanding that came, and the trust that I placed in Christ. No theologian can spin the sense and dull the significance of the God-Man’s words. His words rocked my world and forever changed my life. And not only this, but He continued.

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me that of all that He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up in the last day” (John 6:38-39). My salvation and my eternal security were wrapped up tight in the mind of God long before I was ever here. It was His will that made the eternal difference for me, not mine.

“And this is the will of Him who sent Me that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40). So what is my invitation when I give the gospel today? It remains, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” and “Whosoever will may come.” But I always pray that there may be some “gifts” in the audience.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).