I love to tell the story of Jesus.
Sharing His story with others is my calling, my career, my full time job!
The story of Jesus is so incredible, that you study it your whole life and you always learn something new, it always challenges and encourages at the same time. The story of Jesus is found in the Bible, the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
This is Easter weekend! It is one of those dates that churches tend to be full. This weekend we celebrate a great event, Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection. This is the main reason for us even coming together. Without Jesus’ death and resurrection we would have no reason to meet together. There would be no good news, no gospel, no message to preach.
Though the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus may be familiar to many of you, I would like to take a moment to re-tell it here. But I wish to do it in a grander scale, by stepping back and seeing how it fits in the great scheme of life the universe and everything.
Because by itself, the cross is really hard to understand. Some think that God was angry at us and wanted to destroy us all but Jesus stepped in and saved us.
Some think the whole thing was a ploy, a cunning plan, to show us God’s love and make us love and worship Him.
Some think that God had a plan in place, but it was not a very good plan, so He sent Jesus to update it and now we can experience salvation 2.0 Grace Edition.
I would like to propose to you that death of Jesus plays a crucial role in God’s plan of salvation, and that it was meant to be from the very beginning (1 Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8). The Bible teaches that there is only one plan of salvation, and Jesus is the only way (Acts 4:12; John 14:6)
This morning we will look at God's plan of salvation.
I know this is ambitious, especially because I plan to do it and not have it be too long. The main reason I wish to do this is because this is the greatest story ever told, the story of Jesus is the One Story that Rules Them All.
Part 1. Creation - A Perfect World
Our Story begins with God, and He is creating everything through His Word. Genesis describes God speaking and the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:20). John 1 identifies the Word of God as Jesus. So effectively, we have the trinity involved in the creation of our planet. God creates and organizes and by the time He is done everything is very good. Not only did God create our planet as stated in Genesis 1 and 2 and John 1, Colossians 1:17 reaffirms that in Jesus all things consist.
Everything that is, is because of Jesus, and can only continue to be in Jesus.
Part 2. The Problem - Why So Much Suffering?
Now we run into a problem.
Because if Jesus created and sustains everything that exists and we have pain and suffering and death and all kinds of terrible things. Does that means that Jesus created all that as well?
We would say no! As Christians we claim these terrible things are the results of sin, the result of rebellion against God.
And that is Correct!
The next question then becomes where did sin originate?
Which is a great question.
From this point on Adam and Eve were doomed to die because God said if they ate the forbidden fruit they would die (Gen. 2:17).
We can see that sin is a legal problem, because its wages is death (Romans 6:23).
However, sin is also a relational problem because it separates us from God, this is why Adam and Eve hid from God (Gen. 3:8), and now we can no longer face God for our sins hide His face from us (Isa. 59:2).
Finally sin is also a governmental problem since sin is rebellion against God and His government, against His laws (1 John 3:4), therefore "he who sins is of the devil" (1 John 3:8), for the reason that the devil claimed that God was an unjust ruler, and that it was impossible to keep His laws.
Due to the first two humans sinning we are condemned to die for "in Adam all die" (1Cor. 15:22), because that was the consequence of eating of the fruit from the forbidden tree.
Because Adam plunged humanity into rebellion against God and His government, we are predisposed to disobey God's laws from birth (Ps. 51:5). This is why we face the struggle mentioned in Romans 7:21-25. Though we are not born guilty of sin, we are born with a tendency to sin, that is to disobey God rather then obey Him.
Part 3. The Solution - Jesus is The Solution!
Thankfully, God has a solution for this problem, Jesus is the solution.
The same way that all of humanity was doomed to die in Adam, in Jesus we can all be saved (1Cor. 15:21-22). Not meaning that we were physically or spiritually inside of Jesus, but rather that He paid the wages of sin, He died for us, that is, in our place.
God has to punish sin in order to save His government. Sending Jesus to die for us is how God chose to save us without encouraging more rebellion. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
For God to change His law, would mean that Satan was right and God’s law was problematic, God’s leadership was flawed and therefore someone might be a better leader. But with the death of Jesus on the cross, God both upheld His law, and it remains perfect, and God still found a way to save all who wish to be saved.
In order to understand how salvation works, we must understand the Sanctuary.
The sinner comes voluntarily to the sanctuary, confesses his sins while laying his hands on the head of the lamb transferring his sins to the innocent lamb (or sacrificial animal, bull, goat...) (Lev 4:4,24).
Thus the sinner is separated from the sin, an exchange is made, and the lamb is sacrificed fulfilling the penalty for sin. The sacrificial substitute must die in the sinner's place, then the sinner must depend on the priest who represents the sinner, to complete the process (Lev.4-5).
We are the sinners, and Christ is the Lamb, who died for our sins, and the Priest who makes the atonement (Heb.4:15; 7; 9:7,15), thus the law is fulfilled.
Even though the price was paid for sin and the legal part has been taken care of, we need to have faith in order to be saved (Eph.2:8).
According to John 3:16, whosoever believes (has faith) in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. However, it is not just any faith, we must have faith in God (Mark 11:22), and a faith that works outwardly (James 2:14). We must have a practical faith that does what God wills despite our feelings or thoughts (Heb.11).
Part 4. The Culmination - The Second Coming of Jesus
Nevertheless, there is a future part to salvation, when we are taken heaven, where God has prepared new homes for us (John 14:1-3, Rev. 1:6; 21:4; 22:12).