By Dennis Coulter
For the sake of illustration, consider the “The Wall” between God and fallen mankind as a barrier composed of six bricks. The barrier constitutes MANKIND’S PROBLEM. In this section of our study we will examine the first brick of the Barrier and learn how GOD’S SOLUTION removed it at the cross.
THE BARRIER, MAN’S PROBLEM:
The first brick of the Barrier is sin. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). Sin is anything that falls short of the holiness of God or violates His expressed will. Since God can have no fellowship with sin (1 John 1:5-6) mankind has a problem.
THE CROSS, GOD’S SOLUTION:
God’s solution to the problem of sin is redemption. Redemption? Sounds like something out of a Shakespearean play or even worse. I will admit, it’s a pretty old fashioned word from an old translation of the Bible. But it’s a good word, a nice word really. It means freedom. But a special kind of freedom. The only kind that a lord could give.
Walk back with me, if you will please; back to a time in American history that not many of us would really care to retrace. But there was a shameful period in our nation’s past when we had the raw audacity to market flesh and blood. We sold people, like cattle, in the open market place, in front of our children. We broke up families and auctioned them, piecemeal as a section of property or unwanted furniture. We did that, and the title of a slave owner was “lord.” It has always been so. Lord! A title of absolute authority. But with absolute authority also comes the power to do good.
Imagine yourself as a slave tied to a whipping post. Your only crime was that you tried to escape. But you were caught and dragged back to the slave market to be sold, but only, after your punishment had been administered. Suddenly, a cry is heard from the crowd. “Stop! Let him go! I wish to purchase him!” The man with the whip hesitates, he seems confused. This man, the man in the the crowd, is a “lord”, a man of means, well dressed. And people step aside as he moves through the throng of unwashed humanity.
Just then, the slave master comes forward and issues a command, “Stop! Right there! This slave belongs to me, and he owes me forty lashes for his crimes.” The lord responds, “I wish to redeem him. What is your price?” As the slave master, looks the young lord over, a malignant gleam emanates from the pupil of his eye. The words that follow are firm and precise, “Forty lashes, plus the price of a slave.”
Upon hearing these words, the young lord bows, takes off is shirt and walks to the whipping post to which the slave is bound. Then, turning to the slave master, he says, quite deliberately, “I understand the terms of of your offer. Let him go. I will pay his debt in full and pay the purchases price.”
And so he did. After the following events transpired, the slave approached his new master and knelt, placing his forehead upon the ground before him. But before he could utter a word, new his lord spoke these words: “I purchased you in order to set you free. You are redeemed. Please accept my gift and go in peace my friend.”
The thing in view here, from God’s perspective, is grace. It’s from the Greek word, χάριs, which means “gift.”
Redemption is a gift. But it is a very special kind of gift that can only be granted by someone with absolute authority, a “lord,” if you will. You see, redemption is the process through which, one who has the authority and the means, uses his assets to purchase a slave, but not for the the purpose of indentured service. No! He, does it for the sole purpose, of setting him free.
Because “there is none righteous” we have all come into this life as slaves. As the children of Adam, we were all born sinners, and upon our arrival to this fallen world, we were cast into the slave market of sin called Planet Earth. And there we will remain until the day we accept our redemption. As slaves we will serve our master, sin, as slaves forever, unless we accept God’s solution. That solution is redemption.
Now that you know what redemption is, let’s take a look at it from a Biblical perspective. In the Bible, redemption means to purchase a sinner from bondage to sin and set him free to serve God in the joy of the Lord. The price paid to redeem sinners from the slave market of sin was the death of Jesus Christ on the cross (1 Peter 1:18-19).
What is bondage to sin? With regard to sin, we all came into this world with three strikes against us:
Strike one! First, we inherited Adam’s sin. “For just as through the disobedience of one man (Adam) the many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19a ). As progeny, or offspring, of Adam, we were born physically alive but spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1, 5). As a result, we came into this world spiritually blind and separated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:17-18).
Strike two! Second, we were born with a sinful nature (Romans 6:6; Ephesians. 4: 22; Colossians 3:9). The sinful nature is totally depraved (Ecclesiastics 9:3; Jeremiah 17:9). The seat of man’s selfish, egocentric nature, anything it motivates either the carnal believer or the unbeliever to do is unacceptable to God (Romans 8:8).
Strike three! Eventually, we all commit personal sins. Let’s be honest. At one time or another we all fall short and miss the mark; that is to say, we all sin. But, just so you know; you are not a sinner because you sin. You sin because you were born a sinner. It’s not even your fault, but you do have to deal with it.
You’re out! As far as God’s is righteousness is concerned we all came into this life a loser. We aren’t even qualified to try out for the team. Perfect righteousness can have nothing to do with any of us. Paul quotes David “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10 cf. Psalms 14:1-3). However, thanks be to God that His love motivated Him to act in our behalf. “For God so, in this way, loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
How did God love us? Let us count the ways:
1. Strike one was cancelled at the cross. “So also through the obedience of one man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19b).
2. Strike two was cancelled at the cross. In contrast to Adam, by means of the virgin birth, Jesus Christ came into this world without the imputed sin of Adam and without a sinful nature. Though Jesus did have a human mother His father was God the Holy Spirit. In this way Jesus was born fully human, but without the Adamic nature. In addition, Christ lived a life free from personal sin. Because Jesus was free from all three categories of sin, He was qualified to go to the cross and redeem sinful man.
As a result, the believer, being freed from bondage to sin, is justified to be filled with the Holy Spirit and produce fruit acceptable to God “…against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
3. Strike three was cancelled at the cross. The personal sins of the entire world were poured out on Christ and judged (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because his personal sins have been paid for by Christ, the believer need only confess his sins and turn back to God in order for fellowship to be restored (1 John 1:9; Psalms 51:1-3).
Who has been redeemed? When Jesus Christ died on the cross He paid for the sins of the entire human race, past , present, and future (2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 2:1; 3:9; 1 John 2:3). Because Christ has redeemed the entire human race from bondage to sin, all anyone must do to depart the slave market of sin is walk through the door.
Where is the door? Jesus is the door to eternal life “I am the door, ἐάν τις, literally, the Greek says, if any man enter in (third class conditional clause: maybe he will, maybe he won’t) he shall be saved” (John 10:9). Once a person chooses to walk through the door by faith in Christ, he enters into eternal life with God forever (John 10:27-28).
The bottom line: The Wall, the sin barrier, between God and man has been demolished by Jesus Christ at the cross. The price of our redemption has been paid in full. We are free to walk through the door, from darkness to light. If a person chooses to remain in the slave market of sin, he does so by his own choice. The issue is no longer sin, but faith in Christ (John 3:16-21).