Five Words Every Christian Ought to Know Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
I recently read this story that might serve as a good illustration of justification.
A young man once stood up in our church and said: "Pastor, a lot of your members went to the circus last Sunday, and they’re all going to hell."
He replied, "It would have been better to go to church than to go to the circus; but, why do you say they’re going to hell?"
His answer was, "Because the Bible says, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
The young man was right, and he was also wrong.
It’s true that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
It is also true that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
The pastor then asked the young man, who had said that circus goers were going to hell, to repeat these words after him: "I swear that I am as holy as God."
He quickly replied, "But, I’m not."
This young man didn’t understand the Bible doctrine of justification.
Justification is not my righteousness, but His.
The one who seeks entrance to Heaven through the good deeds he has done has yielded himself to the righteousness of God.
If anyone who’s like that young man were to enter into the presence of the Holy God; he would soon discover that the robes of his own righteousness were only filthy rags.
Justification assigns to the believing sinner the righteousness of God.
In justification, we stand before God, robed in pure white.
Our sins are all gone because they were placed upon Christ.
Our righteousness is guaranteed because we have the transferred righteousness of Christ.
When John received his revelation, he saw a great multitude that had come out of the Great Tribulation and who stood before the throne, robed in white, the angels said to him: "These are they who washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb, therefore are they before the throne of God."
They are Blood-washed and made white, THERE¬FORE they stand before the throne of God.
"And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom we have now received the atonement" (Rom. 5:11).
We are going to consider another great Calvary word.
Atonement is the word that expresses the grounds for our coming to God.
The atonement of Christ is the reconciliation we have with God.
The atonement depicts Christ upon the Cross as the meeting place be¬tween God and the sinner.
When Jesus Christ hung upon the Cross, He cried out "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me!"
He tasted the cup of death for every man.
There’s a lot we don’t know, but we do know this, that when Christ took the sinner's place upon the Cross, God let His wrath fall full upon Him.
The sinner is hopelessly shut away from God because the wrath of God rests upon him.
Jesus Christ when he was upon the Cross bore our punishment, He suffered "the Just for the unjust" that He might bring us to God.
He became the atonement for our sins.
The suffering of Christ on Calvary’s Cross is not a theory, it’s a fact.
When you stand at the foot of the Cross and behold the sufferings of Christ, you must see your sins actually placed upon Him.
Christ did not die on behalf of some lofty ideal, He died for the ungodly.
Our sins nailed Him to the Cross.
The holy wrath of God falling upon Christ as He stood in the sinner's place makes our approach to the Father possible.
The atonement is the grounds for our individual acceptance by the Father.
Here’s a story that may be a good Illustration of atonement:
A motherless lamb and a lambless mother were in the same sheepfold.
The shepherd brought the little lamb which had no mother, to the mother who had no lamb.
The mother sheep immediately refused and rejected the motherless lamb.
The shepherd then took the fleece from the mother's dead lamb and placed it about the living lamb.
Immediately the mother sheep was satisfied.
She accepted the motherless lamb.
Christ said, "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me."
God pities anyone who dares to try to approach the Father any way other than from the Cross of Christ.
I read another story that’s a good illustration to use for atonement:
Max Lucado tells of a young man who approached his pastor at the close of a worship service and asked, “What can I do to find peace in my life?”
The wise minister replied, “I’m sorry, but you’re too late.”
The distraught man was perplexed.
He said, “You mean I’m too late to find peace? You mean I’m too late to be saved?”
The pastor answered, “No, you’re just too late to do anything about it. Jesus did everything that needed to be done two thousand years ago.”
The beauty of God’s gracious atonement is that Christ did it all (1 Peter 3:18).
We must simply accept it.
1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”
Let’s never forget that the atonement gave us the ability to approach God, upon the basis of the agonies of Calvary.
"And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2).
Propitiation carries with it the thought of the mercy seat.
The Ark of the Covenant is where it can be found.
The Ark was a box covered with pure gold, and the Law which man had broken was kept within it.
Above it was the Cherubim, with outstretched wings.
It was between the Cherubim that God met with His people.
Upon the gold covered box was the mercy seat.
Once a year the high priest entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood upon this mercy seat.
This mercy seat and the sprinkled blood were between God and the broken Law.
The Ark represented in every detail the sacrifice of Christ and God's approach to the people.
The atonement provided the grounds for our approach to God; it was on a basis of reconciliation.
The mercy seat, however, represents the grounds for God's approach to us.
It was above the blood-sprinkled mercy seat that God met with His people.
The atonement has more to do with the basis for our FIRST approach to God.
Propitiation at the mercy seat seems to have more to do with fellowship with God.
Sin separates the believer from God.
It breaks the connection.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they were driven from the Garden.
When we sin we have no fellowship with Him, but "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous," "and He is the propitiation for our sins."
As the high priest carried the blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat once a year confessing the sins of himself and of his people, so Jesus Christ took His Blood into the Holiest of all, into the presence of God for us.
The atonement carries us to Calvary where He died.
The mercy seat carries us to the presence of God where Christ, having entered once for all, ever liveth to make intercession for us.
Those of us who are His should rejoice that we have daily fellowship assured us through the Blood of Jesus Christ which keeps cleansing away our sins.