Before you begin your Bible study, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, be sure you have named your sins privately to God the Father.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(Known, Unknown and Forgotten sins) (1Jn 1:9)
You will then be in fellowship with God, Filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to learn Truth from the Word of God.
"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth," (John 4:24)
Slave Market of Sin
IN OUR STUDY OF THE TRINITY we learned that God has both essence and Personality. By essence we mean the characteristics or makeup of Deity. Many passages of Scripture describe God in the plural, or as having separate Personalities. Other passages describe Him as being One. Whenever He is described as being One God, it is always a reference to His
essence or character.
In addition, God exists in three separate and distinct Personalities. The First Person is called the Father; the Second Person, the Son; and the Third Person, the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Godhead possesses all of the characteristics named in the essence box. So we say that God is One in essence and Three in Personality. (Eph 4:4-6)
The conference in eternity past
In eternity past the three members of the Godhead held a conference. It was then that the Divine decrees were established. (Acts 2:23; Eph 1:4; Eph 1:11; Eph 3:11; (1Pe 1:2) In Their omniscience, the Members of the Godhead looked down the corridors of time and saw man in a sinful condition: They saw him Spiritually dead and subject to eternal condemnation. Because of the character of God, a plan was developed so that man could choose between eternal condemnation and eternal life.
All three Members of the Godhead are involved in the plan. God the Father is the author and designer of the plan; God the Son is the executor of the plan; and God the Holy Spirit reveals the plan to man. This plan of grace includes three phases. Phase One is Salvation and was provided by God the Son, Jesus Christ. Born of a virgin, He was true God and perfect humanity; He lived a sinless life which reached its peak at the cross and was consummated by resurrection and ascension.
Phase One was executed by Jesus Christ, and for all who accept His work on their behalf, there is no eternal condemnation, but eternal life. (Rom 8:1)
Phase Two of the plan of God is designed for the believer in time, and begins at the moment of Salvation and continues throughout his earthly life. This provision is a supernatural way of life in which God the Holy Spirit indwells and fills the believer for the purpose of function and service. (Zec 4:6)
Phase Three is eternity and is executed by God the Father. It begins when the believer’s earthly life terminates, and will be wonderful beyond description! (Rev 21:1-27)
Because the members of the Godhead are gracious, every provision was made for man long before he existed. Man was created without sin or the sin nature, and for an indefinite period of time man and woman enjoyed fellowship with Christ in the Garden. What caused them to become alienated from God? (2Co 11:3) Their sin of disobedience to God’s expressed will! (Gen 2:17; Gen 3:6) Their negative volition toward God’s Command produced Spiritual death, (Gen 2:17) and they received Satan's sin nature; (John 8:44) and the inability to have fellowship with God in time. Adam and Eve attempted to hide in the Garden first of all, behind a barrier of self-righteousness, (The first sin nature satanic thought: if we are right with each other; we will be right with God) represented by the aprons of fig leaves; (Gen 3:7) and next, behind a barrier of trees. Yet they need not have hidden at all, for an even greater barrier now existed between them and God; the barrier of sin!
God is on one side of this barrier and man on the other. You must understand that no one has ever removed this barrier by his own works or efforts. No matter what his abilities, talents, ethics, conduct, assets, or any other factor, man is helpless. (Psa 39:5) The removal of the barrier is solely the work of God, and apart from Divine intervention, man would face eternal condemnation.
As a teaching aid, let us say that the barrier is composed of the following six bricks.
1. Sin: “For all have sinned and fall short [Missed the mark] of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23)
2. The Penalty of Sin: “For the wages of sin is death . . .” (Rom 6:23)
3. Physical Birth: Man is born physically alive, but at the same time he is Spiritually dead, that is, without fellowship with God. (Rom 5:12; Jas 2:26)
4. The Character of God, or His Divine essence: Man simply cannot measure up to the Divine characteristics of perfect God. Remember that men are not created equal; some men are inherently more intelligent or more able than others. But no man is as good as God; even Christ in His perfect human nature! (Mark 10:18; Luk 18:19; Php 2:6-8)
5. Man’s Relative Righteousness: No matter how good man may be, his human righteousness is still lacking, so we call it -R.
6. Man’s Position in Adam: His short physical life span versus eternal life — “In Adam all die...” (1Co 15:22) The fact that this barrier exists is very bad news. By an act of sin, man erected the barrier; but because the members of the Godhead loved man even before his existence, provision was made for the removal of the barrier. (1Co 1:30) This is the Gospel very good news
Grace found a way
Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” and you will know the Truth, [The Thinking of Christ] and the Truth will make you free." [From the control of the old sin nature] (John 8:31-32)
Jesus was making this remark to believers when a group of bystanders began kibitzing. These observers were — the religious members of the Sanhedrin. These Pharisees and Scribes were always dogging the footsteps of our Lord, seizing every opportunity to criticize and malign Him. They were like many of the religious organizations in our country today who are critical of the Truth, constantly discrediting the Bible as the literal Word of God.
Once a person has received Christ as Savior, he must continuously study the Word of God if he is to discover and utilize the Divine operating assets available to him. Jesus was emphasizing this point when He said, “If you abide in My Word.” Based on the technical structure of the Koine, (Common) Greek language, every time you find the word “if” in the New Testament, it means one of four things:
1. First-class condition: “If” and it’s true.
2. Second-class condition: “If” and it’s not true.
3. Third-class condition: “If,” maybe yes or maybe no.
4. Fourth-class condition: “If,” I wish it were true but it’s not.
To illustrate: In the great temptation of, (Matt 4:1-11) Satan said to Jesus, “If You are the Son of God” — first-class condition — and You are! In, (1Jn 1:9) we find another example: “If we confess our sins” — this is potential, the third-class condition — maybe yes, maybe no! Each class of these conditional phrases is important because it affects the meaning and translation of every “if” passage.
The “if” in, (John 8:31) is a third-class condition; this is the expression of volition and it should read literally, “If you continue in My Word — maybe you will, and maybe you won’t.” Generally speaking, this is the picture of all believers; it is a matter of their free will. Some choose to continue in the Word; they learn Divine operating assets and apply them with the result that they have a life of peace and power, strength and stability. Other Christians are saved and have eternal life, but they have negative volition toward the Word of God and never “get with Thinking Truth.” They live by their emotions and rationalizations. The most miserable people in the world are Christians — those who make the decision not to continue in the Word. On the other hand, the happiest people in the world are also Christians; those who make many positive decisions to learn and Think with the Mind of Christ. (1Co 2:16)
And you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free. (Form the control of Satan's system and the old sin nature) (John 8:32)
I remember that where I went to college, the liberal arts building had this phrase over the entrance. I learned many things in that college; none of which ever liberated me from anything! Of course, this Scripture is not referring to academic knowledge or philosophy. “Truth” is a reference to the Word of God. As Jesus used it here, it applied to the Doctrine of Divine Thinking, connected with Phase Two of the Divine plan --- the operating assets for the believer in time. Knowledge of these Thoughts provides liberty and freedom to serve the Lord and grow to Spiritual maturity! However, “know the Truth” also has another application: the Truth is the Lord Jesus Christ. “Jesus said to him, “I Am the way, and the Truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6) Jesus was saying in effect, “When you know Me, I liberate you. You shall be made free.” Jesus continues His discourse with the Scribes and Pharisees as they arrogantly attack His Words.
The four enslavements
They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You shall become free’?” (John 8:33)
At this point the religious kibitzers answered Him in pride, in egocentricity: “We are Abraham’s offspring.” Remember that religion is the devil’s ace trump; and when a religious man opens his mouth, what he says is often wrong. You can visualize the Pharisees as they swelled with pride and boasted of their lineage. They were very proud of their Jewish heritage and the fact that they were descended from one of the greatest men of all time. They were counting heavily on their human relationship with Abraham. Heaven would be wide open to them, since the “pearly gates” would surely never shut on any of Abraham’s offspring. They go on to make a statement that is typical of anyone who has lost touch with reality and is distorted in his perspective: “We ...have never yet been enslaved to anyone.”
It is interesting to note that at the time this phrase was uttered they were under four different systems of slavery:
1. They were in slavery to their own distortions of the Mosaic Law. The Law was never given as a way of Salvation, but as a means of proving that man is a sinner and needs a Savior. Yet these religious Jews were trying to be saved by keeping the Law, and, consequently, had become enslaved in a system of legalism — Salvation by works.
2. They were in bondage to their religious system. Palestine had evolved into a union of Church and State under the domination of religion and politics which was destroying their national entity.
3. They were in bondage to the Roman Empire: Jerusalem stood in the shadow of the Roman eagle.
4. And finally, they were in bondage to sin! What a tremendous temptation to the Lord Jesus Christ! The religionists' had just uttered the most ridiculous statement, and how simple it would have been to prove them wrong! “What about the four hundred years of slavery in Egypt? What about the seventy years of captivity in Babylon? If you’ve never been in bondage to anyone, what about these Roman standards flying over your cities? Never been in bondage? What about your Sabbath prohibitions? Under these legalistic restrictions, you cannot plug a barrel that is leaking, even if it is your best wine. If someone is stabbed on the Sabbath, you cannot even bind his wound. You must stand there and watch him bleed to death! Not in bondage to religion? You cannot engage in any activity on the Sabbath!”
The taboos found in the Talmud and the Mishnah are fantastic, and in many cases ludicrous! For example, on the Sabbath you were prohibited from cooking an egg by wrapping it with hot sand. Apparently someone had really tried to get around the Sabbath laws! If you were packing your mules from one town to another on Friday and arrived at your destination just as the sun went down, you could loosen the girth of your mule, but that’s all. If the pack fell to the ground it was all right, but you couldn’t remove the pack.
The point is that these Jews were in bondage to the Law; they were in bondage to their religious leaders; they were in bondage to the Roman Empire! Jesus, however, did not mention any of these conditions, and here is the opportunity for believers to learn a tremendous lesson. Stay with the main issue — the Gospel! The word “gospel” means “good news,” even though the preliminary to the Gospel is, (Rom 3:23) “For all have sinned and fall short [Missed the mark] of the glory [Perfect righteousness] of God.” Don’t make an issue of the individual’s personal sins. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and desire that others find Christ as Savior, don’t talk about their bad habits, their shortcomings, their failures; you have some too! Don’t go around with the pseudo-sanctified “holier-than-thou” attitude assumed by so many self-righteous believers: “I’m a plaster saint; I haven’t made any mistakes, but if I make one it is purely accidental.” The only issue in Salvation is the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins. (2Co 5:21)
Jesus Christ Himself proved this point when He dealt with the religious unbelievers. He did not talk to them about their bondage to the Roman Empire, their religious leaders, or the Mosaic Law! He could have elaborated extensively on each of these, but instead He talked about the basic fundamental bondage of the entire human race sin!
The big three — what is sin?
What exactly is sin? When used in the Scriptures as a singular noun, the word sin refers to the sin nature, as in, (Rom 7:14) and (1Jn 1:8). The presence of a sin nature in all members of the human race makes it impossible for anyone to measure up to the perfect righteousness of God. Personal sins which flow out from the sin nature are always directed against God, even though they may involve wrongs toward oneself or others. (Psa 51:4) The Bible defines personal sin by means of several synonyms:
1. Fall short — born Spiritually dead (Rom 3:23)
2. Transgressions — rebellion against and or stepping out of fellowship. (Psa 51:1)
3. Act unfaithfully — self-will over God’s will. (Jos 22:20)
4. Trespasses and sins [Unknown and known sins] — (Eph 2:1)
5. Lawless — living by the sin nature as and unbeliever and as a believer being out of fellowship. (1Ti 1:9)
6. Unbelief — the only unpardonable sin. (John 8:24; John 16:9)
Man is born into this world with three strikes against him: he inherits Adam’s original sin; he possesses the sin nature; and eventually he commits personal sins. The sin of Adam was passed on to the human race, and we call this imputed sin. Through physical birth, we inherit an old sin nature. That’s what David meant when he said, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, [As a sinner] And in sin [With a sin nature]my mother conceived me.” (Psa 51:5) Not that there was anything wrong with his parentage, but it simply means that by being born through natural procreation, he inherited an old sin nature which made him a sinner.
In contrast, by means of the virgin pregnancy and birth, Jesus Christ came into the world without imputed sin and without an old sin nature. (Matt 1:18; Luk 1:35) In addition. He lived a life free from personal sins in order to be qualified to redeem mankind. (Heb 4:15; (1Pe 1:19)
Inside the slave market
The rectangle in the diagram represents the slave market of sin. With the exception of Jesus Christ, every member of the human race is born inside this slave market. This includes such notable individuals as Mohammed, Gautama Buddha, Madame Blavatsky, and Mary Baker Eddy, as well as all the lesser known Charlie Browns and John Smiths. No matter how important someone may be in the eyes of the world, he still was born inside the slave market of sin!
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34)
“Commits” is a present linear aktionsart in the Greek. The dramatic present emphasizes the fact that Jesus shocked these proud, self-righteous do-gooders: “You say you have never been in bondage to anyone? But I say that if you have committed sin, (First-class condition — and you have) you are a slave to sin. He then went on to make another very significant statement:
“And the slave does not remain in the house forever; [Earth --- the chance to be saved] the Son [Christ and believers in Christ] does remain forever.” (John 8:35)
We cannot be in the house if we are in the slave market. Since we have three strikes against us, we cannot help having been born in the slave market any more than we can help being born male or female. A slave has no rights or privileges, no assets or capital; he is helpless to free himself. If he is ever emancipated, someone who is free must liberate him.
“If [First-class condition — and He does] therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
The point here is very simple: in order to purchase the freedom of someone in the slave market, one must be a free man! Since the only person ever born into this world outside the slave market was the humanity of Jesus Christ, He is the one free man who can redeem us forever. Any purchase, however, always carries a price.
Redemption pays the price
The Lord redeems the soul of His servants; and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned. (Psa 34:22)
The word “redeem” means “to buy, to purchase.” In the case of a slave it means “to purchase his freedom from a slave market.” One of the words for “redemption” means not only to purchase the freedom of a slave, but to free him after you purchase his freedom. This is the word used here. Notice the fact that the Lord, no one else, does the redeeming. Since it is the soul that sinned, (Eze 18:4) it is the soul that must be freed. (Psa 16:10 ; Rom 2:9; (1Co 15:45; Heb 10:39) Jesus Christ paid for the soul’s redemption and set it free. (Psa 49:7-9) From now on when you read the Bible, every time you see the verb “to redeem” or its cognate “redemption,” you should understand these words refer to “purchasing the freedom of a slave.”
(Rev 1:5; Heb 9:11-14) and many other passages deal with the fact that Christ has already redeemed us. Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives...” (Job 19:25-26) “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law.” (Gal 3:13) The “curse of the Law” refers to the Ten Commandments which simply proves that we are sinners. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” (Eph 1:7)
Money won’t buy it
Some of the mechanics of our redemption are clarified in first Peter;
Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile, [Empty --- carnal] way of life inherited from your forefathers. (1Pe 1:18)
Knowing should become your motto since knowledge of Truth is the most important single factor in the Christian life. God has made provision for every believer to know and understand every Truth in the Word of God. (Col 2:2-3; Heb 5:12-14) You can neither orient to the grace of God nor advance to Spiritual maturity apart from knowing the Word of Truth!
We are now Commanded to know the Doctrine related to redemption. First, a negative: we were not redeemed with perishable things — commodities that are subject to decay or destruction. These are defined more specifically here as “silver or gold”; but in the Greek it is actually “silver and gold coins” — money, in other words. Money will buy some things, and there are many things people will do for money. However, money will not buy happiness, love, or friends; and above all, money will not buy Salvation. Money will not liberate anyone from the slave market of sin, nor will materialistic possessions free us from a worthless, carnal and futile life!
The Jews had inherited a legalistic tradition of Salvation and Spirituality by works that was in total conflict with both the Word of God and the grace Principle of His plan. They had a glorious heritage of grace provided from their Scriptures, but religion and legalism had destroyed it.
Second, a positive: Peter clearly states the ransom price for the purchase of our freedom.
But with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (1Pe 1:19)
Ritual reveals God's Reality
The Jews who received this Epistle understood perfectly the analogy between Christ and the unblemished and spotless sacrificial lamb used in the Levitical offerings. This lamb had done nothing wrong; furthermore, it did not deserve to die. Perhaps it bleated once or twice and the Jerusalem Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty --- complained that surely there could be no reason to kill poor lambs. Yet, according to Old Testament ritual, die it must!
And he [The offerer] shall lay his hand on the head [Identification] of his offering and slay it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall sprinkle the blood around on the altar. (Lev 3:2)
By placing his hand on the head of the lamb, the one who brought the sacrifice symbolically transferred his sins to the lamb. As the offerer killed the sacrifice and the priest collected and sprinkled the blood, people observed and learned the Doctrine of redemption. From this we discover an important Principle: Jesus Christ has always been clearly revealed to the human race in every age. (Col 2:16-17)
Few people of that day were able to read, so this was a significant ceremony or ritual. Since the Messiah had not come yet, the lamb represented the Savior. The Jews understood that just as the innocent lamb bore their sins SYMOLICALLY, so the Lamb of God would one day LITERALLY be judged for ALL sins while in the state of Spiritual death. (Isa 53:10-11) The purchase price was not His literal blood, nor even His physical death, for all of His blood was not shed, and He finished the work of Salvation before He died physically. (John 19:30) His physical death was essential to the Principle of the resurrection. (Rom 4:25)
The sins having been acknowledged, were symbolically transferred to the lamb. So the lamb bore the sins, and “the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb” is a technical term used in the New Testament which refers to the sacrifice of Christ. The lamb had to be perfect because it represented Jesus Christ who was sinless.
Jesus Christ has redeemed or purchased the freedom of the slaves from sin; however, the slaves are still inside the slave market. The problem is a question of volition. A slave must move out; and this is accomplished when the slave takes “refuge in Him.” (Psa 34:22) Salvation is free; redemption is free. The reason it is free is because Someone else paid for it. Someone always has to pay!
After a ball game, the coach or one of the fathers often treats all the little boys on the team to sodas. All they have to do is to enjoy what is offered, because someone else pays for the treat. Some father shells out at the concession stand so the soda is free to the little boys who take it. Jesus Christ picked up our tab and paid the bill at the cross, and Salvation is free to those who receive it! (John 1:12)
The open door
At some time in his life, everyone has used faith. You say, “Not me. I’m an intellectual. I’m well-trained academically. I’m a rationalist. I’m an empiricist.” You didn’t start out that way! You started out using faith as your basic system of perception. Someone told you, “The sky is blue . . . the grass is green.” You identified a “dog” as a “dog” and a “cat” as a “cat” because someone told you what they were! You accepted those facts on faith. A teacher said, “There’s a place called England.” But you hadn’t been there and seen the country. You didn’t learn about England by empiricism; someone said it existed and you believed it. This is the way everyone begins the learning process, since faith is the basic system of perception.
Since Christ purchased our freedom from the slave market of sin, the door is now open, the shackles of sin have been broken, and we are free. Suppose a man walks in and finds a group of people in a slave market whose shackles have all been removed. He says to them, “You’re free. Go!” They answer, “Shackle us up again. We just don’t want to go. We won’t go!” So, they sit there with negative volition, just as MUCH of the human race has done.
Even though Christ has opened the door, you may sit in the slave market from now till doomsday if you desire. Walking away from the broken shackles takes an act of positive volition on your part: You must get up and move out under your own decision. That is why the Scripture says, “Believe.” Salvation is free for the taking, but it must be received by faith!
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [Power and ability] to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)
“I Am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)
Jesus Christ is the door! Once you see that open door, all you have to do is walk through it. There is frequently some confusion at this point. Perhaps someone stands up and gives a glowing, marvelous testimony about how he found Christ as Savior. He may have trusted Christ during the war when as a pilot he was shot down and had to bail out of his plane. As he pulled the ripcord he remembered a verse of Scripture his mother had often quoted, and he said, “Oh, God, I’m trusting in Christ.” As he floated toward earth, he knew he was saved and would make it safely because he experienced such great peace of
mind. “I felt so wonderful!”
Someone who is listening to this glorious experience says, “Now wait just a minute. I trusted Christ, too, but I wasn’t flat on my back at 30,000 feet and I didn’t go through all that. I didn’t feel wonderful at all. As I recall, I had a migraine headache at the time and still had it afterwards. I guess I’m really not saved because I didn’t feel what he felt.” Maybe you too are thinking, “When I believed in Christ I never had a rosy glow either; I didn’t have an exciting experience. I was just sitting in a seat in the auditorium of a church. Perhaps I’m not really saved at all!”
Where does the Bible say that you must have a rosy glow to be saved, or that you must be on “Cloud 9,” or have a sensational experience? One person may go through the door walking on his hands; another backwards. The point is not how you get through the door; the point is that you go through the door! It’s all right to have a thrilling experience or to feel elated, but that is inconsequential. It is what Christ did that counts! You cannot even “tip the waiter.” Christ not only picked up the tab at the cross, He even paid the tip! There is nothing left for you to do but accept His provision.
There is only one door, only one way to God. (John 14:6) How we arrive at the door may differ, but we must all go through the door! We enter through faith and faith alone. How you feel afterward may depend on your health, your personality, your economic status, or many other factors. Salvation, however, depends only on one factor:
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved.” (Acts 16:31)
If we had to feel a certain way to be saved, everyone would need to crank up his emotions. But to depend on a certain feeling is your doing something. You can see immediately that if a person were to receive eternal life by being ecstatic, then Salvation would be limited to only those who could work up an emotional moment. However, if Salvation is “unlimited,” and it is, then the means for accepting it must be on an equal basis for all. Faith is something that every member of the human race possesses and is all --- that one needs to go through the door.
One for all
There is another way of looking at the payment for sin called “unlimited atonement.” This simply means that Christ died for the sins of every person who ever lived.
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. (2Co 5:14-15)
Twice we read that Christ died for all! In a moment of time the sins of every person who ever lived, (About three hundred million billion quadrillion, ad infinitum, number of sins) were borne by Jesus Christ: He carried them in His own body. Unlimited atonement simply means that the sins of everyone in the world were borne by Christ on the cross. Let’s not worry about Adam’s and Eve’s sins, or Cain’s and Abel’s sins — just think about your sins for a minute.
What sins have you committed in the past? How many are you committing right now? Are there any lined up for the future? Can you remember your first sin? (Don’t say yes because this might make you a liar and add one more to your list) Everyone has committed hundreds and thousands of sins. You may say, “I haven’t committed that many.” Perhaps you don’t recognize all of the sins there are, but there are a lot of them. As a fellow said to me one day, “A whole passel of them.” The point is that every sin you will ever commit was borne by Christ as He hung on the cross.
In, (Heb 12:2) we read: “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross...” Now, you are the joy that was set before Christ. He could look down the corridors of time and see you personally, and He did the same thing for every other member of the human race!
(2Pe 2:1) teaches us that Christ even died for the false teachers. Our Savior left no one out; the payment was complete. That’s unlimited atonement!
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1Jn 2:2)
The last judgment
Sin as a barrier between God and man has been removed; now all man has to do is step over the line. As we study the biblical account of the Last Judgment, I want you to keep something in mind: the word “sin” in our diagram has been blotted out. While man was responsible for erecting this barrier, God, in His grace, has provided for its removal. His invitation to the entire human race is: “Come on over.” How? By simply believing in Christ who picked up the tab; He paid the penalty by bearing your sins; Christ was your substitute; therefore, you simply depend on His work. Ultimately, every member of the human race faces this issue: Will you depend on the work of Christ — redemption and unlimited atonement — or will you depend upon your own human works, your good deeds?
Many people have been led to believe that good deeds are the basis of Salvation. This Satan-inspired lie has been peddled by all manner of people and religious organizations, including fundamentalists! You may have even heard an evangelist preach about the Last Judgment and dramatically condemn a few choice sins. “You remember those sins that you’ve committed? God’s going to call you to account!” There is shocked silence among the listeners and everyone thinks, “Oh boy, I’ve had it!”
I hate to spoil evangelistic sermons or ruin sensational presentations of sin, but I have some good news for you: God will not mention anyone’s sins at the Last Judgment! This is the application of the law of double jeopardy — you cannot be tried twice for the same crime. Since every sin has already been judged at the cross, and since Christ will be the judge at the Last Judgment, (John 5:22) He cannot mention that which has already been judged.
And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from Whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. (Rev 20:11)
In the Scripture white represents righteousness. In His first advent Christ was judged for us, but at the Great White Throne He is the righteous judge. The people who are trying to escape from this judgment are the unbelievers — people who did not receive Christ as Savior during their lifetime. They will be resurrected to stand before Him.
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another [Of a different kind] book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. (Rev 20:12)
There will be two sets of books present at the judgment scene: one is the Book of Life, which includes the name of every person who has believed in Christ. The interesting fact about the Book of Life is that originally all members of the human race were listed. However, when anyone dies without accepting Christ as Savior, his name is blotted out. (Psa 69:28; Php 4:3; Rev 20:15) There is a second set of books, the Books of Works, volumes and volumes listing the good deeds of the unbelieving members of the human race.
Notice that the unbelievers who have been resurrected called the “dead” in our passage are Judged according to their deeds, not according to their sins. No one will ever be judged for sin; Christ was judged for ALL sins once; and for all! (Heb 7:27; Heb 9:12) That is the true meaning of the Gospel — the good news that Christ died for all sins! While both believers and unbelievers are accountable for sin during their lifetime, sin is never the basis for indictment at the Last Judgment. This condemnation is based solely on works — thoughts and deeds — because sin is no longer an issue! When you reject the work of Christ on the cross, you must accept your own works as a substitute. To make this point clear, let’s hear the case of Charlie Brown.
Are You Charlie Brown?
“Brown, C.” is standing before the court in heaven. The angelic clerk turns to the B’s in the Book of Life and finds that Charlie’s name has been blotted out because he died without accepting Christ as Savior. However, there are quite a number of impressive pages on record for Charlie in the Book of Deeds.
Charlie Brown had been regarded as a very successful businessman. Through shrewd management and hard work he accumulated great wealth; however, in the process of accruing his vast fortune, he had stepped on a few toes and his reputation had been somewhat tainted. He decided to take up the slack and make amends for his lack of scruples; so he spent the last years of his life involved in performing good deeds.
Charlie was very sincere about projecting his new image. He joined a church and gave large donations, including a stained glass window with his name on it! Charlie became one of the outstanding leaders of his community and succeeded in many philanthropic endeavors that, (From satanic and human viewpoint) were wonderful. He was good-hearted and very generous, giving large sums of money to numerous charities, as well as helping many other worthy causes in various ways. His list of good deeds was quite impressive!
The Divine adding machine now goes into action: Charlie’s ledger totaled one million, two hundred and seventy-five thousand, three hundred and twenty-four, point five, (One questionable) good deeds. That is about as enviable a record as anyone could have. (Php 3:4-8) Charlie had really gotten with it! He had been a phenomenal do-gooder. With this tremendous record, surely the “pearly gates” would open wide and Charlie would be received with ruffles and flourishes!
But wait a minute! There is more calculating being done 1,275,324.5 good deeds and they all add up to -R. (Man’s relative sin nature righteousness) His works had not canceled his debt with God; they fall short of God’s +R. (Perfect righteousness) “If you are going to qualify to spend eternity with God, Charlie, you need +R; and +R comes ONLY through accepting Christ as Savior. (Rom 3:21-23) It’s too late after death; this transaction should have been handled during our lifetime!”
This is the way Charlie’s balance sheet in the Book of Deeds would have looked, compared to that of Joe Brown, a believer.
Name: Brown, C. In the debit column Charlie’s sins are numbered; however, since Christ died for those sins, they have been canceled out. He also has all his good deeds listed in the debit column, but they still add up to -R. He needs +R, which is the righteousness of Christ, in the credit column to balance his ledger! However, the only way +R is obtained is by faith in Christ, and Charlie had rejected Him. Charlie’s ledger is in the red! He has been condemned on the basis of his own good deeds and thoughts. (Rom 2:15-16)
Joe Brown, the believer, will have his -R, his old sin nature's satanic and human thinking and power destroyed at the Judgment Seat of Christ; and will be saved based on the credit of +R at Salvation. And he will be rewarded based on the quality and quantity of the Temple construction, (Spiritual life --- Divine Thinking) in the soul! (Prov 3:13-22; (1Co 3:11-20)
If evangelists and preachers were accurate, they would have to say, “And every good deed that you have ever done will be brought up at the Last Judgment to prove that, as good as they may have been, they are not good enough! The only good deed that opens the door of heaven is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross ---redemption and unlimited atonement!”
The unpardonable sin
There is just one sin for which Christ could not die — one unpardonable sin. It is not suicide; it is not calling your brother a fool — it is rejection of Jesus Christ! He is the Salvation “package,” and if you reject Him, there is no other way, (Apart from dying incompetent mentally to believe; 2Sa 12:18-23). You see, Christ could not die for the rejection of Himself.
And there is Salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)
Charlie Brown had committed the unpardonable sin, and the next step on the agenda was his final disposition.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, [Notice again for the second time] every one of them according to their deeds. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:13-15)
For anyone who has rejected Christ as Savior, his name has been blotted out of the Book of Life and he will be cast into the lake of fire “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:44) “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt 25:46). The Principle to be learned from a study of the Last Judgment is a very simple one: As you read this passage over and over again, you will never find that a person is judged for his sins!
The penalty of sin
One brick — sin — has been removed. The second brick in the barrier is the penalty of sin — death! (Rom 6:23)
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Rom 5:12)
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov 14:12)
When I say “death,” immediately you think of physical death; however, that is not the penalty of sin.
But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die. [Literally, “dying you shall die"] (Gen 2:17)
If the penalty of sin had been physical death, then Adam and Eve, at the moment they ate of the fruit, (Whatever it was) would have died physically. We know from Scripture, (Gen 3:6-8; Gen 5:5) that they lived many years after they sinned, so this was not physical death but Spiritual death. They were no longer capable of having fellowship with the Lord; so when Christ came walking in the Garden, they ran and hid themselves. God in His grace broke the silence and called to Adam, “...Where are you?” (Gen 3:9) Because of omniscience, God knew exactly where they were. He meant, “Why are you where you are?” Adam piped right up and in typical fashion, as only man can do, said, “Well, God, it’s all Your fault. You gave me the woman and she gave me the fruit; therefore, it’s Your fault and her fault.” Passing the buck! Then the Lord turned to the woman who said, “It really isn’t my fault; it’s this little pet, You gave me the serpent.” As you can see. Operation Patsy is not a twentieth-century innovation!
The point is that Adam and Eve were Spiritually dead because of sin; as a result, they would eventually die physically.
(Psa 22:1-31) will help us understand how Christ paid the penalty of sin and removed the issue of man’s Spiritual death.
The pressures of payment
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. (Psa 22:1)
Jesus Christ uttered these words on the cross. Christ is God; He is also man. He quoted this Scripture from His humanity addressing God the Father. Christ knew perfectly well why the Father was forsaking Him. This was the purpose for which Jesus had been born into this world. The Father was forsaking the humanity of Christ as part of judging Him for the sins of mankind. The sins of mankind were being imputed to Him, and He was taking the punishment due to every human being who would ever live. So horrible was this judgment to His sinless humanity, that He expressed His agony and His concentration by repeating again and again from (Psa 22:1) The Hebrew word for “groaning” meant that our Lord was screaming from the pain of Divine judgment. So all may read psalm 22 and UNDERSTAND; GOD KNOWS ALL THINGS! And still loves us!
You must realize just why Jesus Christ was screaming, and you must have some picture of what had happened to our Lord prior to that time. Jesus had just endured six trials. During this time, men had lied about Him, (No one enjoys being maligned) and yet Jesus Christ kept quiet. He did not answer or fight back. (Psa 22:1-8; Matt 27:37-46; Mark 15:29-34) When the court finished taking His Testimony, they could not draw an indictment because the false witnesses did not agree. Men began to step up and have a little fun at His expense. They took turns slugging, cursing, and spitting on Him. Jesus Christ was hit dozens and dozens of times. As the Bible says, “beat Him with their fists,” which is simply the Greek word for “slugged.” (Matt 26:67; Mark 14:65)
(Isa 52:14)Tells us that He was so badly beaten that the features of His face were completely destroyed, and yet He stood up and took it all and lived.
In between all of this punching, other men came up and said, “So you are a prophet? Then prophesy who hit You!” Boom! They slapped Him; they hit Him. (Matt 26:68) At one point during these trials He was stripped to the waist. His hands tied above His head, and then He was scourged. (Literally “skinned alive with a whip”) The Romans used a “mastix,” a very brutal type of whip, to which they attached sharp bits of bone, metal, and splinters anything that would cut! Then the strongest man in the battalion would beat the victim.
Usually by this time any member of the human race would have been reduced to screaming, incoherent hysteria, “...Like a sheep that is silent before its shearers. So He did not open His mouth.” (Isa 53:7; cf. Acts 8:32) He never cried out to anyone; He did not raise His voice to scream in pain. Then after the beating was over, as was the Roman custom, they rubbed salt into what was left of the raw back to cauterize the wound. They mocked Him; they scourged Him; they took Him to the cross.
As He hung upon the cross, it was excruciatingly painful. His bones pulled apart from the weight of His body, slowly, miserably. (Psa 22:14) The torture was unbelievable! Yet not once did He cry out — not until midday when the sun was overhead. Suddenly the hill was blotted out in darkness. Then, in that darkness, (Matt 27:45) something happened that made Jesus scream. All of the punching, slapping, lying, maligning, torture, and pain had not caused Him to cry out; yet now, something terrible made Him scream!
In a moment of time, your sins, my sins --- past, present, and future sins of the whole world were poured out on Him. It was then that in His greatest agony He screamed. God the Father judged Him. Why? Because “YOU ARE HOLY...” (Psa 22:3)
Holiness is a combination of righteousness and justice. In absolute righteousness God the Father directed His perfect justice against Christ, imputing all human sins to Him and judging Him as the substitute for mankind. In that moment of time.
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2Co 5:21)
So, if you want to know what made Christ scream, it was the only thing that could — your sins, my sins, and the sins of every person who has ever lived.
In, (Psa 22:6) Christ says, “But I am a worm.” There are many different Hebrew words for worms; this was a special type of worm whose blood was gathered and used in making the crimson dye of the ancient world. This most valuable dye was used for the robes of kings. (Psa 22:6) pictures Jesus Christ as the worm, crushed on the cross by our sins; and as a result of His being crushed, we now wear the robes of kings!
(Psa 22:1-6) actually constitute a picture of expiation. Christ was separated from and forsaken by the Father that you and I might never be separated from God again! Another passage on expiation is found in the New Testament:
Having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, [Satan and the demons] He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. (Col 2:14-15)
One of the most significant metaphors in the Bible is “having cancelled out the certificate of debt.” In the Greek, it is a gambler’s term for the cancellation of an IOU. Now, what do I owe God as a member of the human race? I owe Him perfect righteousness, absolute righteousness, +R. The big question is: Can I pay it? Every member of the human race has this IOU of perfect righteousness out against him. When we check our assets, we find that we may be in the same boat with Charlie Brown one million plus! But one million plus good deeds will never be enough. They add up to -R, and this will not pay off the debt. Someone must pay; expiation must take place. (Col 2:14-15) says, literally, “Having once and for all canceled the IOU.” “Once; and for all!” Since this aorist tense in the Greek is a point of time, divorced from time and perpetuated forever. That was the historic event of the cross!
“Has taken” is the perfect tense. Christ took sin out of the way in the past with the result that God’s IOU against us has been taken away forever. Where once there was a barrier, there is now nothing between you and God except the person of Jesus Christ. He canceled the debt by nailing it to His cross.
Once again, man is on one side of the barrier and God is on the other. The issue of sin has been removed by redemption and unlimited atonement. The penalty of sin — Spiritual death — has been removed by expiation. In another book, The Barrier, we will take up the other bricks that separate the unbeliever from God. But let me summarize by saying right now that all of the bricks are removed by the work of Christ on the cross. This emphasizes once again that your attitude toward Christ determines your eternal future.
Is “Chicken” you game?
In my early Air Force days, when I had a lot of youth but not much judgment, my friends and I would engage in the flying version of “chicken” over the Arizona desert. The front and rear cockpit pilots took turns putting the plane into a spin, removing their hands from the controls, and letting the plane do what it would. The point was to see who lost his nerve first within, of course, reasonable limits.
A friend and I were playing this “game” one afternoon. Since we had had a friendly grudge battle going from college days, I was determined he would not outdo me, and he was determined I would not get the best of him. So, we both folded our hands and “let her spin.” All of a sudden we both realized that we were wound up tight, and if we didn’t do something quickly we would never do anything again. We were stuck in the center of gravity spinning violently to the right. The only thing we could do was to kick that full left rudder pedal. Without realizing it, both of us did exactly the same thing at the same time: we neutralized the rudder pedals, pushed the stick forward, and worked the throttle. We came out level right over the top of a cactus. Needless to say, we were relieved to be alive; and happy to discontinue the game of chicken!
If you are in a spin in a plane and the spin continues, you’re dead! The human race is in the spin of sin, wound up tight. Anyone who continues on this flight has had it! He won’t walk away from that one! Why play such a foolish and dangerous game? The alternative is very simple: The rudder/stick combination which will pull you out of the spin of sin; is Jesus Christ. Accept His provision!
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)