In our discussion of the Gospel, we have determined that this “good news” has implications for the Old Me and for the New Me. We started talking about the starting point for the Gospel yesterday, which is tied to dealing with the Old Me – specifically my sins and my sinful nature. Today we will look closer at exactly what goes on in the first 1/4 of the Gospel message – the part that deals specifically with my sins.
To understand this first quarter of the Gospel, it’s good to look at it from many different angles. That is exactly what today’s lesson from The Power of the Gospel did. Each section below represents a specific view of this one concept – that Jesus died for us, as our substitute, becoming the mediator between us and God, and saving us completely.
Jesus As Our Substitute
Today’s lesson pointed out that two very strong and strongly opposing principles are at work in God’s relationship with us. The first is that God loves us, and that His love for us never changes. The second is that God is holy, and His standard of holiness is unwavering. God’s love for us draws Him to us and us to Him. But God’s holiness pushes us away, because we are sinful. Romans 3:23 says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Therefore we could never come to God – worse even, our sin meant that we must die. The only way we could get out of this death penalty is if someone died in our place. But this substitute couldn’t be just anyone. The lesson points out that this substitute had to meet the following conditions:
- He had to willingly lay down his life – love like God’s.
- He could have no sin in his life – holiness like God’s.**
No one could do this – all were sinful, so they didn’t meet the second standard, and on top of this, no one was willing. Romans 5:7-8 says “very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The lesson put it this way: “This is the amazing love of the Cross. Jesus met both of God’s requirements – absolute love and absolute holiness – and thus qualified to be our substitute before God.**
Jesus As Our Mediator
Another aspect of the first quarter of the Gospel is Jesus’ role as the mediator of a new covenant. Without going to deeply into covenant theology (I wouldn’t be able to, anyway…), suffice to say that the Old Testament or Old Coventant was based on following the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai. In Hebrews 12:24, it specifically states that Jesus is “the mediator of a new covenant,” meaning that the condemnation brought by breaking the law was no longer an issue – Jesus has now acted as the middle-man between us and God, striking a new deal that takes His righteousness and exchanges it for our sinfulness (more on this later).
Jesus As Our Savior
Hebrews 7:25 says “…[Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” The Greek word translated “completely” here is pantelēs, which means “completely, perfect, utterly.” Every part of us that needs rescuing is rescued by Jesus. He saves us…
- from judgment – “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:9)
- from being “lost” – “…the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10)
- from Satan’s dominion – “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13)
Jesus As Our Great Exchanger
Paul told the church in Corinth that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The lesson points out that The Living Bible renders this verse this way: “For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us.”** Without this exchange, there would be no salvation. We would die in our sins, and that would be the end of the story.
**Taken from Lesson 3: The Great Exchange, from The Power of the Gospel, OBC