Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Essentials of the Gospel, Part 2

Throughout the ages the gospel has been attacked over and over again by satanic forces that want to water down the truth of salvation found only in Christ. That attack will continue all the way through the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus. The cults always distort and twist the truth of salvation by grace but lately, the attack and distortion is coming from within our own evangelical circles. 

Some are promoting a cross-less salvation, or a works salvation. Whatever the changes are that depart from what the Bible teaches bends the truth and weakens the marvelous fact of what God did to save lost humanity.

While many more points can be listed, below are seven essentials that are necessary pillars of salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

(2) The Son of God – God Incarnate
There would be no gospel if our Savior was not the impeccable righteous Son of God.
Jesus Christ could not save us if He were just another human being. He would be part of the sinful race, and if He tried to die in my place under the wrath of God on the cross, He would simply be dying for His own sins! The wonder of wonders—Jesus Chris is fully man (without sin) and fully God. He is the God/Man! He, the second person of the Trinity, took upon Himself flesh in order to participate in the human race. The proof of His uniqueness is His virgin birth. The sin nature was not passed down to Him because He had no human father. Mary gave Christ His humanity; but He was mysteriously birth by the work of the Spirit of God. He was conceived in the womb of Mary but the active agent in that conception was the Holy Spirit. The angel told Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).

Recently, a Bible church pastor made the comment that Christ did not sin but that He could have! In my opinion this is almost heresy and it certainly does not reflect an understanding that Christ is actually God, the second person of the Trinity—and God cannot sin! This pastor’s statement tells me volumes about the theological training he did or did not receive!

The Scripture tells us: "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). Note that He was tempted many times, in many ways ("in all things") yet He was without sin (in the singular), meaning He did not have the sin propensity, as in the imputed sin transmitted through Adam.

Hebrews further tells us, Christ was a high priest who was "holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners" (7:26). Paul adds that God made Christ "who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). And, Christ in His very nature is "the Holy and Righteous One" (Acts 3:14). He is the One "who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth" (1 Pet. 2:22; Isa. 53:9).
Jesus Christ then is not simply a "way-shower," a good prophet, a great philosopher and teacher. He did not die simply a martyr’s death, the death of a contrary political leader, or one who was just misunderstood by His people. He was perfect in His nature and perfect then in His activities while on earth. No one else could substitute for sinners under the wrath of God. By His death, and by the faith of the recipient of His work on the cross, sinners are declared justified and exonerated from sin.
Paul Enns well writes:
Christ’s divine nature was impeccable. Although Christ had two natures, He was nonetheless one Person and could not divorce Himself of His deity. Wherever He went, the divine nature was present. If the two natures could be separated then it could be said that He could sin in His humanity, but because the human and divine natures cannot be separated from the Person of Christ, and since the divine nature cannot sin, it must be affirmed that Christ could not have sinned. (Moody Handbook of Theology, p. 237) Only God, God the Son, because of His holiness, could save His own creatures. He bore the wrath for sin. This is an extremely important component of the gospel! Anything less is not the gospel.