On This Page
Introduction - You Are Going To Die - And Stay Dead.
Christianity Alone Offers The Unbeliever Something They Cannot Get Anywhere Else.
Shallow, Abbreviated and Highly Inaccurate Salvation Messages
The Wrath of God
What Exactly Do We Need Saving From?
The Wrath and Judgment of God
God's Wrath Is His Response to Sin
God Hates Sin, But How Does He Define Sin and What Penalty Do Sinners Pay?
The Price Of Sin.
With Prescribed Animal Sacrifices In Place, Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
Why Were the Old Testament Sacrifices Inadequate?
The Love of God
What exactly does this mean? Does He get all warm and gooey when He thinks of us or...
Repentance, Faith and The Lordship of Christ
Salvation involves more than simply affirming in one's mind that Jesus is Lord and Savior - Repentance and Faith are both absolute requirements for forgiveness. Also why it isn’t enough to just acknowledge Jesus as Savior. In fact, close to 60% of the New Testament books never mention Jesus as Savior even once
A "Free" Gift?
In the church today one often hears that salvation is a 'free' gift from God - words that are supposedly based on 3 verses in Romans. But does the Bible say this or have we ourselves conjured up (and spread) a completely erroneous idea?
Crucial Details Every Christian Needs to Know
The kingdom doesn't come cheap and there are huge consequences to falling away... therefore it is wise that we count the cost before we embark on what could be a difficult journey. However, when all is said and done ...It‘s Your Decision
You Are Going To Die - And Stay Dead.
While happiness, fulfillment and good health are wonderful things to have in this life, 'this life' doesn't last forever. In fact, if you think about it you will be shocked at how quickly the last decade or two have flown by.
It does not matter how many face lifts you have had, how well organized your retirement plans are nor how financially stable you may be. It makes no difference how much under control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are, how much you exercise and refrain from smoking, how enlightened and in touch with yourself you are, and how much meaningful companionship and mental stimulation you have.. you are going to die.
Some of the above will certainly improve the quality of your life in the time you have left on this planet, and will probably even prolong your life by a few years - neither result to be sneezed at. But eventually all efforts will make no difference and you will be left with nothing but a deep dark hole in the ground which is where they are going to put you. In fact, a great part of the problem of growing old is the possibility that all our dreams, hopes, aspirations and all the spiritual principles we might have lived by come to an undignified end - a putrid mass of decaying flesh or dry ashes and bone fragments. The fancy urns and expensive coffins only serve to soothe the feelings of those left behind. However, even they will eventually move on - and you? You will be relegated to a few photographs in a dusty old album.
Is this all there is?
Or are we supposed to take heart in the belief that we are rendered immortal through our offspring or those that remember us because of a heroic deed we may have accomplished, a book we might have written or a statue or plaque dedicated to our memory. While all this sounds tragically romantic, let us not forget the none of this does the dead person a whit of good. For most of us, the best we can hope for is that our grandchildren remember our names ten years after we are gone. (Which seems rather unlikely in this day and age).
The real calamity is however the fact that for most people an absolutely certain answer to the question of what lies beyond the grave remains elusive - most do not even realize that permanent death is not the only option.
When all is said and done virtually all humans have two things in common.
1) Almost everyone is searching for a 'better life', if not a perfect one. Most people are constantly striving to make their living happier, healthier, and less difficult. We grasp at every shred of happiness we can find, but find that it frequently slips from our grasp, often through no fault of our own.
2) No one wants to die. Through the centuries men have tried to penetrate the veil of death and find out what, if anything, lies beyond. Our spirit rebels at the thought that no matter what we have accomplished in our seventy odd years here on earth, we are eventually going to become worm food. Fighting the inevitable, most humans will cling to the last shreds of life - even if that life has been far from perfect.
If your defenses are well honed and you claim that you are satisfied with the short life given to you then don't bother to read on. The rest of this page is for those who do not wish to arrive at death's door without being certain of where it leads.
Christianity Alone Offers The Unbeliever Something They Cannot Get Anywhere Else.
If, at some point in your life, you heard Christians talk of "salvation", but did not understand (perhaps because it was never made clear) what exactly it meant, let me put it in the simplest possible terms -
Biblical salvation means being saved from death, i.e. being given eternal life.
The Message Jesus Was Sent To Proclaim
All too many people picking out a random phrase or two, think 'love' was Jesus' core message. Unfortunately, they are terribly wrong. Inexplicably, they seem to completely miss the fact that Jesus never stopped talking about the "kingdom of God" - a phrase is used over 50 times in the four Gospels alone. He even said that the proclamation of the Kingdom was the reason He was sent to earth (Luke 4:43).
But what and where is this kingdom?
The Bible's description of the kingdom of God (also called heaven) is no pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere out there' but matches in every respect the world most men and women would choose to live in. A place of peace and safety right here on earth where there is no hunger and disease, crime and war and, almost unbelievably, no death. Far from being outdated, out of touch, and irrelevant to modern society, the Christian Gospel or 'good news' promises exactly the utopian world most men and women can only dream of. Unless, of course, your idea of paradise is "an ineffable transcendental state" (whatever that means).
Wrap your head around Eternal Life for a moment. No running out of time, never any fear of death and the accompanying problems that getting old brings. Certainly eternal life in a world such as ours may actually not be very attractive since there are worse things than death. However, the eternal life we are promised is a sin/crime/disease/disaster free world - NOT an offer you will find anywhere else. See The Message of The Bible.
However, there is one stumbling block that keeps you and everyone else out of God's kingdom - and that in a nutshell is sin. Therefore I cannot stress enough how important it is to clearly and accurately understand what sin is. The natural human tendency is to think of the Hitlers, child molesters and axe murderers of the world as sinners, and ourselves as not perfect - but not really sinners. Even when many Christians think of sin, they simply think of a violation of the Ten Commandments. However, none of these views come anywhere near agreeing with the Biblical definition of sin. The problem is that the verdict is already in - because of your sins, you have been condemned to death far more surely than any person sitting on death row in a federal penitentiary. In light of which, it is perhaps wiser to find out how God defines sin, rather than to trust in your own idea. See What Is Sin (Below)
Unfortunately, accurate, clear, and comprehensible explanations of sin and salvation have given way to ....
Shallow, Abbreviated, and Highly Inaccurate Salvation Messages
When it comes to telling someone else how they can be saved, a large percentage of the modern church tends to reduce the Gospel message to overused and overworked phrases that defy understanding and strip the message of any real meaning. In fact two common catch phrases, "accept Jesus as your personal Savior" and "invite Jesus into your heart" are so entrenched in evangelical Christianity that few stop to consider whether they are Biblical - or even whether they convey anything useful.
They are not and they do not.
Not only are these instructions conspicuous by their absence in the Bible, but they are very confusing - even quite misleading. Although it is possible to convey Biblical truth without strictly using words found in the Bible, in view of the fact that the person's decision is quite literally, a matter of life or death, it is hugely important that our words accurately convey Biblical concepts.
"Invite Jesus Into Your Heart" Although the expression is common enough, I still have absolutely no idea of what it is supposed to mean even after well over twenty five years of being a Christian. Although I am sure most have the good sense to realize the invitation isn't literal, it is a completely meaningless phrase that communicates nothing comprehensible. Moreover, it is not found anywhere in the Scriptures. See Why NOT To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart
"Accept Jesus as Your Personal Savior" This commonly used phrase has two problems.
To begin with, the phrase "personal Savior" is not found anywhere in the Scriptures. The word "personal" means the matter relates only to one particular person. Examine, if you will, how the word is commonly used. We refer to personal hygiene, having a personal opinion, personal belongings, giving something our personal attention, having a personal style, personal knowledge, making a personal appearance etc. etc etc. In every single case the word indicates that it is exclusively ours. It is private.
This means when someone tells you to accept Christ as "personal Savior", it clearly indicates that He is Savior just for them.
And if that is not what you mean then don't use the word 'personal'. Christ never was anyone's "personal Savior". He didn't come to earth just for any one person and no one has exclusive claims on salvation. The only thing 'personal' about salvation is that accepting or not accepting His offer is a personal decision - it is exclusively mine. This may seem to many to be nit-picking, but it is an extremely bad idea to put one foot on the slippery slope of deviation from Biblical concepts.
The book of Revelation paints a very alarming picture of Christ the "King Of Kings, and Lord Of Lords" (19:11-16) at whose word this very earth will be destroyed. Yet we, to paraphrase something Tozer once said, think Jesus is standing outside on the steps, hat-in-hand, like some poor timid fellow looking for a job.
Telling someone to 'accept Christ' is not inaccurate but, if not carefully explained, makes it appear that Christ is waiting on your pleasure. In itself, the phrase conveys the idea that, to be saved, all you have to do is say "sure, I'll let Jesus be my Savior". Your passive acceptance is both easy and unconditional, with no further demands made of you. Nothing could be further from the truth. See Merely Acknowledging Jesus as Savior is Insufficient
Other well meaning Christians urge the sinner to pray some version of the "Sinner's Prayer".
"The Sinner's Prayer" Among the cases of conversion in the book of Acts, I would challenge you to find a single case of someone being instructed to pray for their salvation. Much to the contrary sinners were admonished to 'repent and be baptized'. See Is The Sinner's Prayer Effective? It is also important to note that in every instance of the preaching of the Gospel in the book of Acts (from Pentecost on) God's love is never mentioned. Without exception the emphasis was ALWAYS on forgiveness of sin
Lastly, and perhaps most commonly, people are told to ...
"Believe in Jesus Christ". Although the words come from the Bible, by themselves these instructions are horribly abbreviated. They neither tell you what you are saved from, nor what you gain by being "saved". They certainly do not convey all that is involved. And yes, I am fully aware that in Acts 16 Paul and Silas told the jailer that if he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ he would be saved. However, if you pay a little more attention you will realize that is not all they said or did. Verse 16 says they also "spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house". In other words we have picked up on half the story and used it as an excuse for our highly abbreviated version of the Gospel which, by itself, is no Gospel at all. See Footnote I
Christianity is rooted in and inseparable from the Scriptures. Everything a Christian knows about God, everything he believes and practices is based not on human knowledge, insight, or experience, but rests solely on God's word to man as recorded in the Scriptures. And it is these Scriptures that tell us that a person's salvation depends on several essential factors.
Also See Life or Death... The Choice is Yours
The Bible very clearly tells us that we all have a choice to make in this life - the most important choice we will ever make. And, if the Bible is indeed the word of God, the consequences for the individual who chooses to ignore or counter the evidence with clever arguments, will be fatal. In view of which, If Christianity even has a one in a hundred chance of being true, perhaps we should not be demanding greater evidence, but wake up to the fact that a far more sensible way to look at it is... the more severe the consequences, the less we should take risks. What is truly interesting is that most people seem to be prejudiced against the Bible, but well disposed towards other 'scriptures'. This is a rather illogical situation, because there is far more evidence in favor of the Bible being true, than there is for any of the other 'holy books'. This includes scientific, historical and archaeological corroboration and the many fulfilled prophecies.
If you happen to be one of those people who are trusting in the fact that in the past you prayed a prayer, raised your hand, walked an aisle, or signed a card, your faith is misplaced. Nor will God welcome you into His kingdom based on your efforts to live a good life, keep the Ten Commandments, do good and help others. (If being saved was simply a matter of pulling up our socks, then Jesus died an agonizing death for no reason whatsoever).
The fact is that none of these things will save you from the arrow that He has already drawn in His bow - an arrow that is tenuously aimed at every sinner... at you.
If you are looking for a short and easy answer, you are in the wrong place. And, may I add, if you think you have already found a short and easy answer, you may very well be hopelessly deluded.
Why Do We Need Salvation, or What Exactly is It That We Need Saving From?
The modern method of preaching the Gospel is not only shallow and horribly abbreviated, but it is also a perfect example of putting the cart before the horse.
The message should begin with the wrath of God. The bad news has to come before the good news. Telling someone that they can be saved is completely ridiculous if they neither know they are lost nor what it is they need to be saved from. Telling someone that there is a pardon available is an absolute waste of time, if the person does not know they are already condemned.
So, what do we need to be saved from?
The short answer is that we need saving from the wrath of the Father Himself.
The Wrath and Judgment of God
Tragically, we in the modern church have lost our fear of God.
Today's bumper sticker theology that says, "Smile, God Loves You!" is a gargantuan lie. People, both in the church and without, delude themselves that they are "not that bad" and because that benevolent grandfather in the sky loves them, He will overlook their 'small' mistakes. Because He is exceedingly patient, we fondly imagine He is okay with the way we live our lives. Nothing, but nothing, could be further from the truth. As said by David Servant...
John the Baptist, whom Jesus called the greatest man who ever lived (Matt. 11:11), never mentioned Gods' love when he preached the gospel (see Matt. 3:1-12; Luke 3:1-18). He sounded much like Jonathan Edwards, warning his audiences of God's coming wrath. There is not a single case in the book of Acts where anyone preaching the gospel told an unsaved audience that God loved them. Rather, the Biblical preachers warned their audiences that God did not approve of them, that they were in danger, and that they needed to make dramatic changes in their lives" .
In both Old and New Testaments, the Bible labors the point that God is good to those who trust, follow, and obey Him and is terrible to those who do not. Both Testaments emphasize the reality and terror of God's wrath. Yet, in line with the modern philosophy of not offending anyone, today's largely sickly sweet, sentimental, and completely ineffective Christianity babbles on and on about the goodness and love of God, but almost totally ignores His wrath and judgment.
Unfortunately the English words "anger" or "wrath" can imply a very negative emotion. So we have to ask whether God is an endlessly angry Being that constantly flies off the handle, entertains vindictive personal feeling and unreasonable whims thus is constantly having to be appeased and mollified.
God's Wrath Is In Response to One Thing, and One Thing Only
From cover to cover, the Bible makes it clear that God hates sin and evil. See The Wrath of God Yet, there is little or no emphasis on sin in the modern church. It lies breathing its last, buried below mega star preachers, flamboyant preaching, worship teams that could find work in many Broadway productions, large "crusades", exciting "revivals", one manmade creative program after the other. Glitz and glamour that Hollywood could be proud of. Regardless of the cost, the western world will have their entertainment..
See The Mile Wide And Inch Deep Flashy Mega-Churches with Their Very Expensive Entertainment and
Wealthy Celebrity Pastors With Deep Pockets And Self Serving Shallow Theology
While today's preferred view of God is to see Him strictly as a God of love, always bestowing wonderful things upon us, and never causing any grief whatsoever the fact remains that He Himself says He actually hates and withdraws from people who practice evil. Nor will He have the slightest qualm about judging them according to their deeds.
For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. (Psalms 5:4-6 NASB)
The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates. (Psalms 11:5 NASB)
"I have forsaken My house, I have abandoned My inheritance; I have given the beloved of My soul Into the hand of her enemies. "My inheritance has become to Me Like a lion in the forest; She has roared against Me; Therefore I have come to hate her. (Jeremiah 12:7-8 NASB)
"I, the Lord, have spoken; it is coming and I will act. I will not relent, and I will not pity and I will not be sorry; according to your ways and according to your deeds I will judge you," declares the Lord God.'" (Ezekiel 24:14 NASB)
Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, And they do not know the Lord. Moreover, the pride of Israel testifies against him, And Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also has stumbled with them. They will go with their flocks and herds To seek the Lord, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn from them. (Hosea 5:4-6 NASB)
All their evil is at Gilgal; Indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; All their princes are rebels. (Hosea 9:15 NASB)
Yet, for the most part, today's 'Christian' world immersed in their endless round of 'Christian' concerts, conferences, bingo games, coffee klatschs, men's breakfasts, choir practice, and Christmas pageants seems to have lost sight of what God thinks of sin. The never ending supply of 'Christian' books so devoured by churchians are largely focused on self-improvement, becoming a leader, and 'being the best you can be'. No wonder they are so popular. What they rarely or never warn people about is His wrath.
But we wont be able to ignore it too much longer.
In Genesis 15:13-16 God told Abraham that Israel would endure slavery in Egypt but, after four generations, would return to the Promised Land. The reason God gave for the long period of time was because "the iniquity of the Amorite" was not yet complete. This tells us that much as God abhors all sin, the iniquity of the entire nation had to reach a certain level before He would act. When their iniquity reached its limit, He would allow the descendants of Abraham to dispossess them and take their land.
It is exactly the same with us. As of right now the iniquity of the Gentiles is not yet full, but there is a day looming on the horizon when mankind will push the boundaries and exhaust the Father's patience. When that happens, His fury at man's cruelty, greed and sheer inhumanity will spill over.
Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold and mankind than the gold of Ophir. (Isaiah 13:11-12 NASB)
There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:9-11 NASB)
For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:5-6 NASB)
The pictures of Jesus as a rather ascetic, gentle, and - may I say it?- even soppy looking individual cradling a lamb, have so influenced our perspective of Him, that we are apparently quite blind to His other side. Yes, He is gentle with His flock, but the book of Revelation paints a metaphorical, yet very alarming picture of the 'King of kings' who, in the final moments of this era, will ride down on a white horse, followed by the armies of Heaven. He will be clothed in a robe dipped in blood, His eyes will be a flame of fire, and He will carry a sharp sword to strike down the nations and treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God. On His robe is written, "King Of Kings, and Lord Of Lords" (Revelation 19:11-16) See The Day of The Lord
How bad will it get? Pretty horrible when the Savior Himself stressed that even being maimed is preferable to continuing in sin and incurring the Father's wrath.
If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell" (Matthew 18:7-9). See What and Where is Hell?
Having established that God hates sin and will punish evildoers the trillion dollar question that has to be asked is
What Is Sin?
Over the last few decades the word "sin" has become increasingly obsolete - often considered a holdover concept from some primitive and/or rather naive religious beliefs. Even those who believe in a higher power have very varied ideas about sin and its consequences - or lack of.
I have little doubt that most people in the western world do not see themselves as sinners, but as 'not perfect'. 'Sinners' usually defined as the serial killers, terrorists, rapists and child molesters of the world.
Many believe that there is no absolute moral law. And if there happens to be a God against whom we sin, He is too "loving" to actually hold our 'mistakes' against us, much less punish us for them.
In an almost universal 'Santa Claus' mentality many believe that, when we die, our good and bad deeds will be weighed on a pair of divine scales to determine whether we will spend eternity balancing on a white fluffy cloud strumming a harp, or in a blistering cauldron being constantly poked by a guy in a red suit and horns.
The problem is that none of these views come anywhere near agreeing with what the Bible tells us.
The Hebrew word chatâ'âh, that the Bible uses far more often than any other to define sin, literally means to miss the mark - to fall short of the standard God has set. The rub being that the standard God has set is Himself, i.e. absolute perfection. It is no wonder then that the Bible says...
The people who consider themselves 'not perfect' have a bigger problem than they may be aware of especially considering that the Bible doesn't mince words when it speaks of the consequences of sin.
If you think the Bible is preposterously harsh when it says that even a tiny infraction deserve death, you may never have taken the time to envision a world totally and completely free of any wrong doing (sin). Perhaps you should do so now - Footnote 2 has a few thoughts to get you started. Regardless, an idyllic world free from the ravages of all wrong-doing, disease, and death is, and always has been, God's ultimate plan for our planet. He calls it "Heaven".
See What and Where is Heaven?
Christians who believe they will spend an eternity in "heaven", seem to have little or no idea where this heaven is, what it will look like, or what they will do there. Either they have fleeting, half formed ideas about some ethereal place 'out there', or resort to pious phrases that amount to little more than spiritual gobbledy gook. If this is the best we can do then it is little wonder that non Christians are not in the slightest bit interested in our "heaven", and Christians themselves so rarely seem to look forward to the coming of the day of God.
The Price Of Sin
Not only did Romans 6:23 clearly state that the consequences of sin is death, but the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were a vivid reminder that God demanded death as a punishment for every wrongdoing. As Hebrews 9:22 says
"..all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."
Thus whenever a person sins he or she immediately comes under the death penalty - that is they pay with their life. This was first seen as far back as Genesis 2:17 when God told Adam and eve
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
Because atonement for sin is only made by the shedding of blood the animal functioned as a substitute for the offender and bore the punishment of the person who had sinned whether mistakenly, inadvertently, due to moral weakness, or those committed willfully or "with a high hand". Note:because life is in the blood rather than the flesh it is considered a "blood sacrifice".
With Prescribed Animal Sacrifices In Place, Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
Anyone who has asked the question why Christ had to come to earth to shed His blood and die for for our sins will want to read Hebrews 10:1-4. However, although these four verses give us important information they do not really answer the question of why the OT sacrifices failed to make the offerer perfect, nor why animal blood could not take sin away.
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (NASB)
So perhaps the following will provide clarification.
Yom Kippur: the daily animal sacrifices only covered sins (Heb. châtâ), not the evil inclinations of the heart (âvôn) nor wilful and knowing rebellion (pesha). See What Is Sin? - Old Testament Word Study. The only atonement for iniquity and rebellion was on Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement observed once a year.
"On this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord" (Leviticus 16:30).
On this the most solemn and important holy day on the Jewish calendar, the High Priest offered an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the people. It was a day on which no food or drink could be consumed and all work was forbidden. The momentousness of the occasion was highlighted by the fact that God said that anyone who did not "afflict his soul" on that day would be cut off from the community.
Leviticus 16 tells us that on Yom Kippur the high priest Aaron took two goats and presented them before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. He then "cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat" (Vs. 7-8). As in all the other sin offerings one goat was sacrificed as a sin offering (Heb. chattâ'âh), but the other was sent alive into the wilderness after Aaron confessed all the nations iniquities (Heb. âvôn) and transgressions (Heb. pesha) over it.
In other words, people's rebellion and evil intents were symbolically placed on the head of the goat and sent away.
However, we come back to the statement made by the author of Hebrews in chapter 10 - "it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins"
The Old Covenant's Fundamental weakness
In the second verse of chapter 10 the author of Hebrews also said the "sacrifices which they offer continually year by year" could never make perfect those who draw near. He then went on to ask
Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?
In other words, the fact that the blood sacrifices had to be offered over and over again points to the Old Covenant's inherent weakness. If the blood of bulls and goats had procured complete forgiveness and totally cleansed the sinners by removing past sins there would have been no need for the sacrifices to be repeated year after year.
Note: The phrase "no longer have had consciousness of sins" does not mean that the person would forget that that he was a sinner, but that he would no longer be concerned that he or she would be the target of God's wrath.
The Blood of Animal Sacrifices Was Woefully Inadequate
The word atonement translated from the Hebrew kâphar is found nearly 80 times in the Pentateuch alone and has both a literal and figurative meaning. Literally it means to cover (specifically with bitumen *). Figuratively it means to expiate or condone, to placate or appease, to make atonement for.
However, the author of Hebrews tells us with very good reason that "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins". In fact, Hebrews 10:6 says the Father took no pleasure in the Old Testament burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin and two verses later (V. 8) informs us that God "did not desire nor had pleasure in them.
Although all the sacrificial animals were valuable, their lives were not worth as much as a human's life was. Because one simply cannot redeem something of greater value with something of lesser value. The sacrifice had to be worth at least as much or more than the sinner's life.
Thus the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament only 'covered over' or temporarily hid the sins of the people. A sacrifice much greater than a mere bull or goat was required to ensure the sin of all mankind were forgiven, removed, and forgotten. The only blood sacrifice that was worth more - much more - than required to pay for sins of the entire planet past and future was that shed by Jesus Christ.
Yom Kippur Was a 'Type'
Nonetheless, the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament - especiallyYom Kippur was important - very important.
It was a "type" - a temporary measure put in place in anticipation of the main event that, at the time, was far in the future. Yom Kippur foreshadowed the death of the coming Messiah - "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). (See Typology)
That the Suffering Servant came so that our sins and iniquities would be forgiven was vividly described by Isaiah many centuries before Jesus' birth.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions (Heb. pesha), He was crushed for our iniquities (Heb. âvôn); The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity (âvôn ) of us all To fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:5-6 NASB)
Sent by the Father, Jesus Christ saved us from the death penalty by dying in our place, offering safety from the wrath of God Himself for all those who choose to put their trust in and follow Him. If that sounds a little odd to you, look at it this way - God Himself said the penalty of sin is death.
Perfect justice means He doesn't break His own laws.
Infinite love means He sent His own Son to pay the penalty that the law demands.
Under the New Covenant sins are not only forgiven but also forgotten. As Hebrews 10:17 (quoting Jeremiah 31:34) goes on to say "their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.'"
Note: Jesus is not one of many ways to heaven; He is the ONLY way. As He said in John 14:6... "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". See Section All Paths One Destination?)
But lets talk about the love of God for a moment
The Love of God
Please note that the word love in the New Testament, usually translated from the Greek Agape, has little to do with affection, fondness, or mushy sentimentality that never says a harsh word. In fact, it has nothing at all to do with feelings.
Agape is stretching out ones hand to another person whether or not you approve of them, or even like them.
For example, most people would throw a life jacket to a drowning man, even if the person in the water was someone they had few good feelings for. Thus the Bible's instructions for us to love our neighbour does not mean we are always going to like them - which would be impossible considering we sometimes find ourselves very inclined to hit them over the head with something large and heavy.
Loving our neighbour means feeding them if they are hungry, clothing them if they are cold or, most importantly, telling them the glad news of the Gospel if they are unbelievers. It often entails putting another's needs before our own.
This is exactly the kind of love that God has demonstrated. When the Bible says 'God loves us', let us please not delude ourselves that He thinks humans are pretty cool and gets all warm and gooey when He thinks of us. God's love means that He cares enough to not want us to perish. In fact, He cares so much that in His Grace (defined as unmerited favor), gave His Son's life so that we didn't have to. You did notice the word "unmerited". Of course you did.
However, we also need to note that, on the other hand, the Bible speaks of many, many righteous people of whom He approved.. including Abraham, Noah, Job, Daniel, David , Cornelius etc. See
Isaiah 64:6 has long been used as a 'proof-text' to establish the idea that everything the natural man does is wicked... even good deeds. The problem being that everyone seems to ignore both the textual and historical context. To say nothing of the fact that the Bible often speaks of "righteous" people.
None That Seeketh?
Romans 3:11-18 is often quoted to bolster the claims of universal depravity - that no one ever seeks after God. However, if you were to examine the source of Paul's quotes, you would realize that the Psalms in question often spoke of God's protection and favor towards the virtuous people of the day. The million dollar question then is why Paul presented one side of the coin, but ignored the verses that speak of God's support and favor for those who feared Him. The answer is very simple ...
* Bitumen - various flammable mixtures of hydrocarbons and other substances found in asphalt and tar.
Continue On To Part II - Repentance, Biblical Faith and the Lordship of Christ. HERE.
It is hugely important to understand that salvation involves more than simply affirming in one's mind that Jesus is Lord and Savior - repentance and faith both being absolute requirements for forgiveness. Also close to 60% of the New Testament books never mention Jesus as Savior even once. Instead, He is referred to as "Lord" over six hundred times in the New Testament, but the Greek word soter, which means deliverer or savior, is used a mere 24 times in the New Testament.. Bearing this in mind let us remember that it isn’t enough to just acknowledge Jesus as Savior.
Footnote I - Paul, Silas and The Jailer
While it is true that Acts 16:30-31 does record Paul and Silas telling the jailer "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household", one has to take more than a cursory look at the account, before universally preaching this abbreviated message to all and sundry.
The apostle Paul was being held in jail, when suddenly, about midnight, a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison, opening all doors and unfastening everyone's chains. This awoke the jailer who seeing that the prison doors were open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. The reason for the jailers reaction was that he would have been held responsible for the escape and, in all likelihood, executed. However Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here".
At this, the man fell down before the apostles and cried out, "... Sirs, what must I do to be saved? To which Paul replied "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:30-31).
It is entirely possible that, before the earthquake took place, the jailer had some inkling of who Jesus was said to be. Acts 16:25 records that Paul and Silas were "praying and singing" while locked in the stocks, which meant that the jailer undoubtedly heard their prayers and songs before he fell asleep..
However if Paul was urging him, as many in Christendom do today, simply to believe and accept Christ as "personal Saviour", then one would expect the very next verse to tell us that the jailer believed on the spot and was saved. However this is not the case. The text goes on to say... "Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him" (vs. 32). Apparently the "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" was simply the introductory line, followed by additional information.
In other words, this account in Acts does not give us the excuse for the modern, highly abbreviated, version of the Gospel which, by itself, is no Gospel at all. (PLACE IN TEXT)
Footnote II - A World Without Sin
What would it be like to never have to worry about the safety of our children, and never have to lock the doors to our homes or cars. A young woman could walk home in the late evening and know she would get there safely. Pornography would not exist. There would have been no Enron and no Watergate. What would it be like if politicians and used car salesmen told nothing but the truth? Children would be raised in the security of two parents who are committed to one another. While there is little doubt that some crimes arise out of need and desperation, the vast amounts of funds we would save on our police force, judiciary, armed forces, jails and related organizations would ensure that no one would be in want. Are we getting the picture yet?
Perhaps the Bible has a point after all.
However, I am sure many can understand why a murderer or rapist does not deserve to live but fail to comprehend how a tiny infraction can deserve death. So perhaps it would be useful to ask the question of where one draws the line between a 'big sin' and a 'small' one?
If I as a 'friend' of yours, picked up a paper clip from your desk without permission, you probably wouldn’t give it a passing thought. If, instead of a paper clip I walked off with a dollar bill you probably would give it a second thought, or two, or three. But ultimately are likely to forget about it. However, I doubt that would be quite your attitude had it been a hundred dollar bill and, as awkward as it might be, you would not be likely to let it go.
So where shall we draw the line between a paper clip and a hundred dollar bill? At a penny? A dime? A fiver? And how much are you willing to bet that, if asked, ten people would give ten different answers.
Cultures and people across the globe have different standards - So whose standard shall we judge by?
God made it simple. He set the standard... He said 'No sin'. Think of it this way as pastor Greg Koukl put it,
If you sinned just once a day, for 60 years (Not necessarily rape and murder, but the so called smaller sins... lust, envy, greed etc.) the total number of sins, added up over your lifetime, would be 21,900. Do you seriously think any judge would let you off the hook with that kind of rap sheet?
But please let us not forget that the Father has offered us forgiveness for any and ALL sins - be they small or extremely horrendous. Everyone has the same access to His mercy provided we repent AND turn from whatever wrongdoing we are guilty of. See Repentance. (PLACE IN TEXT)
 God's Love/Hate Relationship with the World. © Shepherd Serve 2013 – The Teaching Ministry of David Servant.