God has always wanted to save man from the effects of sin, and Man too, he wants to be saved, but how could it be done?
To understand better the importance of Salvation, we must think about four words: Propitiation, Substitution, Atonement, and Redemption. These words are key for they point us to the cross and the meaning of Christ’s death as is taught in the Bible.
Now hear this, God can save man only because of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our four words, (Propitiation, Substitution, Atonement, and Redemption) will show us how.
What is propitiation?
The first thing we want to think about is propitiation. It means the turning away of wrath by an offering. The Lord Jesus Christ bore the punishment for our sins, and when on the cross He offered Himself as a sacrifice to God. God no longer has to be angry with sinners or mankind. He now shows Himself as a merciful God.
“God sent His Son to be the propitiation (or expiation) appeasing for our sins”, 1 John 4:10.
“Not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”, 1 John 2:2.
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 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.
To substitute means to put a thing in the place of another. Even though God is love, His righteousness says, The soul that sins shall die, Ezekiel 18:20.
To save man, there must be a substitute, one who will die in the place of the guilty man. If there is none, the guilty must die for his own sins. The substitute must be acceptable to God. The substitute must be equal. An animal would not do, Hebrews 10:4. The substitute for a man must be a man. He must be innocent, without sin. If he were guilty, he would have to die for his own sins and would not do as a substitute for another.
He must be willing to die. It would not be right for God to force some innocent person to die for another. He must have an infinite life, without any limit. If not, his death would be sufficient for only one man. God’s law is, “Life for life,” Deuteronomy 19:21.
Throughout the Bible we learn that a Substitute must die for man. At first God accepted animal sacrifices. These were not sufficient in themselves to take away sin, but were pictures of Christ.
The truth of substitution is brought out in Isaiah 53
“for our transgressions”, verse 5;
“for our iniquities”, verse 5;
“for the transgressions of my people”, verse 8; “an offering for sin”, verse 10;
“for the transgressors”, verse 12.
The Lord Jesus spoke of His body given for us, and of His blood shed for us, 1 Corinthians 11:24, Mark 14:24.
What is the difference between atonement and reconciliation?
Christ atoned for our sins on the cross. Reconciliation is the work of the Holy Spirit when the sinner believes. It means to restore to friend- ship and happy fellowship again.
Atonement is to cover, and no atonement could be made until Christ died. God passed over sins knowing that Christ was going to die for them, Romans 3:25, Hebrews 9:15.
The word “atone” means to cause enemies to become friends again, to settle a quarrel, or to pay for the harm that has been done.
“When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son,” Romans 5:10.
We need to be reconciled to God, that is to have fear and hatred of God taken away.
God reconciled us to Himself, 2 Corinthians 5:18. Reconciling the world to Himself, 2 Corinthians 5:19. Be reconciled to God, 2 Corinthians 5:20
To redeem means to buy or to buy again.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, Galatians 3:13. He gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all sin, Titus 2:14. We are redeemed from the old ways, not with silver or gold, but with the blood of Christ, 1 Peter 1:18,19. He gave His life a ransom for many, Mark 10:45, and got eternal redemption for us, Hebrews 9:12.
Man belongs to God who created him, but through sin man got under the control of another, Satan. However, Christ paid the ransom, in fact sold all that He had to buy us at great price, Matthew 13:46. So we see that we are not our own, but have been bought with a price, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought to glorify God in our bodies, in all that we do and say, 1 Corinthians 6:19,20
Christ’s death on the cross is the ground of God’s wonderful plan of salvation. It was completely necessary and at the same time perfectly sufficient.
There are four words in the Bible which further tell about God’s work in saving men, and these are: Election, Predestination, Calling, and Adoption.
But as for now I want you to think of two words which tell about man’s part in God’s plan of salvation.
To repent means to be sorry for what you have done. It also means to change your mind. Sometimes we read that God repented. This means that He changed His thoughts toward man.
When I repent, I change my thoughts:
- about sin. I see that it is hatred and rebellion against God.
- about God. I now understand that He is my Father.
- about Christ. I now see Him as my Saviour.
God commands all men to repent, Acts 17:30.
He gives repentance, Acts 11:18.
His goodness leads us to repentance, Romans 2:4. The Lord Jesus Christ calls men to repent, Luke 5:32.
Repentance leads to:
- forgiveness, Luke 24:47, Acts 5:31;
- good works, Luke 3:8;
- baptism, Luke 3:3.
The word faith is used for what we trust in: Christian truth as a whole.
This means that we can trust God and know that He will never fail us. Thus we believe that the Gospel message is true and that God is faithful. If we commit ourselves to Him, this is faith.
What a person does and how he acts shows if he has true faith or not. Just to agree in your mind that something is true is not the kind of faith God wants us to have. Demons believe that there is one God and are afraid, but this does not save them. Faith that does not show itself by actions that are pleasing to God is dead faith, and a person with that kind of faith does not have eternal life at all, James 2:14-26.
Election, predestination, calling and adoption all show that God is in control over all. Man’s part is to repent and have faith.
Prayer of Salvation
Have you ever made Jesus the Lord and Saviour of your life?
If not, pray this prayer and start a new life in Christ.
Dear God in heaven,
I come to you in the Name of Jesus. I admit that I am not right with you, and I want to be right with you. I ask you to forgive me of all my sins, and come into my heart and change me. The Bible says if I confess with my mouth that “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, I will be saved (Rom. 10:9). I believe with my heart and I confess with my mouth that Jesus is the Lord and Saviour of my life. Thank you for saving me!
In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.
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