12 May 2009

Systematic Theology--Lesson 7, Salvation (part 1)

The subject we begin today is one that is widely misunderstood these days. That is the subject of salvation. Let me begin by making some very clear statements about salvation. We are not saved by works. Some people think that God keeps some chart on the wall, and every time we do a good deed, He puts a gold star or smiley face next to our name, and if we get enough gold stars and smiley faces He gives us a big blue ribbon and welcomes us into Heaven. That’s not how we are saved. It’s also more than saying a little prayer and asking Jesus into your heart. One very popular “Christian” book says this: “Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: ‘Jesus, I believe You and I receive You.’ If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God.” Problem is, the reader of The Purpose-Driven Life is never told which Jesus he’s praying to! Basically, what Rick Warren is saying is, “You don’t have to do anything other than just say this little prayer and ask Jesus into your heart. And He can be any Jesus you want Him to be!” That is NOT SALVATION! Salvation is not a one-time thing that you do it and you get a ticket punched and now I can go on and do whatever I want and I'll still be saved. Over the next couple weeks we’re going to give a clear picture of what salvation is.

First there is The Preparation For Our Salvation. We do not seek to follow God—He comes and finds us. Last week we read from Romans 3, that shows us how crummy we really are. There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God…There is no fear of God before their eyes. The prophet Isaiah saw God Himself seated on a throne, and when he realized just how holy God is, he realized just how dispicable he himself, as a man, really was. Which is what caused him to cry out “Woe is me for I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips. For I have seen the king, YHVH of Hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). And because there is nothing in us that wants to follow God, He has to draw us to Him. If it were up to us we would spend all our years fulfilling our own desires. So, in preparing us, we see that The Whole Trinity Is Involved In Salvation. First, it is The Father’s Choice. Ephesians 1:4-5He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. When did He choose us in Him? Before the foundation of the world. Had we been born yet? Had we done any “good works” yet? This choice by the Father is called “election,” and those people He chooses are called the “elect.” 1st Peter 1:2 calls believers elect according to the foreknowledge of God.

Now, some people think that the word “foreknowledge” means that God looked into the future and saw all those people who would believe in Christ, and chose them. That’s not how it happened. We find the same word in Acts 2:22-23, when Peter is preaching the first Christian sermon—“Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested to you by God by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.” The Cross was not a surprise to God—it was His decision. He determined that Christ would go to the Cross. That word “foreknowledge” can mean that you know something’s going to happen before it happens. But in this case, it literally means “To decide something would happen long before it happens.” It’s not that God looked into His crystal ball and saw that it was going to happen—He determined it was going to happen.

So, as far as the ones He chose. Why did He choose them? Choose us? Ephesians 1:5 says that He predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. Basically, because He wanted to. Now, does that let a person off the hook if they do not believe? Someone will say, “Don’t we have to repent of our sins and believe in Christ?” Of course we do. And this is what is known as an “antinomy.” It comes from two Greek words αντι (anti); and νομος (nomos), which means “law.” Basically, it means “two laws that appear to be against each other.” On the one hand, God chooses those that He will save. But by the same token, that person must repent and believe. These two principles may seem to contradict each other, but they're really two sides to the same coin. Kinda like we are not saved by works, but our good works show that we are saved. Those who come to Him come in repentance and faith--He receives each one. But we cannot come to Christ unless the Father chooses us. John 6:44 and 6:65 are the clearest verses on this matter. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” It was The Father’s Choice.

It was The Son’s Cross. John 12:28“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour.” It was determined even before He created the earth. Now, as far as the question of “Who did Jesus die for?” This is not a matter that will determine our salvation, but we do need to have proper understanding of who Jesus went to the cross for, and whose sins He died for. Jesus did not die for ALL the sins of ALL mankind. This doctrine of particular atonement—that Jesus died only for the sins of those people who were chosen by God for salvation—one of the best explanations of this doctrine I found from John Piper, and he explained it like this.
1st John 2:2—He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. “The "whole world" refers to the children of God scattered throughout the whole world. If "the whole world" referred to every individual in the world, we would be forced to say that John is teaching that all people will be saved, which he does not believe. The reason we would be forced to say this is that the term propitiation refers to a real removal of wrath from sinners. When God's wrath against a sinner is propitiated, it is removed from that sinner…Propitiated sins cannot be punished…Therefore if Christ is the propitiation for all the sins of every individual in the world, they cannot be punished, and must be saved.”

Christ did not die for the sins of those who would never believe. If He did shed His blood for those sins, then those sins have been forgiven. And if those sins have been forgiven, then those people are saved—even though they never repented from their sins and never believed in Christ as their Savior. But a clear reading of Scripture shows that not all men will be saved. And if all men are not saved, then Jesus did not die for the sins of the unbelievers.

Before the world was created, the names of those chosen by God were written in the Book of Life. Jesus decided, purposed, submitted to the will of the Father, that He would go to the cross to shed His blood for those who were in that Book. Revelation 13:8All who dwell on the earth will worship [the Beast], whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. In the eyes of God, as far as He is concerned, Christ’s blood was shed before the world was ever created. Those who died before Christ came to earth were still saved by His blood.

Consider those saints who came out of their graves after Christ gave up the ghost and died, Matthew 27:52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. These who had died before the crucifixion were called saints. And how were they saved? Not by keeping the law, but because of their faith to God. And when they died, even though Christ had not come yet, His blood still covered their sins. This brings us to another doctrine of salvation, one that will take us to the end of our time today. The idea of the “penal substitutionary atonement of Christ.” Take out any of those terms, and we detract from what Christ did. The word “penal” refers to “punishment.” Hebrews 10:4-5it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. According to the Law of God, there has to be punishment for sins. Who took that wrath? In the Bible, God’s wrath is pictured as a cup. And if it is said that someone “drank the cup,” it means that God poured His wrath upon that person. Revelation 16:19Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. But Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for us. Luke 22:42“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” John 18:11—Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” When did He drink that cup? Mark 15:34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is, being interpreted, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

This is where we get into the “substitutionary” aspect. We were born sinners. We spend our whole lives accumulating an immeasurable debt to God. Who deserved to be punished for our sins? We do! We deserved to bear the wrath of God for our sins. Who should that have been up there, who should have been the one the Father turned His back on? When Jesus cried out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”, that was the moment when the Father placed all the sins of all the elect upon the head of His dear Son, and He crushed His Son under His wrath. Isaiah 53:10But YHVH was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief. We were all guilty under God’s Law. We were all guilty of sin, of rebelling against a holy, almighty, perfectly righteous and just God. A holy, almighty, perfectly righteous and just God who would have been perfectly holy, perfectly righteous and perfectly just in damning the whole human race to Hell, and not showing the smallest shred of mercy on any one of us.

But instead, Jesus took that curse we deserved upon Himself. Listen to the love of our Savior for us. Galatians 3:13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us. Listen to the love of God the Son for His Father. Philippians 2:5-8Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider clinging to His equality with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a slave, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.

Atonement.” John 1:29“Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world!” The word atonement means “satisfaction made by giving an equivalent for an injury, or by doing or suffering that which is received in payment for an offense or injury.” Also, “the act of making satisfaction for an offense, by which the guilt is done away, and the obligation of the offended person to punish the crime is canceled.” On the OT Day of Atonement—Yom Kippur—the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle the blood of bulls and goats on the mercy seat—the covering of the Ark of the Covenant. This would make atonement for the sins of the people. This was the only way of making satisfaction for their offenses. The guilt was done away with, and the obligation of God to punish their sins was canceled.

When Jesus was crucified, He was sprinkling the mercy seat—the cross—He made atonement for the elect of God. His blood paid for our sins. This made atonement for the sins of God’s elect. This was and is the only way of making satisfaction for our offenses. Colossians 2:13-14When you were dead in your transgressions…He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt…against us…He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Penal.

Substitutionary.

Atonement.

He paid our penalty. He stood in our law place. He gave satisfaction to the God we have offended. As Paul Washer once put it,
“God is holy. His eyes are too pure to look upon sin. His holy Son at that moment bore our sin and the Father turned away from him. But that is not all. For God’s justice to be satisfied his judgment had to be poured out. His wrath, his holy hatred against evil had to be exhausted, extinguished and there was only one way. On that tree Jesus Christ, the Son of God, drank the cup of God’s wrath. All the furious, holy, righteous anger, violent wrath of a righteous God that should have fallen upon his people, fell upon his Son. As Isaiah says, “It pleased YHVH to crush him.” And in crushing him, in pouring out his wrath upon Hm the justice of God was satisfied, the wrath of God was appeased and now God can forgive the wicked and call them righteous because his Son has died for them.”

He went into the Most Holy Place in the Heavens with His own blood, satisfied the debt we owed, and made us acceptable to a perfectly holy, perfectly righteous, perfectly just God. It was not a surprise to the Father. Acts 2:22-23“Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.” Let’s look at some words in this passage. “Determined” literally means “that which has been determined, appointed, decreed.” It was determined long before that Christ would go to the Cross. “Purpose”—means “to will deliberately, have a purpose, be minded (to do something).” And “Foreknowledge” literally means, “To decide something would happen long before it happens.” God determined, appointed, decreed, decided long before it happened, that Jesus Christ His Son would cover Himself in filthy flesh, reveal Himself through miracles and wonders, be nailed to a cross, and shed His own blood to satisfy the debt that we owed—otherwise, none would be saved.

It was not a surprise to the Father. It was not a surprise to Christ. When Judas betrays Christ, and he comes into the Garden at Gethsemane with a bunch of Roman soldiers. What does Jesus do? Is He surprised? There He is, standing there talking to His disciples, and along comes a bunch of soldiers with swords and clubs and torches. Does Jesus shout out “Hey, here come the Romans! Everybody, run! Hide! Judas, what do you think you're doing?” Mark 14:49“Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.” Christ came to fulfill the Scriptures that said He would save His people from their sins. Next week we will look at Matthew 1:21, which says that very thing.

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