FIRST Thoughts

Have you ever had one of those AH-HA moments? I refer to that instance when a little more light illuminates one's mind and hopefully changes your life for the better. This may be one of those moments for someone. It centers on the subject of mankind's sin and God's atonement that causes them to respond with eureka, or hallelujah or simply, ah-ha.

Atonement is the bedrock principle of the Christian faith. It is God's work of grace upon the soul of a sinner who is first willing to confess sin and then confess Christ as Lord and Savior. The work of atonement continues to influence every area of life in the believer through the ongoing work of God as the believer surrenders to His will. Atonement is the propitiation for sin (1 John 2:2) in the blood covering of Jesus' sacrifice for sin. Propitiation satisfies the penalty of sin that incurs the wrath of God upon sin. As sinners, we need the atonement of the blood of Christ to provide salvation from sin and security in His promise.

God's word reminds us that ALL have sinned. Some may sin more than others but that is not the issue. In fact, it has never been the issue. We are ALL sinners because ALL fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). God also confirms in His Word that He loves the whole world. That's the reason God sent Jesus to die for sin and that includes the sins of the world. Therefore, we may conclude that God designed/desired for all of humanity to be saved from the penalty of sin when Jesus died on the cross for sin. Does that mean that all the world will be saved? The answer to that sadly is 'no'. But in no way does a person's rejection of grace diminish the act of God in Christ for the entire world to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). God's offer of salvation includes every person, those whose 'goodness' is too good for their own good as well as every person who engages in all kinds of evil practice. Both are sinners without God.

Isaiah 53:6 says, "ALL of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us ALL to fall on Him" (Christ). The Hebrew writer reinforces that truth of Christ's superior offering for sin when he wrote--"Nor did He (Christ) enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the High Priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:25-26). Did you notice that phrase 'do away with sin'? If Christ's sacrifice for sin did not include all sin committed by all people, then His sacrifice was not perfect, nor was God's plan finished. Furthermore, the penalty of sin has not been done away with. On the other hand, while we have all sinned more than we too often are comfortable admitting, the good news of the gospel is that God's grace goes deeper than the worst sin, or repeated sins (Romans 5:20-21). That includes the sins you and I have committed and the opportunities of obedience to His service that we have casually omitted. The sin for which Christ died includes all sin, past, present, and future. Bottom line, Christ died for the ungodly. That means ALL of the ungodly. No person was/is excluded from God's provision of salvation.

Because that is true, then why would not everyone be saved, eventually, ultimately?

John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes would not perish but will be given eternal life."

Did you happen to catch the activation of salvation in that verse? It's not one's multiplied good deed nor is it one's multiple transgressions that condemn the soul before Holy God and causes them to perish, it is the sin of unbelief. The scripture makes it crystal clear that God paid for sin fully and finally on the cross in laying ALL the sin of the world upon His one and only Son. But that gift of grace cannot be activated unless a person is willing to believe God.

The issue before me or anyone is not all the sins I have committed because those have been paid for in Christ. Atonement is available for everyone. The issue staring every human being in the face, the one issue that will determine whether or not they spend eternity with God or without God is unbelief. That is why Jesus described the sin of unbelief as the unpardonable sin (Mark 3:28-29; Luke 12:10; Matthew 12:31-32; Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26-31; 1 John 5:16).

Every human being that has ever lived, those who are alive today and those who will have the opportunity to live could be saved from the wages of sin which the Bible says is death (Romans 6:23). However, most simply will refuse to believe God's Word and therefore that soul remains under condemnation (John 3:18). The sad truth is they didn't have to be. Life didn't have to turn out this way for them. They simply refused to believe God! They could have been saved because Jesus died for ALL sinners and ALL sin, including the sin of unbelief. Consequently, ALL the sins committed by that soul throughout ALL their life must be and will be addressed and sentenced accordingly before the One they sinned against, the One whom that person refused to believe and entrust their soul to.

Knowing now what you may not have known before, are you able to better understand the imperative of believing God? Do you better understand why believing IN God is NOT the issue? In fact, it has never been an issue. Believing God is the deciding factor of faith that saves to the uttermost those who are being saved (Hebrews 7:25).

Insight such as this will also provide a much better platform should you share the good news, or someone asks you about sin and salvation. It can help us help others to understand that it's not what they've done or even what they're doing, it's what Christ did for them in the past and will do for them in the present based upon their willingness to believe God.

If Jesus were finishing this article--He might well say--'do you believe this' (Mark 9:23; John 16:31)? Well, do you? If not, will you?

Your personal response will have a lot to do with what God does with you and me when we are no longer here and staring hereafter squarely in the face.

Don't put off until tomorrow what must be done today because not one of us has forever to make life's most important decision to believe God. We do have forever to live with our decision.

Choose wisely for "NOW is the accepted time, today is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Be encouraged in your follow-up of following God's Word.

May the Lord bless your believing God as you share the good news this week!

In Christ,

Pstr K

Psalm 27:1