Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Sacrifice Prepared

When Adam disobeyed God’s commandment he violated the Law of the Spirit of Life. In other words, he disobeyed God’s commandment; this was lawlessness or sin and he became “sin in the flesh,” human, a man of the soil (Genesis 3:17-19 & 23-24). All mankind was in the loins of Adam when he sinned, thus all have sinned. Because of his unfaithfulness Adam was cut off from the favor of God---grace. Since all mankind is from the seed of Adam and thus all mankind is born in the likeness of sinful Adam---without a covenant and the spirit that is born of the word and Spirit of God. And so he is born under the penalty of the Law concerning sin, which is death, and into a world of darkness.

In the Scriptures we read,

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”
(1st Corinthians 15:56)

Death is eternal, thus, under the law of sin and death man is eternally bound. Only through fulfillment of the law, that is, payment in full of the sin debt, could the Law be rendered powerless and man released from death and restored to eternal life.

Divine love is the motivation behind all that God does. From His love flows His mercy and from His love and mercy comes grace (Ephesians 2:4-5). But since God is holy and righteous, and sin is an act of rebellion and a complete offense to Him, His love and mercy cannot provide grace until there is sufficient satisfaction for the penalty of sin. But there is no one likened unto man with a life to give for the satisfaction of such a penalty since all mankind is born in sin and is under the penalty of the law of sin and death. And since it was a man who sinned it would have to be a man to die to pay the sin debt; man was hopelessly doomed. Thus God, because of his great love of man, would have mercy and prepare for himself a sin offering satisfactory for the substitute death for man. Therefore mercy is the compassion of God that moved Him to provide a Savior for mankind through whom His wonderful grace could once again flow to all who would believe (John 3:16).

For man’s eternal life to be restored, his fellowship with God must be renewed. He must have the spirit that is from God. For man to receive the spirit that is from God there must be regeneration and renewing by the Spirit of God; his soul must be brought into life again by a new birth of the spirit through the word and the Spirit of God, the same way as it was in the beginning---and there must be a covenant of faith through which God’s grace could work.

For it is written,

“--- without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
(Hebrews 11:6 NAS)

Hence the covenant of faith is the very foundation of man’s successful relationship with his Creator. In keeping with His plan for mankind God turned to another Adam (1st Corinthians 15:45), His Son, the Word of God, with whom He would make another covenant of faith.

The biblical meaning of the word “covenant” appears to indicate “a special bond”, which emphasizes the relationship of faith and trust that is the basic of all covenants. A divine covenant is not like a contract that involves a person or peoples’ special skills or talents and has a time limit. A divine covenant involves the whole being of the parties involved and is eternal---everlasting. A covenant is oneness, meaning in harmony, in full and complete agreement. The two parties are one. It is a covenant that involves faith, hope and love. The following is some (very likely not all) of such a covenant recorded in Scripture of God the Father and His Son as they make the covenant of faith between them concerning the salvation of man. These words were spoken through the mouths of God’s prophets long before our Lord Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us.

Note: Words in italics indicate words that have been added or have replaced other words to give understanding as to who is speaking to whom or to give clarity and understanding of who is speaking throughout the dialogue

The dialogue begins with the Father speaking, and He says,

“But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

And the Son says,

“I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord; My Father has said to Me, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee.’”
(Psalm 2:6-7)

And again the Father says,

“I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me.”
(Hebrews 1:5ff)

And the Father promises,

“Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possessions.”
(Psalm 2:8)
”He will cry to Me, ‘Thou art My Father, My God, and the rock of My salvation.’ I also shall make Him My first born, the highest of the kings of the earth. My loving kindness I will keep for Him forever, and My covenant will be confirmed to Him. So I will establish His descendants forever, and His throne as the days of heaven.”
(Psalm 89:27-29 NAS)

The Father further declares,

“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold. My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him. He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break. And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish. He will faithfully bring forth justice, He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”
(Isaiah 42:1-4)

And to His Son, He says,

”I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you. And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations. To open blind eyes. To bring out prisoners from the dungeon. And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.”
(Isaiah 42:5-7)

And the Son responds,

My Father is the portion of My inheritance and My cup; Thou dost support My lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, My heritage is beautiful to Me. I will bless the Lord who has counseled Me; indeed, My mind instructs Me in the night; because He is at My right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore My heart is glad, and My glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. For Thou wilt not abandon My soul to Hell; Neither will Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay. Thou wilt make known to Me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy; in Thy hand there are pleasures forever.”
(Psalm 16:5-11)

“--- Of the Son the Father says,

‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Thy kingdom.’”
(Hebrews 1:8 & Psalm 45:6)

“---If My Son would render Himself as a guilt offering, I will see My Son’s offspring, I will prolong My Son’s days, and My pleasure will prosper in My Son’s hand. As a result of the anguish of My Son’s soul, I will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant Jesus, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death. And was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
(Isaiah 53:10ff-12)
And the Son replies,
“Sacrifice and meal offering Thou hast not desired; My ears Thou hast opened; burnt offering and sin offering Thou hast not required. Then I said, ‘Behold, I come, in the scroll of the book it is written of me; I delight to do Thy will, O My God; Thy Law is within My heart (Psalm 40:6-8).” “I will proclaim Thy Name to My brethren in the mist of the congregation I will sing Thy praise. And again I will put My trust in My Father. And again, I and the children whom My Father has given Me.”
(Hebrews 2:12-13)

The Apostle John introduces this person, God’s man of faith with whom He has made covenant, in the following manner.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
(John 1:1-4 NAS)

And the 14th verse tells us,

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
(John 1:14 NAS)

Matthew teaches that they called Him Jesus (Matthew 1:25ff); thus He was Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23).

In the Gospel of Luke is found the record of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and announcing the coming birth of Jesus. Mary is a virgin woman chosen of God to be the mother of His Son. Being a virgin speaks much about the pureness of the person and character of this woman chosen of God. First of all, it tells us that her father and mother were faithful to teach Mary God’s word. Apparently she was submissive and obedient to her father’s teaching, an act of love and faith. As we read the words spoken to her by Gabriel we will learn how the conception and the birth of the Child of God took place. We will also learn why it was necessary that He be born of virgin woman.

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was greatly troubled at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?' And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.”
(Luke 1:26-38)

Mary never questioned what her life would be like in the future, she trusted God. Now God’s word is His seed and as the angel spoke the word of God to Mary she listened intently and believed---His seed had fallen upon fertile soil. The moment she said, “Behold the bondslave of the Lord; be it done according to your word,” the power of the “Most High” through the Holy Spirit caused God’s seed, His Word, to spring forth in her womb, or in other words, she conceived. Mary was blessed more than all women; she was to bear the Savior of the world!!

In the book of Matthew we find the account of God’s revelations to Joseph preparing him for the birth of Jesus.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a son; and you shall call His name Jesus (meaning savior), for it is He who will save His people from their sins.’”
(Matthew 1:18-21)

And again God’s seed had fallen upon fertile ground, “And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus” (Matthew 1:24-25).

When man sinned his soul was no longer embodied in the spirit born of God, thus his soul became likened unto his material body; in other words, his soul took on the nature of his body---earthy (1st Corinthians 15:47).

In the natural the perpetuation and multiplying of mankind is as follows. Within the woman is an egg, and within the man is the seed that is the source of natural life or “fertility” for the egg within the woman. Without the natural life that is of the seed of the male there is no offspring. Without the egg of the woman, likewise, there is no offspring for from the egg of the female grows the flesh and blood body. Thus the statement, “---neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman (1st Corinthians 11:11).” Together man and woman are a complete reproductive seed of natural life.

Adam was the beginning of man. According to God’s election the male was created first and then the female. Adam was created from the dust of the earth. Woman was created from man; it is important to note that woman was not from the seed of man. It is also important to note that man is the progenitor of the human race; by God’s choice he is the source of natural life.

Why the virgin Birth? Again we note, when Adam sinned He became sin; all mankind was in Adam’s loins when he sinned and every descendant is born of his seed is born of sin and into sin and is the sin nature of Adam. Jesus could not be and was not born of the seed of a man because of sin.

Jesus, in accordance to God’s perfect plan, received His flesh and blood body from the dust of the earth, indirectly, His flesh or humanity was the “offspring” or “seed” of the woman (Genesis 3:15); He was grafted into the holy root of man (into Adam before he sinned). Thus he is called the “Son of Man.” He was in the “likeness of sinful flesh” but knew no sin (see Romans 8:3). His birth was not of a natural birth, but super-natural, His soul embodied in the spirit was born of the seed (the word and Spirit) of God in the same manner as if was with Adam in the beginning; thus He is also called the Son of God.

Therefore in this person Christ Jesus is the one likened unto man, yet He knew no sin; He had the perfect life to give. Thus He was the perfect body and soul prepared by His Heavenly Father to be the satisfactory sacrifice for man’s sin debt (Philippians 2:6-8).

James C Sanford

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