God’s Restoration of Man
If only One is to be glorified from eternity to eternity, only One must be the doer of all. If man has slipped into the quagmire of self-deceit, imagining himself to be somewhat by himself, deluding himself that he is a king, not a slave, then man must relearn that only One is King of kings and Lord of lords, and that at His name every knee must bow. He who, as Love, was Creator of all must now, as Love, be Re-Creator of lost mankind, and must bring him back by regeneration and re-education to the only relationship in which humanity can be true humanity.
Let us watch carefully how God has done this, so that ignorance of the ways of God may not rob us of our inheritance. First, it is God Himself who has done it, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, "God our Saviour," as Paul loved to call Him; God alone, that in all things He might have the preeminence. Not one grain of our recreation in Christ is attributable to man, any more than our creation was. Man must learn, and relearn, his eternal condition–the nothing over against the All. And what a relief! Not my past righteousness (non-existent), not my present works (wood, hay and stubble unless His works in me), not my future suitability (equally non-existent). All is His. His past planning, His completed redemption, His endless mercy and love.
First, God’s righteousness must be satisfied. None but a righteous God could be God, nothing but righteousness could be the foundation of His throne. The broken law upon which His creation is based must have its penalties, if it is a law. If His eternal nature is to reward the good, He must also inevitably punish the evil. In no other way could He be righteous. No mere forgiveness, then, could be a just forgiveness, unless it was grounded on full satisfaction for the wrongdoing.
What a Redeemer we have, who provided a salvation with no loopholes in it! Man’s reasoning might and often does suggest some easier way, which is always, when traced to its roots, a subtle refusal to face the stark reality of lawlessness in a law-based universe. Abel knew it, when he first approached God with a blood sacrifice, the life of another symbolically shed for him. Cain, in the blindness of religious self-righteousness, offered his own good works, so much more pleasant and self-gratifying. But which touched reality? Which had the witness from God? The tragic end tells us, when Cain hated Abel for his glowing testimony to acceptance with God. And why did he hate him? John tells us (1 John 3:12) because Abel struck at the roots of self-righteousness and exposed it as sin, which could only be expiated by God’s appointed sacrifice, to which God bears faithful witness in the believer.
Here is salvation in its first stage, God’s great salvation. The Judge became the condemned criminal. God the Son disguised His deity in human flesh, and "tasted death for every man." The Author and Sustainer of life yielded up His own life to receive in Himself the wages of the world’s sin. As Mrs. Cousins put it in her great hymn:
Jehovah lifted up His rod
O Christ, it fell on Thee!
Thou wast sore stricken of
There’s not one stroke.for me. Thy tears, Thy blood, beneath it flowed;
Thy bruising healeth me
Jehovah bade His sword awake, O Christ, it woke ‘gainst Thee! Thy blood the flaming blade
Thy heart its sheath must be
All for my sake, my peace to make; Now sleeps that sword for me.
Through all eternity we shall never know what those hours meant when God was separated from God, the Son crying out to the Father, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" But its glorious consequences we do know-that, having been "delivered for our offences," He "was raised again for our justification." The resurrection was God’s witness that He had accepted the sacrifice. This was more than forgiveness. This was as if we had never sinned. God could now be just in justifying the believer in Jesus. We can leave the court without a stain on our character. Upon Another’s life, Another’s death, we can stake our whole eternity. The penalty of an eternal hell, the guilt, the stain, the rebellion, the broken law, the separation, all as if they had never been, for "Jesus paid it all."
This primary and fundamental aspect of the atonement is always rep-resented in Scripture by the word "blood." "The precious blood of Christ." It is the first and necessary Godward side of the process of redemption. It was the solution, first, as we have said, of God’s problem. How could He be just and the justifier of the unjust? His wrath must first be propitiated: His holiness vindicated: the punishment of His broken law inflicted. Nothing in the Bible stands out more prominently than the sacrifice God appointed and declared to be the satisfaction of all those claims. It was His own outpoured life. God as Spirit can-not be seen of men. God the Word and the Son, as the express image of the Father, could take human form, so "the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." We may know for certain that it cost the Father all and more than the Son to send Him to be the propitiation for our sins. The sacrifice was settled in Heaven before the sin that necessitated it had appeared in history.
The shedding of blood, representing the outpoured life of the victim, as Moses declared in Leviticus 17, runs like a reddened strand throughout all Bible history-from Abel to Israel, where the life of the nation centred around the sprinkling of the blood on the annual day of atonement: on through the prophets to the last of them, the Baptist, who pointed to the Lamb of destiny and called Him God’s Lamb "that taketh away the sin of the world": on through the great moment of the sacrifice itself hidden from all eyes in the three hours of darkness, proclaimed by the Saviour Himself to be His blood of the new covenant to be remembered at His table: expounded in fulness of revelation and understanding by the apostles: seen as presented and accepted by God Himself in the heavens in the letter to the Hebrews, giving us our title to boldness of access to the holiest of all: and consummated in the final vision of eternity, with the throne occupied by "the Lamb as it had been slain." No wonder the blood is holy and precious to all believers. No wonder it is the point of attack and derision by those who hate to own themselves as sinners. It represents the uniqueness of that holy sacrifice, the blood He shed alone, the winepress He trod alone. It is His atoning work which none other shares.
The Cross, the manward aspect of Calvary’s redeeming work, we share: the blood, the Godward aspect, is the sacred offering of the Son to the Father. And because He accepts it, we can do so. We need not question that sacrifice, nor its efficacy. He appointed it. He accepted it. He invites, He argues, He commands us to do the same. No sinner pleases the heart of God by remaining a penitent. No, if repentance is sincere, let us not add sin to sin by failing to believe in the blood. If good enough for Him, it is good enough for us. Nothing pleases the Father more than the faith of a sinner in the efficacy of the precious blood.
–From The Deep Things of God
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 16 No 3
- The Law: Stepping Stone to Man’s Exposure
- To Think About…
- Editor’s Note
- A Look at a Book
- Summer Camp 2000, The Adults
- Tape Talk
- Bible Study: God’s Law
- A Life Transformed
- Zerubbabel Focus: Computers
- Questions & Answers
- Spontaneous Living
- The Laugh of Faith
- Youth Camp Report
- On the Web
- The Christian in the Workplace
- Leadership in Music
- "One Died for All, Therefore All Died"
- God’s Restoration of Man
- Only Men Count
- Intercession In Action
- Faith Produces Deeds…
- Words to Live By…