What are the Stakes?
Without God’s plan of redemption we are lost. What does that mean? How serious is it? Consider the most horrific and repugnant scenes in all history: the evil, the war, the death, the hurt, the crying. This is all due to sin. Sickness, terrors, tragedy, and death were all introduced when sin entered the world. Yet God has still been active here. He still sends rain, gives food, lets the sun rise, and gives us chances at happiness and laughter. Even in this world of sin, there is still good. What is at stake is eternity without good: eternity without God. We face a place where God pulls out and leaves, a place were only sin and horror and selfishness exist. In that place the only work is pain and the reward is only death. God’s presence is at stake. If we reject His holiness and goodness while we are on earth, we will get what we ask for in eternity. We need God.
And so, the reward is quite evident: being in His presence to the fullest. Since we laugh, experience bonds of love, and share true joy here on earth – how much more will we be blessed to be in God’s very presence. God is love; God is light; God is joy. There is nothing to be desired with Him. With Him there is no pain or sorrow. We will be with Him forever. We will feel purity and experience how things should have been all along. Salvation is a place with no anger, no fighting, no heartbreak, and no death. Salvation is life forever. All of this is promised us through the grace of God.
God Provides the Plan
God did not have to provide any way for us to be saved. He could have started all over with a new people. Since we have no right or claim to goodness, mercy, or relief, then whatever solution we have been given is grace. The hardest and most grueling tasks should be met with gladness if it saves us. Once we become convicted of God’s goodness and holiness, nothing is too much to ask from us. Yet part of God’s plan is it’s simplicity. We would expect that from an infinitely complex being, a path to Him would be unimaginably difficult. Yet the plan which He devised is so straightforward, it seems foolish. His plan is misunderstood, but not on account of it’s brilliance. When we look at the plan we must have faith that its’ simplicity is enough. God did not want His plan to be claimed as human wisdom. We must believe in His power to save, not our ability to follow complexity.
God must deal with sin because of His holiness. Sin requires life for life. But His love wants to forgive us. Love is willing to give up life. And so, God decided to create a system whereby both could be accomplished. This is called sacrifice. God has allowed sacrifice to be the key point of forgiveness in every age of mankind. The way it works is that the sacrifice is a pure or innocent offering, and takes the blame for our sin. The offering is then punished with our punishment, while we are forgiven. This is not called fair, this is called mercy. It’s not fair that anything else suffer for our wrong. And yet, without it, all would be lost. And so, God set up a system by which animals could receive death in our place. This system has been recognized worldwide in history.
The simplicity is this: death for death. Our very spirits have died when we turn away from God who is life and light. The only way for our spirits to live again is if another death takes its place. Yet the life of animals cannot compare with the life of man made in God’s image. So all animal sacrifice, while acceptable in certain conditions, was insufficient to truly resolve the problem. A more perfect sacrifice is necessary before full salvation is complete. God creates the animal sacrifice system for the ancients to teach them about the gravity of sin and to look ahead to the more perfect solution. Animal sacrifice was a pattern that He intended to fulfill. Once sacrifice was truly fulfilled, animal sacrifice just doesn’t compare or offer anything for us.
-In spite of Resistance
Just as there is a God who loves us, there is an enemy who hates us. This enemy does not want to adhere to God’s holiness. This adversary, called Satan, fights against God’s plans at every step. There has always been much resistance to God’s plans. Beginning with the adversary who swept away the first man and woman, and on through history, God’s plans have seen resistance. The satan uses many tactics to oppose God. One is trickery. He makes things seem as they are not. In this way Satan caused the fall of mankind from the beginning. He also works to upset sacrifice by warping our attitudes. He either makes sacrifice abhorrent to us, or he causes us to defile our sacrifice by rejecting God’s plan for daily living. When we live without Him in mind, then our sacrifices are worthless. God is not pleased with sacrifice when our lives are filled with blatant sin.
When God began rolling out His plan for an ultimate and perfect sacrifice, the satan met it with fierce opposition. Satan has been condemned from the beginning. He lost at the start. So now Satan has nothing to do but take as many with him as he can. Through the ages, he shows nothing but hatred toward us. He distracts us from what is important through things we see, feel, and want. Yet in spite of this resistance, God makes His plan work. Sometimes God even uses His enemies to unintentionally carry it out. God’s mission is to save us who love Him, and He will not be stopped.
-Through a Son
God knew what He was getting into when He made us. There are no surprises when each of us choose to deny His glory for what we want. This is the inevitable part of love. We, who are not God, have been given the chance to accept or deny Him. And so, when the first two humans tragically threw God’s order aside, God already had a plan to save us. The adversary we face is hard at work, but was labeled early on. God told our adversary at the beginning of time that God would win the struggle for our souls through a son.
The story of the Bible then takes shape in bringing in this son. God specifies that this son would come through a certain family. He told Abram around 2000BC that his family would be the key to bringing salvation to all men. And so, from the time of Abram, God builds a nation to prepare for the savior. This nation is called Israel. Their decedents are called Jews. Israel is traced through the Old Testament as they stand as a potential model of sacrifice and holy living. The Law that God gave to them was geared towards making them pure. In actuality, Israel hardly lived up to this standard. Valiant efforts were made by respectable and righteous men, but Law is not the solution to Sin. The people knew that the solution to sin was found in Abraham’s son, and more specifically through David’s son. God spoke of this son as a king. So they created an expectation of a Jewish kingdom. They began to expect an earthly kingdom which would be unopposed by God’s adversaries.
When Jesus arrived on the scene, His version of God’s son was so radically different from popular opinion, that His teachings about the king, the kingdom, and salvation were not taken seriously. All the gospels state clearly at the start that Jesus is the Son of God. The religious leaders of the day did not like the idea of Jesus’ Kingdom. It was founded on a spiritual realm where the heart dictates citizenry. They had forgotten that the Son of David was there to provide the solution to sin of the whole world, not solve political issues.
As the Son of God, Jesus retains God’s purity, character, authority, power, and identity. The theme of sonship is prevalent in scripture. When Jesus calls God his own Father, the Jews understood the divine claims and reacted adversely. They were willing to accept Jesus’ miracles, His food, his political entertainment, but when it came to actually changing self, mankind is unwilling to give Him the authority as Creator.