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In This Lesson
For most Christians, the message of Christianity is summed up in John 3:16 which says: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." That, in a nutshell, is what most Christians mean when we talk about Jesus as "Savior".
However, Jesus being "Savior of the World" means much more than that. In order to understand the title, we need to look at what the Bible says about the nature of sin and its effects, the nature of salvation and all it involves, and the meaning behind the name "Jesus" and title "Savior".
Notice that none of those definitions includes the word "intentionally" or even "knowingly". In other words, whether we do it intentionally or as a result of ignorance, culture, family or peer pressure, in response to an injury or harm done to us, or any other number of excuses we can come up with, sin is still sin.
The Effects of Sin
So, with sin entered sexism, painful child birth, difficulty in our daily work, and having to work for our own livelihood (instead of God generously providing everything we need). Thank you, Adam!
Note that, contrary to what opponents of Christianity say today, sexism is not a result of religious teaching, but a result of sin! Prior to Adam's sinning, they exercised dominion over creation together: "And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" (Genesis 1:28 emphasis added)
How? We're created with the God-given pulse to rule, as in ruling over God's creation. Sin distorts that natural inclination, creating within us an oft-times shockingly brutal quest for domination. This has quite naturally - and yet, unnaturally - led to selfishness, racism, materialism and possessiveness, intolerance, disregard/contempt for one another. It began with Cain killing his brother over, of all things, jealousy over Abel's relationship with God; and we've been killing each other ever since.
Perhaps the greatest testament of all time to man's prideful slant toward world domination is detailed in Genesis, chapter 11 when they started to build a tower to "make a name" for themselves. Knowing that He had to intervene in order to deter this downward spiral, God confused their languages and scattered them across the globe.
Of course, it wasn't long before they started competing, not only for each other's territory, but for that great name which had eluded them.
And now, some 6000 years later, it boggles the mind to see the progression of evil and torturous ways we've developed to kill or maim one another in our continuing quest toward world domination!
"But it gets worse. God cursed the ground because of man's sin. "'...cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life.' (Genesis 3:17) The environmental chaos of today was unimaginable in Eden, but it now defines our everyday reality. From killer earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis and hurricanes to sickness, accidents, disease and death - they all manifest the effect of our sin."
God's Word tells us: "For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." (Romans 8:20-22)
"What are the effects of sin?" Do we really need to ask...?!
We're not sinners because we sin. We sin because we're sinners!
Can we do anything at all to save ourselves? Will it matter if our good deeds outweigh the bad? To answer that, we must turn to the Bible, the only truth and authority over the affairs of mankind. God's Word asserts conclusively that we're all sinners incapable of saving ourselves, no matter how good we are.
"...as it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.' 'There is no fear of God before their eyes.'" (Romans 3:10-12) [cf. Psalm 14:2-3; 53:2-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20]
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23)
The Penalty of Sin
"For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23a)
"So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:12)
"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment..." (Hebrews 9:27)
"Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." (James 1:15)
"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:12-15)
Not only must sin be punished, but the Bible teaches that the only acceptable punishment is death. And . . . not just death, but a violent death by the shedding of blood (cf. Exodus 24:8; 29:12, 16, 20-21; 30:10; Leviticus 3,4,9). The first recorded act of such a sacrifice for sin is in Genesis 3:21 when God killed an innocent animal and shed its blood to cover Adam and Eve's sin and nakedness.
Our Inability to Save Ourselves
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." (Proverbs 14:12)
"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." (Romans 3:20)
"...know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." (Galatians 2:16)
To clarify, here's what else Paul wrote about that subject:
The ugly truth of our wretched and desperate situation should be shockingly clear by now. We need a Savior!
God's Remedy for Sin
. . . and just when it appears that we're doomed and lost forever, Jesus Christ comes to men in all walks of life, everywhere, and offers free salvation!
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
"He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:5)
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3)
"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." (John 1:12-13)
The one time in history when God punished sin - all sin - once for all time . . . the first and only time when God ever punished someone who had never sinned! That's when He punished Jesus on Calvary, not for His own sins (because He was sinless), but for ours. And, yes, it was God who punished Jesus, God who crucified Him - not the Romans and not the Jews! Isaiah says, "The LORD decided his servant would suffer as a sacrifice to take away the sin and guilt of others." (Isaiah 53:10 CEV) The King James Bible puts it this way: "It pleased the LORD to bruise Him..."
So then, Jesus paid our sin debt in full and met God's righteous requirement of death for sin. Jesus' death was an infinite and eternal payment for sins we have committed against an infinite and eternal God. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. He paid the price so that we would not have to. And Jesus' resurrection from the dead proved that His death was sufficient to pay the penalty, to meet God's righteous judgment against our sins.
This is the primary message of Christianity. While all the other religions make you work for salvation, Jesus Christ offers it, not because we deserve it, but because He can! He's the only One who can! He's the only God who cares enough to put on flesh and pay the penalty for all of our sins. No other god has done that. But that's because no other god could do that!
The good news of the Gospel is that the Messiah has come to be the Savior of all mankind. When Jesus was born, an angel told the shepherds in Luke 2:10-11: "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!"
The word "salvation" is defined as "the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil".
Notice that the definition says, "delivering from sin, not the penalty of sin. So then, Christ's sacrifice is intended to rescue and deliver us from the power of sin.
The Bible is very clear in saying that freedom from sin comes only through Jesus Christ.
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
So, in defining salvation, we can say that it is deliverance from sin and its consequences.
Who needs this salvation? As we already discussed, everyone has sinned and is under an eternal death sentence. All of mankind is in need of forgiveness of sin and deliverance from sin.
Tne Nature of Salvation
Jesus' primary mission when He took on flesh was to save us from the lostness and dangers of a life separated from God. Humankind has lost its way. Apart from God, we wander around in the darkness of a purposeless, wasted life. Everyone wants eternal life, but instead eternal death awaits us.
But Jesus has come to rescue us, to bring us back to God. As we discussed in the previous lesson, He turned on the light in our sin-sick souls and turned us in the right direction, giving us the light of His presence, and bringing purpose and meaning into our lives. Jesus calms our fears, gives us joy and peace, leads us away from the destruction that threatens us, and will one day take us to our eternal home. As we said at the beginning of this lesson: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)
Jesus came to
Jesus breaks the power of temptation and frees us from desires and habits that destroy our health and harm our souls. In Jesus, we find safety from the attacks of Satan. We still have battles, but Jesus gives us victory!
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Earlier in this lesson, we looked into the meaning behind the phrase, "being saved from the effects of sin." Now, let's look at . . .
The Effects of Salvation
Of course, the first effect of salvation is our deliverance from the penalty of sin. But when we talk about salvation from the effects of sin, we are talking about our deliverance from the guilt and pollution of sin. It is a regeneration or rebirth, the process of being "born again".
Being "born again" consists of the implanting of a new disposition in the soul; the impartation of spiritual life to those who were previously "dead in trespasses and sins".
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ."" (Ephesians 2:13 emphasis added)
In 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, the Apostle Paul details quite clearly the transformation that takes place in our salvation from the effects of sin:
This is the regeneration that takes place in salvation. It denotes the change of heart that God works in us as we pass from spiritual death to life.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 emphasis added)
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2 emphasis added)
"...for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4 emphasis added)
Does this transformation and renewing of the mind mean that we never sin again? Of course not. Salvation is not a one-time event, but a life-long continuous process of regeneration, of our sanctification.
In addition to our personal redemption and transformation, let's recall the Scripture in Romans 8:19-22 that says:
That means that some day, not only will God give us new bodies that won't be subject to disease, but Jesus will also establish His rule on earth and purify the earth from the pollution of sin. In that day, nature will be freed from violence, corruption, decay, and destruction. Everything will be restored to the perfection it had before sin entered the world. What a great salvation!
"The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them." (Isaiah 11:6)
Still . . . there's more to consider when we talk about Jesus being the "Savior of the World".
The Name "Jesus"
God the Father chose this name for His Son when He became human. He sent an angel to tell Joseph what to name the Baby whom Mary would soon deliver. The name "Jesus" would remind them constantly who Jesus was and why He had been born. He was the Son of God, coming to earth to save us from sin.
So then, the very name of Jesus actually proclaims good news for us. Through Him, YHWH/Jehovah/Yahweh, the Eternal, Self-Existent God of the universe came into this sinful world to save you and to save me! "God will save"! That is the promise that we possess every time we pray to the Father in the name of Jesus . . . when we whisper the name in worship and in prayer . . . when we sing about Jesus the Savior. He is the only Savior the only One whom the Father sent to save us.
Why Wasn't Jesus Named "Immanuel"?
This does not mean that the Bible contradicts itself. It also does not mean that the Messiah's actual earthly name would be "Immanuel".
Sometimes Your Name Isn't Your "Name"
Even though none of these is my actual name, they are all names to which I answer. They each refer to an aspect of me that is unique to my relationship with each of those people.
Such is the case with the names given to Jesus using the phrase "shall be called", in both the Old and New Testaments. This was a common way of saying that people would refer to Him in these various ways.
Obviously, none of these titles was Jesus' actual name, but they were descriptions people would use to refer to Him. In chapter 1 of the Gospel by his name, the Greek physician Luke records three different names or designations for Jesus:
However, none of these was His actual name. In two different places, the prophet Jeremiah writes about the coming Messiah:
Of course, we know that Jesus was never actually called "Jehovah" as though it was His name. Rather, His role was to bring the righteousness of YHWH/Jehovah/Yahweh to those who would believe in Him and to exchange that righteousness for our sin. Therefore, this is another one of the many titles or "names" by which we might know Him.
In the same way, to say that Jesus would be called "Immanuel" is God's way of letting us know that the Messiah to come [Jesus] is God, that He would dwell among us in His incarnation, and that He is always with us. Jesus was God in the flesh. Jesus was God making His dwelling among us.
No, Jesus' name was not Immanuel, but the Person who dwelt among us was indeed Immanuel: "God with us". Immanuel is one of the many titles for Jesus, a description of who He is.
Which Name Should We Use?
Is there a definitive answer as to what the Messiah's real name is? Yes, and it is found right there in your New Testament.
The New Testament was written in Greek. If there were ever any original Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament, they don't exist today. We only have Greek manuscripts from that period of time. Since we only have the Greek manuscripts, it is from them that we need to investigate what the Apostles wrote about Jesus. In other words, we begin our investigation based on what we do have, not what we don't have.
But before we look at the word "Jesus" itself, let's ask this question: Is the pronunciation of a word the foundation or rule by which we determine if one is Christian or not? Of course not. It is the receiving of Jesus as Lord and Savior that makes us a Christian. We are saved by faith in Christ's work on Calvary, which can neither be undone nor made more valuable or precious by how we pronounce the name of our Savior.
In fact, to insist on a particular pronunciation, as if there is some mystical power in it, rather relegates its use to a form of idolatry. We are not to worship or venerate anything except the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as we don't worship the cross or the blood as somehow having some superior spiritual power, neither do we worship the name. We worship the Man!
There's a story about the wicked Communist leader, Pol Pot in Cambodia, who sent his troops out to execute anyone rich, educated, or Christian. The soldiers went into the jungles executing people by the thousands. They came to one village where they rounded up everyone at gun point. The soldiers dug a wide and deep pit in the middle of the village, and then ordered everyone, including the children to stand at the edge of the pit.
Then a soldier took his hand gun, walked behind them, and started shooting them one at a time in the back of the head; and they would fall into the pit.
After shooting several people, as the soldier came to one woman and placed his gun on the back of her head, the little lady shouted aloud, "OH GOD! THE GOD WHO DIED BY EXECUTION! SAVE ME!" Suddenly, the soldier lifted his gun off her head, put his gun in his holster, ordered all the other soldiers back into their vehicles, and off they drove, never to be seen by those villagers again!
Those left standing at the pit, who knew they would have been killed next, just stood there in silence looking at the little lady who had just called on "the God who died by execution". She had never heard the name "Jesus". She only heard, one time in her life, that somewhere there was a God, who was the real and true God . . . and He died by execution...
Those villagers, who had served thousands of gods and knew nothing of Jesus, except what that little lady had shared, then got down on their knees and each and every one called on "the God who died by execution". After they got back up, they gathered up all of their gods and destroyed them.
Their testimony became well-known as those who "serve the God who died by execution". They still did not know His name or anything else about Him. All they knew about Him was "the God who died by execution" had saved all of them from certain execution!
It would be 14 more years before a missionary would visit their little village and tell them the name of the God in whom they had already placed all their trust!
So, the question again is: Do we become Christians by how we pronounce Jesus' name, or do we become Christians by putting our faith in "the God who died by execution"?
The truth is, as linguists will tell us, no one really knows exactly how Jesus' name would have been pronounced in the ancient Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic languages. We might have a pretty good idea, but no one can be 100% certain of the correct pronunciation of any of the forms of the name of Jesus. Therefore, those who say we must pronounce Christ's name in a certain way, in fact, may themselves be mispronouncing His true name.
We must be careful to not get caught up in "name calling" or anything else that might cause division among God's people. Instead, let's get caught up and passionate about the Man whom we call Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer, Healer, Provider, Sanctifier, Justifier, Shepherd, "God with us" Immanuel, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God and Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the One who was and who is and who is to come, the One who died but behold is alive forevermore, "the God who died by execution"...!
Power in the Name
We must be careful not to separate the name from the Man! In fact, when some Jewish exorcists invoked the name of Jesus over a man with a demon, "the evil spirit answered them, 'Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?' And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." (Acts 19:15-16)
This is why we must not take Scripture out-of-context. It is too easy to build a false theology on one or two verses separated from the whole of Scripture. We must always view Scripture in its context to be sure we are receiving what the Spirit of the Lord intended when He gave us His Word.
Peter and John healed a crippled man in Jesus' name. But, as Peter explained in Acts 3:16, the man's healing came "through Jesus" (thereby deflecting any attempts to venerate or elevate Jesus' name to a level that would make it the object of our pursuit and worship):
Prophecy and the Lamb of God
"Behold the Lamb of God..."
Of course, the title "Lamb of God" refers to Jesus' earthly mission to be the Savior of the world.
Did the people understand what John meant? Well, under the Levitical Law given to Moses, they had been sacrificing lambs for man's sins for several thousand years. The person who had sinned would confess his guilt before God and ask Him to accept the death of the lamb in his place. So they were familiar with the Law, the sacrificial system under which they lived, and the fact that God was one day going to send the Messiah to them.
But did they understand that the Messiah would die for them? They should have. Or at least, the religious leaders should have. But the Gospel records seem to indicate that they did not have that understanding. Even Jesus' own disciples, whom He told plainly that He had to die, didn't seem to grasp what He was saying.
"'For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.' But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said." (Luke 18:32-34)
As such, we must not assume that the people who heard Jesus introduced as the "Lamb of God" understood John's point either.
But their understanding, or lack thereof, did not change the fact that the Messiah had finally come into the world - not as expected, but just as prophesied. While they were looking for a Messiah who would "seek and save" them from their Roman oppressors, God had sent a Lamb who would die for them - for all of us.
Prophecy about the Savior
If they had known Jesus was truly the Messiah and that His mission was to die for mankind, they probably would not have plotted to kill Him. They hated Him so much that they would have done anything possible to thwart His plans.
But they were mere pawns in the hands of a sovereign God who sent the Messiah to die for our sins and thwart Satan's plans.
"Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, 'Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.'" (Luke 22:52-53)
Even Judas, who betrayed Jesus, was doing the Lord's work and fulfilling prophecy:
"[Jesus prayed...] 'While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those that You have given Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.'" (John 17:12 emphasis added)
They accused Him to the governor and hired witnesses to tell lies about Him at His trial. Pilate, the Roman governor, tried to appease the religious leaders by having Jesus scourged2 even though he knew Jesus was not guilty. But he cowardly gave in to the demands of the religious leaders to have Jesus crucified in order to avoid a riot.
Jesus was crucified. This was the punishment for the worst criminals. He hung between two thieves on a hill called Calvary. And there the Lamb of God spilled His life's blood and died the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
Even the "casting lots to divide His garments" was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. In fact, the entire scene that played out on Golgotha's hill that day had been prophesied hundreds of years earlier in Psalm 22 before anyone in Israel had ever witnessed a single crucifixion.
7 "All who see Me mock me; they shoot out the lip; they shake the head, saying,
14 "I am poured out like water, and all My bones are spread apart; My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels.
Attitudes toward the Lamb
Three crosses [or execution stakes] stood there on the hill; three men died that day on Golgotha.
Really, in the attitudes of the people at Calvary, we can even see an accurate picture of the whole world's attitudes toward Jesus Christ today. And in the attitudes and responses of those two criminals, we may find a key to our own attitudes:
The three images speak to us of:
Some people today object to following Jesus, using the vain argument that they can't believe in a God who would "send people to Hell." But the fact is that, like the two thieves hanging beside Jesus, every person decides his own eternal destiny by what he decides and does with the Savior. Both thieves had the same opportunity. One clung to his rebellion and hatred, mocking the only One who could save him; the other awoke later that day in Paradise.
These men are a picture of us all. One stubbornly remained rebellious and lost; the other repented, confessed His need to Jesus, and was saved.
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." (1 Peter 2:24-25)
In the Western Church, we have many songs about the blood of Christ ["There Is Power in the Blood", "Are You Washed in the Blood", "A Fount Filled with Blood", "Nothing but the Blood", to name a few]. These songs are fine in their proper context of recognizing the result of Christ's shed blood as it pertains to His sacrificial death. However, when we think of the blood, or representations of it, as having any real power or authority, it's important to remember that the power ultimately is in God, not in the blood.
As with other religious objects and symbols, there are some who assign more importance to the blood of Christ than what others do. Some tend to ascribe a mystical significance to the blood, and even to Adam's blood, that may or may not find support in the Scriptures.
Rather than assent to my own beliefs and church traditions, we will not discuss "pleading the blood", the blood being taken to Heaven and transfused to every believer, the Communion bread and juice becoming the actual body and blood of Jesus, or other such mutually exclusive and non-salvific church teachings. Rather, we shall look at the blood of Christ only from the standpoint of its role in salvation based on solid Scriptural support apart from any emotional bias.
The Biblical Importance of Jesus' Blood
"Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins." (Hebrews 10:11 emphasis added)
However, the shed blood of the Lamb of God removed our sin from us. As John the Baptist said: "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29 emphasis added)
"...we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:10 emphasis added)
"...by one sacrifice he [Christ] has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (Hebrews 10:14 emphasis added)
Although the actual shedding of blood was a necessary part of what God accomplished through Jesus' death, the important thing is Christ's death by the shedding of blood, not the shed blood alone. If Jesus had bled but not died, or if He had died but not bled, we would not have been redeemed.
A quick review of terms in the Old Testament reminds us that in Scripture the "shedding of blood" usually refers to a violent death (see Leviticus 17:4; 1 Samuel 25:31,33; 1 Chronicles 28:3; Psalm 51:14; Proverbs 1:16; Ezekiel 16:38; 22:6, 9,12, 27, 37; 23:45; 33:25).
Under the Levitical sacrificial system, the animals were violently sacrificed (throat cut), just as our Lord suffered a violent sacrificial death. Under the Old Testament system, forgiveness was not obtained on the basis of bleeding or merely on the basis of death. Forgiveness was granted because of the shed blood and death.
"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." (Romans 3:25)
"In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Hebrews 9:22
This is why He could not let the religious leaders kill Him when they were offended at His sayings and wanted to stone Him (cf. John 8:59; 10:31). His death by stoning would not have effected our redemption. It was the two the blood and the violent death working in concert with one another that purchased our redemption.
Jesus Did Not Bleed to Death
We need to remember, too, that He did not die by execution at the hands of the Romans or the hatred and impulses of the religious leaders. No one took His life; He gave it for us.
"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (John 19:30 emphasis added)
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." (1 John 3:16 emphasis added)
The Most Important Feature of Christ's Death
What made Jesus' death more important to us and more torturous to Him is that He experienced spiritual death.
As all of our sin was placed on Him and the Father was forced to turn His face away, Jesus suffered unimaginable emotional and spiritual pain that far outweighed the physical pain He was enduring!
He had never been separated from His Father. For all of eternity past, they had been One together, gloriously delighting and rejoicing in each other, head-over-heels in love with each other. And now, the Son was plunged into spiritual darkness to a depth that exceeded any mental image He could have perceived. He had never known a single moment when He could not hear the Father's voice, see the Father's face, sense the Father's love. And now, all He could hear were the taunts and jeers of the mockers . . . all He could see were faces twisted in hate, scowling and spitting at Him . . . all He could sense was that He was alone, abandoned, forsaken . . .
We can't begin to know the severity of that pain. We have never lived in a world where the Spirit of God is not present. And we have never lived in a world where God's majesty and brilliance totally consumed our every minute, our very existence being caught up with and an actual part of Him.
We weren't with the Father when He spoke the world into existence. We weren't by His side creating the stars and planets and moons, bringing light out of darkness, causing the great flood or parting the Red Sea, bringing down Jericho's walls or consuming Elijah's water-soaked sacrifice or causing the sun to stand still. We can't know the depth of their love for each other or the heights to which their joy in each other soared. And we cannot know the degree of their psychological pain that day . . .
Can we ever be worthy of a love so outrageous that it compelled God to endure such dreadful suffering in order to bring us back to Him? What love! What a great and extravagantly-loving God we serve!
When the Bible says He became the "firstborn from the dead", it's not just talking about physically, but as our Sin-bearer who died spiritually, He also became the "firstborn" spiritually.
"And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." (Colossians 1:18)
See also Revelation 1:5.
What the Blood Accomplished for Us
What the Blood Accomplished for Us
"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." (Isaiah 53:5 emphasis added)
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone." Hebrews 2:9 emphasis added)
"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit." (1 Peter 3:18 emphasis added)
See also Ephesians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Peter 2:21-24.
As we discussed in the section, "The Effects of Salvation", Jesus' sacrifice on Calvary didn't just redeem us from the penalty of our sins, but also from the guilt and pollution of sin. We have overcome the sin nature because He has overcome the world and brought us His peace for both body and soul.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 emphasis added)
"for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 John 5:4-5)
"...knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." (1 Peter 1:18-19)
"And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.'" (Revelation 5:9-10)
On the surface, this seems redundant. Didn't we already discuss Jesus' death being the sacrifice for our sins? Yes, we did.
But while some Scriptures talk about Him paying the penalty for our sins, others speak specifically to His death granting forgiveness or pardon for our sin.
I believe God has deliberately included both in Scripture because He wants us to come and fellowship with Him! And by telling us the penalty has been paid and we're forgiven, He's reassuring us that our sins have been totally removed from us and He has declared us "Not guilty!"
"...for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:28 emphasis added)
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7 emphasis added)
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7 emphasis added)
See also Hebrews 9:22, 25-28.
"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God." (Romans 5:6, 8-9 emphasis added)
"...then he added, 'Behold, I have come to do your will.' He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:9-10 emphasis added)
"For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 'This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,' then he adds, 'I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.' Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin." (Hebrews 10:14-18 emphasis added)
"And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him" (Colossians 1:20-22)
(See also Ephesians 2:12-16; Hebrews 5:8-9.)
On Calvary, we see the fulfillment of the promise God made in the Garden several thousand years earlier when He told Satan: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:15)
"We are people of flesh and blood. That is why Jesus became one of us. He died to destroy the devil, who had power over death. But he also died to rescue all of us who live each day in fear of dying." (Hebrews 2:14-15 CEV)
The Doctrine of Imputation of Christ's Life
This is called the "doctrine of imputation". To "impute" means basically to "attribute". In this case, it means that Christ's sinless life is attributed to us. And while that sounds reasonable at first glance, it is important to take a closer look.
The doctrine of imputation basically says:
"...faith in Him [Christ] brings to the sinner's account the merits of his perfect obedience (satisfaction of law) and death (satisfaction of penalty for the broken law)."
Hence, this false doctrine claims that sinners need two things to receive eternal life: (1) forgiveness of sins, plus (2) a record of having kept God's law without ever having sinned. Christ, we are told, is our substitute on both counts. He died in our place so we could be forgiven and He lived a sinless life in our place. They say we are saved by His doing and His dying.
At first glance, the argument behind this doctrine seems reasonable. However, we must look to Scripture, not human wisdom, to discern the truth. God's Word tells us that Jesus, as the Lamb of God, had to live a sinless life.
Of course, the requirement for Him to be sinless is found in the Law which requires the sacrifice for sin to be spotless.
However, that requirement was for Him to qualify as the only suitable substitute to shed His blood and die for our sins.
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21 emphasis added)
"...for what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:3-4 emphasis added)
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'" (Galatians 3:13 emphasis added)
"...and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood..." (Revelation 1:5 emphasis added)
While it was necessary for Jesus to live a sinless life in order to take away the sins of the world, there is no Scriptural foundation for His life being a substitute for our lives. It is His death that atones for our sins, not His life.
Is Everyone Saved through Jesus' Sacrifice?
However, as much as we all would like to believe that everyone will be saved and no one will be lost, that verse does not prove that everyone everywhere will be saved. Why not? Because we cannot build an entire theological doctrine on one verse. We must take the entire Word of God to know the will and mind of God.
So the question becomes: Can Jesus Christ be called the "Savior of the world" and yet not redeem all?
Yes. All people are, by nature, born under wrath (cf. Ephesians 2:3) and deserve to die. The reason is simple. Because God is holy and we are sinners. As we've already discussed in this lesson, in fact, our sins against a holy, infinite God deserve an infinite punishment.
By the infinite graces of our infinite God, however, believers are saved by faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
What a wonderful promise and hope we have in Christ! But as beautiful and reassuring as that promise is, Jesus also told Nicodemus quite clearly: "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:18)
All Are Made Redeemable
It does not say, "after this comes another opportunity."
What about 1 Timothy 4:10?
First, it's important to notice that the verse says "living God", not "Jesus" or "Christ". Yes, as we have previously established, Jesus is God in the flesh. But "God" as in "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" is also referred to as "Savior" in Scripture.
"They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt," (Psalm 106:21)
"...I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior." (Hosea 13:4)
"...my spirit rejoices in God my Savior," (Luke 1:47 from Mary's Magnificat)
"...at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior." (Titus 1:3)
See also 2 Samuel 22:3; Isaiah 43:3; 45:21; Acts 5:31; 13:23; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; 2:10, 13; 3:4; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1:25.
Thus, in keeping with all of God's inspired Word, 1 Timothy 4:10 does not convey the assurance that all will be saved. Rather, God is seen as the "Savior of all people" in that He has made salvation available to everyone. Sadly, not everyone has accepted it . . .