Bible Study #4: How Can God Save Sinners?
Introduction and Review
We rejoice that we have been able to help you study the Bible through the materials that you have already completed and are glad to continue to help you with this fourth study. To review, in study #1, after learning a few fundamentals about the organization of the Bible, we looked at its inspiration and found out that it is God’s perfect, error-free Word. We saw that God has preserved every word that He inspired, and we have them available to us today in our English Bible. We also studied some of the many proofs God has given us that He did indeed inspire and preserve the Bible. Then, in study #2, we studied characteristics of God Himself. We learned many of His attributes and discovered the meaning of three very common words for Him in the Bible, Eloheim, Jehovah, and Adonai. We also learned that God has eternally existed in three distinct Persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, a truth commonly called the doctrine of the Trinity.
With this foundation of the nature of the Bible and the nature of God Himself, we looked in study #3 at the Law of God. We saw that the Law is a reflection of God’s holy character. We studied the ten commandments, as well as a few of the other commandments in Scripture. We learned that God commands us to live by every one of the 791,328 words in the Bible, and His Law promises blessing and eternal life for sinless obedience. However, we also saw that God’s curse and eternity in the lake of fire is the penalty for any and every disobedience to His Word. This is a big problem, because nobody has obeyed God’s Law perfectly. The whole human race sinned in Adam, every person has a corrupt and sinful nature, and we commit countless sins. Therefore, we deserve eternal damnation. We then looked at some of man’s attempts to escape the punishment of God’s Law; many people just ignore what God says, deny that they really are that bad, try to be very religious, or try to reform their lives. However, none of these things can take care of sin. This left us in a bad situation, for until one’s sins are taken care of, it is impossible to truly please God at all. Everyone God does not view as sinlessly perfect is already under His wrath and is already condemned. We found out, though, that there is hope—God has made a way to save sinners! We will learn in this study just how He can do this.
With study #4 you have also received your completed version of study #3, which has been checked and graded. Please look over that study for corrections by your Bible teacher, especially on the quiz questions, and for comments, especially at the very end of the study. Also, please keep your completed studies available so that you can look back at them later. Remember that at the end of each of them you have some questions to answer so that we can see that you have understood the Biblical teaching, and some blank space upon which you can write down any questions that you have. Also, please use this space to provide us with the names and addresses of any friends or acquaintances of yours who would also be interested in studying the Bible, so that we can send these materials to them as well. Once again, this Bible course is provided to you courtesy of Bethel Baptist Church, 4905 Appian Way, El Sobrante, CA 94803, (510) 223-8721/ (510) 223-9550, www.pillarandground.org, email@example.com. Let us know if you would like a personal visit for Bible study, and feel free to visit us for Sunday school at 9:45 a.m., morning worship at 11:00 a.m., Sunday evening worship at 6:00 p.m., or Wednesday prayer and Bible study at 7:00 p.m. We are overjoyed that we can assist you in studying the Bible.
God’s Provision to Save Sinners: The Gospel
Since God’s Law demands perfect righteousness, and we are sinners, how can we have any hope of salvation? We are helpless and hopeless on our own; if God did not step in to save people, we would certainly perish forever in the lake of fire. However, God has made a way that sinners can be saved: the gospel of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 reads, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the __ __ __ __ __ __ which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ for our __ __ __ __ according to the __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __; 4 And that he was __ __ __ __ __ __, and that he __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ the third day according to the scriptures.” We can see by comparing verses 1 and 2 that it is the “gospel” (v. 1) by which we are “saved” (v. 2). The word “gospel” means “good news”—and certainly it is very good news that God has made a way for sinners to be saved! Verses 3 and 4 define the gospel: it is the good news that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day. We will look at all of these parts of the gospel in this study. We will learn why Christ was the One who had to do all this to save us, what it means that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, in what sense this was “according to the scriptures,” and how Christ’s saving work results in the salvation of sinners. It is very important that we have a correct understanding of the gospel, for otherwise we just “believe in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:2), as some of those among the church in the city of Corinth, to whom the Apostle Paul wrote the letter of 1 Corinthians, had done. The people who denied the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12-19), for example, were lost in their sins, for they had a wrong view of the nature of the gospel. Furthermore, in Galatians 1:6-9 we are warned that false teachers and Satan seek to “pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:7), and that those who “preach any other gospel” than the true one revealed in the Bible are “accursed” (Galatians 1:9). God has given us no other way to be saved than the gospel of Jesus Christ; if we do not “stand” pardoned by it, and have not “received” it (1 Corinthians 15:1), we will not be “saved” by it (1 Corinthians 15:2) but will certainly perish forever in our sins. Let us, then, carefully consider this glorious provision for salvation God has given us: the gospel!
The Person of the Gospel:
“Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:3)
In John 14:6, the Lord Jesus says, “I am the __ __ __, the __ __ __ __ __, and the __ __ __ __: __ __ __ __ __ cometh unto the Father, but by __ __.” Salvation is only found through Jesus Christ. How important it is, then, that we know who He is, and what He did so we could be saved! We learned in Bible study #2 that He is God the Son, constituting the one true God with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19). In 1 Peter 1:20, God’s Son “was foreordained __ __ __ __ __ __ the foundation of the __ __ __ __ __, but was manifest in these last times for you.” God established the plan of salvation through His Son even before He created the world. In fact, the Father, foreknowing all things, out of His boundless love, gave all those who would be saved to His Son as a gift (John 17:2, 6, 24; Ephesians 1:4-5) even before He created them or the world! God’s people can say “The LORD hath appeared __ __ __ __ __ unto me, saying, Yea, I have __ __ __ __ __ thee with an __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). The Son of God, speaking of His eternal relationship with the Father, says, “Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:30-31). As the Son has from eternity been the boundless delight of the Father, so He has eternally rejoiced in the salvation of those the Father gave Him. Having had in His heart from eternity past the plan to save men, the Son appeared to His people in various ways in the Old Testament. John 1:18 states “No man hath __ __ __ __ God [the Father] at any time; the only begotten __ __ __, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ him.” Throughout the Old Testament, people saw God the Son and learned of the Father through Him. Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:30). The leaders of the nation of Israel “saw the God of Israel” (Exodus 24:10), Joshua saw Him (Joshua 5:13-6:2), and when he did, he “fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?” (Joshua 5:14). When Isaiah saw God’s Son (compare John 12:36-41; Isaiah 6:9-10; 6:1-8), he said “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).
Finally, “when the __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of the time was come, God __ __ __ __ forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to __ __ __ __ __ __ them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). The Bible had predicted that “a __ __ __ __ __ __ shall be with child, and shall bring forth a __ __ __, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, __ __ __ with __ __” (Matthew 1:23; cf. Isaiah 7:14). The eternal Son now took to Himself a human nature, so that, although still one Person, He now had two natures, His Divine nature and a human nature. He who had always been (and continued to be) 100% God became also 100% Man! (1 Timothy 3:16; Philippians 2:5-11). The Son was conceived through the working of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) in the womb of a virgin named Mary, who was engaged to a man named Joseph. God revealed His plan to use Mary to bring the Savior into the world to the couple (you can read the whole story in Luke 1:26-2:52), and she eventually gave birth to Him. Jesus’ virgin birth made Him free from the effects of Adam’s sin and of the sin nature, so that He was perfectly sinless. Joseph and Mary raised Him, and as perfect Man, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). During His entire life, He “did __ __ __ __ __, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). He alone, of all men, perfectly fulfilled the Law of God. He alone was therefore worthy of the reward the Law promised for sinless obedience. He was then betrayed by one of His twelve apostles, Judas, who plotted against Him with the Jewish religious leaders. They delivered Him to die at the hands of the Roman government on a cross. (You can read all about this in Matthew chapters 26-27, or John chapters 13-19.) On the cross, the Father laid the sins of the world on His Son, who suffered and died to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind. Christ “bare our __ __ __ __ in his own body on the tree [cross]” (1 Peter 2:24). He was then buried in a tomb; but three days later, the tomb was empty, for He had risen from the grave! (See Matthew chapter 28, or John chapters 20-21. We will look at the significance of His death and resurrection in more detail later.) The Lord Jesus then “shewed [showed] himself __ __ __ __ __ after his passion [suffering and death] by many infallible proofs, being seen [by His disciples for] forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). After the end of those forty days, He said to His disciples:
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you [which happened ten days later, as described in Acts 2]: and ye shall be __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was __ __ __ __ __ __ __; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward __ __ __ __ __ __ as he went up, behold, two men [angels who appeared as men] stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is __ __ __ __ __ __ __ from you __ __ __ __ heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:8-11).
After “the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and __ __ __ on the __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of God” (Mark 16:19), receiving the highest honor and exaltation. He will return from heaven in the future to set up His kingdom upon the earth, reward His people and destroy His enemies, and reign for a thousand years. Then, after the final judgment, He will dwell with His people in the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22) forever, while He will condemn the unrighteous to the lake of fire forever. (See Revelation chapters 20-22 for all of this). This is He who “the Father sent . . . to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14)!
This great Redeemer has a number of names and offices that we will now look at. Our examination will by no means exhaust the titles given Him in Scripture, but these are some of the most central:
• Jesus. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name __ __ __ __ __: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This name means “Jehovah-Savior” or “Jehovah is salvation.” We must know this “Jesus,” for “neither is there __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ in any other: for there is __ __ __ __ other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
• Christ. John 20:31 reads, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the __ __ __ __ __ __, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have __ __ __ __ through his name.” Christ is the Greek word with the same meaning as the Hebrew Messiah (Daniel 9:25-26; John 1:41). Both titles mean “Anointed One,” and designate the Ruler whom God would send to save and rule over the world, as predicted throughout the Old Testament.
• Lord. Acts 10:36 tells us that “Jesus Christ . . . is __ __ __ __ of all.” A believer will call Jesus, as the apostle Thomas did, “My __ __ __ __ and my God” (John 20:28). Because “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name,” one day soon “at the name of __ __ __ __ __ every knee [will] bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And [then] every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is __ __ __ __, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). The Greek word Lord translates the Old Testament name for God, Jehovah (compare Matthew 22:44 + Psalm 110:1; Romans 10:13 + Joel 2:32, Hebrews 1:8-12 + Psalm 45:6-7; 102:12, 25-27). Christ is Lord because He is Jehovah, “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). He is also Lord because He is the absolute Master and King over everyone and everything. People who belong to Him submit to Him as their Ruler today, and those who will not surrender to His Lordship will face His everlasting and all-powerful wrath.
• Savior. Titus 2:13-14 reads, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Jesus Christ; Who __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ ___ __ for us, that he might __ __ __ __ __ __ us from all iniquity, and __ __ __ __ __ __ unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Jesus Christ is the Savior because His death saves believers from their sin. He saves them from sin’s penalty, eternal damnation. He saves them from sin’s power, enabling them to know and live for God even in this life. He also saves them from sin’s presence, for, made holy, they will dwell with Him forever, sin having been removed from the world (John 14:1-6).
• Mediator. “For there is one God, and one __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). The Lord Jesus is the Mediator between believers and God the Father. Since Christ is God the Son, His obedience and sufferings to reconcile humanity to God possess infinite worth. He has all power and knowledge to direct the work the Father has given Him to do. His mediation is also perfectly acceptable and immeasurably pleasing to the Father (Matthew 17:5; John 8:29). Since Christ is perfect Man, He can identify with, represent, and redeem the race by His substitutionary death, satisfying the penalty required by justice against fallen men (Hebrews 9:15). He is the perfect and absolutely sufficient go-between to bring people to God. “He is able also to __ __ __ __ them to the __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ _ that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Because of the perfection of His mediation, the Lord Jesus is the only mediator (1 Timothy 2:5); no other person, such as a human priest, a saint, or Mary, and no religious organization (even ones found in the Bible like the church) can serve as mediator. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Three aspects of Christ’s office of Mediator are emphasized in His titles of Prophet, Priest, and King.
• Prophet. The Old Testament predicted that God would “raise up a __ __ __ __ __ __ __ from among [Israel] . . . and [would] put [His] words in his mouth; and he [would] speak unto them all that [God] would command him” (Deuteronomy 18:17-18). Christ was the Prophet predicted (Acts 3:22-23), as He Himself claimed (Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24; John 4:44) and those who heard Him recognized (Luke 7:16; 24:19; John 4:19; 7:40). As Prophet, Christ revealed God to man as no one had done before Him. As “he whom God hath sent,” He “speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him” (John 3:34).
• Priest. Hebrews 7:26-27 reads, “For such an __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he __ __ __ __ __ __ __ up __ __ __ __ __ __ __.” Jesus Christ is the great High Priest (head priest) for all His people. Since “every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Hebrews 5:1), the fundamental role of the priest is to reconcile men to God through the offering of sacrifices. God’s law states that sins are “purged with blood; and without __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of __ __ __ __ __ is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22), and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Therefore, Jesus Christ needed to die and shed His precious blood to satisfy the law of God, or mankind could never be restored to fellowship with God. Therefore “by means of [His] death, for the redemption of the transgressions” and “by his own blood he . . . obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:15, 12). Jesus Christ, to be His people’s High Priest, was “in __ __ __ things . . . made __ __ __ __ unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). He became 100% Man so that He could perfectly represent His chosen ones before God. All the priests and sacrifices in the Old Testament foreshadowed Christ and His great priesthood and sacrifice. Because the Lord Jesus has now come, a special human priesthood has been abolished; there is no special group of believers, or religious ministers, who are in a special sense priests to God, or who offer further sacrifices to bring sinners back to Him. The Lord Jesus’ one sacrifice on the cross does it all. Hebrews 9:24-28 reads, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: __ __ __ yet that he should offer himself __ __ __ __ __, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others [this happened every year in the Old Testament system, Leviticus 16]; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now __ __ __ __ in the end of the world hath he appeared to __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ by the sacrifice of __ __ __ __ __ __ __. And as it is appointed unto men __ __ __ __ to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was __ __ __ __ offered to __ __ __ __ the __ __ __ __ of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 10:10-14 further emphasizes the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice, stating that “we are sanctified through the __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of the body of Jesus Christ __ __ __ __ for all. And every priest [besides Christ] standeth daily ministering and offering __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ the same sacrifices, which can __ __ __ __ __ take away sins: But this man, after he had offered __ __ __ sacrifice for sins __ __ __ __ __ __ __, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ them that are sanctified [set apart as His own].” Jesus Christ is the perfect Priest who, on the basis of His sacrifice of Himself, completely removes the sins of His own, and, having risen from the dead and returned to heaven, perpetually intercedes for them before His Father on the basis of His death and shed blood (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14-16; cf. John 17).
• King. Jesus Christ is, as Revelation 19:16 tells us, “__ __ __ __ OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” as He represents the rule of God to man. With the Father and the Spirit, the eternal Son of God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will . . . according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself” (Ephesians 1:11, 9), as He has from all eternity. Furthermore, He now rules the spiritual and invisible kingdom of God, made up of all His people (Romans 14:17; John 3:3, 5), leading and guiding them, and conquering their sinful tendencies so that they live for Him. He also is the King or Head of the church (Ephesians 1:22). Jesus Christ will soon return to earth, destroy His enemies, and establish His kingdom over the earth; He will bring the righteous into it (Matthew 25:34) and cast the wicked out from it into hell (Matthew 22:13). At that time “of the increase of his __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David [He will reign over the earth from Jerusalem where king David reigned], and upon his __ __ __ __ __ __ __, to order it, and to establish it with __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ and with __ __ __ __ __ __ __ from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7). He will reign over the earth for 1,000 years, execute the final judgment, and then bring in a new heaven and a new earth, where He will reign forever and ever (Revelation 19:11-22:5). Soon “the kingdoms of this world [will] become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his __ __ __ __ __ __ ; and he shall __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ and ever.” (Revelation 11:15).
The work of the gospel:
“Christ died for our sins . . . he was buried, and . . . he rose again the third day”
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
It is amazing that God would send a Person like the Lord Jesus Christ into the world—that the eternal Son of God would be made flesh and take to Himself a human nature is incomprehensible condescension. How much more amazing to realize that “the Son of man [Jesus Christ] came not to be ministered unto, but to minister [serve], and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). He came, not to destroy His enemies, not to immediately send everyone who had sinned against Him into eternal torment (exactly what we deserve), but to die to save those very enemies and sinners! “God so __ __ __ __ __ the world, that he __ __ __ __ his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “God commendeth his __ __ __ __ toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ __ __ __ __ for us” (Romans 5:8). What exactly happened when the Lord Jesus died? What did God accomplish? Why is the death of Christ, and His subsequent burial and resurrection, the “gospel,” such “good news” for us? His death was:
• Sacrificial. The Son of God came “once in the end of the world . . . to put away sin by the __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). On the cross, Christ “offered himself without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:14), being “once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28), making a payment to the Father for the sins of all mankind. The Lord Jesus’ sacrifice was made to satisfy the just judgment of God’s Law against us for our sins. He did not die simply as a good example of suffering. His death was a payment to God for our sins, not a ransom given to Satan or anyone else. God is able to reconcile “enemies . . . by the __ __ __ __ __ of his Son” (Romans 5:10). Jesus Christ “loved us and washed us [who are saved] from our sins in his own __ __ __ __ __” (Revelation 1:5). His death and shed blood were the perfect sacrificial offering for sin.
• Substitutionary. “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the __ __ __ __ for the __ __ __ __ __ __” (1 Peter 3:18). A substitute is one who comes in the place or in the room of another. Did you ever have a schoolteacher who was sick, and learn from a substitute teacher that day? The substitute took the place of your normal teacher. Christ came “to give his life a ransom for [in the place of] many” (Mark 10:45); He died as our Substitute, bearing our sins in our place, suffering the wrath of God in our stead so we would not need to suffer God’s wrath forever in hell, dying for our sins so we would not need to die eternally for them. Imagine that your bank account was overdrawn by billions of dollars—you were in debt by an incomprehensibly large amount of money. Imagine as well that you were friends with the richest man in the world, who loved you and saw your desperate need. He gave you a call, you met together, and signed papers switching bank accounts; now he was in debt billions, while you were rich beyond imagination. This is the sort of substitution Christ made for you; He took your sins to give you His righteousness. One who receives the benefit of Christ’s substitutionary death has no sin debt left to pay, but is accounted perfectly righteous before God. God’s Son suffered all the judgment we deserve so we could have all the blessing, righteousness, glory, and exaltation that pertains to Him.
• Propitiatory. 1 John 4:10 declares, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ for our sins,” while 1 John 2:2 states Christ “is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” The word propitiation indicates that God’s wrath against us is appeased or placated by the death of Christ. God is no longer angry with those who receive the benefit of His Son’s death; the blood of Jesus is sufficient to remove the Father’s wrath, and enables Him to justly look upon the saved with favor.
• Redemptive. Galatians 3:13 reads, “Christ hath __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree [cross].” Ephesians 1:7 tells us that in Him “we have redemption through his blood, [and] the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” To redeem is to purchase back what has been lost by the payment of a ransom. A slave might be bought out of and freed from slavery if someone paid a price to free him. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is the payment to free us from the penalty of sin and from slavery to its power. God can be just, and yet show mercy to sinners, because of the Savior’s redemptive death.
• Complete. John 19:30 tells us that the Son of God, immediately before His death, said “It is __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost [he died].” The Lord Jesus suffered in full the penalty that we owe for our sin and did all that was necessary to save lost mankind. Nothing that we have ever done, are doing, or will do, can in any way add to or help complete the work of salvation, since Christ has done it all. He “by __ __ __ __ __ __ __ purged our sins” (Hebrews 1:3); we do not purge them or help Him accomplish this work. We are “not redeemed with corruptible things . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Nothing is needed to save us besides that Jesus “washe[s] us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). If this has taken place, we are certain of salvation, for His work on the cross is enough to eternally save the worst sinner. If His blood has not washed our sins away, we will certainly be damned; for apart from Him, “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).
After Christ “died for our sins according to the scriptures . . . he was buried” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). After His crucifixion, “When the even [evening] was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea [a town northwest of Jerusalem], named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: he went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new __ __ __ __, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he __ __ __ __ __ __ a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed” (Matthew 27:57-60). A tomb such as Joseph’s would have been closed with a large stone that rolled down an incline, making it easy to close but difficult to open; several men might be needed to roll the stone back up the incline. After Christ’s burial, the chief priests and Pharisees, the Jewish religious leaders who had agitated for His death in the first place, posted guards at the tomb, and sealed it with an official seal (Matthew 27:61-66). Breaking such a seal would bring the wrath of the Roman government on the offender; the guards risked death if they allowed anyone to enter the tomb (cf. Matthew 28:14).
After Christ was “buried . . . he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4). Before His death, the Lord had predicted that He would “be betrayed into the hands of men: [who would] kill him, and the third day he [would] be raised again” (Matthew 17:22-23). Matthew 28:1-8 records that “as it began to dawn toward the __ __ __ __ __ day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers [the guards] did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is __ __ __ __ __ __ _: for he is __ __ __ __ __, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is __ __ __ __ from the __ __ __ __; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.” Soon afterwards the apostles Peter and John ran to the tomb and found it empty (John 20:3-10). His body was not there—He had risen from the dead! Among many other appearances (Acts 1:3), the Lord Jesus was seen after His resurrection by “Cephas [Peter], then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ brethren at once . . . After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of [Paul] also” (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). His physical body was changed into a “glorious body” (Philippians 3:21), yet it was still very real; after one miraculous appearance in the midst of His disciples (Luke 24:36), He said, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is __ __ __ __ __ __ __: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not __ __ __ __and __ __ __ __ __, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39), and ate before them “a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb” (Luke 24:40-44).
After the Lord Jesus “shewed himself alive after his passion [his death on the cross] by many infallible proofs, being seen of [many groups of people for] forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3), “he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9-11), where He will remain until He comes again to establish His kingdom on the earth. Now “being by the right hand of God exalted, [He sent] . . . the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:33) ten days after the Lord Jesus had ascended to heaven (Acts 2). The Spirit now indwells all of God’s people (Romans 8:9). Christ received “all power . . . in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18) and tremendous glory (Revelation 1:10-18). When God raised Christ “from the dead, [he] set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:20-23). When one of God’s people sins, he now has “an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1), who effectually pleads His death and blood to secure the sinner’s pardon. God’s own can rejoice and say, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that __ __ __ __, yea rather, that is __ __ __ __ __ again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ for us” (Romans 8:34). Christ bore our sins on the cross. His resurrection demonstrates God’s perfect satisfaction with His Son’s work. The Lord Jesus’ ascension to heaven and His place on the throne of God is proof positive that the sins of God’s people are gone forever. Christ is at this time preparing mansions for them in heaven (John 14:1-3). His resurrection means that they, too, will rise, to be with Him (1 Corinthians 15:20). He is also now saving the souls of all the lost who come to Him for pardon (Matthew 11:28-30).
The Lord Jesus will soon come again, when He “shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ with everlasting __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). At that time, “there [will be] given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14). After a thousand years of rule over a paradise-like earth (Revelation 20:1-6; Isaiah 2:1-5), He will execute judgment upon the ungodly, condemning them to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). He will then make a new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1) and dwell with those He has washed in His blood in “the heavenly Jerusalem” for ever and ever (Hebrews 12:22-24; Revelation 21-22). In that “city . . . [there will be] no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God [will] lighten it, and the Lamb [Christ] is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23). The death, burial, and resurrection of this soon returning Redeemer, Jesus Christ, is truly good news—it is the work of the gospel!
The prediction of the gospel:
“Christ died . . . according to the scriptures . . . was buried,
and . . . rose again . . . according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
The good news of salvation through Jesus Christ is the “everlasting gospel” (Revelation 14:6), the only means through which anyone has ever been or ever will be saved. Immediately after the fall of man with Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:6), God promised a Deliverer whose coming would defeat Satan (Genesis 3:15). Recognizing the coming salvation through Christ, Abel, the child of Adam and Eve, offered a sacrifice as a manifestation of his faith in the Savior (Genesis 4:4; Hebrews 11:4). Throughout the Old Testament, God instituted various animal sacrifices and other offerings to picture the coming redemption through the blood of the Lord Jesus (Exodus 12; Leviticus 1-7, 23, etc.). Other events in Scripture also pictured the Father’s offering of His Son for sin (Genesis 22; Hebrews 11:17-19). Believers in the Old Testament era knew that they were sinners (1 Kings 8:46; Ecclesiastes 7:20), and that their works could not remove sin; God told them that “it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). In addition to these many pictures of Christ’s redemptive work, the Old Testament is filled with predictions about Him. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is one powerful example:
13 Behold, my __ __ __ __ __ __ __ [this is the title for Christ in this passage] shall deal prudently, he shall be __ __ __ __ __ __ __ and __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __, and be very high. [This will take place when He returns to reign at His second coming.] 14 As many were astonied [meaning “astonished”] at thee; his visage [face] was so __ __ __ __ __ __ more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: [This took place when Christ was beaten before His crucifixion, Matthew 26:66-68; John 19:2-3.] 15 So shall he __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ many nations [this refers to the salvation of the Gentile or non-Jewish nations through Christ’s blood; “sprinkle” is a technical term used for the blood of the sacrificial offerings; see Leviticus 4:6, 17; 5:9]; the __ __ __ __ __ shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider [The Gentiles, even their kings, shall be amazed at this story of salvation through His blood]. 1 Who hath __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ our report? [In contrast to the many believing Gentiles, only a few in Israel would believe; see the verses in Isaiah 53 below; also John 12:38; Romans 10:16.] and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a __ __ __ __ out of a dry ground [The “root” image is one for the Messiah or Christ in the Old Testament, Isaiah 11:1, 10]: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no __ __ __ __ __ __ that we should desire him. [Christ did not come as if He were a great king, but was born in a stable and grew up in a lowly carpenter’s household, Luke 2:7; Matthew 13:55; Israel did not see His spiritual beauty, Psalm 45:2.] 3 He is despised and __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we __ __ __ as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. [Men in general rejected Him and despised Him.] 4 Surely he hath __ __ __ __ __ our griefs, and __ __ __ __ __ __ __ our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. [He was our Substitute and sin-bearer; this truth is emphasized down to v. 6.] 5 But he was wounded for __ __ __ transgressions, he was bruised for __ __ __ iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes [black and blue marks as from a whip, Matthew 27:26] __ __ are __ __ __ __ __ __. 6 All we like sheep have gone __ __ __ __ __ __; we have __ __ __ __ __ __ every one to his own way; [everyone has sinned] and the LORD hath __ __ __ __ on him the iniquity of us all. [The Father laid our sins on His Son when Christ died on the cross.] 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ his __ __ __ __ __: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb [silent], so he openeth not his mouth. [This is exactly what happened to the Lord Jesus during His trial. He was silent while multitudes of false accusations were brought against Him by those who sought His death, Mark 14:55-60; John 19:9-10.] 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was __ __ __ __ __ __ out of the land of the ___ __ __ __ __ __: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. [He was put to death as a sacrifice for the sins of God’s people.] 9 And he made his grave with the __ __ __ __ __ __, and with the __ __ __ __ in his death [He was crucified and died between two wicked thieves (Luke 23:33; Matthew 27:38), and wicked men also guarded his grave (Matthew 27:65-66), but Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, put His body in his tomb (Matthew 27:57-60; John 19:38-41).]; because he had done __ __ violence, neither was __ __ __ deceit in his mouth [He was sinless, and even those who tried Him knew He was innocent, John 8:46; Luke 23:4, 13-16; John 18:38; 19:4, 6.] 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his __ __ __ __ an __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ for sin [It is again emphasized that He died as a sin offering, bearing the sins of the world that were put upon Him by the Father.], he shall __ __ __ his seed, he shall __ __ __ __ __ __ __ his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall __ __ __ __ __ __ __ in his hand. 11 He shall __ __ __ of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied [The only way one who is dead can then “see,” “prolong his days,” and “be satisfied,” is if he rises from the grave, which is what Christ did, Matthew 28:6-7.]: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant __ __ __ __ __ __ __ many; for he shall bear their iniquities [Many will be justified, declared righteous, on the basis of the righteousness of Christ, who bore their sins on the cross; this justification will be by knowing Him, that is, by faith, Romans 5:1.]. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the __ __ __ __ __, and he shall divide the __ __ __ __ __ with the strong [when He comes again, He will rule the earth, Isaiah 52:13; 9:6-7; Revelation 11:15; 19:11-16]; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ for the transgressors [His “death,” His being identified with evildoers, and His sin bearing, have already been mentioned; His intercession for transgressors refers to His High Priestly ministry, made possible by His perfectly obedient life, substitutionary death, resurrection, and ascension, Hebrews 7:25.].
Many other prophecies were made about the Lord Jesus. Twenty representative predictions are mentioned below:[i]
OT Predictive Passage
|A descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and King David||“his government . . . upon the throne of David” (Isaiah 9:7; cf. Genesis 12:3; 17:19; Numbers 24:17; Genesis 49:10)||“The Lord God will give unto him the throne of his father David.” (Luke 1:32-33; 3:33-4; Matthew 1:1, 2)|
|Born in Bethlehem||“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)||“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:4-7).|
|Virgin birth||“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)||“The angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. . . . And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.” (Luke 1:26-31; Matthew 1:18-25)|
|Proceeded by a forerunner (John the Baptist)||“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)||“And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? . . . This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” (Luke 7:24, 27)|
|Declared the Son of God||“I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” (Psalm 2:7, 12; Proverbs 30:4; Isaiah 9:6; Daniel 3:25)||“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)|
|Ministry in the area of Galilee, in and around the tribal land of Zebulun and Naphtali||“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:1-2)||“And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light.” (Matthew 4:13-16)|
|A prophet||“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me [Moses]; unto him ye shall hearken” (Deuteronomy 18:15)||“Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” (John 6:14; 7:40; Luke 7:16; Acts 3:20-23)|
|Unparalleled healings||“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.” (Isaiah 35:5-6; 42:7; 61:1-2; Jeremiah 31:8)||“And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.” (Matthew 15:30-31; 4:23-24; Luke 4:18-19; 7:19-22)|
|Presentation as the Messianic King by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey||“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9)||“And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple.” (Mark 11:7-11)|
|Presentation as the Messianic King on March 30, A. D. 33, followed by His substitutionary death and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans for rejecting Him (fulfilled in A. D. 70).||“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” (Daniel 9:25-26)[ii]||“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)|
|Betrayed by a close friend||“Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9)||“And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47-48)|
|Betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, which was later used to purchase a potter’s field, after being cast down in the temple||“And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised [priced] at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.” (Zechariah 11:12-13)||“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. . . . Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.” (Matthew 26:14-15; 27:3-7)|
|Accused by false witnesses||“False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.” (Psalm 35:11)||“And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.” (Mark 14:57-58)|
|Scorned and mocked||“All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” (Psalm 22:7-8)||“And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads. . . . Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, . . . The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” (Matthew 27:39-44)|
|Spat upon and smitten||“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)||“Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?” (Matthew 26:67-68)|
|Pierced through hands and feet||“For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalm 22:16; cf. Zechariah 12:10)||“Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. . . . Then saith he . . . Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (John 20:25, 27; cf. 19:18)|
|Executioners gambled for His garment||“They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” (Psalm 22:18)||“And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.” (Mark 15:24)|
|Forsaken by God||“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” (Psalm 22:1)||“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)|
|No bones broken||“He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:20)||“The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day . . . besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs . . . For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. (John 19:31-36)|
|Resurrection from the dead and ascension to God’s right hand in heaven||“For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. . . . But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. . . . Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.” (Psalm 16:10-11; 49:15; 68:18, cf. Psalm 110:1; Isaiah 53:10-12)||“And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. . . . he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:6, 19; Ephesians 4:8; Hebrews 12:2)|
Truly, the Lord Jesus is He “of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write” (John 1:45; cf. 5:46; Luke 24:27, 44)!
The result of the gospel:
“I declare unto you the gospel . . . by which also ye are saved” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)
The gospel, the fact of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, according to the scriptures, is the basis of the salvation of sinners. The Lord Jesus brings His people a vast number of benefits by means of His death and resurrection on their behalf. Some of the most important are:
• Adoption. Galatians 4:4-7 reads, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of __ __ __ __. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba [a tender word for “Father”], Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a __ __ __; and if a son, then an __ __ __ __ of God through Christ.” The Lord says to those lost in sin, “Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:44), for they are “child[ren] of the devil” (Acts 13:10) and “children of disobedience . . . children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:2-3). However, when one is redeemed, he becomes God’s child (John 1:12-13), the object of the tender care of his loving heavenly Father, and one who will, through Jesus Christ, “inherit all things” (Revelation 21:7), for all of eternity! The Holy Spirit indwells the adopted sons of God (Romans 8:14-15), and He “beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16). This indwelling gives the adopted inestimable comfort now, and is a guarantee of their future resurrection to eternal glory (Romans 8:23).
• Justification. Romans 5:1 reads, “Therefore being __ __ __ __ ___ __ __ __ __ by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Justification, to be “declared righteous,” is a judicial act where God pardons the sins of, and accounts and accepts as righteous, all believers, not because of anything worked in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone, by crediting to them His righteousness. We cannot be justified by our own righteous actions, for “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), but in the act of justification, God, the blood of His Son having washed our sins away, gives us Jesus’ righteousness instead, so we are “covered . . . with the robe of [Christ’s] righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). God’s people are made “the righteousness of God in [Christ],” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God’s Law demands not only absolute freedom from all sin, but perfect obedience; one must not only have done nothing wrong, but must have actively fulfilled all of the Law’s commands. This requirement is met in justification. Christ died so we would not need to die for our sins; He paid our penalty so we would not need to pay it, and He lived a sinless life so that God could reckon to the justified His Son’s perfect obedience. Having accounted Christ’s righteousness to His people, God can treat them as if they had never sinned but had instead perfectly obeyed His Law their entire lives! This reckoning of sinners righteous is not based upon anything they have done, are doing, or will do; “God imputeth [credits/accounts] righteousness __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __” (Romans 4:6); “to him that worketh __ __ __, but believeth on him that justifieth the __ __ __ __ __ __ __, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). In the justification of sinners by means of Christ’s redemption, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10); not only does God’s mercy require that the justified enter into eternal glory, but His justice likewise demands it. The Law being satisfied, the same inflexible holiness that had previously necessitated their condemnation as sinners now requires that they receive eternal life. Since God has declared them righteous, they can, rejoicing, ask, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect [those He has chosen to save]? It is __ __ __ that __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __. Who is he that condemneth? (Romans 8:33-34). The Judge has declared them holy and sinless. No one can say otherwise!
• Reconciliation. Romans 5:10 reads, “For if, when we were __ __ __ __ __ __ __, we were __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ to God by the __ __ __ __ __ of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be __ __ __ __ __ by his life.” Before one receives the benefits of Christ’s death, he is God’s enemy—God is against the sinner because of his sin, and the sinner is against God because He is holy. However, by means of the death of the Lord Jesus, the justified are brought into fellowship with the Father; no longer are they enemies, but they are God’s friends, indeed, His dearly beloved children. This is what reconciliation accomplishes. God, “in Christ, [was] reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Having been restored to a right relation to God, the saved also desire to walk with Him. This relates to the next benefit of Christ’s death, sanctification.
• Sanctification. Hebrews 13:12 reads, “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ the people with his own blood, suffered without [outside of] the gate.” To be sanctified is to be set apart, to be separated from the world and consecrated to God. It is related to the word holy. Christ sanctifies His people positionally and practically. Positional sanctification is the one-time event of being set apart as one who belongs to God. This positional sanctification happens at the same moment as justification and reconciliation; when one is transformed from a child of the devil into a child of God, he is permanently set apart as one of the heavenly Father’s own. Hebrews 10:10 tells us that the justified “are __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all,” while Hebrews 10:14 states that “by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __.” The Son of God’s death is the righteous basis upon which God eternally saves all those who belong to Him. Practical sanctification is day-to-day growth in holiness, through which God makes His chosen ones more and more like the Lord Jesus, more separated from sin, and more conformed to His will. The Holy Spirit works this kind of sanctification within the justified over the course of their whole lives. The Lord Jesus, the great High Priest, prayed that those He represented would be made holy through the Word of God, requesting of the Father, “__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Those who have been positionally sanctified will grow in practical godliness, for “now being made __ __ __ __ from __ __ __, and become __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ to God, ye have your fruit unto __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:22). The word “saint” means “holy/consecrated/set-apart one,” and it refers to every born-again person, all those adopted into God’s family (1 Corinthians 1:2; Colossians 1:2).[iii] The saints enjoy both positional and practical sanctification; they became God’s possession when they entered His family, and their lives are characterized by holiness and purity. Without the Savior’s death, no sinner could become God’s peculiar treasure in positional sanctification, nor be freed from bondage to sin to walk in God’s ways in practical sanctification. The work of Christ in the gospel also secures the saints a holy eternity, one set apart to God and entirely free from the presence of sin—their glorification is a future certainty.
• Glorification. Hebrews 2:10 states, “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto __ __ __ __ __, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” The saints are not only currently set apart as God’s own, and growing in holiness, but they will be forever separated from sin, made perfectly holy. They will then enjoy eternal glory dwelling in the presence of the glorious God. At the resurrection they will be “raised in glory” (1 Corinthian 15:43). The Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven with a glorified, spiritual body (Revelation 1:10-20), and God’s people can say their “conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall __ __ __ __ __ __ our __ __ __ __ body, that it may be fashioned like unto his __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20-21). “When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). With glorious, resurrected bodies, “the righteous [will] shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43), who will make “known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy [the redeemed], which he had afore prepared unto glory” (Rom 9:23). They will reign forever with Christ, obtaining a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” than the “light affliction, which is but for a moment” (2 Corinthians 4:17) which they endure in this life. How does all the glory of this life fade away into nothing in comparison! Surely is it more important to enter into the glorious kingdom of God than to have anything, or everything, this life can offer! God “called [the reconciled] by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:14) by means of “Christ, who is our life” (Colossians 3:4); the “riches of the glory of this mystery . . . is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The elect are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ . . . glorified together” with Him (Romans 8:17). The saints will be glorified because of their eternal, unbreakable union with their glorious God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Every benefit the redeemed will receive in eternal glory is based on the fact that they are “in Christ”—they receive every grace, mercy, and blessing because of their spiritual union with the Son of God. First Corinthians 1:30 states that they are “__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __, who of God is made unto [them] wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” God “hath blessed [them] with __ __ __ spiritual blessings in heavenly places __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __” (Ephesians 1:3). Since the saints are in Christ, Romans 8:32 can ask, “He that spared not his own ___ __ __, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not __ __ __ __ __ __ __ also freely give us __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __?” Jesus Christ is infinitely more precious than all the universe, greater than the totality of all that has ever existed, or that will exist, in the kingdom of God—if the Father gives us Him, then God will by no means withhold adoption, justification, sanctification, and glorification from us. Despite their immeasurable value, they are all together as nothing compared to the Gift of Gifts, the only begotten Son of God.
The gospel of Jesus Christ saves
We asked, at the beginning of this study, how the righteous God could save sinners. We have now discovered the answer—God can save the guilty by means of the redemptive work of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus, who was from eternity fully God, became fully Man, and entered the world to deliver us from our sins. He is Jesus, Jehovah-Savior. He is Christ, the Ruler predicted throughout the Old Testament who would come to save and rule the world. He is Lord, the absolute Master and Sovereign of all, and One who is Himself God. He is Savior, delivering His people from the penalty of sin, eternal damnation; the power of sin, its rule and control; and ultimately from the presence of sin, for Christ’s chosen will live with Him forever in His eternal kingdom. He also is the Mediator, the only go-between who can bring us to the Father. His mediation is manifested in three offices. As Prophet, he reveals the will of God and speaks the Word of God. As Priest, He reconciles His people to God on the basis of His sacrifice of Himself and effectually intercedes for them before the Father. As King, He rules, in accordance with His eternal good pleasure, over the current invisible kingdom of all the saints, over His church, and, upon His return, over the world.
This One, the boundlessly glorious Son of God, was sent into the world to die for our sins. His death was sacrificial, a payment to the Father for the sins of the world, and substitutionary, for He endured the judgment of God in our place, that by taking our penalty we might receive His righteousness. His death is also both propitiatory, since it forever appeases God’s wrath, and complete, for His perfect sacrifice is absolutely sufficient to save to the uttermost. Having died this incomparably valuable death, he was buried, and rose again on the third day, demonstrating God’s satisfaction with His sacrifice and vindicating His claims. He then ascended to the right hand of the Father, from whence He will soon return to judge and rule the earth. We also saw that the Lord Jesus was predicted with astonishing accuracy in numerous Old Testament prophecies.
Christ’s saving work brings salvation to His own. They are adopted into God’s family, becoming His children, and securing a blessed eternity. They are justified, having Christ’s righteousness credited to them, and so are counted perfectly obedient and holy before the Law of God for their crucified Savior’s sake. They are reconciled, brought back into fellowship and peace with God. They are sanctified, set apart as God’s own, and led into the paths of holiness. Finally, they wait expectantly for their glorification, the everlasting honor and exaltation they will possess in their resurrected state. All of this results from their identification with the Lord Jesus, their standing “in Christ.”
We have seen that 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 defines “the gospel . . . by which also ye are saved . . . [as] that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” In this passage, the apostle Paul informs the church at Corinth that this “gospel, which I preached unto you . . . [is that] which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand” (1 Corinthians 15:1). How does someone receive the benefits of the gospel? How can you, personally, appropriate the benefits of Christ and His saving work, and be given eternal life? This is the subject of our next study—How Do I Receive the Gospel?
Review Quiz For Bible Study #4
1.) The gospel is the good news that salvation is obtained through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. True False
2.) Jesus Christ is the Savior, and His death takes care of most sins, but we must live holy lives to pay for the rest of our sins. True False
3.) After the Son of God came into the world, He and His apostles preached a new and different gospel that nobody had ever heard before, and which the Old Testament said nothing about. True False
4.) Justification takes place gradually as we live more and more holy lives and become righteous people. Our own righteousness will enable us to stand before God. True False
5.) Certain sins, like murder, are so bad that nothing, not even the blood of Jesus, will wash them away. True False
6.) The work of Christ on the cross is substitutionary, since the Lord Jesus suffered and died for our sins so we would not need to suffer and die for them. He died this substitutionary death so that we might have His righteousness credited to us, and stand before God on that basis. True False
7.) We are controlled by Satan before we are redeemed, so Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was a price paid to Satan to free us from his control. True False
8.) If we are “in Christ,” we will have all the benefits of union with Him, including the forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation, but if we are not in Christ, damnation is certain. True False
Request for Study #5
___ I have returned the fourth Bible study to you with the answer blanks filled in and answered the review quiz questions. Please send me the next Bible study, How Do I Receive the Gospel?
___ I would like to understand more about Christ’s work to save us. Please send me a free copy of the Christian classic The Blood of Jesus, by William Reid.
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Please use the spaces below to write down any other questions that you have. You can also write down any changes of address. Please also put down the names and addresses of people you know who might also like to do this Bible study.
[i] For more information about prophecies of Christ, please request a copy of the pamphlet, Is Jesus a Fraud? available free upon request.
[ii] For more information about this complex prophecy, please request a free copy of our booklet The Book of Daniel: Proof that the Bible is the Word of the Living God, or download the booklet at http://sites.google.com/site/faithalonesaves/salvation.
[iii] As mentioned in Bible study #3, every born-again person is a saint.