Salvation is pictured in scripture by the use of various figures that is not to say that everything respecting it is in a figure as some things are said without a figure. I wish to use a figure represented by Paul to the Corinthians. He does not say it is a figure, but I think you will see that it is when your attention is drawn to it. Here is the passage taken from II Cor. 5:18-20.
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled unto God.”
The Apostle presents the same truth four times, three in the same order and a fourth in reverse order. Why he did this, I am not sure I know the answer to that suffice it to say that is the way it is revealed unto us. Perhaps the Holy Spirit knowing that these points were important enough to stress the point so that every man should grasp them. I do know through experience with the passage that there are some today that misunderstand and misuse it. We all know that there are things, instances and people that carry a truth in the gospel narratives important enough that they are not revealed a single time but one, two, three, or even four times. So, the passage before us is not exactly surprising. The chain of salvation has the following links.
“All things are of God” V. 18.
“That God was in Christ” V. 19.
“God did beseech you” V. 20.
“Hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” V. 18.
“God was in Christ” V. 19.
“Be ye reconciled to God” V. 20
“Hath given to us (Apostles) the ministry of reconciliation V. 18.
“Hath committed to us (Apostles) the word of reconciliation” V. 19.
“We (Apostles) are ambassadors for Christ…” V. 20.
- All People
“God who hath reconciled us to himself “ V. 18.
“Reconciling the world unto himself” V. 19.
“As though God did beseech you by us” V. 20.
THE FIRST LINK IN THE CHAIN IS GOD
(See number 1 from the chart). “All things of God…that was in Christ…did beseech you” does not refer to the creation of the earth, to the making of men and lower creatures, or to the work of nature that He set in motion, although all these were certainly planned, designed and fulfilled according to the will of God. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light etc. etc. (Gen. 1:1-3 etc.) Every good and perfect gift originated from God. The passage we are considering refers to the fact that it is God that planned, purposed, prophesied and promised a plan of salvation, a scheme of redemption or a way for man to be saved. He did not counsel with angels or with men as to how it would come about, upon what it would depend or what the stipulations were to be until He so willed. “God, who at sundry times and divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds,” (Heb. 1:1-2). The God who revealed His will unto the people in Old Testament times is the God who culminated it all in the times of the New Testament. The Father dwelling in the heavens above is the remitter of sin. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:3-4). For this reason we lift our voices in “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may live a quite and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (I Tim 2:1-2). God used the most powerful force in the universe to draw all men unto Himself as Jesus’ in speaking to Nicodemus made the declaration known by heart in all Christians. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16). Notice carefully—Jesus did not say, “God loved the world that he gave…” He did say, that God SO loved the world, that little adverb “so” is an adverb of degree. God’s love was so deep, so high, so broad, and so long that He gave the best that Heaven had to offer, “His only begotten Son.” Not only did God give His Son to come to earth and dwell amongst we lower creatures but He gave Him up to die the cruel and humiliating death on the summit of Calvary. Strange as it may be this was the plan from the first as God declared to the tempting serpent immediately after the fall of the first pair. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:15). From the days that the Apostles roamed the earth to this hour the plan of God it preached throughout the world. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God. It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (I Cor. 1: 21). Let us not think that God is or ever has been desirous of “foolish” preaching because nothing could be further from the truth. God is pleased; however, with His plan to save being preached every where. This is counted as foolishness by men when laid beside their own plans for accomplishing anything, even salvation. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (I Cor. 1:18). Sometimes people wonder aloud, “why can’t men just accept God’s plan and follow it rather than making other arrangements for men to comply with to obtain salvation?” The answer is not complex, in fact, it is rather simple—they in their wisdom know not God’s way. Because His wisdom is above that of any man they count it foolishness. The Apostle wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation…(Rom. 1`: 16).
THE NEXT LINK IN GOD’S PLAN “IS CHRIST”
(See chart on front-page number 2). God “hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ” because “God was in Christ” or for “Christ.” Jesus speaks to the human side of the Lord while Christ addresses the Divine side. This is a concept that is difficult for some to understand and accept, mainly (I think) because it is more than a concept it is a reality—a reality so strong without which there would be no plan to save us, the result: we would be in a hopeless and certainly a hapless state. When the virgin Mary had conceived and Joseph in a distraught mind considered what he should do, an angel appeared unto him “saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost, And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:20-21). Paul exhorting the Philippians emphasized the human side of our Lord writing, “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But, made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:6-8). It was the human side that was the means of Jesus’ temptations. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:14-15). The humanity of Jesus was seen even when hanging on the cross He complained “I thirst” (Jn. 19:28). These things and many more reveal to the world the side of Jesus that draw us unto Him as our Savior. He knows by experience what we face and endure in life. Some with ulterior designs attempt to steal Jesus’ humanity by inferring—no more by directly—declaring that Jesus did not know the issues of the world as we are confronted with them. These make His life among men a deception, a sham, a lie of Jesus and of His Father, it makes him a son of the Devil (see John 8:44). No, Jesus was a man in the fullest sense of all that word implies. Christ presents Him as Deity. He demonstrated this by His many works and miracles performed in the presence of credible witnesses. John placed it in a way that one cannot miss the point, writing: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” This surely does not address the creation of the material universe (although this could have been said of that,), John is speaking of the scheme to redeem sinful men—the plan was not and could not have been completed without Christ being a part of it, from the very first. This is seen as John goes on to say, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” Furthermore, John adds, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:1-13, 4, 14). We use a single word or a multitude of words to express our ideas and thoughts to our fellowmen, when God determined to express His will (ideas and thoughts,) to humanity Christ was chosen to do it, therefore He is the WORD the very impression of the heavenly Father. Christ recognized His part and need in God’s plan when He prayed the gracious prayer in Gethsemane, falling upon his face, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Mt. 26:29). Result: Through Jesus the need and aspirations of man is seen, Through Christ we view the mercy and grace of God. The son of man perfected through obedience the needs of man. The Son of God allows men to understand how great is the love of God. We can now know our needs and God’s supplying the remedy for them for our benefit.
(See chart on page one number 2). “Hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,” since “God was in Christ,” therefore “Be ye reconciled to God.” This link in the chain reveals the purpose and plan of God to save humanity. A preacher once proclaimed that “Jesus Christ did not come to this earth to die.” Such preaching is not only silly it is false doctrine. This passage as well as many others show that God was “in Christ” in order to allow men an avenue to be “reconciled unto himself by Jesus Christ,” which necessitated the death of Christ. He came to dwell among men in order to die. The Hebrew writer declared, “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” (Heb. 10:5). From the beginning of the chapter (and further back) the sacrifice and offering of animals were under consideration. God took no pleasure in them because they could not free men from sin. Animals are inferior to human beings therefore could not possibly take away the sins of those superior to the thing offered, therefore Christ was prepared a body—why (?) to die for man. As surely as Jesus dwelt in a human frame He came to earth in order to offer it for sin—His body being prepared for that very reason. Descending to earth was to allow Jesus Christ to perform the work of mediation, which He did and does. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (I Tim. 2:5). The price being paid for sin allows God to be just and the justifier of men. We can all thank God for giving His Son to dwell among us to remit our sins, great or small (as we view them). “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (II Tim. 3:16). Wonderful is the “Chain of salvation.” The next two links will be considered in the next issue.
Barney Owens 1801
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust
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