"PORTRAITS OF SALVATION"
God sent His Son to die for us. "For He hathe made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus did not sin, but He was willing to die for our sins. We are new creatures; a new day has dawned. Attempts to characterize salvation by using only one term or definition is to take away the richness and fullness of our rescue from sin. Something so great and grand cannot be adequately defined by just oen term. For example, the church is variously referred to in Scripture as the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, the house of God, the church of God. Christians are disciples: sometimes they are branches, sometimes sheep. In describing our salvation, we find several terms that express the beauty and fullness of our salvation.
Consider the word propitiate. It is defined as "to appease, to render favorable." The idea of wrath is a part of the meaning of this word; in this case, it is the judicial wrath of God against sin, rather than the arbitrary, capricious wrath of pagan gods. God's wrath is a holy wrath; it is not spiteful or vindictive. Rom. 3:24,25 says: "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righeousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." The majesty of His law must be upheld; the penalty for sin must be paid. God's righteousness remains intact, not because of our own sacrifice. Jesus paid the penalty for our redemption. His death propitiated God's wrath against sin.
Consider the word redeem. This word was employed in the market place. It means "to buy back; to pay the ransom price." As captives of sin, we lack the ability or power to free ourselves. Divine rescue was necessary. "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mk. 10:45). He paid with His life; He shed His blood. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1 Tim. 2:6).
Consider the word justification. This word is the opposite of condemnation. It is a legal term employed in the courtroom by the judge. Justification is by God's grace; our salvation is utterly undeserved (Rom. 3:24). Justification is possible through the blood of Christ. "Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Rom. 5:9). Justificaion is appropriated upon the basis of faith. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). What are the effects of justification? "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus..." (Rom. 8:1,2).
Every picture of salvation points to the sacrifice of Christ. Every picture says loudly that God took the initiative in reconciling us to Him through Christ. The better we understand our need for salvation, the better our understanding of propitiation, redemption, and justification. These words do not flatter us; they do suppose the magnitude of our need. These words should send us running as fast as we can possibly get there to the outstretched arms of Jesus!
By Randy Harshbarger via. Gospel Power, Vol. 11, No. 21, May 23, 2004.
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