Can Jesus Christ Be Trusted?
by Irwin A. Moon
WHAT HAS HE DONE
This One who represents Himself to us as being a good and sufficient Savior has not only come into our world of death to bring us life and into our world of darkness to bring us light and into our warring world to bring us peace, but He is represented to us as having already accomplished a first and very necessary step toward the work of saving us who are lost because of sin. Let us, therefore, consider what He has already done in this connection and ascertain, if possible, if the service rendered is a proper service and necessary to our salvation.
Before sin had ever fastened itself upon the human race, God gave warming that it would bring death: For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shaft surely die (Gen. 2:17). And continuously, down through the ages, God has given forth this same warning in one way or another. In Ezekiel 18:4 He says, The soul that sinneth, it shall die. And in the twentieth verse of the same chapter He repeats it: The soul that sinneth, it shall die.
This pronouncement, made by Almighty God Himself, has never been rescinded. It is in force now, even as these pages are being read. Shall die is the word, and God never takes anything back. He does not have to. There is no reason why He should. When He makes a statement He has all the information in reference thereto, and there is no occasion for the later modification or withdrawal or cancellation of anything He has ever said. And so when He says, The soul that sinneth, it shall die, that statement stands forever. Likewise in Romans 6:23 we have His further statement to the same effect: The wages of sin is death. Death is a just penalty for sin. God has never mentioned or suggested anything else for it. Sin is of such a nature that it demands just that.
Some few years ago here in our state the "Hoof-and-Mouth Disease" broke out among our cattle. Those in authority immediately commanded that wherever the disease appeared, not only the ones affected, but the entire herd should be killed and buried. Some instances of herds of two and three thousand were destroyed when only a few individual cases appeared amongst them. Now why was that? Simply because that disease was of such a nature that it demanded just such drastic measures.
At another time, in a certain section of the city of Los Angeles, the "Black Plague" broke out. Immediately the health authorities had a rope stretched around the entire section, comprising about eight city blocks. Around this section were stationed sentrymen with guns and with orders to "shoot to kill" if necessary. One man was shot down trying to escape the district. Now, why was that necessary? Because the "Black Plague" is of such a nature that it demands just such drastic measures.
And so God says, "death" to sin. Sin is of such a nature that it demands just such drastic measures. We are so used to sin and so constantly with it that we think little about it. But God knows how bad sin is. He knows it would wreck the universe if let alone, and so He says, "shall die." And since all have sinned, only one consequence faces the entire human race, and that is eternal death.
BUT GOD LOVES
Our attention is now called to a "new angle, as we say, in this tragic situation. For we read that, while God hates sin with an infinite hatred and has pronounced death for sin and sinner, He nevertheless loves the sinner with an infinite love. This we do not understand. We can understand why we should be punished with death because of our sin, but we do not understand how God can love us. But He does. He has proven it in what He has done.
Since man, the object of His love, is justly under condemnation of death because of sin, and because God could not righteously set aside or disregard His own law of punishment, a serious problem arose. His righteousness and justice and His own law demanded the punishment of the offender with death. His infinite love for the offender called for his release from guilt and salvation from death. His problem, therefore, was to satisfy both these demands and at the same time administer perfect justice in the case. Just one way was possible, and that way He gladly chose and pursued.
BARE OUR SINS
Death was inevitable because of sin. And since God could not righteously set aside the just penalty, He chose to pay the debt Himself that thus He might righteously release us, the object of His love.
A circumstance that occurred in the boyhood days of the writer caused to be indelibly stamped in his memory a true picture of substitutionary punishment. My father was a Quaker and an upstanding, Godly man. Coming from early Puritan stock, he had high ideals as to right living and desired to rear his children to be like-minded. Among other things, he taught us that "every wrong deserves just punishment." He also believed in the admonition of "spare the rod and spoil the child." And because he believed in it, he used the rod. But never in anger did my father strike one of us. Whenever any of us did that which called for such punishment, there was a time appointed for interview with my father when the matter was gone into thoroughly and dispassionately. My father was careful to have us see the wrong in ourselves before punishment was meted out, so there was never any resentment or feeling that we had been unjustly dealt with. He was careful to have us understand that we deserved punishment and would then send the offender out into the orchard for a "switch," with instructions to bring "a large one or a small one, whichever thee thinks thou ought to be whipped with." Few of us ever felt we deserved only a "small one" by the time the interview was over, and so we usually brought a "large one."
Upon one never-to-be-forgotten occasion, the writer was sent for a switch with the above admonition, and because I realized I deserved a good sound thrashing I brought a large one. Upon my return, I found my father had removed his coat and vest and had a very grave took on his face. As I came up to my father he said, "Son, this has been a great wrong and must bring a hard punishment. I have decided it is too hard for thee to bear, and I have decided to take it myself and thou has to lay it on."
Now this was a difficult situation, as you may well imagine. I loved my father and respected him above every other person. And to be compelled to cause him pain at my hand was unthinkable. But my father's word was law, and I knew at once that I had to do what he had asked me to do, though it was some time before I could make the attempt. After much earnest entreaty, I took the "switch," and raising it, I fell forward on my face as I struck one lick. I had no strength to make a second stroke.
Nothing more was ever said about the incident. I knew that my father chose to take the punishment himself because he loved me. Nothing was said at the time, nor afterwards, about how God had, for very love of me, taken upon Himself the punishment that should come to me because of my sins. But when, years later, I came to see that Jehovah God became man for the express purpose of dying in my stead and to take upon Himself my guilt and the punishment that should righteously come to me and all because He loved me and knew the punishment was "too hard for me to bear," I could more clearly understand the whole transaction.
Yes, Christ died for our sins... He was buried... He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:34). Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Pet. 2:24). All this was done because God so loved the world. The natural human heart knows no such love as that. And we stand in amazement and admiration as we behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). Therefore, we can trust Him because He has already borne our sins.
TOOK OUR STANDING
Standing is everything. In the business world we have "Bradstreet's" and "Duns" commercial reports, giving the financial standing of everyone in the business world. In making up these reports, not only is the ability to pay taken into account but the moral standing and character as well-his reputation in the community, in the business world among those with whom he has been doing business, his honesty and integrity, his obedience to the laws of the land and his loyalty to the government. In brief, his reputed and known standing in the community and business world, along with his ability to pay, determines his rating.
Now what is the standing of the unsaved human soul before a righteous and holy God? First of all, he is hopelessly bankrupt. He has no ability to pay. He never has paid his debts to God, and lie will never be able to pay them, try as he may.
Second, his standing in relation to God's righteous laws is worse yet. He has never kept the laws of God and never will. He will not keep the laws of God, for one thing, because he cannot. He is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be (Rom. 8:7). Again, he will not keep the laws of God because to do so would mean he would not be permitted, thereby, to follow his own fleshly and unspiritual desires, which he feels he must satisfy. He refuses to ignore his own desires. Therefore, his standing before God and His holy and righteous demands is the lowest of all creaturesa hopeless bankrupt, in spirit, soul and body; an outlaw, having broken every law of God and with no ability to keep them; and last of all, a sinner, a sinner by choice and under sentence of death.
This is a dark picture. But it is darker still as we gaze upon Him who took out standing, as we look upon the One who took upon Himself all the bankruptcy, all the outlawry and all the sin of the world-took our standing. And again we are to remind ourselves that all this He did for us because He loved us. Surely we can trust Him.
PAID OUR DEBT: DEATH
"Shall die" is the sentence that hangs over the head of every soul coming into this world because all have sinned. Jesus Christ does not come to the individual and offer to die in his stead. He has already died, and for all. He did not ask our permission to die for our sins, to pay our debt of death. He did not tell us before His death that He even intended to die for this purpose. Because He knew this to be the only way by which we could escape, He did it, and then told us about it afterwards. Surely this is the supreme test. No greater manifestation of regard for us than this could possibly be given. Now we know we can trust Him. For if while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8), there is no further need to test His integrity and His concern in our behalf. He is worthy of every trust, of every confidence.
When our first parents in the garden listened to the voice of the tempter and acted upon his suggestion, they then and there "sold out" to him the whole human race. From that sad day forward, we were under the control of that evil one, doing his bidding, having his nature, with no power to extricate ourselves from his dominion. But the time came when that Other One whom we are asked to trust came and paid the price of our redemption and liberated us, redeemed us, bought us back!
This is, again, an accomplished fact. In Exodus 6:6 we have Him saying, I am the LORD and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm. And in Galatians 3:13 we find that that which was promised in Exodus 6:6 as being yet future is now an accomplished fact, for we read, Christ hath redeemed us.... being made a curse for us. The price has already been paid. It only remains for the individual to enter into the enjoyment of his redemption by an individual faith and trust in the One who paid the necessary price.
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