Biblical Christianity is totally different than all other religions. Every other religion teaches us to earn our way to God. Christianity is the only religion that teaches that God came to us. Other religions require man to die for God, Christianity has God dying for man.
We began this week of studies by talking about the reality of sin and its consequences that have extended to all mankind. There is no doubt that this is felt innately in the human soul. The natural sense is that there is a God … with a sense of resident guilt that this God has been offended by our sin, and thereby an additional sense that one has to do something to earn one’s way back into God’s graces.
And I began today by saying “Biblical Christianity,” because this feeling that one has to earn his way back to God has even corrupted various branches of the tree of those generally identifying as “Christian.” A study of their doctrinal systems reveals that a person must do this and that to gain merit with God. But the Scriptures teach there is nothing we can do to gain merit. Our good works will always fall short of paying the bill; and teasing out that concept further we could say that our fleshly good works are a currency that is not accepted by God as payment for sin. Only the perfect sacrifice would do, and since no man is perfect, only a God-man would suffice.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
When we were at our worst, God gave his best for us.
1 John 3:1,16 – See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! … This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
Yesterday we referenced the annual Day of Atonement in the Old Testament sacrificial system. On that day the high priest was to go into the most holy place, behind the curtain. Therein was the Ark of the Covenant with Law on the inside and a covering called the mercy seat. On this day only could he approach it and not fear death within what was seen as coming into the localized presence of God. He first went in and sprinkled blood as a covering (atonement) for his own sin. His second trip inside was with the blood of a goat that was sprinkled to make atonement for the sins of the people. A second goat – a scapegoat – had the sins likewise pronounced over it, but rather than be sacrificed was led away into the wilderness, never to be seen again. This symbolized the removal of sin.
Jesus, the true high priest, is spoken of in Hebrews as coming but once into heaven – the true tabernacle – not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with his own perfect blood, thus making atonement for all mankind.
At the moment of Christ’s death, a great earthquake shook the ground. And the curtain in the Temple that separated the most holy place was ripped into two pieces from top to bottom, exposing the interior. The final price had been paid, once and for all. God died that man might live.
Hebrews 9:11-14 – But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!