Salvation in Christ: Complete
This is the third in a series of studies on our salvation. Some people never achieve true peace in their hearts despite having repented from their sins. This is because they have not understood the completeness of the offering that the Lord Jesus has made in offering His own body. We have seen in the last paper how wonderful God’s delight in Christ was and why this made Him the perfect sacrifice. This paper looks at the Lord’s sacrifice and how it was only needed once and was for all.
The completeness of the Lord's work
Having considered our condition as sinners before a holy and righteous God who abhors sin it is evident that it is impossible for us, as naturally sinful creatures, to cleanse ourselves from our sins. As we have seen, the life of the Lord Jesus was the supreme delight of God the Father and by it exposed the extent of our condition before God. This is what really caused the enmity of the Jewish scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees who promoted their own perceived righteousness and hated being made to look sinful in the shadow of the Lord’s sinless life.
The Lord’s words in the Sermon on the Mount are enough to demonstrate the standard of perfection God required that mankind was unable to achieve but was fulfilled in every detail in the life of the Lord Jesus. He really was meek, a peace maker, righteous, lowly in heart, etc and therefore He was blessed. He goes on to say that hating someone is akin to murder in God’s sight and lust is the same as adultery. Our innermost feelings are sinful and worthy of judgement whereas Satan, in all His attempts to make the Lord act independently of God and sin, could find nothing that would work. The Lord was perfect and utterly sinless. There wasn’t even the thoughts or desire that would make Him want to sin. He was God Himself and though He was in the form of a bondman He remained holy and perfect as only He could.
The Lord’s sacrifice dealt with the whole condition of sin into which Adam’s race is born and paid the price in His own blood to remove every sin, ever committed by those who trust in His name.
1. It was His Purpose: the Lord came here to save us.
There are a number of scriptures where we are told the purpose of the coming of the Lord Jesus to earth. Some of the them are given below:
“Then he said, Lo, I come to do thy will. He takes away the first that he may establish the second; by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering, and offering often the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But he, having offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down in perpetuity at the right hand of God, waiting from henceforth until his enemies be set for the footstool of his feet. For by one offering he has perfected in perpetuity the sanctified” (Hebrews 10:9-14). The Lord Jesus came to do the will of God. This will involved Him taking the cup of God’s wrath from the Father’s hand. “And going forward a little he fell upon his face, praying and saying, My Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me; but not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
Jesus said several times that He was going to die and be raised. “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up” (Luke 9:32, see also Matthew 16:21). This shows that He knew His purpose for coming into the world and that it had been foreordained.
“Faithful is the word, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first” (1 Timothy 1:15).
“And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I announce to you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people; for to-day a Saviour has been born to you in David's city, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
"For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10).
Simeon “received him [the baby Jesus] into his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now thou lettest thy bondman go, according to thy word, in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light for revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:28-32).
“Knowing that ye have been redeemed, not by corruptible things, as silver or gold, from your vain conversation handed down from your fathers, but by precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, the blood of Christ, foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but who has been manifested at the end of times for your sakes” (1 Peter 1:18-20).
The purpose of the Lord’s life was that He should be the sacrifice for sins. Simeon told Mary that the Lord would expose the hearts of many and that is what He has done in every Christian. He exposed our hearts and caused us to cry for mercy which we then received so freely as a result of His death and resurrection having paid the price to redeem us.
The reference in 1 Peter 1 shows that the blood of the Lord Jesus (and therefore His sacrifice) was known about before the world existed. God knew what He was going to do and therefore He could overlook the sins of all those who sinned from Adam to the coming of the Lord Jesus (see Romans 3:25). God’s purpose was to remove our sins and the Lord Jesus was subject to God’s will.
2. It was to remove sin and sins.
The Lord’s death was to remove sin and sins. This distinction between sin and sins is clear in the Epistle to the Romans. The first half of the book up to Romans 5:11 speaks about ‘sins’ whereas the second half of the Romans deals with ‘sin’. Sin is the condition into which we are born. David could say “Behold, in iniquity was I brought forth, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). We could say that ‘sin’ is the disease from which our whole race is suffering having been present in every generation. Our ‘sins’ are therefore the symptoms of this disease. A lot of people today are trying to get rid of the symptoms and don’t realise that the cleansing blood of Christ is the only way they can be rid of the disease.
The death of the Lord Jesus was to remove both our sins and the condition of sin in every repenting sinner.
“For as indeed by the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many have been constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the one [Jesus] the many will be constituted righteous” (Romans 5:19).
“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Jesus said “For this is my blood, that of the new covenant, that shed for many for remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
“Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us, and has washed us from our sins in his blood” (Revelation 1:5).
“And they sing a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open its seals; because thou hast been slain, and hast redeemed to God, by thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
“But he, having offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down in perpetuity at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12).
The Lord Jesus laid down His life and offered up His own blood and life to save us and claim us for Himself. He offered Himself to God and it is on the basis of God’s acceptance of the Lord’s sacrifice that we are saved.
3. It was for all and 4. It needed only to done once.
No-one is excluded from the cleansing effect of the Lord’s blood. The Lord Jesus’ blood is enough in God’s sight to cleanse the whole world from their sins if they come to Him in repentance.
“For this is my blood, that of the new covenant, that shed for many for remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
“For in that he has died, he has died to sin once for all; but in that he lives, he lives to God” (Romans 6:10).
“For such a high priest became us, holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and become higher than the heavens: who has not day by day need, as the high priests, first to offer up sacrifices for his own sins, then for those of the people; for this he did once for all in having offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:26-27).
“But Christ being come high priest of the good things to come, by the better and more perfect tabernacle not made with hand, (that is, not of this creation,) nor by blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, has entered in once for all into the holy of holies, having found an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12).
“By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).
“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
“And every priest stands daily ministering, and offering often the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But he, having offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down in perpetuity at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12).
The sacrifice of His own body, giving up His own blood, had truly tremendous effect. He gave one offering and then “sat down” having completed the work. Every priest of Israel was unable to sit down because their sacrifices would not completely remove sin and had to be repeated regularly. The Lord Jesus made an offering that only needed to be done once. “The blood of Christ, foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world” was enough for God to cover the sins of the many Old Testament saints and prophets and it has now been shed to remove every sin committed after the Lord’s death. In the three hours of darkness on the cross the Lord Jesus bore the burden of our sins and the wrath of God. He exhausted the wrath of God completely and thus
He could cry at the end “It is finished”. He voluntarily entered into death by commending His spirit to the Father and thus He took upon Himself the curse that had been pronounced on Man at the beginning when he disobeyed God. He then broke the power of death by being raised from the dead and so it says that he has died to sin and now lives for God. He could not be in God’s presence if He still was tainted with our sins. The fact that He is there means that our sins are gone forever and we can live in Christ.
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews goes into great detail as he compares the old priesthood with the Lord’s priesthood. The old priesthood could not remove sins permanently because the blood of animals was only representative of the great sacrifice that would eventually be offered. The Lord offered Himself and so great was the worth of His perfect offering that it dealt with sin forever. Anyone who repents and asks for forgiveness has had their sins washed away by virtue of the blood of the Lord that was shed on the cross, t hen they are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and made completely suitable for the presence of God because they are now ‘like Christ’ in God’s sight.
Some people worry that they still need forgiven for future sins and that only past sins have been dealt with but the fact is that every sin of ours was future when the Lord was on the cross. Israel had to make a continual repentance for sins but this was because the offerings were not perfect whereas the Lord’s offering was absolutely perfect. He did not have to die and yet He did. This sacrifice was “once and for all”.
We will never understand the suffering that the Lord went through for us to be saved. The Bible is clear that the work of the Lord Jesus does not have to be repeated. He paid the price to claim us in full and there is nothing that we can add or remove from what Jesus did. God accepted the offering of Jesus and promises salvation on that basis alone (see the studies on ‘Faith’).
Some worry that they do not ‘feel’ saved. Salvation has little to do with feelings. Some may feel tremendous relief to know that the burden of their sins, which they have been fretting about for so long, is gone. The Bible says nothing about believing and the ‘feeling’ saved. We aren’t going to get some sensation when we trust in the Lord Jesus otherwise the Bible would say so. We believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of our sins. We then trust God’s word that we are saved. The whole point of the gospel is that we believe God and trust in the way of salvation that He has provided. We then know that what He has said in His Word will be done. The scripture does not say ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will feel saved’ but it says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”.
The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ has removed every sin of every person who has repented and trusted in Him. They have had the whole condition of sin removed forever and have been made like Christ, clothed in the righteousness of God. His sacrifice was so valuable to God that God has accepted it as the basis for removing the sins of every Christian. No-one can add to that work and no-one can take away from it because we “are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God's gift: not on the principle of works, that no one might boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are only saved because of God’s work. When we understand this we begin to rejoice for we no longer have any fear of judgement but rather, in liberty and joy, we are free to worship God which is what He desires and why we are saved in the first place.