Wednesday, March 26, 2014
For even the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 (NLT)
As we approach the Easter season, let us not forget the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for our sins. God sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ into the world as a humble and selfless servant – indeed, the Servant – to suffer and die for our redemption (see also Isaiah 52:13-53:12; see also Luke 22:27; John 13:5). Jesus Christ willingly gave His life as a ransom to give us salvation (life) and release us from the bondage of sin and death (see also 1 Peter 1:18-20). In other words, Jesus Christ redeems us through faith from a bad situation (e.g., sin and eternal death) and endured our punishment for sin at the cost of His own blood on Calvary’s Cross (see Romans 3:24; Titus 2:14, 19; Revelation 5:9). Through a marvelous exchange, the result is our “forgiveness of sins,” righteousness, and reconciliation to God (Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:14). God redeemed us from the slavery of sin, not with money, but with His one and only Son’s precious blood on Calvary’s Cross (Romans 6:6-7; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 9:12). Jesus Christ's sacrificial death for our sins was not an afterthought by God, but predicted by God because of the great fall of Adam and Eve (1 Peter 1:20; see Genesis 3:15) as an expression of His love for humanity (John 3:16). Everyone who accept and believe in Jesus Christ will be saved from their sin and eternal judgment (John 3:16-18).
For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18 (NLT)
Theologians call Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross atonement. The word “atonement” or “make atonement” is frequently used in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, but is rare in the rest of the Holy Scriptures. Yet, the basic idea of atonement is widespread throughout the Holy Scriptures. As mentioned earlier, the need for atonement arrives from the sinfulness of humanity (Genesis 3). Throughout the Holy Scriptures, sin was serious and sin would be punished unless atonement was sought in the way God provided. In the Old Testament, atonement was sometimes made separately from sacrifice by paying money (Exodus 30:12-16) or offering life (2 Samuel 21:3-6). In each case, to make atonement means to prevent divine punishment and anger by the payment of a ransom, which may be money or which may be of life. The Old Testament sacrifices were types (foreshadowing) of Jesus Christ, depicting the ultimate and only sacrifice for human sin.
In the Old Testament, the word atonement is often found in Leviticus, particularly Leviticus 16, which describes the most important day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Sin was dealt with by the offering of a sacrifice. Thus, the burnt offering would be accepted “to make atonement” (Leviticus 1:4), as also the sin offering and the guilt offering (Leviticus 4:20; Leviticus 7:7), and especially the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). Many times the Old Testament prophets criticized the offerings of sacrifice as merely external action by the people. Instead, the prophets encouraged the people to offer sacrifice as the expression of their repentant and trustful heart to find atonement.
This truth of atonement is repeated and enlarged upon in the New Testament. The New Testament makes clear that all are sinners (Romans 3:23) and that hell waits any unrepentant sinners. Yet, the New Testament also makes clear that our loving God wants to bring salvation from hell to everyone. God has brought that salvation in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Even more amazing of God’s love is that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19, RSV), a reconciliation brought about by the death of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:10). God in Jesus Christ took our sins within His sinless body and died our death for sin (Mark 10:45; 2 Corinthians 5:19, 21). Thus, Jesus Christ became the last and God’s perfect sacrifice for human sin (Hebrews 9:26, Hebrews 10:4-10). In other words, Jesus Christ paid sin’s due penalty – a ransom (Romans 3:25-26; Romans 6:23; Galatians 3:13) to redeem sinful humans (Ephesians 1:7) and set us free (1 Corinthians 6:20; Galatians 5:1). Thus, Jesus Christ is the sinless and holy Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Even more, He has made a new covenant (Hebrews 9:14-15). Jesus paid it all! As believing Christians in Jesus Christ’s death, our part is simply to respond in repentance, faith, and selfless living.
Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He (Christ) died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (NLT)
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