Plan of Salvation

Scripture: Romans 6:23, John 3:16, Philippians 2:5-8
One of the greatest natural gifts that a man possesses is the power of choice. The justice of God is revealed in His creation of every individual as a free moral agent. Man was made with this power of choosing, either the good or the bad, to obey or disobey.
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One of the greatest natural gifts that a man possesses is the power of choice. The justice of God is revealed in His creation of every individual as a free moral agent. Man was made with this power of choosing, either the good or the bad, to obey or disobey. Unfortunately, mankind is the beginning chose to disobey and the result was that the penalty of transgression fell upon the whole human family. What was that penalty? It was the sentence of death.

Listen, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the entire plan of heaven seemed to be frustrated. The human race had placed itself on the side of the enemy. In great love God had formed our first parents intending for them to inhabit this earth and exercise dominion over every creature. Now that holy pair had exercised the free will which was placed in them and disobeyed the express command of God. They did it, not in ignorance, but with full knowledge of the consequences.

God had plainly said, “If ye eat, ye shall surely die.” I want you to consider something wonderful right here. God could have washed His hands of the whole affair as soon as man sinned. He had done what He could to safeguard them. He made the test light, He warned them of the result. He had made the claims of His clear, “The wages of sin is death.” Roman 6:23. Now His responsibility ends. He can leave them to the natural consequences of sin and let them die. That would be justice.

But friends, God has a higher characteristic than justice-God is love. He loved man so deeply that He could not bear to see him die. You and I cannot understand that kind of love. We are talking about God, not man. You will not understand what God did. I don’t understand it, because His love is too broad and wide and deep. I think I know what we would have done. After all, God had power to create a thousand new worlds and people them with perfect inhabitants.

We would have simply wiped them all out of existence and started over again. God didn’t do that because He loved us. But what could He do? Three things opened up before Him that He could do. First, He could let man die in his sin and pay the price for transgression. Second, He could destroy the law which had been broken, and thus abolish the penalty, (“Where there is no law there is no transgression,” you know). Third, He could provide a Divine substitute to die in man’s stead. John 3:16, “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.”

That’s what God did. He could not have abolished that law. Actually, His holy law was a reflection of His own character. Somewhere back in the eternity of the past, a covenant was made between the Father and the Son. The creation of mortal beings would make the possibility of sin a reality. The plan of salvation was not, could not have been an afterthought with God. The agreement was reached long before the actual emergency arose. Jesus offered Himself as a Divine substitute to pay the price for sin. Ah, here is a thought so great that we could ponder over it for a life-time without exhausting it.

The Son of God offered Himself. He volunteered! Philippines 2:5-8 says: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought is not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbles himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Do not minimize that condescension, friends. After all, who was this Creator? John 1:1.3, 14 tells us that Christ was the Creator. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

These verses tell us plainly that Christ was the active agent by whom the worlds were framed. He need not bow to anyone, He upheld the universe. His hand had hung the billions of stars in space. Glorious angels prostrated before Him and sang, “Holy, holy, holy.” Then suddenly into that calm and peaceful picture of an orderly universe, one note of discord appeared. One tine speck of a world rebelled against God. One world so tiny, that it could almost, be lost among the systems nearby; it became a renegade. Other worlds moved at His bidding, but this one alone resisted. But God was not satisfied with a hundred billion worlds that obeyed His voice, He longed to save that one lost world from perishing, and so the plan of redemption went into effect.

One who had sat on the throne, the One who had controlled the planets in their courses suddenly appeared in the manager of Bethlehem. Ah, it was the greatest night this earth ever saw. Angels sang together over the plains of Judea. What a night it was for the sin-shackled race who had waited for this deliverance. But what brought the Son of God down to the stable of Judea? Did He know what He was doing? Did He understand that the people would beat Him and hate Him? Did He know about the lonely nights and the weary days?

Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Ah, yes, He saw the entire path that was laid out before Him when He left the throne. He understood the demon spirit that possessed this world. He knew there would be no one to stand with Him through that bitter experience of Gethsemane. But He came anyway. He came because He loved us-He loved you and He loved me. He was not just interested in one world, but even in one individual.

Suppose you had been the only soul in need of redemption. Christ would have died for you alone. Isaiah 53:5: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Friends, you and I cannot measure the power of that love which constrained Jesus to live and suffer for thirty-three and a half years on this sinful earth. We do not have time to mention the seemingly unbearable provocations which wore on Him. His whole life was spent in errands of mercy.

He traversed the hills and the valleys, healing, raising the dead, comforting the poor and preaching the gospel. His mission was to seek and to save that which was lost. Whole villages were left without a trace of disease. His presence caused the devils to flee, sickness to vanish. The sinful and selfish became pure and humble. Oh, I wish we had time to dwell on that wonderful life in more detail. But we must hurry quickly over the years and consider the crowning climax of His ministry among men.

Almost everyone knows that Jesus died on the cross. But few understand the real cause of His death. Listen friends, Jesus did not die the death of another martyr. He did not die because of the nails in His hands, the spear in His side, or the thorns on His head. His life was crushed out by the weight of the sins of the world. Jesus actually died of a broken heart. The physical suffering was not to be compared with the awful anguish of separation from His Father.

First Peter 2:24, “Who his own self bare out sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” Imagine, if you can, the indescribable suffering of that experience. Jesus had never sinned in His life, though He was tempted in all points as you and I. There was no sin in Him, but He took upon Him the sins of others and entered the dark experience of separation from God. He endured the death which every sinner should have tasted, in order that a way of escape could be made for all. Because the wages of sin was death, only death could satisfy the claims of that broken law.

Because He died in our stead, we can accept His death as our very own, and God will also consider that the price has been paid for us, and the law satisfied in its claims upon us.

Some might well raise the question, “How could one innocent man take the place of a world of guilty men in meeting the requirements of the death sentence?” I answer, no man could have done it, except one. Doubtless angels would have been glad to take Jesus’ place, but He alone could make atonement. Here’s the reason for this: Atonement you see, is the readjustment of jarred relations between two persons or parties. In the case under consideration the two parties were God and man-God, the wronged and man, the wrong-or. All that justice requires is and adequate expiration of the offense, and that could be accomplished by just letting the offender die. That would be justice. But if that doesn’t happen, then the offended one must be willing to forgive the one who committed the wrong.

This is no longer justice, but mercy. Suppose I cancel a debt. I lose the amount. If I forgive a blow, I consent to the injury it caused me. If I pardon an insult, I suffer silently the pain it causes my heart. Listen, justice says, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”-that which a man inflicted, that he suffers. But forgiveness is the very opposite of this. Forgiveness cancels all injury at its own expense. In other words, the innocent must agree to suffer in place of the guilty if there is to be atonement. For forgiveness not only forgoes the penalty, which could legally be exacted, but also agrees to, suffer any injuries which the wrong caused.

Let’s try to illustrate it this way. If a murdered man could forgive his murderer from the grave, he would be, in effect, consenting to his own death, unavenged, so that the murderer might be exempt from punishment. Every act of forgiveness is an act of substitution. The one sinned against substitutes himself as a bearer of the consequences of sin, which act relieves the guilty person.

Now let’s apply this to the atonement, friends. Christ was the one sinned against. He may bear the awful consequences of the guilt and thus acquire power to forgive. His incarnation was essential so that He could enter the experience of death. What Christ did of His own accord pays the penalty, satisfies the law, delivers the transgressor, all because of the exhaustive penalty borne by Christ.

He is free to forgive because He bore the full consequences of sin. If it is morally wrong for the innocent to suffer in place of the guilty, then all forgiveness is forever impossible and morally wrong. But who will say it is wrong to forgive who has known the joy of being forgiven. Oh, the love of God for us, as it has been revealed in the wonderful plan of salvation! Friends, have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? Have you taken advantage of that great plan of salvation which brought Jesus down to die in your place? Open your hearts now and receive Him. What a wonderful Savior we have!



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