No. 10 – Salvation Through Christ – PART 1
Now, so far in these presentations we have come to understand what we could call the “fundamentals” of righteousness by faith. A simple summary would be that we can’t, God must, and so He has given us His word and through His word, He will bring His own righteousness – His own right-doing – into our practical lives.
Now, what we want to understand from here on, is what Jesus Christ has to do with all of this, because if you will have been paying close attention, the only times that we have referred to Him is when we have used His own life as an example of these things. But He must be more to us than just that.
Unfortunately, if we examine closely some of the so-called Gospels that are being taught today, and maybe even what you yourself thought was the gospel, Jesus is not much more than an example. Of course, He died on the cross and took away the condemnation of sin, but other than that, His life on this earth is not much more than an example that I need to copy.
I call that kind of gospel a “monkey see – monkey do” religion, or “salvation by example”. In those gospels, Jesus is over there doing things right, and I am over here, trying to copy Him. THAT is too far away.
Have you ever tried to learn something new, and the person you are watching show you how to do it, makes it look so easy, but it doesn’t matter how hard you try, or how many times you watch the example, you just don’t seem to be able to do it? It’s discouraging isn’t it? Some of us may think we are doing a good job of copying Jesus, but many people walk away from God and from Christ because they try and try, but it doesn’t work. They can spend all day looking at Him doing everything right, you know – by beholding we are supposed to become changed – but all they end up doing is get discouraged. I understand this, and I want to tell you why it happens. It is because Jesus is too far away. His experience is DISCONNECTED from my experience. He is over there, and I am over here. But worse than just being over there, we put Him 2,000 years away, in a completely different sociological/technological era, and we try to see Him overcoming as we must overcome, but His trials and temptations are so different to what we have today!
No. Jesus is much closer to us today than that. And in these next few studies, I am going to show you just how close He is, and how His experience is perfectly intertwined with our experience today.
To begin with, I want to share a statement from Ellen White. Not because it is by Ellen White, because all these things can be taught without her writings, but because this particular statement identifies a very important point:
The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light which streams from the cross of Calvary, and in connection with the wondrous, central truth of the Saviour’s atonement.
A very good point. If we want to understand truth, any truth, we must have the central truth correct. The central truth is the truth about what the sacrifice of Christ really is. When we have a correct understanding of that, THEN we will correctly understand all of the peripheral truths. By peripheral truths I mean subjects like doctrine, and prophecy, and health and lifestyle, etc, AND even what we have studied so far on righteousness by faith. If we do not have a correct understanding of the central truth, then we will be incorrect on the other subjects. And so I have found, that in a sense, when we get the central truth correct, it’s like we find a completely new religion almost, because now everything else starts to make sense and we see a beautiful connection through all truths.
And so let’s see what we can learn about the central truth of the sacrifice of Christ.
When we first began studying we read Isaiah 54:17 which said,
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
Now, let’s have a look at this verse here, talking about Jesus Christ:
5| Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6| In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Do you remember the definition of “righteousness” that we have been using? Right-doing. Of course, because someone is judged whether they are righteous or not by their actions – “you shall know them by their fruit”.
And so here we read that Jesus is the Lord our right-doing – the right doing that God promises to give us, is there in His Son Jesus Christ.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
All of our needs. What do we need the most? Righteousness – God’s perfect works. And so how will He supply it? The same way He will supply ALL our needs – BY Jesus Christ.
One thing that is overlooked by many Christians today is that salvation is a GIFT. Come here to Ephesians 2:8-9:
8| For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9| Not of works, lest any man should boast.
We are saved by grace, not by our own works. Salvation is a gift from God. A gift is not something that you can pay for – it has no price. There is nothing you can do to earn it. The individual has simply decided that they love you so much that they just want to give you something, and they do not expect any payment in return. In fact, they are OFFENDED if you try to pay them for it! The only thing that they expect from you is to receive it with gratitude. This is the gift of God’s salvation.
But, God is not a magician and just going to click His fingers. Something has to change in our lives here before we can go to heaven there. And so the gift of salvation is more than just a mansion in heaven – it includes the “fitness” for that mansion – the works, the character, the perfection, the righteousness that will make you compatible with the heavenly society. In other words, His righteousness – His right-doing – is a gift. We cannot buy it but can only accept it.
And so God took our salvation and everything that pertains to it – His own good works – and put it all into the one gift. What gift? John 3:16 of course!
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.
It is through the gift of Jesus that we are saved. And so it is through the gift of Jesus that we will receive the right-doing of God which is so necessary in our lives. Notice, however, that there is some believing to do. Remember what that is? Read the word of God as a little child, and say, Amen! I believe it! And expect it and depend on it and God will supply the fact. So let’s do just that.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What we want to look at in this presentation, is how the perfect righteousness of God comes to us THROUGH Jesus Christ.
Let’s begin by meditating upon the message to the church of Laodicea:
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Now, there is a problem here, isn’t there? Jesus is on the OUTSIDE. He is not in the heart. Why? Because Laodicea thinks that she is rich, increased with goods and does not need ANYTHING – that means she doesn’t even think she needs Christ. She thinks that her own good works are acceptable, and that she can make herself holy, just like the Israelites thought at Sinai. They didn’t think they needed Christ. They thought that they could do it themselves. It’s just like that today. Laodicea thinks she has everything she needs. She has the EXAMPLE of Christ, and she looks at that and says, if He can do it, then I can do it, BUT THEY LEAVE HIM OUTSIDE. He is over there – on the other side of the room, or 2,000 years ago, dying on the cross. He is NOT a PERSONAL Saviour to them.
But now Jesus is knocking on the heart’s door of ANY MAN, saying I want to come in. And if we will open the door and let Him come into our lives, what will be our experience? Did you understand that there? He says, “I will come into him, and will sup with him and he with me.” What is He talking about? A two-way relationship! A two-way relationship where He will sup with us – and we with Him. This is a mutual communion. He will share with us in OUR life’s experiences, and we will share with Him in HIS. This is what this verse is saying by He will sup with us and we with Him. His experience will be ours and ours will be His. We will share one another’s life’s experiences and there will be this wonderful exchange that takes place so that He will take all of my failed life upon Himself and take it to the cross with Him, and in its place He will give me His own perfect life, filled with the Father’s works.
In our next study, we will spend a little time looking at Him sharing with us in our experiences. But for now we want to see His wonderful sacrifice in coming and bringing to us His own experience. Come to John 15:4-5:
4| Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abides in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5| I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
This is a really beautiful scripture. And again we have the same picture as where Jesus is knocking on the heart’s door in Revelation. Abide in me and I in you. I will sup with you and you with me. This two-way relationship and sharing in one another’s experiences. And to be honest, this beautiful description of the vine and the branches summarizes everything that we are now studying. Without Christ, we can do nothing. Nothing but sin. But it is interesting – He Himself said He could do nothing either, as you remember from John 5:30. And so how can He help us?
Well, the imagery He has used is perfect. The vine’s roots dig down deep into the soil and draw from there the nourishment that it needs for life. That same life then flows through the vine and into the branches. Jesus received His life – the perfect works in His life – from the Father, and that same life – perfect works – flows out through Jesus, the vine and into the branches. IF we abide in Him, just as the branch receives the life experience of the vine, so will we be partakers of the life and experiences of Jesus Christ. The right-doing of the Father will flow through Jesus Christ and into our own lives. The union between Christ and those who will believe in Him will be so close and PERFECT that His experience will become their own experience.
Watch this happen in the following verses.
1| Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 2| After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
A precious promise. After two days, God will revive us. On the third day, He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. Now this verse is speaking about US. You and me. Right? Now come and read Ephesians 1:18-20:
18| … That ye may know… 19| … what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20| Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
What day was Jesus raised? The third day. And the promise is that WE will be raised on the third day. Here in Ephesians we are reading that Jesus Christ was raised, and set at God’s right hand. Jesus Christ was raised on the third day, and now lives in His sight. It is the same as what we read in Hosea. Notice in verse 19 that it says that when God raised Christ from the dead, it was a demonstration of His power TOWARD US – when God was exercising His power to raise His Son from the dead, He was exercising it toward US. Can you see a hint here, about the life that flows in the vine, also flows into the branches? What one experiences, the other experiences also?
See this here. Come to the next chapter and read verses 4-6:
4| But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, 5| Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6| And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Aaah. Here it is. Did you see that – the life flowing through the vine and into the branches? When Christ was raised, we were raised. “He hath raised us up together.” Whatever Christ’s experience is, it is ours. There is such a close union between Christ and us that the same LIFE that was in Christ, is OUR life.
This is awesome. Look at the life of Christ here:
5| Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6| Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7| But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8| And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
In other translations its says that Christ “emptied Himself”. It means He left Himself completely out of the picture. When He came to this world, He did not come to this world in the form of God with all of the powers of God. No. He laid all of that down. And He laid down His own self. You will remember that He did not even do His own works. He came to reveal the Father and so it was the Father that did all the works. Whoever has seen Him has seen the Father. It is not Christ that we see in His life, but the Father. And the Father lived His own life in Him by the word – and Christ was obedient to that word, even unto the death of the cross.
It’s says that He made Himself of no reputation, or He emptied Himself of Himself, and took upon Himself the form of a man and was made in the likeness of men. And was found in FASHION as a man. What does this mean? It means that He became a human being – a sharer with us in our experiences. He became ONE with US. Meditate with me upon this thought as we look at the name of Christ to understand more fully what this means for us:
22| Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23| Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
I want to let Alonzo Jones comment on this:
Alonzo T. Jones 1895 General Conference Bulletin 298
He could not be God with us without becoming ourselves, because it is not Himself that is manifest in the world. We do not see Jesus in this world, as He was in heaven; He did not come into this world as He was in heaven, nor was that personality manifested in the world which was in heaven before He came. He emptied Himself and became ourselves. Then putting His trust in God, God dwelt with Him. And He being ourselves and God being with Him, He is “God with us.”
Think about this statement. It is so LOGICAL. When Jesus left the courts above and came to this world, He became US. He emptied Himself of Himself and took ourselves upon Himself. He became ONE with US. All of US. I always used to read the name of Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, and I thought that Christ was the God component of that name and the human beings in Judea 2,000 years ago were the US component. I thought THAT was God with us – Christ with humans 2,000 years ago. But no. Alonzo Jones is absolutely correct.
It is God the Father who is the God component in the name Emmanuel – God with us. The US component is Christ, because He was more than just WITH us. He was IN us. All of us. So perfectly united with us that He literally became US – ourselves. Isn’t this what we need? We need a power outside of US to come and dwell within us to bring us the power to do what is right. But, if Christ had come with His own power, He would have had an advantage over us and so He would not have been able to fully share with us in OUR experience. And so Christ emptied Himself of the power that was within Him, came to this earth to be one with us in OUR situation of total and utter helplessness and then, having united Himself with us, He laid hold of His Father’s power and brought it into His life, thus bringing into our lives the power that we needed but had been outside of ourselves. Again, this beautiful picture of the vine and the branches. A most precious union of LIFE. He in us and us in Him, sharing in life’s experiences.
He truly did become ourselves. BUT why have we not experienced it? This in-flowing of perfect right-doing from Christ into our own life? If He became US – all of us – then shouldn’t we all be experiencing this? It is true. We should be. But remember, this reality comes to us through FAITH. Most of us didn’t know this, and so we didn’t believe it. Our faith and therefore religious experience has been too shallow. We are told to “Believe in Jesus!” But we are not told who Jesus really is to us and so we don’t have an intelligent faith that has been made aware of a reality that we can actually lay hold of.
His sacrifice is far more than just dying on the cross for our sins. He left the royal courts above, He left the glory and the power and the very FORM of GOD itself and came down down down to this earth, not just to become one OF, but one WITH the human beings that He had created. He was GIVEN to the human race. In Isaiah 9:6 it says:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
GIVEN. to US. God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son. When God does things He does not do it in half measures. He literally gave His own SON one hundred percent to the human race. To US. Not to become one OF us, but to become one WITH all of us. He is a personal God. He gave Him to each and every one of us. Yes, Christ is God. He is divine. He has existed throughout all of eternity. But He loved us so much that He would rather give up all of His divine prerogatives and come to this earth and be born as a little baby so that He can bring to us the very life of His own Father – He did that because He did not want to spend the rest of eternity without us.
But we have not experienced this because we have not been told it and therefore we have not believed it. So let’s continue studying this and find some more precious promises for us to cling onto. Come back to Ephesians 2 again:
8| For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9| Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10| For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Salvation is a gift. And part of that gift of salvation is the perfect works of God Himself. He will give them to us so that we will have what is needed to satisfy the claims of His law. But where are these “good works” that God has promised us? They are IN Jesus Christ. It said there that we are God’s workmanship created IN Christ Jesus – we, us, our life – where? In Christ Jesus. A perfect life, a life filled with the good works of God, OUR perfect life, has been created for us IN Jesus Christ. Can you see this? In His Son, God has prepared for us a whole new life, filled with good works. Right there in Jesus Christ. And so when we open the door of the heart, and invite Jesus to come in, when we abide in Him and He abides in us, He will bring into us this life that God has created for us.
Read Isaiah 26:12 again:
LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.
How many works? ALL our works. When? What TENSE is this verse using? Past, present or future? PAST TENSE. God has ALREADY wrought all of our works. Where? In US! Already! Because Jesus became US, and when God was working in Him, He was working in US. The same life that flowed into the life of Christ, flows into us. Can you see this? Exactly as we read in Ephesians 2:10 that we are God’s workmanship or creation, created IN Christ Jesus to do good works which God has ALREADY prepared for us to walk in. Jesus became US and God did all the works in His life, and therefore He did all the works in OUR life – in US.
Look at this here in Romans 5:17-19:
17| For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18| Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19| For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Again these verses emphasis the fact that all of this is a free gift. Nothing we can do except let it become part of our practical reality. Verse 17 says that the gift of God’s right-doing will reign in our life by the life of Jesus Christ – you remember that we are to yield to the right-doing of God? – just as we have yielded to sin and made the choice for it to rule in our life, here in Christ, it says that the righteousness which is the right-doing of God has had FULL SOVEREIGNTY in OUR lives.
In verse 19 it says that by the obedience of Christ, many shall be made righteous – many shall have obedience in their life also. What is this saying? It is saying that when Christ was being obedient, MANY others were being obedient also, because to be “made righteous”, means to have a life that is full of the perfect right-doing of God. And so when Christ’s life was filled with the right-doing of God, OUR LIFE was filled with the right-doing of God. He is the vine and we are the branches. Whatever His experience was, it was ours also.
And so now we can understand more clearly this text here:
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
In my days of being very legalistic, I used to use this verse to point at those who make everything of the death of Christ but nothing of His life, and I would say, Look! Look! It is not His death that saves us but His life! He lived a holy life. And He is our example. And we should be doing the same. But that was all His life was to me – just an example that I needed to copy. But NOW I see He is so much more. We are saved by His life, because HIS LIFE IS OUR LIFE. He so perfectly became one with humanity, that He literally became US. Where He was, we were. Whatever His experience was, it was our experience. And He is knocking on our heart’s door saying, “Please open the door so that I can bring this reality into your life”.
You will remember that to begin with we read a statement about how the sacrifice of Christ is the central truth around which all of the other truths cluster. And that if we want to correctly understand all of those peripheral truths, we must have a correct understand of the sacrifice of Christ, the central truth. Well, here is another statement from Alonzo Jones where he beautifully summarizes what we have just been meditating upon and notice what he says about it:
Alonzo T. Jones 1895 General Conference Bulletin 299
This is the center around which everything else circles. And Christ having taken our human nature in all things in the flesh and so having become ourselves, when we read of Him and the Father’s dealings with Him, we are reading of ourselves and of the Father’s dealings with us. What God did to Him was to us; what God did for Him was for us.
Because Christ became US – when we open up the word of God and we study the life of Christ, we are studying our own life. When we see Christ overcoming all the temptations of Satan, we see God overcoming sin in our own life. His victory is ours because He was us. What God did to Him was to us, and what God did for Him was for us. When God the Father was living His perfect life in His Son, He was living it in us. Christ’s life was one with our life. It WAS our life. Whatever His experience was, it was our experience. And when we open up our hearts to this wonderful truth, and we let Jesus come in, He will bring to us the life of His Father. He is the vine we are the branches. We will live the same life of perfect obedience that He lived.
This is the central truth around which everything else circles. The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin. This wonderful interchange of life. Christ took upon Himself our sinful lives, and died the death that we should die. He gave to us His own perfect life that we might have life, even eternal life – the very life of the Father Himself. We are reconciled to God by His death, but MUCH MORE, we are saved by His life. When we can more correctly understand this central truth, we will understand everything else.
Of course, there is a footnote that I must add here and that is that Christ’s union with humanity does not make US, humanity, to become God. No. We ourselves are not elevated to the level of divinity. We will always be dependent upon God for life. And in this mysterious union, Christ retains His own individuality and we retain ours. We do not become Christ. Our individualities are not lost by being merged into each other. It truly is a mystery how Christ can become so perfectly at one with us that we share in each other’s experiences and yet remain individual personalities. But I don’t care if I can’t understand it. The experience is all I need.
Let’s read John 3:16 again:
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.
He GAVE His Son. Not just to die for our sins, but MUCH MORE, He GAVE Him to you and me FOREVER. To be one with us forever. To be one with us in all of the temptations and trials that we have to meet and to give to us His own victory over them. Moment by moment, if we will abide in Him, if we will receive of His life, He will live in us. The Father dwelt in Him and worked in Him the complete victory over all sin. He was tempted in all the things that we are tempted in and when the Father was working in Him the victory over that temptation, He was doing it in US. We have overcome in Him. And in every trial and in every situation of life, God wants to give us this victory, this victorious life, which is our own – prepared for us in Jesus Christ.
But there’s another of those “cliché’s” we all use. “In Christ”.
What does it REALLY mean to be IN Christ? Join me, in our next study for a PRACTICAL explanation that actually makes sense.