The significance of the cross (1)

Jesus’ death on the cross is of life-changing importance for mankind.The significance of the cross is not completely elaborated in this study, but a few facets are mentioned as an appendix to the study ‘Conversion’.

Jesus said:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
(through = ‘dia’ in Greek: literally by passing through Me)

Paul wrote:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.   (1 Timothy 1:15)

As a consequence of Jesus having died for mankind on the cross:

He (God) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.   (Colossians 1:13-14)

When Jesus died, after a life in complete obedience to His Father, He brought about in the spiritual world:

  • Deliverance from the power of Satan.
  • Justification by faith.
  • Forgiveness of sins.
  • Release from the curse of the law.
  • Deliverance from the law.
  • The blessing of God.

Delivered from the dominion of Satan.

The devil tried to lure Jesus into disobeying the Father’s commission in many ways. Jesus remained obedient to His commission however, even to the horrible death on the cross.
Jesus never allowed Himself to be seduced by Satan and succeeded - as a human too - in standing above Satan in authority.

Jesus died thus, after a sinless life, …

… so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death.   (Hebrews 2:14)

And just before His ascension, when He returned to the Father, He was able to say:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.   (Matthew 28:18)

The devil is intent upon the destruction of mankind and wants to keep man away from God for ever.
Jesus promises eternal life in the presence of God to everyone who believes in Him however.
He said:

Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him (God) who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.   (John 5:24)

Justified by faith.

God is holy and can have no relationship with people who are disobedient to Him.
That is why no-one can earn the right to be allowed to enter into God’s presence by himself.

Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.   (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

Everyone is dependent upon the love of God, who is gracious towards those who believe in His Son Jesus-Christ.
Paul writes:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.   (Romans 3:23-24)

For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.   (Romans 3:28)

For it is by grace you have been saved (literally: For grace is saving), through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift (present) of God.   (Ephesians 2:8)

Forgiveness of sins.

When Jesus appeared to the apostle Paul He gave him the commission:

I am sending you to them (the nations) to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins … by faith in me.   (Acts 26:18)

This forgiveness of sins became possible because Jesus took the punishment for the sins upon Himself, substitutionally, by His death on the cross, as it is written:

But when Christ came as high priest … He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.   (Hebrews 9:11-12)

The reconciliation between God and mankind, which Jesus brought about in this way, was depicted symbolically every year for many centuries, in the sacrifices brought during the feast of the Great Day of Atonement.
Two sacrifices were made on that day, i.e. a sacrifice for sin and a burnt offering.
The symbolism of ‘The Great Day of Atonement’ is explained fully in a separate study.

The first sacrifice, a sacrifice for sin.
During the course of the year the sacrifice for sin consisted of one animal and the person bringing the offering laid his hand on the sacrificial animal’s head, thus transferring his sins to the animal.
On the Great Day of Atonement the sacrifice for sin consisted of two male goats however.

No hands, thus no sins, were laid on the first male goat during the Great Day of Atonement.
This male goat was sinless therefore – a symbol of Jesus, who lived without sinning.
This male goat was slaughteredan image of Jesus who died substitutionally on the cross.
The high priest then brought the blood of this male goat, the sinless blood, before God in the Holy of Holies. This is the image of a person who is allowed by faith to enter into the presence of God, because the blood He shows is sinless.
This blood symbolises the soul that is cleansed by the blood of Jesus.

Hands were laid on the head of the second male goat, whereby all the sins of the people were transferred to the head of the animal.
The sins that were thus laid on the animal were …

… the sins the people had committed in ignorance.   (Hebrews 9:7)

After that, this male goat was brought away to the desert to die.
These sins were not made public before God’s throne therefore, but ‘died’ in the desert, in oblivion.

This second male goat is the image of Jesus, …

… He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness.   (1 Peter 2:24)

Everyone who believes in Jesus and turns his back on his old life, and is converted, may know that God sponges his past clean.
God passes over the sins of the past, when we did not yet know Him.
These have been brought to the desert, to oblivion, because God does not even want to know about these sins.
Believers may make a new start in life, by faith in Jesus Christ.

If, when doing so, certain sins from the past rise up in their heart or thoughts, it is good to confess them before God, or to admit possible faults to others, to confess to them, thus restoring relationships.

The second sacrifice, a burnt offering.
Whereas the sacrifice for sin made atonement for the past, from the time of ‘ignorance’, the burnt offering is necessary to make atonement for the sins committed in the time when one knows better, or should do.
This is why a ram was sacrificed as a burnt offering -  also an image of Jesus, …

… He offered himself.   (Hebrews 7:27)

God regards a person as sinless through his conversion.
Once released from the faults of the past, God expects the person converted to concentrate on the ‘Handbook for Life’, the Bible.
It is only from His Word that we can learn how God intended life to be and what is good or not good, according to His norms, and …

As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives (the time one still has to live on earth) for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.   (1 Peter 4:2)

However, even for those who believe in Jesus, it does not always appear possible to live according to His will.
Every believer ‘stumbles’ in spite of his good intentions and the fact that he really does know better.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.   (James 4:17)

Thanks to Jesus there is also forgiveness for his ‘stumbling’, these sins, for:

If anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.   (1 John 2:1-2)

If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.   (1 John 1:7)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.   (1 John 1:8)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.   (1 John 1:9)

Free from the curse of the law.

When Moses read the law of God to the people of Israel he proclaimed a series of blessings, on Gods behalf, over those who would live according to the law, but a series of curses too, over whoever would not live according to the law.
As it is written:

Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.   (Deuteronomy 27:26 )

Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ will discover that the ‘Handbook for Life’, the Bible, gives correct advice concerning life.
However, since no-one is capable of living completely according to this ‘Handbook’, believers should also lie under the curse.

However:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”   (Galatians 3:13)

Believers are reconciled to God, not because they fulfil the law, but because they put their trust in Jesus Christ, who is the sacrifice of atonement.
Moreover, God forgives those who ‘stumble’ as they go through life and He helps everyone get up again who desires to live according to His will.

Free from the law.

Jesus did not only take the curse of the law upon Himself and bring about forgiveness of sin on the cross of Golgotha. He put the law out of action as well.

For he himself (Jesus) is our peace, who … has destroyed … the dividing wall of hostility (between God and mankind), by setting aside in his flesh the law …   (Ephesians 2:14-15)

… He (God) forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he (God) has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.   (Colossians 2:13-14)

Believers are free from the law through faith in Jesus Christ, for:

… sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.   (Romans 5:13)

… And where there is no law there is no transgression.   (Romans 4:15)

If God, through faith in Jesus Christ, forgives every transgression of the law, the law can no longer be quoted as evidence to condemn someone.
Every person will be judged on the basis of his or her belief in Jesus Christ.

Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.   (Romans 10:4)

The significance of the law.
The statements made above might be construed as suggesting that Jesus Christ abolished the law.
However, the whole of the law and the teaching of the Old Testament, ‘The Handbook for Life’, remains – not only for Christians.
This is explained further in the studies:

The blessing of God.

David wrote in Psalm 103:

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.   (Psalm 103:13)

God, as the perfect Father, wants to do much more than simply forgive sins.
Paul writes:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.   (Ephesians 1:3)

God blesses every disciple of Jesus Christ with EVERY spiritual blessing.
EVERY spiritual blessing from the heavenly realms can now also be received, in this earthly life, by trusting Jesus, in faith.

 

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The significance of the cross (1).