OUR BIBLE MINISTRIES "Taking the Bible Seriously"
OUR BIBLE MINISTRIES"Taking the Bible Seriously" 

God's Plan for Us

God’s plan is for each of begins with our obedience in believing in the name of Jesus Christ, as Lord, for our salvation.  John explained this in 1 John 3:23, “And this is His commandment: that we might believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and might love one another, just as He gave us such a command.”[1]  The Greek for “believing” in Jesus Christ means four things: (1) trusting in Jesus Christ, as Savior; (2) entrusting[2] Him, as Lord, with our life and eternity; (3) being faithful;[3] and (4) beliefs[4] about Jesus Christ.  His command that we have an “agape-love” for one another…all others…even enemies[5] is a part of Jesus being our Lord.  Jesus pointed out the key to our witness to others of our discipleship in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I am giving to you, that you might love one another, just as I love you, that even you yourselves might love one another.  In this all will know that you are disciples for Me, if you might have love among one another.”  This unconditional decision to have an agape-love for all people is both the motivation underlying our Christian faithfulness and the motivation of Christ to go to the cross.

The result of Christ going to the cross was atonement.  1 John 2:2 - “And He [Jesus] himself is the propitiation [i.e., atonement] concerning our sins, and not concerning our sins only but also concerning the sins of the whole world.”  The key word here, propitiation, is the Greek word, hilasmos, that means “mercifully covering and paying for sins, as offenses against God, in order to turn away the consequences of how serious He must take our sins and to allow for, but not to include, forgiveness and reconciliation.”  For those lost and saved Jesus paid it all.  Even though He atoned for everyone’s sins, that is, all of humanity, His forgiveness only comes to us who believe in Jesus Christ.  Just as the Hebrew word for “atonement”[6] in the Hebrew Old Testament was for all the sins of all of Israel, as an “unlimited atonement” for the sins of those Jews in the Old Testament days, who were both lost and save, this word, hilosmos, in the New Testament is also an “unlimited atonement” for the sins of those saved and lost (“concerning the sins of the whole world”).  In both cases, atonement specifically excludes forgiveness and reconciliation.  Thus, for unbelievers, if there is no confession of sins, repentance, and faith on their part, they cannot be saved and forgiven and reconciled to God.    Their sins have been fully paid for.  But then the issue comes as to whether they would accept this payment for sins as effective in their lives.  They may then seek and find forgiveness for their sins.  Otherwise, they will “die in their sins,” as Jesus explained in John 8:24, “Therefore, I say to you that you will die in your sin; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in yours sins,” as unforgiven, though paid for.  In reality, Jesus paid it all.  Jesus will keep you from sins, or sins will keep you from Jesus.  On the cross Jesus’ atoning death made sins a dead issue for everyone lost or saved.  However, for the believer salvation comes, when after we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness with repentance.  Then, reconciliation comes with this forgiveness described in 1 John 1:9.

A couple of brothers grew up together and enjoyed going to the circus.  The older brother moved on into the big city in business and was quite successful, even owning part of a circus.  The younger brother married and moved to a small community with little economic growth.  The other brother knew that his younger brother did not want any help, but on a visit the older brother asked his circus partners, if on their tour, if they might go through this small community and put on a show one Saturday along the way…for free.  They agree.  When the older brother came to visit that weekend, it was quite an exciting weekend for the community.  Everyone enjoyed the circus and for free.  The younger brother’s family had a thrill of a lifetime with all the grandeur of the Big Top.  His older brother enjoyed seeing his family’s appreciation, even as the others in the community had fun, too.  This illustrates unlimited atonement.

Christ’s atonement for our sins brings us salvation, only when we confess our sin, as John described in 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, in order that He might forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  “Confess” here means to admit and agree with God by specifically naming our sins.  This is a continuous life-style.  Believers are commanded and urged to do this, not only when we are saved but when we live day by day in this sinful world of temptations and yielding.  When you get a speck in your eye, you do not wait until Sunday to get it out?  You get it out immediately.  The “all unrighteousness” means known and unknown sins, remembered and forgotten sins.  Thus, for a brief and shining moment we are totally clean and sinless, i.e., sinlessly perfect,…until we are tempted and yield and sin.  The Christian walk in the Holy Spirit helps lengthen such periods of time.  These brief occasions in our Christian life in a way fulfills what Jesus explained in Matthew 5:48, “Therefore, you will be perfect, even as your Father is perfect.”  Ultimately, as we practice applying 1 John 1:9 to our daily lives moment by moment, we will find what Paul meant in 1 Thes. 5:23, “…may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely….”

 

[1] Specifically, in John 13:34-35 and15:12, 17.

[2] In John 2:22-23 the New Testament Greek verb, pisteuō, means both “trust” in v. 22 and “entrust/commit” in v. 23.

[3] The New Testament Greek noun, pistis, is translated both “faith” and “faithfulness.”

[4] Jude 3 – “Beloved, while making every effort to write to you concerning the common salvation, I needed to write to you for encouraging you to contend for the faith [i.e., the beliefs] once for all committed to the saints.”

[5] Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you…”

[6] Kippurim – literally, “coverings” – appeasing God regarding sins in an atonement providing for reconciliation through forgiveness.  From the piel-verb form, kipper, meaning “to cover,” as to appease by covering the offence with a gift or presenting a gift covering one’s face, has been the speculation of some.

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© Larry Baker