- Revelation 14:6, 7 The everlasting Gospel to be preached worldwide.
- Isaiah 53
- Romans 10:16
- 1 Corinthians 11:26 You show or proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes. This portrays relation between Christ’s death and His second coming.
“When Christ crucified is preached, the power of the Gospel is demonstrated by the influence it exerts over the believer” (YI 19 Jan, 1893).
“The scenes of Calvary call for the deepest emotion. Upon this subject you will be excusable if you manifest enthusiasm” (2 Test 213).
“We should take broader, deeper views of the life, sufferings and death of God’s dear Son” (ibid. 215).
From a 1994 study, majoring on young people:
- A lack of salvation assurance.
- A certain fear for the coming of our lord.
- A works rather than a grace relationship with God and Christ.
(See Ministry, February 1994, 18-20)
Q. What is the Gospel?
A. 1 Cor 15:1-8: It is concerning Jesus Christ, His life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and we may add His heavenly ministry and glorious return. Rom 1:1-3: “Separated unto the Gospel of God concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Jesus and His Death.
Jesus came on time (Mk 1:15; Gal 4:4), lived the life we should live (Rom 5:19), manifested the Father’s character (Jn 1:18), died the death due us (2 Cor 5:14-15), rose and now ministers as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary (Rom 8:34; Heb 8:1-6).
Notice how Paul ties some of these together (in Rom 8:34; 1 Cor 15:3-8). A major focus in all of these divine-human actions is Calvary, the death of Christ:
Luke 9:51: “….He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.”
Luke 18:31-33: Christ proclaims His death.
“….in God’s great plan the hour had been appointed for the offering of Himself for the sins of men, and that hour was soon to strike” (DA 486).
The disciples’ response: Luke 18:34:“…they understood none of these things…”
So it is with many today, they do not understand any of these things. For many the gospel is a dark “book,” it is misinterpreted or corrupted by tradition.
A sociologist statement on TV: Religion is a means to attain to God’s grace and obtain it by being good and doing good works. This suggests a merit-earning-mind-set.
Concepts held about the Death of Christ
- Natural but violent, not special because He knew about His resurrection – The cry of abandonment, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” indicates that the reality of the weight of sin forced Christ, in his human nature, to the point of not having assurance of the resurrection which he had earlier predicted. So real was the substitution for sinners in the atonement.
- Miscarriage of judgment, a Roman judicial murder – This may be true, but has no power for salvation.
- A Martyr’s death – This also lacks the power for salvation. “The death of the martyrs can bear no comparison with the agony endured by the Son of God” (2 Test 215).
- Providing the means to appease an offending God – The Creator God is not a heathen god to be appeased, He does not demand, but He gives: John 3:16; Lev 17:11.
- The completed atonement, yet to be completed – What happened at the cross was a complete sacrificial atonement. But all aspects of atonement were not completed. Further atonement takes place in the heavenly sanctuary: Heb 8:1-6. Compare in the type: Lev. 1:2-5a; 4:1-4, 13-15, 22-24, 27-29 = sacrificial atonement; then comes the applicatory atonement as the priest applies the blood: 4:5-12, 16-21, 25-26, 30-35. Notice that it is subsequent to the sacrifice and shedding of blood, that is, after the blood is applied in relation to the specific sin of the congregation or individual, that it is said “the priest shall make an atonement for them/him/his sin” (vss. 20, 26, 31, 35). As outlined in the type, so in the antitype, for the Levitical “priests . . . serve unto the example and shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb 8:4-5).
- A moral revelation of self-sacrifice and love, the so-called moral influence theory – This is part of the story. It was a demonstration of love, but also of God’s justice. Rom 3:26;“The death of Christ justified the claims of the law” (2 Test 201).
- A divine ransom paid by the Creator Himself, as a provisional gift to all those who have been born involuntarily into a sinful world, in order that He might be just and justify those who believe in Jesus. Rom 3:26; Matt 20:28 – This statement will be further discussed in this study.
It is unique, with no human comparison. To compare it with human models captures only some aspects and can distort others. We must be careful not to mar the divine by mixing it with the human. “I feel that many approach sacred things as though their finite powers were capable of taking them in . . .” (TDG 103).
“Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?” (Rom 11:34)
You may study that love for ages; yet you can never fully comprehend the length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of the love of God in giving His Son to die for the world. Eternity itself can never reveal. Yet as we study the Bible and meditate upon the life of Christ and the plan of redemption, these great themes will open to our understanding more and more. (5 Test 740)
Christ the Lamb of God.
- Behold the lamb of God (John 1:29).
- He is the Lamb of God, not a product of humans.
- Also not the Lamb of God as a gift to be returned to God to pay a debt we couldn’t.
Christ as the Lamb of God bears our sins and suffers the penalty.
- Isa 53: prophetically.
- John 1:29: in fulfillment
- Rev 5:6, 9: in visionary confirmation
- Gal 3:13: He redeemed us from the curse of the law, sin’s penalty.
“God allowed his own Son to be put to death in order to answer the penalty of the transgressions of the law” (4 Test 253): Penal substitution.
“He the Sin-bearer, endures judicial punishment for iniquity and becomes sin itself for men” (FLB 104): A Legal settlement.
He [Christ]…offers Himself upon the cross as the last sacrifice for man. He, the sin-bearer, endures judicial punishment for iniquity, and becomes sin itself for man” (SoP 3:162): It is divine atonement for sin, an atoning sacrifice.
See also 2 Cor.5:21 “For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin….”
“But Christ has made atonement for every sinner” (SB-OT 1018 [MS.125, 1901]) “God’s forgiveness is not merely a judicial act by which He sets us free from condemnation. It is not only forgiveness for sin, but reclaiming from sin” (MB 114)
IN WHICH WAY DOES THIS MEAN LEGAL OR FORENSIC JUSTIFICATION?
Gal 3:13: Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. That is the result of sin.
Rom 6:23: The wages of sin is death.
Gen 2:17: Eating from the forbidden tree would cause death.
When sin did occur, it was either the sinner to die or a substitute. As we learned from 2 Cor 5:21 Christ has been made sin for us. So when Christ died, a legal act had taken place. That’s why we read in MB 114 that it was “a judicial act,” not merely so, but a judicial, legal act it was nevertheless. Judicial punishment for iniquity, but not for iniquity He had done.
What about the idea of it being forensic?
What does forensic mean?
According to Webster: belonging to, used in, or suitable to courts of judicature or to public discussion and debate: what can be used in a legal dispute.
Forensic medicine: a science that deals with the relation and application of medical facts to legal problems.
According to Oxford: related to or used in (courts of) law.
Dutch: forensisch, related to courts of law.
Dr.Alfred Vaucher, in his book L’HISTOIRE DU SALUT, 257: La justification est un acte declarative ou forensique residant en Dieu. It is a divine act of declaration or forensic which resides with God. God has been given the power or right to declare something. Rom 3:26: “to declare . . ..”
According to SDABC 12: 278, the Hebrew and Greek words we use for just and justification “are forensic, meaning that they are to be understood in terms of the pronouncement that a judge renders in a legal case.” Whereas these words, “legal” or “forensic,” are not used in the scriptures, we use them in the same way as “Trinity” and “millennium” to explain a biblical concept.
After the death of Christ, dying the penalty for sin, God had the right to pronounce justification and reconciliation. From God’s point of view the barrier was taken away and the way to God had been made free. 2 Cor 5:19: reconciling the world unto Himself. The death of Christ ‘changed’ (the meaning of reconcile) the position of all people (not only the elect) from being enemies (Rom.5:10) to being savable (though actual salvation does not come until a person believes, vs. 17).
This does not mean universal justification for all regardless.
Remember Rom 3:22, 26.
The cross of Christ, His death, gave God the legal, forensic right to save man. In that manner His righteousness (right doing in restorative acts) is declared that He might be just (doing the right thing) and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus. Rom 3:26.
Without the vicarious death of Christ on the cross it would not have been just or right.
Dr,Vaucher, 199: “C’est par Jesus-Christ Dieu reconcilie le monde avec lui-meme. Cette reconciliation est le fruit du sacrifice de Jesus-Christ: 2 Cor 5:18-21. Ce sacrifice a pour but non pas d’apaise Dieu ,mais de gagner le Coeur de l’home. Jean 12:32.”
“It is through Jesus Christ that God has reconciled the world with Himself. This reconciliation is the fruit of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The aim of this sacrifice is not to appease God, but to gain the heart of man. John 12:32.”
Now we should understand clearly the meaning of Rom 3:26: “….that He might be just and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus.” No one can accuse God of doing something illegal, or against His own plan that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Heb 9:22). Also no one can say that all are saved regardless, faith or no faith.
- Divine salvation is objective towards all,
- Provision has been made, for all to be saved.
- God has cleared the way and opened the gate for all to be saved by grace through faith: Eph 2:8.
God offers salvation, man must respond. We are “not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor 6:1—that follows the chapter dealing with reconciliation). “Christ died that we might be forgiven” (SC 36).
The death of Christ is not upon the demand of Satan.
Sin is transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).
Transgression attracts capital punishment.
In the Garden of Eden, if ye eat, ye shall die.
Christ took that penalty upon Himself.
“…Christ, by His sacrifice paying the penalty of sin…” (PP 67).
“…Christ bore the penalty of man’s transgression…” (PP 70).
“The transgression of God’s law in a single instance, in the smallest particular is sin. And the non-execution of the penalty of that sin would be a crime in the divine administration” (MR 21, 194).
The death of Christ is not equal to our sleep-death which is not the full penalty, but only the physical and temporary result or consequences of sin for all. We still die even after having been justified and reconciled with God. We suffer the material consequences but not the absolute penalty.
In dying, Christ went through the same experience the unconverted sinner will pass through after the 1000 years, which is called the ‘second death’, as it follows after the first one, the temporary death sleep.
The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror or tell Him of His Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter and broke the heart of the Son of God. (DA 753)
He was paying the just claims of God’s holy law. . . . It was not bodily suffering which so quickly ended the life of Christ upon the cross. It was the crushing weight of the sins of the world and a sense of his Father’s wrath. The Father’s glory and sustaining presence had left Him, and despair pressed its crushing weight of darkness upon Him and forced from His pale and quivering lips the anguish cry: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (2 Test 208-209)
Christ felt much as sinners will feel when the vials of God’s wrath shall be poured out upon them. Black despair, like the pall of death will gather about their guilty souls, and then they will realize to the fullest extent the sinfulness of sin. (Ibid., 210)
The death of Christ Appropriated.
John 3:16: “… whosoever believeth in Him…”
Eph 2:8: “… by grace through faith, and it is a gift..”
Rom 3:23, 26, 28: “… justified freely by His grace…the justifier of Him that believeth in Jesus…we conclude that a man is justified by faith ….”
Rom 3:25: “… through faith in His blood ….”
By FAITH it will be appropriated to each one individually;
- Faith in His atoning death, our penalty-substitute;
- Faith in His atoning ministry in the heavenly sanctuary;
- Faith in His power to overcome sin.
Faith and trust which were lost in Eden must be restored and will be restored in this manner.
Faith is not a saving work.
Faith is God’s gift to reach out to Him. Adam and Eve were created in a perfect, trusting relation with their Creator. They did not need faith like we do, as trust and belief was their inbuilt tendency. However, like us, they were given freedom that enables faith to be placed in God or Satan.
Today we still have that gift to be used to reach out towards God’s salvation or reject it.
“He (the believer) grasps by faith the free and ample provision made in the blood of Christ. He believes the promises of God which through Christ are made unto him sanctification and righteousness and redemption” (RC 78).
Faith not our Saviour
“There is nothing in faith that makes it our Saviour. Faith cannot remove guilt. Christ is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe” (RC 78).
Redemption/Salvation in shadow and type.
Hebrews 9 teaches us that the reality is explained through the shadow or type of the OT
Lev 1:4, 5:
- Transfer of sin upon a lamb.
- The innocent lamb becomes a substitute, as if it were made guilty.
- It was accepted “for him”; “accepted on his behalf” (NKJV).
- To make atonement in the sanctuary.
Lev 17:11: This was from God, not from man to God. It was God’s gift.
“This blood I Myself, have given you” (JB).
Q. But why so many animals?
Many have expressed wonder that God demanded so many slain victims in sacrificial offerings of the Jews, but it was to rivet in their minds the great and solemn truth that without shedding of blood there was no remission of sin. A lesson was embodied in every sacrifice, impressed in every ceremony, solemnly preached by their priests in holy office and inculcated by God Himself — this great truth that through the blood of Christ alone there is forgiveness of sin. (UL 219)
Man’s abuse and corruption of the plan.
Isa 1:11-13: I, God, am full or “sick” (Moffatt) of it.
I delight not, it is iniquity, slaughter.
Amos 5:21: I hate, I despise.
Isa 66:3: Equal to murder.
Q. WHY DID GOD IN THE END DESPISE HIS OWN INSTITUTION?
A. God’s gift, blood for atonement, had been turned around as a heathen, pagan payback system in exchange for grace and to pacify a so-called offended God.
Berkely’s comment on Lev 16:34d “ . . . to make an atonement”: “Many Hebrews fancied that the animal they brought so took their place that they needed not to surrender themselves to God; but God did want them, and their sacrificed animals should be the tokens of their self-surrender” (116).
So it is today in the lives and minds of many.
For them Christ is their substitute in everything, even in obedience, which leaves them with “only believe.”
Isa.66:2: God still looks for a contrite, repentant heart, willing not only to have sins forgiven but completely removed from their lives.
Ps.85:10; Exod.34:6, 7: God does not have to be made merciful; He is, and it is His character.
“By His life and death Christ proved that God’s justice did not destroy His mercy, but that sin could be forgiven, and that the law is righteous, and can be perfectly obeyed” (DA 762).
Beware not to fall in the same trap of the OT people.
That Holy Thing (Luke 1:35), Christ and His sacrifice, must not become unholy by our misappropriation and wrong application.
As the blood of an animal in the OT was God’s gift to make atonement (Lev 17:11), so is Christ and His blood are God’s real gift today to make atonement in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb 9:18-28). So John 3:16, 36. It required faith and trust then, so it requires the same today, leading towards self-surrender, self-sacrifice, walking in the path of obedience from which we departed ever since the fall in Eden.
Eph 1:7: redemption through blood,
Eph 2:8: by faith which is God’s gift.
But at the same time we must not make FAITH a work, which would make it our saviour.
“There is nothing in faith that makes it our Saviour. Faith cannot remove guilt” (6 BC 1071).
2 Cor 5:18, 19: In the death of Christ we see God in Christ reconciling us to Himself.
This is outside our works and efforts.
It is by Christ’s death and His atoning ministry alone.
“We are accepted through Christ’s merits alone; . . . our works in and of themselves have no merit” (5 BC 1122).
“Those who transgress the law of God must suffer the penalty of transgression. But by repentance of sin, the sinner may be pardoned, and through the merit of Christ, may have another probation in which he may have opportunity to form a character like Christ’s character” (YI, 19 January, 1893).
Christ our Substitute and Surety
As our Substitute He took our penalty for our sin upon Himself, died in our place, instead of us, as the Lamb of God, by whose blood atonement is made.
As our Surety, through Him being our penalty-substitute He assures forgiveness, full restoration in relationship with God, our Creator, justification and sanctification by faith, with ultimate glorification in the coming kingdom of glory. His resurrection made it sure. By His death our substitute, by His resurrection our surety.
This is the everlasting gospel of Rev 14:6 to be preached, to be believed, to be lived, to give us full joy, abundance of life, and complete satisfaction.
The spotless Son of God hung upon the cross. His flesh lacerated with stripes; those hands so often reached out in blessing, nailed to the wooden bars; those feet so tireless on ministries of love, spiked to the tree; that royal head pierced by the crown of thorns; those quivering lips shaped to the cry of woe. And all that He endured – the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet, the agony that racked His frame, and unutterable anguish that filled His soul at the hiding of His Father’s face – speaks to each child of humanity, declaring, It is for thee that the Son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt; for thee He spoils the domain of death, and opens the gates of Paradise. (DA 755).
Pastor Jan.T. Knopper,
Edited August 2010, 2013
PS; For the 2013 editing I acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Eric Livingston. JTK