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The Redemption

Five Errors and Five Truths

by David A. DePra 

Introduction

Try something. Rehearse to yourself, in narrative form, the Biblical story of the Redemption. Start back in the garden when the sin of man originated, and work forward to the death and resurrection of Christ. Then summarize how all of that results in your salvation. If you are the average Christian, your narrative may go something like this:

God created Adam and told him not to eat of the forbidden tree.

He told him that if he did eat, that the punishment would be death.

But Adam ate anyways.

As a result of this sin, God became angry. He punished Adam with eternal death. He also banished Adam from His presence, and withdrew Himself to heaven. God likewise placed upon all of Adamís descendents this same punishment of eternal death.

For 4000 years God remained withdrawn from man. He was temporarily appeased only by animal sacrifices, and by the keeping of His law. This was the Old Covenant.

Finally, God sent His own Son to die on the Cross. Jesus permanently appeased God by becoming our substitute. God poured out His punishment and wrath upon Christ instead of upon us. This allowed God to lift from us the punishment of death, and to pronounce us "forgiven."

Now, because Jesus bore our punishment of death, we donít have to die if we believe. Jesusí death has saved us from the wrath of God, and made it possible for God to reconcile Himself back to man.

Sound familiar? Sure. Although many Christians have probably not taken the time to verbalize it, or to write it out, many of them do accept this narrativeógive or take a few of the details. But as shocking as it might seem, the above narrative is almost entirely in error as to the facts, and certainly, completely in error as to its spirit and intent. Indeed, the above description of the Redemption paints an entirely wrong picture of God.

This is not to suggest that if you have believed the wrong "facts" about the Redemption, that you are not saved. No. Faith is in Christ Himself, not just a matter of knowing all the right teachings. It is therefore possible to have ignorantly accepted certain wrong teachings about the Redemption, but to have nevertheless believed in Christ as Savior. We are saved by faith, not by brains, but by faith.

That being said, however, does not mean that if we have believed error that we want to keep believing it. In the final analysis, error always results in bondage of some kind. Thatís why Truth set us free. And when we are talking about the Truth which forms the very foundation of Christianityóthe Redemption of Jesus Christóthen knowing the Truth about it becomes all the more important.

In the above portrayal of the Redemption, we see a distorted picture of God. In fact, we see almost every facet of the Redemption distorted. Death, instead of being the result of manís sin, is the result of Godís wrath. Jesus, instead of bearing the sin of the world, bears the punishment of the world. And "forgiveness," instead of deliverance from sin, is redefined as "deliverance from punishment." Salvation becomes, not the result of the old man dying in Christ, and being raised anew, but the result of God merely revoking the death penalty due to the death of His Son. Indeed, the entire heart of God is distorted through this false version of the Redemption.

Knowing the Truth about the Redemption is directly linked to knowing the Truth about God Himself, for in the Redemption is revealed His heart. It is therefore vital for us to begin seeing this essential Truth for what it is so that we might move forward with our walk in Christ, unto greater and greater freedom.

A Redemption of Appeasement

The distorted picture of the Redemption, as portrayed above, is primarily a redemption of APPEASEMENT. But what is "appeasement"óas it pertains to God? "To appease" means Ď"to satisfy." It means to meet certain demands in order to buy a desired result. So, as it pertains to God, I would "appease" Him, by obeying Him, or by NOT disobeying Him. My actions would presumably "satisfy" God, that is, "appease" Him, and cause Him to look upon me with favor He would not otherwise give.

"Appeasement," of course, presupposes that someone is demanding something of you, under threat of punishment. Once we understand that, we should see the nonsense of thinking of God as One we must "appease." How can we meet the demands of a God who has already told us that CANNOT meet His demands? Indeed, "appeasement," in the form of good works, is actually what it means to be "under the law." It is the very antithesis of the gospel of grace.

You can see that the idea that we must appease God is nothing more than legalism. It makes Godís attitude, purpose, and will, depend, not upon Himself, but upon what WE do. It makes God the one who constantly changes His attitude towards us, depending upon our performance, and it puts the burden upon US to do the right thing, or to perform the right work, in order to secure His grace.

A Test for Truth

Thankfully, God long ago anticipated our ignorance. The Bible is filled with teaching on the Redemption which is geared to setting us free from these misconceptions. In fact, God so completely foreknew the pattern of error His church would follow on this subject, that He gave us a portion of scripture which directly speaks to it:

Now, concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. You know that you were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as you were led. Wherefore I give unto you to understand that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus "accursed," and that no man can say that "Jesus is Lord" but by the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12:1-3)

Initially, this passage may not seem applicable. But when you look into what it is really saying, it contains a dynamic revelation of the heart of God in the Redemption.

The Corinthians were Gentile Christians who had been previously acquainted with the worship of pagan temple gods. Even though they were now converted to Christ, these Corinthians still had much to learn about the nature and character of the Holy Spirit. Their previous involvement in the occult left them quite susceptible to deception. Paul is giving the Corinthians a needful "test" as to how they can know for sure whether what is being spoken is of God.

The term "accursed" means "devoted to destruction." Among the pagans, it was the name given to any sacrifice offered to appease the wrath of an angry god.

So letís suppose Iím a pagan worshipper. I will bring the living thing I am "devoting to destruction" before my angry god. Iíll offer it as a substitute for myself. Instead of pouring out his wrath upon me, my god will pour out his wrath on my "accursed" offering. I can then feel that my god is appeased, and that I am safe and forgivenóat least until next time.

All of these terrible practices were normal for the average pagan. It was the WAY they worshipped their gods. We see it even today in many cultures. If there is one trait common to false gods, it is anger and wrath. False gods have an anger and wrath which their worshippers need to CONTINUALLY appease. Therefore pagans continually offer their angry gods some "accursed" object;, something "devoted to destruction." These sacrifices have even included human beings.

Notice closely what Paul is telling the Corinthians. Is he telling them to stop worshipping PAGAN gods in this manner? No. They knew better than to worship pagan gods. They were all done with that. Rather, He is telling them that JESUS CHRIST is never to be portrayed or worshipped in this way.

Paul is saying to them, "Look, I know about the way you used to worship your false gods. You used to constantly appease them by offering them accursed sacrifices, lest they remain angry with you. But the one true God is not of such a nature and character. Jesus Christ was not an appeasement of His wrathónot an accursed sacrifice. Anyone who says He was is not speaking by the Holy Spirit."

Paul is telling the Corinthians that they must never think of the Redemption of Jesus Christ in pagan terms. Yet that is exactly what our erroneous narrative of the Redemption does. Paul tells us we must not accept such teaching. In fact, he says that how Jesus is portrayed in the Redemption is indicative as to whether a teaching is of the Holy Spirit. The enemy will confess, "Jesus Christ is accursed." The Holy Spirit will confess, "Jesus is Lord."

Now note: Teaching is MORE than words. It is a representation of God. It is who I say God is, what I say about His character, and what I say is His plan and purpose. ALL of that is a "confession" about God.

This is why Paul talks about "any spirit." He is referring to the spirit behind things Ė the real motivation and picture being painted. THAT is what we are to notice and test: What does this teaching say about God? What KIND of God does the teaching describe? Take every teaching you hear back to what it really says about the nature and character of God, and His Son. Does the teaching say, "Jesus is Lord."? Or does it says, "Jesus is accursed."

A False Knowledge of God

If we see the Truth about the Redemption it will do more for us than merely equip us with sound doctrineóalthough there is certainly nothing wrong with that. If we REALLY see the Truth about God and His Son in the Redemption, it will begin to set us free from some of the lies and errors we have believed. It will begin to reveal to us the true nature and character of God towards usósomething totally misrepresented by the false redemption scheme.

So we must begin to sort out the error from the Truth. As a springboard, weíll use the false narrative of the Redemption, procuring from it the most vital issues.

The following is a list of the errors found in this "false redemption" scheme, as contrasted with the Truth.

 

Error #1

Death is a punishment by God upon man for sin.

Truth #1

Death is the result of manís sin against God.

***

Error #2

On the Cross, Jesus bore Godís punishment of death.

Truth #2

On the Cross, Jesus bore our sin.

***

Error #3

Godís "forgiveness" of sin is a revoking of the death penalty.

Truth #3

Godís "forgiveness" of sin is the result of the death penalty being carried out to the full in Jesus Christ.

***

Error #4

Because Jesus Christ died, we donít have to die.

Truth #4

Because Jesus Christ died, we are able to meet death in Him.

***

Error #5

We are saved by the death of Jesus Christ.

Truth #5

We are saved by His life.

 

 

The Redemption

Chapter 1

Sin and Death

We have previously seen that there are five fundamental errors which many Christians have unwittingly accepted regarding the Redemption. All five of these errors misrepresent the nature and character of God Ė as revealed in His Redemption. This chapter will address the first of these errors.

Error #1:  Death is a punitive punishment by God for sin.

To say, "Jesus is accursed," is to say that God punished Jesus on the Cross instead of punishing us. Punished Him with what? With death.

Many Christians have assumed that when Adam sinned against God by eating of the forbidden fruit that God reacted in wrath by punishing him Ė by bringing death upon him. Some believe that God just simply deprived Adam of his life. Others say that God punished Adam by withdrawing from him, and this automatically resulted in death. Either way, death was Godís punitive "punishment" for sin.

Thus, if Jesus was being punished FOR us, the punishment he bore for us was DEATH. Jesus supposedly bore the wrath of God on our behalf, and therefore, if we put our faith in Him, we escape Godís wrath. Jesus was therefore, under this error, the object "devoted to destruction" at the hand of an angry God. Jesus WAS accursed Ė in the same way a pagan sacrifice was offered to a false god to be the object of itís wrath, and the substitute for the pagan worshipper.

Punishment

Letís define "punishment."  When we think of the term "punishment," we think of discipline.  And in that sense, many times punishment is just.  For instance, commit a crime and you must be punished.  Disobey your parents and you must be punished.  Thatís good.  But notice something about these examples of punishment:  They are all rehabilitative.  They are all intended for the purpose of bettering the one punished.  Society punishes criminals to better them.  Parents punish children so that they may learn right from wrong.  Again, this is good.

These examples are also the ideal. The fact is, some parents do not punish their children to better them.  No, they punish them because the parent is irritated.  The parent is angry.  Some parents even punish their children because their pride is violated. They demand a certain respect and obedience and if they donít get it, they punish their child.  Whether this is for the betterment of the child never enters their mind.  Such parents simply want to satisfy their own pride and sense of power over another.

The Bible speaks of God as our Father. And there are many places in the Bible where the word "punish" is used with reference to Godís dealings with manís disobedience.  But if we were to look up these words in a lexicon, we would find that in almost every case, the word translated "punish" carries the idea of CHASTISE. 

It is important to know this.  To "punish," in the punitive senseó and that is the sense in which many Christians think God punishesó is to inflict pain or revenge out of a selfish motive.  But if, in fact, God "chastises" us, then He does not "punish" in that negative sense.  No.   Rather, His CHASTISEMENTS  are for OUR betterment and for His glory.

Godís dealings are, in fact, always redemptive.  Always. He never punishes punitively, or in a fit of rage. His chastisements are never self-centeredóto satisfy His pride. No. Even when God does chastise, it is His highest love to do so. He is a Father.

It is with this insight into God that we must approach the subject of His dealings with sin, and itís penalty of death.  There are very few of us who have not grown up with a concept of God as "punisher."  Thus, when we approach the matter of Godís reaction to sin, we tend to revert to the WRONG idea of punishment.  To us, when we say God PUNISHES for sin, we mean God gets mad because of it, and lays upon us a punitive penaltyóone which is intended to exact from us pain and suffering. It may be that no other option even occurs to us.

Throughout this writing, we will use the word "punishment." But when we use it we will always mean it in the bad senseóas a punitive, wrathful, retribution which has little to do with the betterment of the one being punished.  As we are going to see, if that is what we mean by the term, then God NEVER punishes.

Is Death Godís Punitive Punishment for Sin?

So we must now ask:  Is death nothing more than Godís punitive "punishment" upon man for sin?  Is that what death IS?

The Truth about death is easy to prove. All we need to do is go back to the original sin and find out what CAUSED the death of Adam.  If Godís punishment caused Adamís death, then death is indeed Godís "punishment" for sin.  But if something else caused Adamís death, then we will have seen a great Truth. Actually, there are only two possible causes for the death of Adam:

(1) Death was Godís punishment upon Adam for sin.

OR

(2) Death was the result of manís sin against God.

Note the contrast: Either God caused Adamís death, or sin caused it.  Either death was Godís punishment for sin, or death was the wage of sin itself.

These are not petty distinctions, for each answer represents God, Jesus Christ, and the Redemption.  One answer is error, and the other is Truth.   One is based in a false knowledge of God, and the other in the true knowledge of God.  Such things govern the Christian walk and our relationship with God through Christ.

The Wages of Sin

Now to the Bible to see for ourselves the Truth about what caused the death of Adam. Read Genesis. God created Adam, and then Eve, and placed them in the garden. He also planted the tree of life, and the forbidden tree. God then told Adam,

Every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou ahalt not eat of it.  For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.  (Gen. 2:16-17)

As we know, Adam ate of the forbidden tree. And the result was exactly what God told him it would be: Death.

Now we can again ask: What CAUSED the death of Adam? Did Adam die because God got mad and punished him? If not, then what caused his death?

Letís again read what God said to Adam:

God DID say:

"In the day you eat thereof you shall surely die."

 

But God did NOT say:

"In the day you eat thereof I will punish you with death."

 

That makes things clear. God never said, "Look Adam. If you disobey Me Iím going punish you by taking your life." No.  He said, "Adam, if you eat of this tree you are going to die." Adamís death was therefore NOT the result of Godís wrathful punishment upon him.   It was the result of his sin against God.

We must see this.  God is NOT the Author of death.  God did not punish Adam by stripping him of his life.  SIN kills.  Not God.

The New Testament agrees.

It says:

For the WAGES of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

 

It does NOT say:

The wages of sin is a PUNISHMENT from God.

This is a Truth vital to understanding the Redemption. Death is the result of sin; a wage sin earnsóNOT a punishment from God.

Suppose I said to you, "In the day you drink this glass of poison, Iím going to punish you with death." How deadly would you think the substance was in the glass? You wouldnít think it was deadly at all. In fact, if I removed my threat of punishment, you could actually drink it and remain unharmed. But what if I said to you, "In the day you drink this glass of poison you will surely die."? Now how deadly is the substance in the glass? Very deadly. It is impossible for you to drink it and live.

So it is with sin and death. If death is Godís "punishment" for sin, then sin itself DOESNíT kill.  God does.  His "punishment" FOR sin is what causes death.

But things get worse from there. If sin itself does not kill, then I could actually sin all I want and it would never result in death unless God "added" death as the punishment!   Do you see that? This would actually mean that sin, of itself, isnít all that bad. Of itself, it carries no wage of death.  God must "add" the punishment of death or I could sin all I want and live.

Once these things are laid bare and examined, we begin to see the Truth:    Death is NOT the product of Godís anger and wrath upon man.  It is not the result of Godís punitive punishment upon the sinner.  Rather, death is the result of SIN.

How Did Death Enter the World?

Tradition has taught us that death entered into the world via Godís punishment upon Adam for sin. But there are many scriptures which verify the Truth for us on this subject. One of the most direct is found in Romans:

Therefore, as by one man, sin entered into the world, AND DEATH BY SIN, and so death passed upon all men, BECAUSE ALL HAVE SINNED. (Rom. 5:12)

Read that again.  How did death enter into the human race? Through SIN.   Why did it pass upon all men? Because all have SINNED.   Death entered the world through sin itselfóthrough the rejection of Life Himself.  It was, and is, the result of manís rebellion against God.

So we see that death did not enter into the picture through Godís punishment.   It entered through sin. And as we will see, this is a vital distinction.

The Truth is: Sin kills. Not God. Death is the result and the wage of manís choice to reject Life Himself.

The Judgment of God For Sin

There is a possible misunderstanding if we say that death is the RESULT of sin, rather than Godís "punishment" upon the sinner.   It might sound as if we suggesting that manís sin is more against himself, than against God.  It could seem as if we are trivializing God as Judge, or saying that sin isnít really against Him. But no.  Quite to the contrary.  In fact, sin kills BECAUSE it is against God.  

We can only understand this if we understand that the basis of human life is found in our relationship with God.  We were MADE dependent upon God for life, and cannot live apart from Him.  Sin severs this relationship.  It severs us from Life Himself.  Therefore, sin results in death.  There is no other possible outcome.

This Truth puts the relationship between God and man directly at the heart of the sin issue.  Sin is not the violation of a list of rules which God has given us.  No.  Rather, it is the violation of God Himself.  Sin is being WRONG with God! It is direct rebellion against Him as Creator and Lord. Death is the result BECAUSE sin is against God.  Sin kills because it severs the relationship between God and man.

Do you see that?  So God didnít punish Adam with death.   No. The sin of Adam was to walk away from Life.  Death was the result.

Thus, we see that Godís judgment upon sin is so real and so certain that it is actually built into the fabric of our being.  We cannot sin and live.  We cannot, because God is God and we are made to eternally dwell in Him.  That is who He is, and what we are.

God knew this right from the beginning.   Thatís why He was able to say, "If you sin, you shall surely die." His judgment was in place before any sin, because His relationship with Adam was in place before the sin.   It always carried the possibility that Adam could sin.

The judgment of God upon sin is death.  Not punitive punishment. But death.   It must be that way if God is God.  It must be that way if there is right and wrong.  You cannot reject God and live. There isnít any such existence possible. Sin MUST result in death.

What we see here is a dynamic "law." If you sin against God, you will die. Why? Because sin is a declaration of independence from God. And if you do that, you are declaring SEPARATION from God. And what is separation from God? Death. Every time.

Death

We can now see exactly what death is.  It is the wage of sin. It is the result of rejecting Life Himself and establishing myself as my own god.    Thus, the wages of sin is death BECAUSE sin is against God.   It is the dynamic judgment of an eternally just God upon those who have rebelled against Him.

This Truth exposes the absurdity of believing death is a punitive punishment.   If death were the result of God punishing Adam, then when Adam sinned, God sought him out and stripped him of his life. He then pronounced the same fate upon all humanity. So everything that is wrong with us in Adam, including our separation from God, is the result of God PUNISHING Adam for sin?  The death which has governed humanity for six thousand years is our punishment from God?  It is something God DID TO USóbecause Adam sinned against HIM?

Take things to the next step. If death is the result of what God did to Adamóthe result of punishmentóthen Jesus really redeemed us fromówhat? From Godís punishment! God sent His Son to redeem us from His own wrath and from His own punishmentówhich He, Himself had put upon humanity.

Such things are nonsense. Sin kills, not God. But sin kills BECAUSE it is against God.  This IS judgmentóbuilt into the fabric of a creation that was made to live in God, and glorify Him forever.

Truth #1

Death entered into the human race because Adam knowingly and deliberately sinned against God. The result was exactly what God said it would be: Death.  Adamís death, however, was not a punitive punishment from God.  It was not the result of Godís wrath or anger. God did not kill Adam. Sin killed Adam.  But the fact that sin killed Adam was Godís judgment upon him.  It is impossible to sin against Godóto reject Life Himselfóand live.

Conclusion:

Error #1: Death was Godís punishment upon Adam for sin.

Truth #1: Death was the result of man's sin against God.

 

 

The Redemption

Chapter 2

The Sin-Bearer

We have thus far seen that death, rather than Godís punitive "punishment" upon Adam, was the result of Adamís sin against God. God did not introduce death into the human race. Adam introduced it. He rejected Life Himself.

Now we must take this Truth to the next step: Applying it to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Many Christians have accepted the notion that since death is Godís punishment for sin, that Jesus was bearing that punishment for us. Furthermore, since Jesus bore our punishment of death, God was then able to "lift" from us that punishment. This "lifting" of the punishment for sin is what many Christians define as "the forgiveness of God." It is how we escape death through Christ. Or so the story goes.

But all of this is really APPEASEMENT. It is exactly what it means to have a concept of the Redemption which calls "Jesus accursed." It is not the Truth.

Error #2

On the Cross, Jesus bore Godís punishment of death.

What Did Jesus Bear?

Once we understand that death was not a punishment from God, then the notion that Jesus bore our punishment falls to the ground. Why? Because it means there was no punishment to bear. So Jesus could not be bearing it for US.

So what did Jesus bear on the Cross? If not our punishment, then what?

The Bible reveals that Jesus, rather than our "punishment bearer," was Godís "sin-bearer."

"Behold the Lamb of God, which takes awayówhat? The PUNISHMENT of the world? No. "Which takes away the SIN of the world." (John 1:29)

"For He made Him who knew no sin to BEówhat? Our punishment bearer? No. "To be SIN for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (II Cor. 5:21)

"Who His own self bore ourówhat? PUNISHMENT? No. "Bore our SINS in His Body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. (I Peter 2:24)

The Bible is absolutely clear about what Jesus was bearing on the Cross. He was bearing our SIN; i.e., our "old man in Adam." He was the Lamb without blemish who took upon Himself the sin of the world.

Now, if Jesus bore our sin on the Cross, then by definition, He also bore Godís judgment for sin.  But donít confuse Godís judgment for sin with God pouring out His wrath and anger upon the sinner due to some kind of punitive, revengeful outrage.  No. The judgment of God upon Jesus Christ was not an outburst of Divine anger. Rather, it was the fullness of eternal judgment being placed upon the One who bore the fullness of eternal sin.

The fact is, unless Jesus bore all sin, He could not bear all judgment for sin. The two must go hand in hand. And what was that eternal judgment? The fullness of death. That is what God said must happen to the sinner if God is to be just. So that is the judgment He laid upon Christ who bore our sin on the Cross.

We must get this. What did God say would happen to Adam if Adam ate of the forbidden tree? Death. What is the judgment of God for sin? Death. Jesus DIED. In doing so, He satisfied the justice and judgment of God. He did not merely, "APPEASE Godís wrath."

Freedom From Sin

Freedom from sin depends on the fact that Jesus bore our sin. Why? Because if Jesus bore our sin and died, our sin died in Him. Thus, our "old man of sin" is dead. And the result for us is freedom from sin through the resurrection unto newness of life.

The Bible says so:

"He that is dead is freed from sin." (Rom. 6:7)

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 6:11)

But we need to investigate into this a little more. We need to understand HOW the death and resurrection of Christ insures our freedom from sin. This Truth is central to understanding the Redemption.

The Truth goes back to Adam once again. Adam had sinned. And because of that, he diedóexactly as God had said he would. Now notice: Adam did DO wrong and suffered the penalty. But there was more. Adam BECAME something through His DOING. His nature became corrupted by death. By choosing to reject God and walk away from God, and sever his dependence upon God, Adam BECAME wrong. He was now a "wrong" beingódistorted and corrupt to the core. He had lost his source of Light and Truth.

The sin of Adam was of such magnitude that it dragged the entire earth down with him. God had to say, "Cursed be the earth because of you." Every creature which had been put under the domain of Adam also suffered because of his sin and fallen spiritual condition. Indeed, Adamís sin had collapsed his entire realm down into the clutches of darkness. Everything he knew, and everything he WAS, had been terribly altered.

What Adam became through sin was what the Bible refers to as "the old man of sin." Or, to use a more familiar term, through sin, Adam became a creature governed by a new nature: The SIN nature. Everything which is wrong with humanity today is the result of Adam rejecting God. What we ARE, without Christ, is what Adam BECAME, through his choice. Adamís fall into the clutches of death and darkness was so complete that all who are born "in him" are possessed by it as well. From it there is no natural escape. We are dead.

Note that what is wrong with us in Adam is not merely a problem of CONDUCT. We are not creatures who simply DO wrong things. No. We are creatures who have a wrong nature. In other words, it isnít what we DO. It is what we ARE that is the problem.

This brings us to the crucial issue: How to be delivered from what we ARE. No one can deliver himself from a wrong nature. Indeed, even if we were successful at altering our conduct to where we always DO the right thing, weíd still be wrong "on the inside." So how did God deliver us from this terrible, helpless, condition?

Clearly, not by sending Jesus to merely bear "punishment" for sin. Bearing a "punishment" for sin does nothing to deliver from sin itself. And it certainly can do nothing to alter our nature from what it is, possessed by death, to that of life eternal.

The only way in which God could deliver us from the sin natureói.e., "our old man in Adam"ówas by letting Adam DIE. Only if "Adam" dies are we free from him. Therefore, God carries out the full sentence of death upon Adam. But He does it by planting Adam into the death of His Son, the LAST ADAM. God caused Adam (us) to die in Jesus Christ by spiritually "engrafting" himóthe entire human raceóinto Jesus Christ on the Cross. Paul says exactly that. He says we were "planted together (engrafted) with Him in the likeness of His "death."

Jesus bore our "old man;" our "body of sin" in Himself. He was so much at one with us in this that the Bible is able to say that Jesus actually BECAME Ė in the sense of taking upon Himself -- all our sin. (see I Cor. 5:21)

Notice this tremendous Truth: Jesus took upon Himself our sin -- our "Adam"óour old man of sin. He BECAME that in the sense of bearing it. And then died. Thus, in Christ, Adam died. Justice is fully served. For "Adam" there is NO resurrection.

Thankfully, however, thatís not the end of the story. Our God is a redemptive God. While His judgment upon Adam was final and complete, He nevertheless used it as a doorway to new life. It is precisely because "our Adam" died in Christ that we are able to be born again as NEW creations.

How? Through the resurrection. Romans says that if we have been planted together (engrafted) with Him in the likeness of His death, then we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. (see Romans 6:5) Or, to quote I Corinthians, "For as in Adam, all die. Even so in Christ, shall all be made alive."

Because God planted Adamóour old natureóinto Christ on the Cross, Adam died in Christ. Thus, when we are then raised as new creations in that same Christ, we are free from Adam! Sin and death no longer have dominion over us. (see Rom. 6:9)

What we see here is that the fundament of what we are as human beings does not die.  That is because Jesus tasted death for every man.  (Heb. 2:9)  But our old nature does dieówe MUST MEET the death of the old man in Jesus Christ.

Question: How are we saved? Really simple. God convicts us that we are WRONG with Him, and need to be RIGHT with Him through Christ. We surrender by placing our faith in the only one that can save us, Jesus. That is it. God brings the Truth. We respond to it by faith.

The error which says that Jesus merely bore our punishment for sin makes freedom from sin impossible. For in that case we are free only from punishment, but not free from sin. There is no death of Adam, for his punishment has been lifted. And there is no newness of life, for we are merely "forgiven" old creations, still bound by sin, not new creations, FREE from sin. Thank God this error isnít true!

The Gospel

The misconception that Jesus Christ bore our punishment on Cross has always been around to distort the gospel message. Sometimes the error is preached outright: People are told that Jesus bore their "punishment" of death. Other times the error is more subtle: People are told they must accept Jesus Christ or God will punish them by sending them to hell. Despite the fact that hell IS the alternative to Christ, the gospel is often proclaimed in a way which sounds more like a "threat of punishment" than the "good news."

The gospel is NOT a threat of punishment. It is an offer of LIFE. God does not threaten us with death if we reject Christ. We are ALREADY dead without Christ. God is offering us LIFE.

The gospel is the good news that God sent His only Son to deliver us from the death of Adam. Christ bore in His Body; in Himself, everything that is wrong with the human race through sin and death. And then He died. Through His resurrection He offers life to us free of charge.

God does not threaten us with death. He says, "You ARE dead. I am offering you the life which My Son won through His eternal victory."

But what about if a person DOES reject Christ? What happens then?

If a person knowingly refuses the gospel, then they will incur the judgment of God, for they have committed a NEW sinónot the sin of Adamóbut the sin of rejecting a way OUT of Adam through Christ. God never condemns us for being born in Adam. But once we see the way out in Christ, we are responsible for what we do about it. (see John 3:18-20)

But even if we reject Christ, God doesnít need to storm down from heaven and punish us with death. We are already dead. God need only pronounce judgment upon us at the last judgment. And He will. He will judge us worthy of exactly what we have chosen: Eternal death.

The nature and character of God is at issue here. The error portrays a God created in the image of man: Angry and ready to punish FOR sin. The Truth shows Him as a loving God who is eager to redeem and deliver us FROM sin.

Jesus Is Lord

This Truth about the gospel exalts and proclaims "Jesus is Lord." Instead of a "punishment-bearer," who was devoted to the destruction of Godís wrath, it shows Him as the SIN-BEARER who won our salvation. Instead of appeasing Godís wrath, Jesus accomplished Godís victory. Jesus won victory over all sin and the death it brings. "Jesus is Lord," means Jesus bought and paid for us with His own Blood.

Conclusion:

Error #2

On the Cross, Jesus bore Godís punishment of death.

 

Truth #2

On the Cross, Jesus bore our sin.

 

 

The Redemption

Chapter 3

Forgiveness

 

What does God mean when He says that He forgives us because of Jesus Christ?

Error states that death is a "punishment" for sin. It says Jesus bore that punishment for us on the Cross. Therefore, error must define Godís "forgiveness" as nothing more than God "lifting" from us that punishment. No other conclusion would be possible.

Error #3: Godís "forgiveness" of sin is a revoking of the death penalty for sin.

We have already seen that the premises upon which this error is built are false. Death, rather than a punishment from God, is the wage of sin. Jesus, rather than bear our punishment, bore our sin. Therefore the errorís conclusion about "forgiveness" is likewise wrong. God does not forgive us by taking away the so-called "punishmentí for sin. In Truth, God "forgives" by taking away sin itself.

What Does God Mean by "Forgiveness"?

If I made the statement, "God cannot forgive sin," almost certainly I would be considered in error. Everyone who is a Christian knows that God forgives our sins because of Jesus Christ. And rightly so. God DOES forgive sins because of Jesus Christ. Our salvation depends upon it.

But wait. Letís think about this statement a little more. If I say, "God cannot forgive sin," I need to define what I mean by "forgive." How I define "forgive" can change the entire meaning of my statement.

Most Christians have been taught that God "forgives" sin by removing death as the PUNISHMENT for sin. Of course, weíve already seen that death isnít a "punishment" for sin. It is the WAGE, or result, of sin. Sin kills. Not God. But even if we have seen this Truth, can we then define "forgiveness" as the revoking of the wages of sin?

No. We canít. Consider it. Assume that Godís forgiveness removes death as the consequence for sinóbecause of Jesus Christ. What do we then have? We have a Christian who is free of all consequences for sin. But this same Christianówho is saved and given eternal lifeóis still a sinner! Thatís right.. Merely removing the penalty for sin does nothing to change the sinner.

The problem here is now obvious: God CANNOT forgive sin -- if we define "forgiveness" as merely the removal of the consequences of sin. To do so would mean that God sanctions sin. To do so would mean that God does nothing to change the sinner. Godís forgiveness must therefore go far beyond taking away the penalty for sin. It must take away sin itself.

Payment for Sin

If God cannot forgive sin by removing death as the wage, then how did He forgive it? Clearly, by LEAVING death as the wage. Or , to say it another way, God was able to justly forgive sin by PAYING death as the wage.

God paid death as the wage for sin on our behalf. He sent His Son to bear our sin and to die. All of this was necessary precisely because God could NOT forgive by merely revoking from us the wages of sin. Those wages were justly earned by us, and had to be justly paid.

We now see why the statement "God cannot forgive sin" is actually the Truth. It is the Truth IF we define "forgiveness" as the removal of the penalty for sin. In that case God cannot "forgive." But thankfully, the point is moot. God never did remove the penalty for sin. Instead, He took it upon Himself in Jesus Christ.

Real Forgiveness

The only kind of forgiveness that is truly moral is one which alters the offender to the point where he is free of his sin. And if that is how we define "forgiveness," (thatís how God defines it!) then yes, God did forgive all sinópast, present, and futureóin Christ Jesus. Because Jesus Christ bore our sin in His perfect humanity, and took us down into death with Him, we are free of the sin nature which caused us to sin in the first place. We are then raised new creationsóchanged, and free of sin.

The conclusion is inescapable: God forgives us, not by taking away the wages of sin, but by paying those wages of sin in His Son. Through Christ, the penalty of sin is not lifted. It is met. And the sinner is changed forever under the power of death and resurrection.

Error #3

Godís "forgiveness" of sin is a revoking of the death penalty.

 

Truth #3

Godís "forgiveness" of sin is the result of the death penalty being carried out to the full in Jesus Christ.

 

 

The Redemption

Chapter 4

Meeting Death in Christ

 

We have been bought with a price. Jesus Christ paid that price, and as our substitute, made it possible for God to forgive and redeem us. But then many of us make another false assumption: We think that because Christ died, we donít have to meet death in any way. We think that Christ gave God just reason to "let us off."

Error #4

Because Jesus Christ died, we donít have to die.

The Truth is, Christ didnít die so that we Ė our old man in Adam -- could escape death. He died so that we could MEET deathóour death in Adam. He died so that we could be saved through the resurrection. This was only possible because we were planted together into death with the perfectly sinless Lamb of God.

Meeting Death

If we are to understand the Redemption, and the grace of God, we must see that we (our old man in Adam) does not escape death because Jesus died. No. Rather, the death of Christ provides the means by which that "old man" can fully MEET death, and so that we can then be raised in Him to newness of life.

The Biblical Truth shows that our old creation in Adam does not escape death because Christ died for us. It shows that it must die in Christ. Romans 6 is the most exhaustive chapter on the subject:

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? (Rom. 6:3)

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. (Rom. 6:5)

Knowing that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed. (Rom. 6:6)

The death of Christ, rather than simply give God reason to lift the death penalty from us, actually gave us a means by which we could meet death and live again. If we receive the death of Christ by faith, His death actually BECOMES our death. Our old man in Adam, already dead in trespasses and sin, becomes one with Jesus Christ, and fully meets the death which God said must occur because of sin. We are actually "planted"ói.e., engraftedóinto His death. (Rom. 6:5)

This is what Paul meant when He said that Jesus Christ was "made to be sin." (see I Cor. 5:21) Whose sin? Our sin. Jesus Christ, the Last Adam, actually took upon Himself the sin of the "first Adam." He took that "first Adam" upon Himself in a spiritual identification which was more real than words can capture. And He bore the full impact of that sin, fully realizing the death which it brought to all men.

Unless "Adam" is deadóunless we meet death in Christ -- there can be no freedom from sin. Paul says so. He says, "He who has died is free from sin." (Rom. 6:7) Death, and death alone, can set us free from the old creation and pave the way for newness of life.

Godís forgiveness through Jesus Christ does not take our old man of sin and bring him back to life. God does not lift death from "Adam." "Adam" is dead. Forever. Christís death does not change that. But if "Adam" dies in Christ, then there is hope, not for the resurrection of the old man, but for resurrection unto newness of life. We are the "new man" in Christ Jesus. All things have made new!

Now remember: Jesus Christ DID taste death for every man. (Heb. 2:9) And Jesus said, "He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24) Whatever the fullness of death is, Jesus tasted that for all of us, meaning we donít have to taste it. But the part of us which does not taste death is speaking of the "fundament of our being" Ė the real us Ė what we are once the sin nature and the "old man of sin" is stripped off of us. The "body of sin;" "the old man in Adam;" "that nature of sin," MUST die. In that sense, we donít escape death because of Christ. We MEET it Ė in order that we may be brought through to life.

There is a one-on-one correspondence between the sinner who receives and dies in Christ, and the saint who is raised with Christ. The old creature BECOMES a new creation. All through death and resurrection.

Herein we also see that the death of Jesus was for ALL who were ever born of Adam. He Ė the LAST ADAM -- bore ADAM! And who do you know that wasnít born of Adam? No one. The scope of the Redemption equals the scope of sin. All have sinned. Jesus died for all. But only those who believe are saved.

Legal vs. Living

There is, of course, a legal aspect of things which the Redemption satisfied. This had to do with the requirements of the law. Because the law condemned the sinner to death, Christ needed to come and fulfill that requirement. That having been accomplished, God was then ableólegallyóto justify us and forgive us.

We dare not, however, mix this up with the "living" impact of the Redemption. Jesus did more than simply satisfy legal requirements. That alone would not impart life.

Imagine if you were condemned to death for a murder. But someone else goes to the judge and offers to die in your place. Would that judge agree? Never. Why? Because if someone else died in your place, yes, the law would be satisfied: The price of death was paid for the crime. But it would do nothing to change the fact that a murdereróyouówould be walking around as a free man. In other words, the law does define sin, and does exact a penalty. But it does nothing to change the sinner.

The Redemption had to satisfy the legal demands of the law. But only because those legal demands pointed out a real problem: Sin and death. These cannot be resolved on a legal basis only. If the death of Christ merely substituted for our death, so that we could be legally free, then it does nothing more than turn sinners free to remain sinners. But if Christís death was actually the death of sinners, then sinners who receive Him are dead. That not only satisfies the legalities of the law, but it carries out justice to the full.

Error #4

Because Jesus Christ died, we donít have to die.

 

Truth #4

Because Jesus Christ died, our "old man of sin" is able to meet death in Him.

 

 

The Redemption

Chapter 5

Saved by His Life

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:10)

We have thus far seen four basic errors regarding the Redemption of Jesus Christ. Now on to the fifth Truth. This fifth Truth is plainly stated in the above scripture. (Rom. 5:10) But it is distorted by an error believed by many Christians:

Error #5: We are saved by the death of Jesus Christ.

Error? How could that be an error? Arenít we saved by Jesusí death? Well, we certainly couldnít be saved without His death. But the Bible tells us we are saved, not by His death, but by His LIFE. It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that actually saves us.

How so? His resurrection saves us because without the resurrection we remain in the grave. The death of the old man in Christ, as vital as it is to our salvation, does not, in and of itself, impart to us newness of life. Only if we are raised with Christ are we born again as new creations.

Romans 5:10, quoted above, makes this clear. It says that we were reconciled to God by the DEATH of His Son. Thatís because, in Christ, our old man died. So at that point, there is nothing which any longer separates us from God. All of our sin and all of our flesh is dead. Thatís wonderful. But none of it gets us out of the grave. At that point, weóhumankindóhave simply satisfied the demands of Godís holy justice: The soul that sins must die. But if we are to live again, there must yet come a resurrection. It is the resurrection which imparts to us eternal life in Jesus.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the means by which God imparts to us a brand new kind of life, as a new creature. Without this new life there is no salvation, for we would remain only in His death. It is our resurrection in Christ which enables us to live again, and to go forward free of all that formerly held us in bondage. We are indeed saved by His life! Salvation is not merely getting my sins forgiven. Salvation is LIFE.

Truth #5: We are saved by His life.

A New Creation

The basic characteristic of resurrection life in Jesus Christ is that it is a brand NEW kind of life. God does not bring back the old man in Adam. He does not grant him a reprieve, reverse his death, lift death from him, or give him a second chance. No. Adam DIES in Christ. Through the resurrection, we leave "Adam" in the grave, and are born again as new creations in Christ.

Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the death by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in NEWNESS of life. (Rom. 6:4)

Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become NEW. (II Cor. 5:21)

Now, once we realize that we have "Christ in us," it verifies to us that salvation is LIFE Ė it is His life in us. This therefore tells us that salvation is MORE than just "getting our sins forgiven." It certainly starts there. But salvation is LIFE Ė THE life which comes from that forgiveness.

Yet so many Christians, despite agreeing with these words, donít grasp the reality of them. Most of us continue to think that when we came to Christ, that God took out this "big red stamp," and stamped us on the forehead "forgiven." To us, salvation is being forgiven. It is being "reclassified" by God from the "lost" classification, to the "saved" classification.

Well, there are all of the legal aspects of the Redemption. It is a fact that God could not forgive us unless He had a just and holy reason for doing so. Jesus gave Him that by paying the price for sin with His own Blood. Furthermore, we are legally (justly) reclassified. We are declared justified because of Jesus. But if that is all there is to salvation, we are left with a giant problem.

Do you see what that problem is? If salvation is merely "being forgiven" Ė a changed "legal" position -- then what does salvation do to change US? Nothing. In fact, then we would be "forgiven," but unchanged. This would equal LICENSE. And God would not be calling us what we are.

The point is, if God forgives us for all sin, only to leave us the same as He found us, this would make Him worse than us. THAT would mean that He calls us saints, but that we are exactly the same as we were as sinners. This is a lie.

In Truth, God not only FORGIVES us for sin. He DELIVERS us from it. God not only reckons us as righteous, He puts His very righteousness in us. THAT is what it means to be raised in Christ. It is what it means to be IN CHRIST.

So what we see is that what God does is change us, give us a new nature, and put His righteousness in us. Therefore, when God reckons us as righteous, He is not kidding Himself. He is calling us what we are Ė in His Son.

His Righteousness

Christians have the righteousness of God in them, because they have Jesus Christ in them. HE is our righteousness. This isnít just a theory, or a classification, or a legal position. And it certainly is not OUR righteousness. It is HIS. It is a righteousness which is His LIFE in us. It is as real Ė more real Ė than our natural life. It is eternal.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 2:21-24)

The word "justified," here, in the Greek, is the same root word as "righteousness" Ė only in a verbal form. Many commentators have, over the years, defined "justified" as "being made righteous." So what God does involves more than simply "classifying" us a righteous. Rather, He puts His righteousness in us. Then we are more than "classified as righteous." We ARE righteous Ė with HIS righteousness.

This only makes sense. If you have Christ in you, donít you think you have righteousness in you? If you are born again a new creation in Christ, donít you think you have something eternal in you? If you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, donít you think you have One who IS HOLY in you?

Note again what our passage from Romans is saying. It is saying that there is now a righteousness of God manifested which has NOTHING to do with works Ė nothing to do with the law. That righteousness is a PERSON. God says that it is a righteousness which is through the FAITH -- not merely IN Christ Ė but which is through the faith OF Christ. This righteousness is unto all and upon all who BELIEVE. It is Christ in us.

Jesus Christ is the righteousness of God. He practiced and lived righteousness by faith on this earth as a man. When I place my faith in Him, the righteousness of His faith meets my simple faith, and He is made unto me incarnate righteousness.

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord. (I Cor. 1:30-31)

We have no righteousness of our own. Our righteousness is Jesus Himself Ė Christ in us. Again, we see that Christianity is not a "religion." Or just teachings about Christ. Christianity is Christ in us.

Good Works

Once we see that Jesus Christ in us is our righteousness Ė indeed, the ONLY righteousness we have, it should tell us the futility of trying to make ourselves righteous through good works. Did we earn Jesus in us through works? No. So neither can we earn His righteousness. Jesus is there by faith, and His righteousness comes with the "package."

But what of good works? Good works are never the MEANS of salvation. They are the OUTCOME of it. The Biblical formula is "by grace, through faith, unto good works."

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it (His grace) is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:8-10)

So what we see is that obedience is really the outcome of being rightly related to God. Disobedience is the outcome of not being rightly related to God. Notice that works are the OUTCOME of something at the root of our relationship with God. Once we understand this, much confusion about the place of works in the Christian life dissipates.

Love

The one word which describes what it means to be rightly related to God is LOVE. "Agape" Ė which is the Greek word for love Ė is a selfless commitment to God, or to anyone else I love. Agape is perhaps best described in this way:

Agape is my unconditional commitment to Godís highest, for the one loved, regardless of personal cost to them, or to myself.

This definition puts God at the center, and seeks HIS best, and HIS will. It is never love to seek MY will, or to simply give the person I love THEIR will.

John gave a very simple definition of love, and showed that it must be the motivation behind all of our good works:

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (I John 5:3)

This tells us that if I love someone with the love of God, I will practice it by keeping the commandments towards them. And I will do it gladly. I wonít be a burden to me to do it. Love and righteousness always go hand in hand. This is what it means to live a holy life.

Working Out

Once God gives us His righteousness, through our faith in the Righteous One, then we have a righteousness WITHIN that must be worked WITHOUT. Paul points to this in Philippians:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12-13)

Paul does not tell us to work FOR our salvation. No. He says to work OUT our salvation. In other words, we have to WORK OUT what God has WORKED IN Ė i.e., the righteousness which comes by faith. Or to put it another way, we have been born again a new creation. Now we must live like a new creation.

As we begin to walk with Jesus Christ through faith and obedience, our minds will be renewed more and more to be like the mind of Christ. God will work in us to will and to do Ė but of course, God wonít will or do FOR us. Otherwise, Paul would not say to us, "Work out YOUR OWN salvation." God gives grace. We believe and obey.

Conformed to Christ

When we come to Jesus, our salvation is finished. We are never going to get any "more saved" than we are the moment we receive Christ. But just as a new born baby must grow and learn, so must we. Thus, our finished salvation merely BEGINS a whole new experience in Jesus.

The Christian life is supposed to be one of learning and growing:

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (II Pet. 3:18)

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom. 12:2)

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-13)

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

Now, if you read these and other verses, you find out that we do not grow as an independent person. We grow up in Christ Ė because we abide, or live, in Him. We grow to bear His likeness Ė morally and spiritually.

The purpose of God for this age Ė for His people Ė is that we become conformed to the image of His Son. That is the purpose for which He saves us. One other way to say this is that we must BECOME His witnesses:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

It is one thing "to witness" for Christ Ė to tell people about Him. But it is quite another to BE His witness. For that, we have to reflect Him in our LIVES. We have to become living witnesses Ė examples of what it means to have Christ in us.

One of the big mistakes of the Christian church has been to WITNESS for Christ, but not BECOME a witness for Him. This creates people who say one thing, but live another. The world uses this as a rational to excuse themselves from Jesus.

To become living witnesses for Christ is what Paul continually talked about. There is no clearer passage on the subject than the one found in Romans 8:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

Read that again. What is the PURPOSE for which we are called Ė the PURPOSE and GOOD unto which "all things work together?" To be conformed to the image of Christ. Nothing could be plainer.

But HOW?

I am not conformed to Christ through my own efforts to "act like Him." I am conformed to Him by BELONGING to Him. That is what "holiness" means Ė belonging to God Ė to be "set apart for Godís use." The holy life and holy character which emerges is the FRUIT of belonging Ė unconditionally Ė to Jesus Christ.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (Jn. 15:4-5)

Here we see that the way we grow to bear fruit Ė the fruit of the Holy Spirit Ė is by abiding in the Vine. In short, by belonging to the Vine, living in and for the Vine, and by being ONE with the Vine. We do this by faith and obedience. We see to do the will of God. We live for God.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

Christianity is an unconditional devotion to Jesus, and if that is my relationship to Him, I will grow to be like Him.

The Holy Spirit

It is the purpose of the Holy Spirit to take everything which is of Jesus Christ, and make it livable, practical, and part of us. In effect, the Holy Spirit conforms us to Christ.

If you have embraced Christ as Savior, you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. But what does that mean? Well, "baptism" means to be immersed. So, if you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, you are immersed in Him. That means that the goal here is that instead of seeing you, God wants everyone to see the Holy Spirit Ė in other words, Jesus.

John the Baptist described what this baptism really means:

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matt. 3:11-12)

The baptism of "the Holy Spirit and fire," as described here, is likened to what a person on a threshing floor does with the grain. He gets rid of the chaff, so that the wheat might be pure. So it is. The work of the Holy Spirit is to get rid of the "chaff" in us, so that what remains is holy, pure, and to the glory of God.

The Holy Spirit is said to be a foretaste, or "down payment" of the fullness which we will one day experience in the eternal ages. But Jesus also told us of some of the functions of the Holy Spirit today. Most of these are found in the gospel of John. Central to these purposes is the fact that the Holy Spirit will always glorify and witness to Jesus Ė keeping Him in the center. (Jn. 15:26 and 16:14) He will also "guide us into all Truth." (Jn. 16:13) And the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin Ė of the sin of unbelief. (Jn. 16:8)

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are, of course, the Trinity. They are ONE, and where the presence is of one, there is the presence of the others.

Fellowship

"Fellowship" is communion, or "a having in common." Among Christians, that is Jesus Christ. Remember Jesusí question in Matthew 16: "Who do you say that I am?" And Peterís confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."? The church consists of those who agree on who Jesus Christ is Ė and have given the right answer -- the same answer as Peter.

It is one thing to talk about Christians fellowship with each other. But it is always possible for people to have something in common which is deception. The only real Christian fellowship is when we all know who Jesus Christ is, and all have fellowship with HIM.

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

(I Jn. 1:3)

It is also a fact that if professing Christians do not agree on who Jesus is, that there can be no fellowship. This is because somebody is NOT a Christian. Again Ė the way you become a Christians is by seeing and embracing who Jesus is. Seeing the Truth about Jesus is a non-negotiable. If we donít agree on Him, we need to stop pretending we have fellowship.

What we see here is that the centrality of Jesus Christ is what the church, and fellowship, is all about. The church isnít supposed to be the center of my church. The people arenít supposed to be the center. And my beliefs arenít supposed to be. Jesus Christ is the center. And when HE is the center, than all of those other things find their proper, profitable place.

Fellowship is more than just the FACT that we all have a common faith. It really means to share that faith in practical, helpful ways. Each person in the church, the Bible teaches has one or more gifts. These are to be used to minister to each other. We teach each other, encourage, and help each other grow.

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Eph. 4:15-16)

Ministry to each other is not accomplished by persuading others of our point of view. It is accomplished by helping each other develop the mind of Christ. Again Ė Jesus must be center for the individual, and for the church as a whole.

 

 

The Redemption

Chapter 6

Conclusions

 

The Wages of Sin

Error #1

Death is a punishment by God upon man for sin.

Truth #1

Death is the result of manís sin against God.

If death is the punishment of God upon man, then the condition of manís death is caused by Godís punishment, and not manís sin. This is so even if you think that this "death" is a perfectly just punishment for that sin.

But notice the further consequences of this error: If death is a punishment from God, then manís choice to sin does man no harm. It is the punishment of God that does the harm. Sin therefore becomes neutral in itís effects upon man. God must "add" the punishment, or sin is no different than obedience. In effect, sin doesnít kill. God does.

Now this is all bad enough. But once we recognize what manís sin is, we see the real perversion in this doctrine. Sin IS the rejection of God. Therefore, this doctrine suggests that the rejection of God does no harm to man. It is Godís reaction TO manís rejection of Him that does the harm. Man could therefore LIVE despite his rejection of God, unless God "added" the punishment of death.

If death was merely Godís punishment FOR sin, then there really isnít anything wrong with man that the removal of that punishment canít fix. Once Jesus bore our punishment for us, God could simply lift our punishment and, by default, restore us to life.

But no. The fact that we are saved by Christís life proves that death was not a punishment. For it proves that we needed to be saved by a NEW life, not merely through removing a punishment from the old.

Death is NOT a punishment by God upon man. Death is the wages of manís sin Ė of his choice to reject God Himself.

Jesus the Sin-Bearer

Error #2

On the Cross, Jesus bore Godís punishment of death.

Truth #2

On the Cross, Jesus bore our sin.

We take this false doctrine to itís next step: The Redemption of Jesus Christ. If death is a punishment from God, then what Jesus bore on the Cross was Godís punishment for us. But if Jesus bore only Godís punishment for us, then He did not bear our sin itself. Why would He? After all, we have already said that manís sin of rejecting God, in and of itself, does man no real harm. Thus, Jesus needed only bear our punishment and die, in order that He pay the full price for sin.

But if Jesus bore only our punishment FOR sin on the Cross, giving God just cause to "lift" that punishment from us, then sin remains untouched. Indeed, WE remain completely as before, only now pronounced "forgiven" in a legal or penal sense.

This false doctrine is heresy because it paints God as the author of manís death, rather than manís own choice to reject God. This heresy directly calls Jesus Christ "accursed" (I Cor. 12:3) Ė that is Ė it makes Him nothing more than the bearer of Godís punishment and wrath. In addition, it offers salvation in the form of a legal pardon, but does nothing whatsoever to change the sinner to a saint.

Saying that Jesus bore our punishment of death upon the Cross is equal to saying that we are saved by His DEATH. Do you see why? If Jesus merely bore the "punishment" of death on the Cross, then the moment He died, our punishment died. It was met. There was no more punishment of death upon us. And if death was no longer upon us, then by default, we had LIFE through the DEATH of Christ. Thus, we were SAVED by His deathóif this error were true.

But no. The Bible says we were saved by Christís LIFE. And since that is true, then it means that we were NOT saved by His death. Therefore, there was no punishment of death "lifted."

Actually, rather than be saved from death by the death of Christ, we MEET our death in Him.  Or to put it a bit crudely, His death did not save us from death, it put us to death!   Our "old man" died in Him.

But then comes the resurrection.   It is precisely because we died in Christ that we can be raised new creations. Indeed, it is ONLY because we have died in Christ that we can be raised, and saved, by His resurrection. A new creation cannot emerge from an old creation which has merely been delivered from punishment. No. It emerges from a creation which has been delivered from death.

Jesus was the sin-bearer. That is why Jesus is Lord. Jesus is not "accursed," or devoted to the destruction of God.

Death

Once we see that there can be NO resurrection, and therefore NO salvation, unless we first DIE in Christ, things begin to fall neatly into place. The distinction between error and Truth becomes more clear.

Error #3

Godís "forgiveness" of sin is a revoking of the death penalty.

Truth #3

Godís "forgiveness" of sin is the result of the death penalty being carried out to the full in Jesus Christ.

Only if the death penalty was carried out to the full in Jesus Christ could we DIE. And only if we died, can we be raised. And only if we are raised are we saved. On the other hand, if God merely revoked the death penalty because of Christ, then we most definitely did NOT die. How could we? Death was revoked. And if we didnít die, then we were never raised. And if we were never raised, then we are not saved.

The same logic applies to our fourth Truth:

Error #4

Because Jesus Christ died, we donít have to die.

Truth #4

Because Jesus Christ died, we are able to meet death in Him.

Only if we actually MEET death in Christ does our old man die. And only if he dies can we be delivered from him through resurrection. Our salvation is therefore dependent upon the resurrection of Christ, not His death.

Resurrection Life

Error #5

We are saved by the death of Jesus Christ.

Truth #5

We are saved by His life

This doctrine actually denies salvation through the resurrection. The Bible shows that salvation is not wrought only through the death of Jesus Christ. Salvation is LIFE Ė new life through the resurrection. Paul writes, "We are saved by His life." (Rom. 5:10) But once I say that salvation is merely a legal pardon in the form of a lifting of punishment, there is no new life. There is only the "old life," but now pardoned. There is actually NO change whatsoever in the sinner except that he is no longer under punishment from God.

In effect, the result of this heresy is actually a SANCTION of sin. It creates a person who is "forgiven" in the sense of having the punishment of death lifted, but who is not a new creation in Christ Jesus. The person has escaped the punishment of death because of Christ, but because of that, has no new life through His resurrection. What you end up with is an immoral Redemption. God pardons in a supposedly legal sense, but only unto to end of setting us free to remain sinners as before.

This lie has further ramifications. If all Jesus did was bear our punishment so that God could lift our punishment, and send us off "forgiven," then there is no basis for saying that Christianity is "Christ in us." For when did He come to live in us? The Bible tells us that it is only through a union with Christ in His death and resurrection (Romans 6) He takes upon Himself our sin, so that He might become the righteousness of God in us. (II Cor. 5:21)

This is why John wrote, "Any spirit which confesses that Jesus is not come in the flesh cannot be of God." (see I John 4:1-4) Because Jesus became an actual flesh and blood man Ė God Incarnate Ė He was able to bear the sin of the whole world. And because He was a flesh and blood human being, we are able to become one with Him in, resulting in the death of our "old man" in Adam, and resulting in new life in Christ. This Truth forms the basis of all freedom from the power of sin, all power to obey God, and sanctification itself as a reality.

It would seem that those who limit the Redemption to the means by which God appeased His own anger have never seen the love of God. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." It does not say, "For God was so angry at the world that He punished His only begotten Son." There could be no greater contrast between Truth and heresy Ė the picture each paints of the nature and character of God.

Jesus is Lord

Jesus is Lord through the resurrection. He was actually "declared to be the Son of god with power, according to the Spirit of holiness BY THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD." (Rom. 1:4) Now, that doesnít minimize His death. Indeed, the resurrection was Godís stamp of approval ON the death of Christ as being fully satisfactory as the payment for sin. But it was the resurrection, not the death of Christ, which actually sealed Him as Lord of all.

This is an important distinction. But somehow it has escaped many Christians. Despite reading the Bible verses on the subject, and even saying the right words, many of us still think that the death of Christ is what saves us. We continue to focus and dwell on His death as the means of our new life.

We probably tend to do this due to the terrible guilt and burden we feel because of sin. Many of us are constantly trying to deal with our sin and flesh. We are evermore trying to make ourselves right with God; trying to get free of the idea that He is mad at us. So naturally we are drawn to the death of Christ. We continually remind ourselves that His death reconciled us to God. His death, we assure ourselves, paid the price. Now God has no reason to want to punish us. He has been given a just reason for forgiving us: The death of His Son.

This will not, however, get us very far down the road to real freedom. Thatís because that kind of concept of the Redemption is one of APPEASEMENT. It is suggesting that Godís anger is what we need freedom from, rather than from our own sin. And it is inferring that VICTORY through the Redemption is a matter of victory over Godís punishment, rather than victory over the enemy, and over death itself.

Remember how, in the beginning of this teaching, we quoted the scripture from I Corinthians 12? We saw there that Paul gives us a test we can use to determine whether a spirit, or teaching, is of God. He said, "No man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed." And he added, "No man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Ghost." Notice how directly this test applies to the fact that we are saved by His life. Jesus is Lord through the resurrection ONLY if through that resurrection He conquered something. And what did He conquer? Death. Sin. The enemy. And He conquered US. But the idea of appeasement, rather than declare Jesus as Lord and Victor, merely shows Him to be a sacrifice devoted to death on our behalf, so that God could then change His attitude toward us from anger to love.

The Redemption Story

Thus, we come to the end of this study of the Redemption. Now we can go back to the false narrative we read in the beginning of this work, and correct it according to the Truth:

God created Adam and told him not to eat of the forbidden tree. He told him that if he did eat, he would die. But Adam ate anyways.

As a result of this sin, Adam died. He had knowingly given away eternal life. He also withdrew from Godís presence, and hid in the garden. Because of his sin, all of Adamís descendents are born into the same death.

For 4000 years man remained withdrawn from God. But God temporarily showed man the way back through the Old Covenant. Finally, God sent His own Son to die on the Cross. Jesus bore our sin down into death, and thus it is possible for us to meet death in Him.

If we will believe, we are baptized into His death and reconciled back to God.

Now, because Jesus died, we can be set free from the power of sin Ė our "old man in Adam" can die. But we can also be saved through resurrection in Him. Through Christ we are raised unto newness of life back into an eternal relationship with God.

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