TEEN TREE OF LIFE
November 20, 2016
BEFORE we begin, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, take a moment to name your sins to God the Father. This will allow you to be filled with the power of The Holy Spirit as you read this booklet (EPH 5:18 & 1JO 1:9). IF YOU HAVE never believed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have that opportunity right now. Simply tell God the Father that you are believing on His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you make that decision, you are now a believer and will always be a child of God! When you die, you will spend eternity with Him forever in heaven! (JOH 3:16 & ACT 16:31).
As we end our look at Salvation, we are going to ask a question. While Christians are grateful to Christ for what He did in His Death for them on The Cross, shouldn’t they also be grateful to the Roman soldiers who put Christ to death? This question has been raised by unbelief and may well be answered by first discovering just what part the soldiers took in that great event as it is viewed in the Bible.
In The Message Bible – JOH 10:17-18 we read that Jesus said: “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father.”
We learn from this verse that Jesus Christ evidently made no resistance at the moment of His crucifixion. This was in great contrast to the violent struggles of the two thieves who were nailed on the two crosses on either side of Him. It is also the complete opposite of how people would react in real life. No one wants to die a violent, horrific, torturous death! Whatever else took place, no man took His life from Him. This verse backs this up without doubt. Additionally, the last words recorded from His lips on the cross were of victory and authority: “Father, into Your hands I commit [deposit] My spirit.” (LUK 23:46) The language in this verse distinctly indicates that His death was in no way a defeat through human force. Not one reference in the Bible ever assigns His Death to human sources; rather, it is indicated that God the Father was acting in that death: He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2COR 5:21) The soldiers could have taken a human life; but only God alone could accomplish a reconciliation through Christ’s Death and with it solve the great problems created by human sin.
The deed of the soldiers is not without meaning, however. From the first sin of man to the this very moment, every person who is not filled with The Spirit is said to be at enmity toward God. That enmity is usually hidden, but it exists. Every human act in The Crucifixion was a revelation of the fallen creature; yet to crown it all, one man, as though representing a fallen race, took a spear and drove it into the God’s Heart. The deep significance here lies in the inexplicable fact that “God was in Christ” and that this human act was in reality against The Person of God. It was also a rejection of the human presence of Christ and the Blessings of Grace He presented. So all those who remain in unbelief are warned that in so doing they are crucifying God! No man can be ignorant of the true nature of his own sinful heart if he has honestly faced the implications of the sin of rejecting The Crucifixion.
The cross of Christ is also a message from God in that it is said to be a declaration of His righteousness. Look at The Message Bible – ROM 3:25-26: God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.
In verse 25 of the above passage, we learn that God’s Righteousness was made at The Cross. God had always anticipated a perfect and sufficient sacrifice for sin. The blood of bulls and goats had never taken away sin, but had been the Divinely appointed symbol of the blood that would eventually be shed. In view of the sacrifice that was to be, God had passed over the sins ahead of time, on the condition that the offender would present the symbolic innocent sacrifice for his sins. Although the offender may have comprehended but little of all the Divine meaning and purpose, the sacrifice stood as a covenant with Jehovah that He would, in the fullness of time, meet all the needs of the sinner. When the true and sufficient sacrifice was accomplished, that sacrifice stood as complete proof that God had been righteous in all the generations in which He had freely acted in view of that great event which was yet to come.
Though God loves the sinner, there are unalterable conditions to be met in upholding His Justice and Personal Character. Sin can only be treated as sin; if it’s not, all standards of holiness and justice fail.
Can sin be righteously treated as sin even when a way is provided for the salvation of the sinner? Any theory which tends to lessen the importance of judgment, which was created by sin, does not fully weigh the fact of the unalterable Character of the Righteousness of God. Is He not All-Powerful and All-Sufficient and can He not waive aside the sin of those creatures His Hands have made? Is He bound by any law whatsoever? The answer is not of human origin, any more than the question is, though the human mind is able to comprehend it. Even God cannot change the character of righteousness by altering or lessening to the slightest degree its holy demands.
What is done for the satisfaction of His love in saving any whom His righteousness condemns must be done in full view of all that His righteousness could ever require. The Cross is said to be the Message of God through His Son in answer to this Divine problem. He might not change the demands of righteousness, but He has sufficient power and resource to meet perfectly those demands for every sin-doomed soul.
The dying Christ was “set forth” in order that God might be Just. This is an integral part of Salvation. As the Righteous Judge, He pronounced the full Divine sentence against sin. As the Savior of sinners, He stepped down from His judgment throne and took into His breast the very doom He had in righteousness imposed. The Cross declares the righteousness of God, and because of that Cross His Righteousness cannot suffer or ever be called into question, even when He wholly pardons the chief of sinners and floods him with the riches of grace.
The conclusion from these revelations is that by The Cross, God has declared our sin, His own righteousness and His own unmeasured love. He has spoken to us through His Son. The reasonable requirement is that we believe that message. This is the only condition given in the Bible upon which one may enter into God’s Saving Grace.