Have you ever felt so alone
So alone, that you could hardly breathe?
Then, all of a sudden there was a light.
I don’t mean a visual thing, like a flickering candle or a lantern,
But rather, an inaccessible presence.
Like perhaps, an angel had just entered the room.
Certainly, not without an invitation,
But as a matter of protocol,
For, He was invited by a friend
To tell you that everything is going to be alright.
It’s kind of like when you were small,
Your Dad helped you tread water in the pool,
You were safe.
Or when your Mom stroked your face when you had a fever.
And all was well.
Is this not the assurance that the presence of God’s angels are abiding with us?
Vigilant, ever present, swords drawn and ready
To protect us from every threat ?
Yes, I believe it is so.
And so, I sleep, and I dream
And I walk, hand in hand with my Lord, my Savior and my King.
And, I am at rest.
DOCTRINE OF POSITION IN CHRIST
To illustrate the doctrine of reconciliation, we see man and God hopelessly separated by an impassable barrier. This barrier, which we have termed “The Wall” constitutes MAN’S PROBLEM. In this section of our study we will examine the sixth brick of the “The Wall” and learn how GOD’S SOLUTION removed it at the cross. As I said before, the first three bricks were removed, on the cross by Jesus Christ. The final three can only be removed by you. It is your choice and yours alone.
THE BARRIER, MAN’S PROBLEM
The first man, Adam, was the representative head of the human race. If you have been following this series, you have heard the story of Adam’s willful disobedience, sin, and resultant spiritual death. Since all of mankind are Adam’s offspring, his spiritual death was passed on to the entire human race (Romans 5:12). It is for this reason that “in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:21). As a result, all of us came into this life “alienated from the life of God” (Ephesians 4:18). In order to enter into fellowship with God and live with Him forever, every member of the human race must possess His perfect righteousness and His eternal life. We, as the progeny of Adam, possess neither. Because we are born “in Adam,” we are incapable of entering into fellowship with God. The limitations we possess in our brief lives present a barrier to fellowship with eternal God. As a result, we have a problem.
POSITION IN CHRIST, GOD’S SOLUTION
Even though in “Adam all die,” God has promised us that, “in Christ, all shall be made alive.” Our old position in Adam necessitated condemnation and death, but our new position in Christ guarantees justification and eternal life. We were born, physically, into Adam’s world and limited to a meaningless life of vanity. Through faith in Christ, we were born again, spiritually, into a personal relationship with God the Father. As His child, we have been given eternal life and unlimited potential to fulfil an eternal destiny with blessings beyond our wildest imaginations. But wait, it gets better. In addition, we, the Church, are the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:6-8). How can this be? Because my friend, as Bob Dylan once said, “The times, they are a changin.”
Jesus Christ is called the” Last Adam” in 1 Corinthians 15:45, the head of a new spiritual species. This process is explained in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Old things do not simply refer to bad habits. A new believer retains all the bad habits he acquired before he was born again. What is more, he also keeps his old sin nature with all its trends and lusts. Bad habits may be overcome as the believer matures and chooses to leave them behind, but the old things, which have passed away, are all the liabilities that put us behind the barrier. You know them now. We have talked about this. They are sin, the penalty for sin, character of God, relative righteousness, spiritual death, and now, our current discussion, position in Adam.
A new dawn is the door to a world of new things, and we all love new things.
The new things to which Paul was referring are all the marvelous assets we have by virtue of our position in Christ. The instant we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit placed us in union with Him through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). From that moment on we were one with Him. Our physical birth, our position in Adam, ceased to be a problem. Through regeneration, the life of Christ became our life. Position in Christ means that, through regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have the same spiritual assets that Jesus possessed during his earthly ministry. At this point, it is essential to understand that Christianity is not a religion. Anyone can be religious, but it takes a miracle to place a person in position with Christ. What I mean is, one cannot grow closer to God through a system of rituals, good deeds, or a specialized priesthood. Rather, Christianity is a personal relationship with God the Father. Through spiritual birth, each of us are members of His family, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, literally, Daddy! Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
Position in Christ guarantees us an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ that sets us apart from believers of any other dispensation. Not only does every believer of the Church Age share His eternal life (1 John 5:11-12), His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), His election (Ephesians 1:3-4), we also share His Son-ship (Galatians 3:26), His priesthood (Hebrews 10:10; cf. 1 Peter 2:9), His royalty (2 Timothy 2:11-12) and therefore, His kingdom (2 Peter 1:11) and His destiny (Ephesians 1:5). That’s a lot of stuff! You might want to go back and read that again and look up the passages. It will make you head spin. I guarantee it.
Since the beginning, that day in the Garden of Eden, every believer in Christ has been born again into the family of God: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children, τέκνα, of God.” The Greek word, τέκνα, plural for teknon, means a child who is a member of the family by virtue of his birth. ”And if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17). If we are children of the same Father, then it follows that we share in the same inheritance. However, this epistle was written to the Romans, and according to Roman law, this was not necessarily the case. A Roman was not a legal heir until he was declared worthy by his father and awarded the privilege of adoption.
In our culture, adoption means taking a child, who was not born into the family and making him a legal member of the family. Adoption in ancient Rome, however, had to do with making someone who was born into the family a league heir. In Rome adoption did not take place until the son in question reached the age of 14 years. For the first 14 years of his life, a Roman son was placed under the authority of a household slave. This slave was often his teacher. It was this custom that Paul referred to in Galatians 4:1-2: “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time (of his adoption) appointed by the father” (Galatians 4:1-2).
On his 14th birthday the whole family would gather together for the all important ceremony of adoption. The boy was brought in wearing the toga of youth for the last time. Then his father stepped forward and took the toga of youth by the shoulders and lifting with his left hand, dropped it to the floor. A slave would then hand the father another toga called the toga virilis (robe of manhood). The father would then place it around his shoulders. He then kissed his son for the last time. Then he stepped back and said, “My son, you have now been adopted into the family.” At this point, the son was no longer called teknon, child, but υἱοs, huios, which is an adult son. As an adult member of the family, he became a legal heir to his father’s estate. He was no longer under the authority of a slave, but a ruler over them. Having been “born again” into the family as an adult member, he was given, not only the privileges of an adult, but also the responsibilities of one. Therefore, the Christian, by virtue of his position in Christ, is called huios, an adult son, and a fellow heir of Christ.
Position in Christ places every Church Age believer into the royal family of Christ as an adult son. During the Church Age, Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. Seated as glorified royalty in heaven, God the Father is currently forming a royal family for Jesus Christ on earth. That royal family is the Church of Christ.
Jesus Christ retains three titles of royalty, each with a royal family. As God, our Lord is divine royalty.
His divine royal family is God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. As man, Jesus is Jewish royalty. His Jewish title is the Son of David and His royal family is the line of King David. As the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ won the strategic victory over Satan at the Cross and earned a third royal title, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
FROM DEATH TO LIFE! REGENERATION
To illustrate the doctrine of reconciliation, we see man and God hopelessly separated by an impassable barrier. This barrier, which we have termed “The Wall” constitutes MAN’S PROBLEM. In this section of our study we will examine the fifth brick of the “The Wall” and learn how GOD’S SOLUTION removed it at the cross. As I said before, the first three bricks were removed by Jesus Christ. The final three can only be removed by you. It is your choice and yours alone.
THE BARRIER, MAN’S PROBLEM:
The fifth brick of the barrier is spiritual death. The birth of a child is certainly one of God’s most precious gifts. But because of sin, there is a tragic injustice that occurs with the creation of human life. Through no fault of our own, we come into this life spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Colossians 2:13), alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18-19), destitute of God the Holy Spirit and therefore, separated from God the Father (Romans 8:9). And it only gets worse. In addition, we are condemned to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10-15).
Who’s to blame? The fact that we were all born spiritually dead is not our fault. It’s Adam’s. When Adam ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he wilfully disobeyed God. As a result, he suffered the penalty of spiritual death (Genesis 2:17). Now, because we are all his descendants, we are all under the same curse of spiritual death, “In Adam all die” (1Corinthians 15:22).
It’s not fair! That’s right; it’s not fair, but only from a human viewpoint perspective. However, if we look prayerfully at the situation from the divine viewpoint of God’s Word, the grace perspective comes into view, and the mystery of God’s wonderful plan unravels.
When a baby comes into this life, through no fault of his own, he is spiritually dead, “By one man’s disobedience many, literally translated, the many, a reference to all to of humanity, were made, sinners” (Romans 5:19). The Greek text says that we were appointed or caused to be sinners.
Do all children who die before the age of accountability go to heaven?
Yes, because babies are spiritually dead from the womb (Psalms 51:5; 58:3; Job 14:4), we have the assurance that all children who die before the age of accountability go to heaven (2 Samuel 12:23). Why? Because our sins have been paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross, they will not form the final basis for condemnation at the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:12). The final basis by which man will be judged will not be his personal sins. The final basis for judgment will be his rejection of Jesus Christ as his personal Savior (John 3:18, 36). Because the unbeliever rejects the solution to his sin problem, he is condemned to die in his sins (John 8:21, 24). Until a person reaches God consciousness, he cannot reject God. Since one can’t reject something he’s never seen, all persons who die before they reach the age of accountability, or the point of God consciousness, go to heaven (2 Samuel 12:22-23 cf. Psalm 23:6).
We are not sinners because we sin. Rather, we sin because we are sinners. We come into this life sinners because we were “caused to be sinners” (Romans 5:19). We don’t choose to be sinners any more than we can choose the color of our eyes. When Adam made the decision to disobey God, his nature was changed. By an act of personal volition his nature was changed from God-centered to self-centered. He exchanged his sinless nature for a sinful nature. But what is worse, he passed that sinful nature on to us.
In Romans 5:12, God explains the process by which all men were made sinful and, as a result, commit personal sins:
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
A more literal translation would be: Through one man (Adam) sin, ἡ ἁμαρτία (the *Old Sin Nature cf. Romans 6:6-7, 12), entered the world, and (spiritual) death, through sin, and thus, οὕτως,literally, in this manner, death, spread, to all men, because, ἐφ’ ᾧ, literally, on the basis of which (spiritual) death, all sinned.
*The first human sin was committed by Eve, but their eyes were not opened and the fall of humanity did not occur until Adam sinned. *At that point, the Old Sin Nature became part of human nature. From that point on, the sin nature has been passed down through the man exclusively because the man was responsible for the fall, not the woman. This explains why Jesus Christ was born without an old sin nature. Mary was fully human, but Jesus’ father was God the Holy Spirit. No human father; no Adamic sin nature.
A literal paraphrase of the Greek text would be as follows: “Through one man, Adam, the sin nature entered the world, and through that sin nature, spiritual death came into the world. So through the passing on of the sin nature spiritual death spread throughout all mankind. Therefore, because of spiritual death and the imputation of the sin nature, we all come into this world a sinful creature.” In other words, we were born sinners, because we were born with a sinful nature. As a result, we all will eventually commit personal sins” (Romans 5:12).
This is why I said earlier, we are not sinners because we commit person sins. To the contrary, we commit personal sins because we were born sinners. i. e. we were born with a sinful nature which we inherited through no fault of our own.
In summary, when Adam sinned, he died spiritually (Genesis 2:7). As his offspring, we are born with his sinful nature (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9). As a result of our sin nature, we commit personal sins.
Because we possess a sinful nature, we come into this life separated from God, which is to say, spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 5:14; Colossians 2:13). As a result, man has a problem.
REGENERATION, GOD’S SOLUTION:
The solution to the problem of spiritual death is regeneration. In order for man to regain his spiritual relationship with God, he needs a new nature. God is spirit “and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Therefore, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). At the point of faith in Christ, a miracle occurs that Jesus called “being born again” (John 3:3, 7).
Nic at Night John 3:1-21
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a leader of the Jewish people. He was also a member of the Sanhedrin the high court in Israel. One night he came to Jesus and they had an interesting conversation.
“Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit (the gospel through God’s Word and the baptism of the Holy Spirit; see Acts 11:15-17) , he cannot enter the kingdom of GodI8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?
Nicodemus was an acclaimed Bible teacher, yet he was completely baffled by Jesus’ words. Why? Because he had not yet been born again. Paul explains this mystery in 1 Corinthians 2:13-14: “ These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Nicodemus had no capacity to understand Jesus teaching because he had not yet been born again. He had not yet experienced the miracle of regeneration. However, he did not remain in that condition for long after this conversation. At some point before Jesus’ crucifixion, he accepted Christ as his personal Savior.
We know this because he stood up for Jesus when the Pharisees were conspiring against him(John 7:50-51).
After the crucifixion, he helped Joseph of Arimathea take Jesus’ body down from the cross and lay it in a tomb, at great risk to his safety and reputation.
Regeneration is the process of being born again. Through regeneration, the believer receives a new nature.
Something old and something new:
When we believed in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, His righteousness was imputed to us (Romans 4:3). As a result, God the Holy Spirit was justified (on the basis of imputed righteousness) to enter into each of our bodies (1 Corinthians 3:16) and give us spiritual life, “Even when we were dead in our sins, (God the Holy Spirit) hath made us alive, συνεζωοποίησεν, literally, to bring to life or cause to come to life, together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5; see also: Colossians 2:13; 1 Peter 3:18). This is a new birth. God the Holy Spirit gives birth to our formerly dead human spirit. This new birth is called being born again or regeneration. At this point, our true nature is changed from sinful to sinless, fleshly to spiritual, and self-centered to God-centered.
Through regeneration we become the children of The Living God “The (Holy) Spirit Himself bears witness with our (regenerated human) spirit that we are the children, τέκνα lit. children by birth, of God” (Romans 8:16-17, 21).
After Adam had fallen, he hid from God out of fear (Genesis 3:10). Were they naked? No! They had sewn garments out of fig leaves (3:7). They were not ashamed because their bodies were exposed, but because their deeds were exposed, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20).
Not so for His children, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:14-15).
Conclusion: This world is under divine judgment and will receive its just rewards. As God’s children, we can rest assured that the one thing we do deserve, the lake of fire, we will never experience. Why? Because Jesus Christ died a substitutionary death on our behalf. For this reason, we are delivered from the just consequence of sin. The issue for the unbeliever is not personal sin, but rather, Jesus Christ. My prayer is that this study has helped the readers to focus on the real issue, Jesus Christ.
IMPUTATION & JUSTIFICATION
To illustrate the doctrine of reconciliation, we see man and God hopelessly separated by an impassable barrier. This barrier, which we have termed “The Wall” constitutes MAN’S PROBLEM. In this section of our study we will examine the fourth brick in the “The Wall” and learn how GOD’S SOLUTION removed it at the cross. But there is a turn in the road here. As I said before, the first three bricks were removed by Jesus Christ. You weren’t there. No one that is hearing this was there. He was alone, hanging on a cross, abandoned. God the Father wept as He watched what they did to Him. The holy angels screamed, “Please, Father, let us go down there and stop this! They are desecrating our Lord! Please, God, Father, give us permission to stop this!”
But He, God Almighty, our Father in heaven said, “No! It is written. It is necessary. He is my legacy, and through him I will have a family; I will have children.”
Children; have you ever thought about how they come to us? They come through extreme pain. Guys, we all know that making babies is fun. But for women, it’s a different story. Any guy who has been there, in the delivery room knows this; having babies hurts, a lot!
But as any mother will tell you, “It was worth it!”
I know that this may seem like bunny trail, but, as long as I am on the subject of babies, please let me give you some assurance of something I know to be true.
Babies who die before the age of accountability go to heaven; period; no discussion! That’s what the Bible says, “He (David) answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:22). David, he was a pretty complicated guy, but after all that, he was inspired by God the Holy Spirit to tell the world something in the twenty-third Psalm. This is what he wrote: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LordForever.” So, where is David today? And where is his illegitimate son? This ain’t rocket science here folks. If you don’t get it, then you are on the wrong site. See ya! But if you do, then hang in there, because we are moving to higher ground.
THE BARRIER, MAN’S PROBLEM:
The fourth brick of the barrier is man’s relative righteousness. This brick is, to some, the most confusing aspect of the barrier. Why? Because in this lesson we are not going to focus on man’s sin. No, we are going to focus on his goodness. Many people are very good. They live a righteous lifestyle. They are honest, polite, responsible, relaxed, individuals who are delightful to be around.
On the other hand, some people are scheming, slandering, lying, irresponsible, uptight, and in general, people we tend to avoid. From this perspective, many unbelievers are good people. All of us can testify to that fact. To complicate the issue, many of these “good people” may even live a more upright lifestyle than some Christians.
Here, then, is the issue of relative righteousness. Obviously, some people are very good. They are respectable, honorable and above reproach. Let’s face it, many of those with whom we associate are just better than others, and that is the real problem. We often establish the fact that a person is good or righteous because he or she appears, on the outside, to be better than other people. This is what we mean by relative righteousness.
Now let’s compare these systems of morality with God’s standards. A person may have honorable characteristics and we enjoy his or her company; but with all their noble qualities, they are still only relatively righteous. What I’m saying is that they do not even come close to the righteousness of God, “There is no one holy like the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:2; Psalms 22:3, 47:8, 111:9). In addition, God is immutable, “I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). If He, God, were to enter into fellowship with relative righteousness, He would have to compromise His holiness (Romans 8:8; cf. 1 John 1:5-6). It is impossible for God to lower His standards (Hebrews 1:12).
In light of what God says about His own righteousness, let’s see how man measures up: “For all have sinned and, come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “For there is not a just man upon the earth, that does good, and sins not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10 cf. Psalms 14:1-3). Isaiah was inspired, by God the Holy Spirit, to describe human good in this way: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness’s are as filthy rags. Literally translated, filthy rags, in the Hebrew means, “garments soiled by menstrual flow” (Isaiah 64:6).
Paul described human good like this: “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8). The Greek word for rubbish is skubala. The word means dung, feces or excrement. I know that these words are going to hurt some of your delicate little egos, but that is what the Bible says in the original language. Some fear to not translate the Bible it literally, so as not to offend people. I, on the other hand, fear to translate Scripture any other way, but literally, so as not to offend God.
Relative righteousness (human goodness), therefore, forms a tremendous barrier between man and God because it often leads to religious or sanctimonious illusions. Even though God is love, He will not compromise His divine integrity in order to enter into a personal relationship with anything that is less than holy, as He is holy. As a result, man has a problem.
The solution to man’s problem of relative righteousness is imputation and justification. The word imputation comes from the Greek verb, logizomai. It means to take money from one account and place it into another. It only takes the click of a mouse to move money from one account into another, but it took infinitely more for God to transfer or impute His absolute righteousness to our bankrupt soul.
“For He (God the Father) hath made Him (Jesus Christ), who knew no sin (literally: the one having never known sin), to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (Christ)” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
On the cross, our sins were charged to Christ. He paid our debt to God in full. Because of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross, God the Father has a gift to give to each member of the human race. That gift is the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.
What makes a gift a gift? Before a gift can fulfill its purpose it must be received. This demands three things on the part of the receiver: faith, humility, and desire. What this means is that: First, the receiver must believe the gift is real. Second, he must accept it as something given and not earned. Third, he must desire to receive the thing being offered.
Salvation is a gift. It was bought and paid for with the blood of Christ and offered to man as a gift. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that, touto, (literally: this thing i.e. salvation) is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) Note: touto, because of its neuter gender, can only refer to salvation. It cannot refer to either “grace” or “faith” because they are feminine nouns.
Because it is a gift, salvation must be:
1. accepted by faith.
First, we believed in the giver: “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to Him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3 cf. Genesis 15:1-6).
Second, we believed in the gift: “the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23). In order to received the gift of salvation it must be accepted by faith, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
2. received in humility.
We cannot earn salvation since it is “not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9) It was purchased by Jesus’ spiritual death on the cross, “you were not redeemed with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1: 18-19). The only way salvation can be attained is to humbly receive it as a gift that was purchased by someone else. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5).
3. as something to be desired.
At the point of God consciousness we begin to make a series of decisions. The decisions, in view here, center around the desire to know the God of Heaven and Earth that is revealed to all. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead (qeioths, literally: divine nature) so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).
Those who desire to know Him, He will draw to Himself (John 6:44; James 4:8). Those who do not, are blinded to the truth by Satan (Romans 1:21 cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4). In his blindness man tries to earn salvation by works, “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? (Literally: Why not?) Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law” (Romans 9:31-32). It is man’s responsibility to respond to God’s offer of salvation as a gift to be desired and received by faith.
When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Their response was simple. They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31).
Why faith? Faith is an expression of the will that gives all honor and merit to the object rather than the subject. As a result, an expression of faith gives glory to the object (God) rather than the believer (man). Therefore, in God’s plan of salvation faith is not considered works, but obedience to His declared will, “Therefore, we conclude that man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28; also: 4:5; Galatians 2:16; Titus 3:5).
Conclusion: Whenever a person chooses to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, God is free to impute the righteousness of Christ to that believer (Romans 3:22; 4:3; 5:17; 9:30). On the basis of imputed righteousness, God declares this new believer to be justified.
This part is always so fresh to me. Please be patient, but I feel a story coming. Yes, I’m going to tell you a story, but I promise, it will be short. You are standing, weary, at the end of a very long day. You are broken, staring at your feet. Then Someone speaks to you. It’s a man’s voice, so masculine, so engaging. You look up, but there is no one there. Just then a gentle breeze strokes you gently across your cheek and you look down. There on the dirty pavement is a soiled piece of paper. You don’t know why, but you bend down and pick it up. It’s a flier, and as you soon as you look at it, you grimace. This was was left here by some Jesus freak. But you have nothing else to do, so you read it, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16). You crush the paper in your hand, but your emotions deny your actions. A tear runs down your face. And you, know, nothing will ever be the same.
And then God steps forward to embrace you, as family. By one simple act of faith, you have been born again, and now possesses the righteousness of God.
What is the significance of justification? Until man receives the imputed rightness of Jesus Christ by faith, God is not even justified to have fellowship with him, let alone to enter into him (indwell him) and call him family. But once the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the new believer on the basis of his faith, God is, as a result of this imputation, is justified, not only to enter into a holy bond with this person, but, through regeneration , make him his child for eternity.
Simply put, it is the through the imputation of God’s righteousness, received by faith in Christ, apart from works, that God is justified to indwell the believer and bring him into the Royal family of God forever. Therefore, only through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is God justified to enter into a personal relationship with a person without compromising His holiness which is an intrigal part of His divine essence or integrity (see Doctrine of Divine Essence).
RECONCILIATION means to restore to favor or fellowship. Biblically, reconciliation is all that God has done to remove the Barrier between God and man (Eph. 2:13-18).
The entire process of reconciliation occurs the instant a person believes in the person and work Jesus Christ. The process involves six acts of grace on God’s part and one act of volition on your part.
So far we have disused three of the six bricks that make up the wall that separates us from God.
There is, however, a distinction between the first three bricks and the second three that we need to discuss. You see, the first three bricks were obliterated at the cross. You had nothing to do with the process. Jesus did it all that day, that horrible, infamous, iniquitous day. That day our Lord, Jesus, hung on that ugly, disgusting, dirty cross condemned to pass into eternity with common criminals. One of whom He graciously took home with Him. It doesn’t matter what you do or think, the first three bricks are no longer an issue. That day, Jesus took care of business for the entire human race.
Let’s take moment to see where we have been.
First, remember, you were a slave. Jesus saw you there, in the slave market of sin. You were naked and in chains, in bondage to sin. And through His tears, He took pity on you and bought your freedom. But it cost Him His life. He laid it down for you. Do you know what value that act imputed to your soul? Christian, never take yourself lightly. You were bought with a price. In order to redeem you, God the Father did the unthinkable. He sacrificed His only Son. I’m sorry, but if it were my decision to choose between you and my son, Michael, I would let your hand slip from mine and say, “Goodbye.” I just don’t love you that much. Get it?
Second, you were dead, condemned, sitting on death row, awaiting execution. And then someone came to see you. The jailer announced Him, “Sir, you have visitor. His name is Jesus. He wants to talk with you.” He entered your cell and sat down next to you on your soiled cot. Then He said, “The cell door is open. You should go now.” Without even a “thank you” you bolt. But the next day you can’t stay away, so you go back to that dingy, filthy, awful place that held you captive for so many years. There was something going on there. They were going to pull the plug on someone today. Who? As you stood there, you saw a familiar face. Jesus! You scream, “No! He’s innocent! You have the wrong guy! It was me; not Him. Please, don’t hurt Him; it was me!” But nobody heard, and all you could do was watch. And so, it ended there. There was nothing you could do. And you know what? There still isn’t.
Thirdly, and maybe this will be the most difficult concept to grasp, you are a thief, a miscreant, a felon. Before you get your panties in a knot and hang up, just listen. I’m going to tell you a story. There was once a man. He was a good and honest man, well respected and held in high esteem by his fellow citizens. One day he bought a lamb. He brought it home and it climbed into his lap. As she gazed into his eyes, he thought, “What a beautiful creature this is, so innocent, so childlike.” And so, he nurtured her and loved her. She ate from his plate and slept at the foot of his bed. And every morning she would greet him and nuzzle her face into the palm of his hand. One day a traveler came to town and needed a place to stay. He had money to pay for his berth, so the town’s people referred him to our friend. That night the visitor slipped out and proceeded to rob our friend’s neighbors. The next day the thief was caught and convicted of his crimes. Our friend, not wanting his good name to be soiled, inquired, “What can I do to cleanse this man of his guilt and clear my good name?” Well, he only had one thing of value and that was his lamb. So he offered her in exchange for the thief’s freedom. She was eventually slain and the thief went on his way. She was beautiful and perfect, and he was ugly and flawed. But she was an acceptable offering who paid the ultimate price in order to free a man who didn’t even say, “thank you.”
Well, there it is. The first three bricks have been removed by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The next three are a different story. These will require personal responsibility on your part.
Responsibility, hmmm … not a popular word today.
It’s OK. I’m a retired Marine Infantry Officer and a school teacher/administrator of thirty-one years. I’ve held a lot of little hands and said, “Follow me!” to a lot of men, and they did. Stay with me here. I have you, but you have to do the work. It’s just a choice, but it will mean the difference between life and death for so many if you choose to accept the responsibility of the Great Commission.
The next three bricks in the wall can only be removed by you.
If you are not a Christian, I pray that you will make the right choice concerning the information I have provided you. Christians! Pay attention. You need to understand your salvation. These doctrines are fundamental to your faith and essential for the accomplishment of your mission.
That is all,
D. E. Coulter