So Great a Salvation - by Keith Petersen
The pressures of death are all around. Ezekiel sets out in simplicity the plea essentially voiced throughout Scripture, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord Jehovah; therefore turn ye and live.”
How can it be that death is, most evidently, the natural terminus of the earthly circumstances for each of us, and, yet, the Bible clearly says that “God is love” and that “God is the God of the living”?
The apostle Paul writes in Romans 11, “But what says the divine answer”? It is a great moment in the soul when oneself turns to God to seek the necessary answers to life. Our natural will inclines us to seek our answers from man; but, God says, “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils.” (Isaiah 2).
The world is filled with voices, and the clamor is designed by Satan to make the truth unobtainable. To counter this is the Word of God. The prophet Jeremiah writes “Is not my word like a fire, saith Jehovah; and like a hammer [that] breaketh the rock in pieces?” God does not leave Man without a way to come to the truth.
The very beginning of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens: A time to be born, and a time to die.” A simple question might be: “Having been born, do you now absolutely know the day of your death?” The Bible says that we “know not what a day shall bring forth” and that “it is the portion of men once to die, and after this judgment”.
The Gospel is an exceedingly simple message. The Bible plainly tells us that a righteous and holy God has appointed death as the portion for sin. It says, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” It immediately sets, albeit in a certain negative way, a standard for life – which is to say, that we live if we do not sin. This leaves man restless – he seeks to arrange and conceal his moral standing and its attendant responsibilities by rearranging or displacing the authority of God in his life.
The reality is that we are, by nature, creatures of sin. It is not just “sins” – it is a nature that, directed by its own will, as a young child with its parents, refutes the authority of God. David could write in Psalm 51 that “in iniquity was I brought forth, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” God provided the law to Moses. The Bible says that “the law indeed [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good”; but, that “whoever shall keep the whole law and shall offend in one [point], he has come under the guilt of [breaking] all. For he who said, Thou shalt not commit adultery, said also, Thou shalt not kill. Now if thou dost not commit adultery, but killest, thou art become transgressor of [the] law.”
It pierces the soul when the reality strikes that oneself is not only guilty before God of this sinful nature; but, clearly helpless to rectify it. There can be every attempt to modify this nature, as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden by sewing aprons of leaves to attempt to conceal their sin and to cover themselves. But, it is the “heart-knowing God” with whom we have to do, and all such exercises are fruitless. We may conceal ourselves from each other; but, we cannot conceal even the most secret chambers of our heart from the scrutiny of God Himself.
God cannot allow a sinful creature to exist in an untrammeled way forever – this cannot agree with all that is holy, and good, and righteous. Thus, in Romans 5 is written “by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” This is a solemn realization. This is why we – why you – die.
However, the Gospel – or, the Glad Tidings as it is referred to in the Bible – is inherently positive. We walk in a sphere of death; but, God has life in view. And so, God sets out that He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Our guilt before God is so defined to compel our attention and to bring our hearts and minds to our need for repentance. But, what becomes infinitely more compelling is the love and grace of God to provide not only for our salvation from sin; but, as absolved of even every stain associated with sin, to be brought into an eternal relationship with Himself. The prophet Isaiah writes “Come now, let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
God has set a standard for Man. That standard is the One who “knew no sin” – the Man Christ Jesus. In perfect obedience to the will of His Father He offered Himself on the Cross of Calvary as a Sacrifice for sin. He endured the wrath of God for sin and, having entered into death, has satisfied every righteous requirement of God as bearing on sin and death. The Gospel is designed to bring us to a righteous acceptance of what has already been done by God to effectuate our salvation. Christ has risen from the grave, and has, furthermore, ascended into Heaven. There is a Man now resident in Heaven.
My friend, if you are yet unsaved, would you spurn so great a salvation as provided by God for you? Forget, for a moment, the next fellow – what about you? Does it not affect you that a God you may have never welcomed into your heart and your circumstances has not only considered for your plight; but, while never excusing your sins, has made provision to wash them all away in the shed blood of Christ?
The power for salvation is in God’s hand. You do not hold the power for your life in your hand – God alone is the life-giver. It should affect you to know that the blessed Holy Spirit is given to the one who comes to God through Christ. He indwells the believer and, as provided a new nature by God, the believer is capacitated by the Holy Spirit to be richly afforded entrance into eternal life. May it be so for you.