By Leland M. Haines
When man fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, God had a plan ready to implement to redeem him. Because of God's love, Jesus, the Son of God, was sent to give His life and was raised from the dead to make grace available to man. This grace enables men to become disciples and to live a new life in harmony with God's will.
This booklet first focuses on Jesus Christ's teachings and his work on the cross. It then reviews His teaching as recorded through the Apostles' epistles. This booklet extensively quotes the Bible to show how this redemption is made available and operates in men's lives from a biblical viewpoint.
The reader will see that this booklet teaches a view different from the Roman Catholic and most Protestant churches. But its teachings are not new. They are the same held by the early church and other remnant groups, such as the Anabaptists-Mennonites, throughout church history.
ContentsI. God's Grace Overcomes Sin
I. God's Grace Overcomes Sin
The Sin Problem
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, tells the story of man's creation and fall. There we find that "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion . . . upon the earth. God created man  in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:27). Image and likeness do not necessarily carry different meanings. In Hebrew repetition is often used to clarify or expand on the meaning of what is being considered. Being created in the likeness and the image of God means man was a copy of God, but this does not imply man was an exact copy. We know this is not the case since "the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground" (2:7). Men "are made after the similitude of God" (Jas. 3:9). Man did share a likeness to God that no other creature had. God "breathed into his [man's] nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7). This gave man a distinctive nature and place in creation (1:26-28; 5:1; 9:6; I Cor. 11:7; Jas. 3:9). Being created in God's image and likeness, and having a soul, means that man had a spiritual nature. As God was righteous (Pss. 7:9; 11:7; 116:5; John 17:25; II Tim. 4:8; I John 2:1) and holy (Lev. 19:2; 20:26; 21:8; Josh. 24:19; Exod. 22:31; Eph. 4:24, et al.). Man lived in a perfect environment, free from even the knowledge of evil. He understood God's will and had a natural inclination to do it. As God is moral and approves of good and hates evil (Deut. 16:22; Pss. 5:5; 11:5, Isa. 1:14; Matt. 2:16), so man is a moral being and is able to choose between moral options.
 The English term man has two meanings, one that refers to the human male and the other to the human race (both male and female humans). In this booklet the term man is used in the sense found in this verse, that is, to refer to both male and female humans.
Man was not created as a puppet but was given an intellect with freedom of will. He was free to choose to obey his Maker or not. To make man's freewill meaningful, God gave him the power of choice in the Garden of Eden. There man and woman could live by simple faith in God's word not to eat of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen. 2:17). These choices show evil was already present in the world, but man had no understanding of it at that time. But Satan, an angel fallen because of pride, challenged the woman to rethink God's command. Doing so, she saw that "the tree was good for food" (3:6), and pleasant looking, promising to make her wise, so "she took of the fruit . . . and did eat." Giving the same fruit to her husband, he too ate. Thus through doubting God's word, man chose to disobey Him (Gen. 2-3).
Disobedience to God's word resulted in the fall of man. He thus became a sinner and received a depraved nature (Rom. 5:12, 19; I Cor. 15:21-22; I Tim. 6:5). One immediate consequence of the Fall was man's separation from God (Pss. 5:4; 11:5; Isa. 59:2; Hab. 1:13). By nature God is holy (the most often mentioned attribute of God; see Exod. 15:11; Lev. 19:2; Pss. 99:9; 145:21; Isa. 6:3; I Pet. 1:16; Rev. 4:8; 6:10; 15:4; et al.); therefore He cannot tolerate sin. Thus sin brought about a breach between holy God and sinful, fallen man.
The Love of God
Because God is also a God of love, He provided a way of redemption. God chose Abraham and his descendants to prepare man for the coming Redeemer, Jesus Christ. In the beginning of his gospel, John writes that "the Word [Jesus] was made flesh and dwelt among us . . ., full of grace and truth. . . . And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:14-17). God first showed man his need for salvation through the Mosaic Law. Although they were the Chosen People, the Jews learned throughout their history that the best they could do was to teeter-totter between good and evil. They needed something more than laws to make them good; they needed a new nature. God sent His Son as the perfect Man when the "fulness of the time was come" to redeem fallen man (Gal. 4:4). When Jesus was about thirty, He began His ministry. His mission was to establish a new way for God to deal with man. He was to become "the mediator of the new covenant" (Heb. 12:24; 8:8, 13; Luke 16:16; Rom. 10:4) of "grace and truth" (John 1:17; cf. I Pet. 1:10; 2 Tim. 2:1).
Let us now look at Jesus' teachings in more detail. After focusing on them, we will show that the apostles taught the same things in the Epistles.
Jesus Preached Repentance
At the start of His ministry, Jesus preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17) and "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Later He stated, in answering the Pharisees, "They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:31, 32; cf. Matt. 9:12, 13; Mark 2:17). When Jesus was asked whether the Galilaeans who suffered at the hand of Pilate "were sinners above all men," He said, "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).
In response to the Pharisees' accusing Jesus of eating with sinners, He said there would be more "joy . . . in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance" (Luke 15:7). He told them that "the men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here" (Matt. 12:41; cf. Luke 11:32). Jesus warned the cities where He did many "mighty works," saying, "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes" (Matt. 11:21; cf. Luke 10:13-14). Jesus then told a parable about a man's son who, when asked whether he would work, said, "I will not: but afterward he repented, and went" (Matt. 21:29). A changed mind is the outcome of repenting. These Scriptures show that sinners who do not follow God's will can find help. They need to repent; that is, they must turn from their sin and to God, and there they will find grace to enable them to follow His will (Titus 2:11, 12).
John the Baptist told the multitudes to "bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance" (Luke 3:8; cf. Matt. 3:8). Fruit is a figurative term that refers to good works, that is, obeying God's will. Just as fruit is a product of a fruit tree, good works are the natural outcome of repentance. John told his hearers, "The axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (v. 9). Lack of fruit can have serious consequences.
In a parable Jesus spoke of two sons being asked to work in a vineyard. One son responded, "I will not: but afterward he repented and went" (Matt. 21:29). The other son said he would go, but didn't. What counted was not the promise to work but actually doing the work. The same is true of repentance. What counts in real repentance is a change of mind with a change of direction.
Jesus Preached the Kingdom of God
Early in His ministry, passing through Samaria, "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14, 15; see also Matt. 4:23-25). Jesus immediately drew popular support. The people "were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark 1:22; cf. 7:29).
Throughout his ministry, Jesus explained what was required of man. Central to His message was His preaching about the kingdom of God. The kingdom was not new to the Jewish people, for they knew God desired to rule over His people. However, they thought in terms of a political sovereignty. But the kingdom required much; it required God's sovereign rule among His people. Today the kingdom is a spiritual one, where God rules in the hearts of those who by grace follow Jesus Christ.
Jesus taught about the meaning of the kingdom early in His ministry. In the Lord's Prayer, found in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His disciples to pray: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10; Luke 11:2). For the Christians, God's kingdom and doing His will are tied together.
Jesus never gave a definition of the kingdom but taught what it was like through parables. It is like sown seed that can be snatched away, choked out by weeds, or grow to maturity and produce a crop (Matt. 13:3-9, 18-30, 36-43; cf. Mark 4:3-20; Luke 8:4-15). The kingdom of God would coexist with evil and the evil one, the devil. The kingdom is also like a grain of mustard (Matt. 13:31, 32; cf. Mark 4:30-32), and like leaven, growing from something small to a great work throughout the world (Matt. 13:33; cf. Luke 13:20, 21). The kingdom is also like a treasure hidden in a field (Matt. 13:44) and like a fine pearl (v. 45), which is worth an all-out effort to learn about and obtain. This does not mean that entrance can be earned, but that the seeker should repent, believe, and follow Jesus unreservedly. The kingdom is like a fishing net containing both bad and good fish when caught, but in the end the bad are thrown out (vv. 47-50). Only at the end will the godly followers of Christ and the ungodly be separated. In summary, the kingdom of God will exist side-by-side with evil, but the "Potentate [Sovereign] Lord, holy and true," in the end will have His way (Rev. 6:10 RSV; cf. I Tim. 6:15; Acts 4:24), and the children of the King will live in a glorious kingdom.
Jesus Preached the New Birth
The spiritual kingdom, established by God's empowering grace and the work of the Holy Spirit, requires a radical change in men and women to be able to submit to their King and do His will.
This need to be "born again" puzzled Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He told Jesus, "We know thou art a teacher come from God" (John 3:2). Jesus told him "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (v. 3). Nicodemus asked Jesus, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (vv. 4-6). Jesus emphasized to be "born of water and of the Spirit" because what is "born of the Spirit is spirit" (v. 6).
 The meaning of "born of water," it would seem, refers to the issue at hand--the kingdom. Since John the Baptist tied repentance and preparedness to entering the kingdom to water baptism, surely Jesus must have had this in mind. After all, even the King was baptized, not as an act of repentance, but as a sign of His identification with the prepared people and the kingdom.
Jesus went on to tell Nicodemus, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (vv. 7, 8; Gal. 4:29; I Pet. 1:23; Titus 3:5). There is a mystery involved in being "born again," as there is a mystery about the wind. Miraculously, the Holy Spirit operates on the soul, making a telling impact on a person's will, desires, and values, giving him a new direction to his life. The person turns from his natural inclination to rebel against God to an earnest desire to obey God. How this occurs and what blending there is of truth, intellect, and the Holy Spirit's operations is beyond human understanding. We know, however, that these work together to produce an effect clearly visible in an individual's life.
Later Jesus said that "it is the spirit that quickeneth [gives life]; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63; cf. II Cor. 3:6). The Holy Spirit and the Word bring about the birth of a new spiritual man in the believer.
The results of the new birth can be seen in the parable of the sower. The seeds "fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold" (Matt. 13:8). Jesus explained, "He that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirty" (Matt. 13:23). Those who hear the gospel and understand it will have a new birth that brings about a change that produces good fruit--the doing of God's will.
We remember Jesus said, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3). The new birth creates a complete change in a person's life. The Christian will be childlike because of his new birth, and will have a complete change in his willingness to learn. He will listen to the Word and accept its teachings without questioning them. The new birth will make him to become a "child of God" (cf. Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:17). They must forget about being great and become as little children to enter this kingdom.
Jesus Preached Faith
Besides speaking to Nicodemus about man's need to be born again, Jesus spoke about the need to believe--to have faith in who He was and the message He was to preach. Jesus spoke, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:14-15). Later Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. . . . this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (6:35, 40).
When one of His friends died, Jesus restored him to life. During this event Jesus explained, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:25, 26). Jesus, unlike anyone before or after Him, is the source of life and of resurrection from the dead. Neither life nor resurrection exists apart from Him. Victory over death is possible only for those who believe in Him, and act on their belief.
Jesus said clearly that the results of hearing Him have eternal consequences:
If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. John 12:47-50
Jesus Preached Discipleship
Throughout His ministry Jesus called men to follow Him and become His disciples. A disciple is a learner, pupil, follower, apprentice, adherent, etc. The four Gospels contain many teachings of Jesus that focus on discipleship.
When Christ said to Peter, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men," there was action. "And they straightway left their nets, and followed him." Jesus then saw two brothers, James and John, mending nets and called them. "They immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him" (Matt. 4:19-22; cf. Mark 1:16-20). Jesus told Philip, "Follow me" (John 1:43). The Greek verb for "follow" used here means becoming a lifelong follower of Christ. Jesus used the term frequently (see Matt. 8:22; 9:9; 10:38; 16:24; 19:21, 28; Mark 2:14; 8:34; 10:21; Luke 5:11; 9:23, 59-62; 18:22; John 10:4, 27; 12:26; 21:19, 22; I Pet. 2:21).
Matthew exemplifies the type of response Jesus sought. This tax collector was sitting at his place of business when Jesus said to him, "Follow me. And he arose, and followed him" (Matt. 9:9; Mark 2:13-17). Matthew, one of the "publicans and sinners" (Matt. 9:11), repented, changed his life, and became a devoted disciple. According to Luke, Jesus said to him, "Follow me. And he left, and rose up, and followed him" (Luke 5:27-28). The call to follow was marked by a willing response and immediate action. He left his secular work and committed his life to following Jesus.
Matthew wrote that after the Sermon on the Mount, great crowds followed Him. Finally, to get away from them, He decided to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. As He was ready to leave, two came to Him saying they would follow Him (Matt. 8:18-22). Luke wrote that when Jesus was not welcome in a Samaritan village, they moved on towards Jerusalem. As they were traveling, Luke says three volunteered to follow (Luke 10:57-62). The two Matthew mentioned appear to be the first two Luke wrote about. Jesus' response to them indicates what is involved in discipleship. Those who want to accept His call should count the cost involved.
When the first person approached Jesus, he was quick to say, "Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest" (Luke 9:57; Matt. 8:19). Luke identifies this person only as a man, whereas Matthew says he was a scribe. He would therefore have been a learned person, and surely knew about Jesus' teachings. Matthew's introduction of the second person, "another of the disciples," suggests he was a disciple. Anyway, this scribe/disciple's quick volunteering may had been an impulse response due to his knowing about Jesus. Jesus' response was for him to consider the cost: "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" (Luke 9:57, 58; cf. Matt. 8:19, 20). Jesus was homeless, and this may had contributed to Him being a Man of sorrows. To follow Him could be costly, and men need to consider it before starting out.
The second man, identified by Matthew as being a disciple (Matt. 8:21), accepted Jesus' call to follow Him, but he wanted to do a seemingly reasonable thing first: "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father" (Luke 9:59). Being a disciple he knew Jesus' teachings, yet he thought he could do this first and follow later. Jesus responded, "Let the dead bury their own: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God" (v. 60). There was something more important to do. Jesus called this disciple to a service of preaching. Since Matthew fixed his story just before the seventy were sent out and returned from preaching (Matt. 10), it suggests that the call to preach was in both of their minds. This service to God and fellow men had to be carried out without delay.
Luke wrote about a third person, who had a similar request for a delay: "Lord, I will follow thee: but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house" (v. 61). This would-be disciple was soon told that nothing may come between him and his following the Lord. There can be no delay. As Jesus noted, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (v. 62). Again we see one ready to follow, yet not ready. His delay may seem reasonable, yet it involved the risk of his family influencing him otherwise (cf. Matt. 10:37). Discipleship can be a hard way. One must count the cost and not look back after taking up the cross.
When Jesus sent out His twelve apostles to preach "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 10:7), and to do the works He was doing, He gave instructions concerning discipleship. The disciples would be "as sheep in the midst of wolves" (v. 16), and should expect opposition and persecution. This illustrates the general rule that "the disciple is not above his master [teacher]" (v. 24). In this case, the disciples could expect the same treatment as their Master was receiving.
Jesus then told them, "Think not that I come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). There would be conflict in building the kingdom, and the expected peace would not come immediately (cf. Isa. 9:2-6). "On earth" refers to men in general. The lack of peace results from all men not responding to Jesus' call to follow Him. The opposition may occur even in their own household (Matt. 10:35, 36). Jesus next states two principles: "He that loveth [a member of his family] . . . more than me is not worthy of me" (v. 37), "and he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me" (v. 38).
In one sense, the cross was Jesus' special mission in life. Disciples, in this sense, need not expect to take the literal cross Jesus took and be literally crucified. Yet the disciples can expect opposition, and even death. We are to devote ourselves to following God's mission for our lives, and this entails the outworking of the Great Commission and all that includes. If one seeks to avoid this, "he that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt. 10:39).
Later, after telling His disciples that He must suffer and be killed in Jerusalem, Jesus told them similarly, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt. 16:24, 25; cf. Mark 8:34-9:1; Luke 9:23-27; 14:27; 17:33). Deny himself means to disown one's personal desires and yield oneself completely to following the Lord, even if it means taking up one's own cross. If one tries to avoid his cross and thus save his life, he will lose his life in the end. To be willing to lose his life for the Lord's sake, one will find it. Thus taking up one's cross and following Christ is an all important and necessary part of redemption.
In another instance, when great multitudes accompanied Jesus, He turned to them and spoke a similar message. There is a need to "hate" family members and one's own life: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26; cf. 12:51-53). These seem like hard words, but it is true that His disciples must lay aside interests that prevent full surrender and total loyalty to Christ. This "hate" can be understood by comparing it to the love Jesus demanded. He told His disciples, "A man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:36, 37). Disciples must love Jesus above all others. Faithfulness and loyalty to Jesus Christ must transcend all family relationships and one's own desires.
Nothing is to stand in the way of following Christ. Jesus said, "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27). He then mentioned that a person intending to build a tower will first estimate its cost to be sure he can finish it, and that no king would go to war without first considering if he could win. "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (v. 33). Discipleship and salvation are serious matters and require a full commitment at the start and putting everything else in second place throughout life. Jesus Christ must be first place in the disciple's life.
Those who follow will change their walk and be free of sin. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). Some Jews, upon hearing this, questioned Him. Jesus told other "Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32). These believers told Jesus they were Abraham's children and not in bondage, and asked Him, "How sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?" (v. 33). Jesus told them, "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" (v. 34). The disciple is not to be a slave of sin, but a son of God who loves to do his Father's will. This freedom to obey is true freedom.
Jesus noted that the example of sheep could help us to understand discipleship. When the "porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. . . . The sheep follow him. . . . A stranger will they not follow" (John 10:3-5). Later Jesus explained, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life: and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (vv. 27, 28).
In John 15, Jesus explains how fruit bearing relates to discipleship. "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." Then He explains, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. . . . If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (vv. 5, 8-10).
Lest some think discipleship is a burden, Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30). How can discipleship be easy? The answer lies in the rebirth experience. The disciple's inner nature is changed so that he desires to do God's will; thereby he is not burdened but finds righteousness, peace, and joy (John 14:27; 16:33; Rom. 14:17; 15:13; Gal. 5:22, et al.). The inner change removes the burden, even though the disciple may suffer for the cause of Christ (Matt. 10:16-25; Luke 10:3; 21:5-19; Rom. 8:17; Phil. 1:29, 30; 3:10; II Tim. 2:12; I Pet. 4:12-14; 5:10).
Discipleship is a narrow and hard way that is quite different from what many picture Christianity to be. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:13-14; cf. Luke 13:23-24). Discipleship is not a burden or a wide way, but it is the way that leads to eternal life.
Jesus Christ: The Only Way
Jesus taught that He was the only way to everlasting life. Jesus said it was God's will that "every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him [Jesus], may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40; cf. v. 47). We can see Jesus because He is the Light (1:9; 3:19) that frees man from his sins, so that he no longer walks in the darkness but in the light. He also said, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (8:12; cf. 9:5; 12:35, 36). In response to a question, Jesus told Thomas, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (14:5). These teachings leave no doubt that there is only one way.
Jesus spoke to the Jews who had believed in Him: "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32). He explained that "whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" (v. 34). The person who is a "servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (vv. 35, 36). To be free means freedom from the power and the eternal consequences of sin that enslaves men. Jesus promised, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death" (v. 51). This is true freedom.
Those who seek eternal life must enter by the Door. Jesus used this metaphor to describe the purpose of His being; "He that enterth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep" (John 10:1, 2). The sheepfold was a fenced enclosure with a door to enter; Jesus entered so others might have life. He then became the Door for others to enter. He said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved. . . . I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. . . . Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again" (vv. 9-11, 17; cf. v. 15). In the kingdom Jesus is the only door since He is the One who gave His life so repentant men can be saved.
When Lazarus, His close friend, died, Jesus restored him to life. During this event Jesus told Martha, when she was concerned about her brother's death, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:25, 26). Since Jesus is the source of life and resurrection from the dead, neither life nor resurrection exists apart from Him. Victory over death is possible only for those who believe in Him.
Jesus spoke clearly that the results of hearing Him have eternal consequences. He said He came "to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:47, 48).
Jesus' purpose was to save the sinner, but if the sinner rejected Him, there was no other way to have eternal life. The sinner will be judged by what he rejected--the word Jesus bore. Judgment will occur on the basis of God's authority. He empowered Jesus to forgive sins, as He bore witness early in His ministry (Mark 2:10; Luke 7:48).
Peter told the rulers and elders that Jesus Christ, whom they crucified and God raised, was the chief corner stone, and that "neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). There is no other name, that is, no one else who could save them. If one wants to be saved from his sins, he needs to turn to Jesus Christ for help.
His Mighty Works
The Gospels record many instances of Jesus performing mighty works. For example, Matthew mentioned ten specific healings and one instance of power over natural forces in chapters 8 and 9 of his gospel. Jesus healed the leper (Matt. 8:2-4), healed the centurion's paralyzed servant (vv. 5-13), healed Peter's mother-in-law of a fever (vv. 14, 15), healed many with demons (v. 16), calmed the storm (vv. 23-27), healed two demoniacs (vv. 28-34), healed a paralytic (9:1-8), healed the woman with a hemorrhage (v. 20), raised the ruler's daughter from the dead (vv. 18-26), healed two blind men (vv. 27-30), and healed the mute demoniac (vv. 32-34).
The above are but a few of the miracles recorded in the Gospels. The four Gospels specifically mention in detail some thirty-five miracles and briefly mention many more. As John wrote, "Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book" (John 20:30). Some of these are contained in the other three Gospels, but most are not recorded. John wrote, "There are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (21:25). When we consider that the four Gospels record only a small fraction of approximately sixty days of Jesus' three-year ministry (roughly 5 percent of the days), and that many, many books have been written on this ministry, it is evident that many more books could be written about the rest of His life and ministry.
These works bore witness to Jesus and gave Him great fame (Matt. 9:8, 26, 31, 33), and resulted in many believing in Him (John 2:11, 23; 3:2; 6:2, 14; 7:31; 9:16, 31-33; 12:18; et al.). Although Jesus performed many miraculous works, these were not the heart of His ministry. In fact, He often tried to keep men from giving too much attention to them by asking those healed to refrain from telling others (Matt. 8:1-4; Mark 3:12; 5:43; 7:36; 8:22-26, 30; 9:9). Often He included a spiritual lesson with the works so men would see beyond the miraculous. Jesus' main ministry was spiritual. He performed miracles to support this ministry, not to hinder it. Finding solutions to physical problems must not interfere with solving man's root problem, that is, his spiritual one.
The Twelve Disciples
Jesus' ministry was not confined to His own labors. He appointed twelve disciples or apostles to represent Him in His ministry. When Jesus sent the twelve out midway in His ministry, He told them to call for repentance: "And they went out, and preached that men should repent" (Mark 6:12). Towards the end of His earthy ministry, Jesus told His disciples, "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead on the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations" (Luke 24:46-47).
Jesus did not write any books about His teachings but made it possible for His apostles to record His word. He promised them that the Holy Spirit "shall teach you [the apostles] all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). He "will guide [the apostles] into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come" (John 16:13; cf. vv. 14, 15; 14:16, 17; 15:26, 27; 17:7, 8, 17, 20; Acts 1:8). In a prayer, Jesus said, "They [the apostles] have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me" (John 17:7, 8). The reality of having received the word and the promise enabled the disciples to recall and teach all the things Jesus had taught them, and to make a written record of His words and works. This enables us to know His teachings and the plan of salvation.
II. Jesus Brought Redemption
Christ Foretold His Death and Resurrection
The Bible teaches that Jesus came into the world to redeem man through His death and resurrection. An early prophecy concerning Jesus' death and resurrection was given in His answer to the Jews' request for a sign. At the time of Jesus' first cleansing of the temple, He told them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). The Jews did not understand the meaning of His words. They thought He was speaking of the Jerusalem temple that took forty-six years to build, but He was speaking of His body. They did not realize Jesus was referring to Himself being raised three days after He gave His life to reconcile man to God. John wrote that when "he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said" (John 2:22).
In response to a question raised by Nicodemus, Jesus said about His future, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:13-15). In this instance He did not mention His death but only the fact of His coming resurrection and its purpose.
The purpose of Jesus' coming to the earth was to save those who would believe in Him (John 12:47; cf. 3:17). He was the Good Shepherd, who came "that [men] might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. . . . I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. . . . This commandment have I received from my Father" (John 10:10-11, 13). Jesus gives us a forward glimpse of the cross, where He would voluntarily give His life in full harmony with the Father's purpose.
In answer to a request for a sign, Jesus stated that none would be given except "the sign of the prophet Jonah . . . as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matt. 12:39-40; cf. 16:4; Jonah 1:17). As we know, Jesus spent only two nights (Friday and Saturday) in the tomb. The three days and three nights Jesus spoke about is a Jewish expression for defining days by numbering nights with days (cf.. Esther 4:16, 5:1).
After Peter's confession that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16), Jesus told the disciples that He "must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Matt. 16:21; cf. Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22). He repeated this to them in Galilee (Matt. 17:22-23; cf. Mark 9:30-31; Luke 9:43-44; 17:25).
When the time came for Jesus to give His life, He prepared to go to Jerusalem for the Passover. Some Pharisees warned Him that Herod planned to kill Him. He told them,
Nevertheless I must walk today, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Luke 13:33-35; cf. Matt. 23:37-39
On His way to the city, Jesus explained more of His plans: "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again" (Matt. 20:18, 19; cf. Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-33). He explained this further when He answered the question of the wife of Zebedee about allowing her two sons to sit on His right and left in His kingdom. He spoke to her about the Gentiles exercising dominion and power:
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matt. 20:26-28; cf. Mark 10:42-45
Jesus' last week was spent in and around Jerusalem with His disciples. Shortly before the Passover, He told His disciples, "The Son of man is betrayed to be crucified" (Matt. 26:2). Then just "before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father," He had a special supper with His disciples (John 13:1). Jesus took bread, broke it, and passed it out saying, "Take, eat; this is my body" (Matt. 26:26). He also took a cup, telling them, "Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament [covenant], which is shed [poured out] for many for the remission [forgiveness] of sins" (vv. 27, 28). He then spoke to them that, "after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee"-referring to His resurrection (v. 32). John writes, in response to Peter's question, Jesus told Peter and the others He was going away, and they could "not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards" (John 13:36).
The leadership in Jerusalem increasingly opposed Jesus. They looked for every opportunity to find fault with Him, hoping to get rid of Him. Not only did Jesus foretell His death, but also the Old Testament foretold some special circumstances surrounding it.
During this time in Jerusalem, Jesus' cleansed the temple again, and continued His teaching. He denounced the leadership in many "woes" before the crowd because they bound heavy burdens on the people; doing deeds only to seen by men; shutting the kingdom up so men could not enter; neglecting the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; being the sons of those who murdered the prophets; etc. (Matt. 23). Because of this revealing rebuke, they increased their efforts to take His life (Matt. 26:3, 4).
The chief priests, scribes, and elders soon had Jesus arrested and brought to trial. At trial false witnesses made many accusations against Jesus, but none were strong enough to cause Him to be sentenced to death. Then after being accused of saying, "I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days" (Matt. 26:61), the high priest asked Him to tell "whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God" (v. 63). According to the law, He had to answer; so Jesus spoke the truth. He said, "Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (v. 64). Because of Jesus' own words, the Jews accused Him of blasphemy.
Pilate, the Roman governor, found "no fault in this man" (Luke 23:4). He wanted Jesus to go free, but felt pressure not to release Him. It was the custom for the governor to release a prisoner at the feast. Pilate thought he could free Jesus by offering to release Him or Barabbas, a notorious robber and insurrectionist. Pilate asked the people if they should release "Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?" (Matt. 27:17). "The chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus" (v. 20). And the people did this. The governor then asked, "What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ? They all said unto him, Let him be crucified" v. 22, cf. v. 23). Because Pilate feared a riot he gave in. But before he gave Jesus over, he symbolically washed his hands showing he was clean of their illegal act (v. 24; cf. Pss. 26:6; 73:13). He then told them, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person" (v. 24). And "when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified" (v. 26).
Jesus was quickly prepared for crucifixion. Crucifixion was the cruelest form of death ever devised. Designed to make death as lingering and painful as the body could endure, it was also considered the most shameful punishment possible. Jesus-the Innocent One, the Son of God, the Creator-by enduring crucifixion died a death of untold physical and mental suffering. To us the physical pain seems enough, but the mental suffering must have been beyond words when one realizes who Jesus is and what He endured as men rejected Him, while He suffered for their sins.
Jesus, the Christ or Messiah, was lead to a place called Golgotha ("the place of a skull," Matt. 27:33), and there He was crucified. There, as Jesus hung on the cross, He faced more jeers from the very people whose hope lay in Him. The passersby shouted, "Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross" (v. 40). The Jewish leaders also mocked Him: "He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now" (vv. 42, 43; cf. Mark 15:29-32; Luke 23:35-37).
Jesus endured as men rejected Him, while He suffered on the cross for their sins. He refused the mixture of strong wine and myrrh, which would have deadened the pain. He came into the world to die for men's sins, and He bore the full extent of suffering. Since His death was a voluntary sacrifice, He prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). He desired forgiveness for those who brought about His death.
Darkness gathered over the land for the last three hours Jesus hung on the cross (Matt. 27:45; Luke 23:44). We are not told the cause or the meaning of this darkness. But we do know one aspect of it. It was a testimony that He was the Light of the world. And as we will see later, it was one of the events that caused the centurion and other soldiers who crucified Christ to say, "Truly this was the Son of God" (v. 54).
The darkness brought a deep sense of loneliness to Christ. About the ninth hour (three o'clock in the afternoon), Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani," which means, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (v. 46; cf. Mark 15:33-35). This has also been translated, "My God, My God, to what sort of persons hast thou left me?"
Jesus knew when He was near the point of death. John wrote, "Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith I thirst" (John 19:28). Suffering thirst, He needed a drink to moisten His throat for His last cry. At the time when the Passover lamb was slaughtered, Jesus cried with a loud voice, "It is finished," and yielded His spirit (John 19:30; Luke 23:46). Jesus' death finished His redemptive work. By giving His blood, the life of the body, He died once for all men's sins (Heb. 9:12, 14, 26; cf. Rom. 6:10).
At the moment of Jesus' death, the temple veil, which separated the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, ripped from top to bottom into two pieces. The torn veil symbolized the end to the old covenant's system of sacrifice and worship. The temple was no longer needed after He accomplished His work on the cross. The torn veil had served its purpose in preparing man for the Christ. The torn veil further-and more significantly-signifies that access to God is now available to all who enter through the Door and the Bread of Life. There is no further need for additional sacrifices or for a high priest since Christ "offered one sacrifice for sins for ever" (Heb. 10:12; cf. 7:26-28). Other events, such as earthquakes and the opening of graves, also occurred at Jesus' death. Some dead persons rose after Jesus' resurrection and appeared in Jerusalem (Matt. 27:51-54; Mark 15:38). A centurion, seeing these things, "feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God" (Matt. 27:54; cf. Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47). The multitudes assembled "to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned" (Luke 23:48).
 Yet the temple and its sacrificial system did continue in operation until A.D. 70. For a time even the disciples frequented it (Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:20, 25, 42; 21:26).
Since the Jews did not want the bodies (Jesus, and the two criminals crucified with Him) to hang on crosses over the approaching Sabbath day, they asked Pilate to break their legs to hasten their death. This request was granted, "But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. . . . For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, 'Not a bone of him shall be broken.' And again another scripture says, 'They shall look on him whom they have pierced'" (John 19:33-37; Exod. 12:46; Num. 9:12; Ps. 34:20; Zech. 12:10).
With the Sabbath rapidly approaching, one of Jesus' disciples, a rich man named Joseph, asked Pilate for Jesus' body. After Joseph received permission to bury it, he and Nicodemus wrapped the body with linen cloth and spices according to Jewish burial custom, and placed it in a new tomb near the place of crucifixion. The tomb was closed by rolling a huge stone across the opening (Matt. 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31-42).
The next day the Jews, remembering that Jesus said He would rise again after three days, asked Pilate to have the tomb sealed and a guard of Roman soldiers placed there (a "guard" was four to sixteen soldiers). The Jews feared Jesus' disciples would steal His body and tell the people, "He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first" (Matt. 27:64). Pilate granted their wish, and instructed the soldiers to "make it as sure as ye can" (v. 65) so there would be no way for the disciples to remove the body from the tomb.
Since there had not been sufficient time to prepare Jesus' body for burial, some disciples decided to return after the Sabbath to complete the burial. At dawn Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to Jesus' tomb.
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Matt. 28:1-6; cf. Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-7
The Gospels tell of several other instances of Jesus being seen soon after this by His disciples. During the next forty days Jesus met often with His disciples and others (I Cor. 15:3-8). Finally, as He and the apostles were together at the Mount of Olives near Bethany, the time approached for His ascension. He explained that the Holy Spirit would come to give them power to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
When he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:8-11
When Jesus Christ "was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9), His earthly ministry ended after lasting about three years. This marked the beginning of the kingdom and the church. The disciples received the Great Commission from Jesus at this time. He told them, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:18-20) .
 Paul associates "the washing of regeneration" with the three, God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, in Titus 3:4-6.
John, in very familiar words, summarizes what happened: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:16-17).
Christ's Death Was Suffering
After His resurrection, Jesus spoke to two disciples on the way to Emmaus about Old Testament prophecy, saying, "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day" (Luke 24:46). Several times during His ministry Jesus spoke of His suffering: "that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things . . . and be killed" (Matt. 16:21; cf. Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22); "It is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things" (Mark 9:12; cf. Matt. 17:12); "must he [Jesus] suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation" (Luke 17:25; cf. Mark 9:12); "I [Jesus] have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer" (Luke 22:15). After His death and resurrection, Christ told His disciples "all things must be fulfilled" (Luke 24:44) in the Scriptures, and then opened their eyes so they understood them. He summed these teachings up: "it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead" (v. 46). His suffering is also emphasized in the following Scriptures: "suffer" is referred to in Acts 3:18; 26:23; Rom. 8:17; "suffered" in Luke 24:26; Acts 17:3; I Thess. 2:14, 15; Heb. 2:18; 5:8; 9:26; 13:12; I Pet. 2:21, 23; 3:18; 4:1; and "suffering" in Phil. 3:10; Heb. 2:9, 10; I Pet. 1:11; 4:13; 5:1. Scripture does not teach Jesus was punished because Jesus was sinless, and therefore innocent. We know the innocent can only suffer.
Many misunderstand what Christ did for man on the cross. They believe that man's sins were transferred to Christ, and He was punished for them. This view began with a misunderstanding of the Book of Leviticus. The Lord told Moses to tell the people that when a man brings an offering to the Lord, "he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him" (Lev. 1:4; cf. 3:2; 4:4). This ritual act does not signify the transfer of guilt. Only an animal without blemish was chosen for sacrifice. This "perfect" animal, although non-moral, was considered clean, and symbolized ethical perfection. If sins were transferred to the animal, it would been considered unclean, thus not qualified for a sacrifice. Although Moses does not mention the coming Messiah, we see this symbolized ethical perfection presence in the Messiah, the clean, sinless One. Only He could be wounded and bruised for our iniquities/sins.
The idea of transfer guilt/sins comes from a misunderstanding of what Aaron did on the Day of Atonement: "Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness" (Lev. 16:21). In this unique ritual act a transfer of iniquities, transgressions, and sins by laying on of hands clearly took place; but the scapegoat was not sacrificed. "The goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness" (16:22). In being sent away into the wilderness, this symbolically showed removal of all their iniquities out of sight. This act covered only inadvertent or ritual sins. Other sins were not covered: "He [that] despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him" (Num. 15:31). The scapegoat was thus not a representation of the coming Messiah; it did not suffer for the man's sins.
The Leviticus emphasis was on giving of life. "The life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Lev. 17:11). It was not on death. Giving of this "life" sacrifice was a means to "cover" for sins because the life-giving blood was sprinkled on the altar so the person could come to the Holy God. The sins were not forgiven. Forgiveness came through the suffering sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.
Before we look into the New Testament's interpretation of Christ's suffering on the cross, let us state there is no simple, singular explanation of it. As Wenger wrote, "Many attempts have been made to give a single interpretation of the purpose and results of the death of Jesus on the cross. . . . The New Testament, however, presents six or seven accomplishments of Jesus on Calvary, and it is impossible to reduce these to a single theory without seriously weakening the total significance of Christ's death on the cross" (J. C. Wenger, Introduction to Theology, pp. 200, 201). With this in mind, let us now look at the things accomplished on the cross.
First of all, at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry, His death was mentioned. John the Baptist saw "Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Those who heard the phrase "The Lamb of God" knew it referred to sacrifice, especially when joined with "who takes away the sin of the world!" This Lamb, as the Old Covenant's sacrifice, was perfect. He "knew no sin" (II Cor. 5:21; I John 3:5; I Pet. 2:22); thereby He could sacrificially suffer for man's sins.
As mentioned earlier, Jesus Himself foretold His death, telling "his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things . . . and be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Matt. 16:21). As the Passover approached, Jesus had His disciples made preparations for them to eat. At the meal, "Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22, 23; Luke 22:19, 20). In the Mosaic Law, the blood poured out (Lev. 4:7, 8; 17:11), and the covenant (Exod. 24:8) all referred to the Passover (Lev. 23:18). Later the Apostles made reference to "Christ our passover [paschal lamb] also hath been sacrificed" (I Cor 5:7) and as our being redeemed by the "precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Pet. 1:19). Likewise, in a scene in heaven there was only One who could open the scroll. John wrote, "in the midst of the throne . . . stood a Lamb as it had been slain" (Rev. 5:6) who took the book and opened it (see 5:7-6:1).
Paul wrote about Christ being an "offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour" (Eph. 5:2). The author of Hebrews writes about "intercession"; Christ "offered up himself" (Heb. 7:27). Christ "appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (9:26); "he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever" (10:12; cf. v. 26).
Paul used the Greek term hamartia in two places (Rom. 8:3 and II Cor. 5:21) in a way that may appear odd to us. This term, as the equivalent Hebrew term, can be translated "sin" or "sin-offering." The early Christians, being familiar with the Septuagint's (the Greek Old Testament) use of it in Leviticus 4, understood these two meanings. The meaning needs to be determined from the context. Thus when Paul writes in Romans 8:3, "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin [hamartia], condemned sin in the flesh," they understood He was sent "for sin," that is, to give His life on the cross as a sin-offering that condemned man's sin. Newer translations follow this meaning here. The NIV has "to be a sin offering" (cf. NAB, also ASV, NASV, and RSV footnotes) and the NEB "as a sacrifice for sin."  In II Corinthians 5:21, where Paul writes that God "made [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin," it would be natural for early Christians to think "to be sin [hamartia]" meant Christ's death was a "sin-offering." These Christians knew "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (v. 19), and that this occurred on the cross. They knew too that Christ, the Holy and sinless Son of God, was never mentioned elsewhere to be made "sin."
 The sin-offering translation is supported by Arndt and Gingrich, Wm. Black, F. F. Bruce, Adam Clarke, Wm. Newell, J. C. Wenger, et al.).
The theme of Christ, the Lamb of God, being a sacrifice is referred to several times throughout the New Covenant Scriptures. Let us look closer at what this accomplished.
Christ's Substitutionary Suffering
Christ's death was vicarious (meaning Christ did something on behalf of us on Calvary) or substitutionary, that is, He suffered and died on behalf of sinners so they might receive eternal life. Six hundred years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, this substitutionary act was announced by the prophet Isaiah, who "saw [Christ's] glory, and spake of him" (John 12:41). Isaiah says,
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6
This crystal-clear messianic prophecy shows Christ's death as a substitution for the sinner. As Paul wrote, Christ "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25); and "in due time Christ died for the ungodly . . . Christ died for us" (5:6, 8). Christ died for the ungodly, the sinner, for enemies (v. 10), that is, those who stood condemned before God. His death made it possible for man to be justified or righteous before God (v. 9). This "for" another means Christ death was a substitution act; His death was for others. The Son did not need to die since He was the sinless, eternal One, but He did so that man could be forgiven. His death was a substitution in the eyes of the law so God's moral government was satisfied.
As Peter wrote, "Christ . . . suffered for us . . . Who did no sin . . . bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (I Pet. 2:21-24; cf. Isa. 53); and Christ "once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" (3:18). Christ's suffering, by the substitution of the just for the unjust, brought us back to God through forgiveness. As the author of Hebrews wrote, "we see Jesus . . . suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). Because of this, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).
Let us look at other terms associated with Christ's "sacrifice."
Ransom, Redemption, Propitiation, etc.
Ransom is a term Jesus used to describe His own mission: "the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28; cf. Mark 10:45). The meaning of ransom was clarified later by Jesus during the Last Supper. Concerning the cup, Jesus spoke, "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28; cf. Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20). The only other time the term was used is when Paul wrote, "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (I Tim. 2:6). The giving of Christ's life, signified by the shedding of His blood, was a ransom for all sinful men, making it possible for the remission of sins of all who meet the conditions set forth by Himself.
Man has been brought back to God by means of a ransom. The term ransom means something of value paid to obtain the deliverance or release of a captive. Its usage may be observed in Exodus 21:30 and Proverbs 13:8. Jesus used the term in correcting two disciples who requested a place of prominence, telling all the disciples that "whosoever will be chief [great] among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:27, 28; Mark 10:45). The meaning of ransom is clarified later by Jesus, during the Last Supper. Concerning the cup, Jesus spoke, "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28; cf. Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20). The giving of His life, signified by the shedding of His blood, would ransom and result in remission of sins of all who meet the conditions of repentance and faith.
This concept of ransom was used by Paul when he wrote that we are "bought with a price" (I Cor. 6:20; 7:23) and that "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all" (I Tim. 2:5, 6). Peter wrote to exiled Christians that they were "not redeemed [ransomed, NASV, RSV] with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers [futile ways inherited from your fathers]; but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Pet. 1:18, 19).
Redemption is used several times in the Epistles. Paul wrote that we are now "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24; cf. v. 25); "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Eph. 1:7, 8); "our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession" (v. 14); "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (Col. 1:13, 14). The author of the book of Hebrews wrote, "the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, . . . he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions . . .the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:14, 15). The term's basic meaning is "to buy back." Redemption is associated with man being "bought with a price" (I Cor. 6:20; II Pet. 2:1).
The verb "redeemed" is also used at John the Baptist's birth. His father, Zechariah, prophesied, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David" (Luke 1:68-69). Later, when Christ was falsely condemned, the Jews "delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done" (24:20, 21).
Redemption and ransom mean Christ gave His life and was raised to make it is possible for man to come back to God. From Israel's background, these terms meant something of value was paid to obtain deliverance or release of a captive (Exod. 21:30; Prov. 13:8). From the early Christian contact with slavery, these terms meant release of a person from slavery. This is supported by Paul's use of a slave metaphor in Romans 6: "ye were the servants of sin . . . being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. . . servants to God" (6:18, 22). Jesus' own life, that is, His blood, was this "value" given for the repentant believer's release from the power of sin.
In understanding what happened, we should focus on what He did and not so much on other areas of these concepts. Some like to ask about other details, such as, To whom was the ransom paid? This question is hard to answer because the Scriptures do not give a direct answer. The New Testament writers and early church taught that ransom emphasized that someone other than man paid for his release from the consequences of sin, and that this release was very costly, requiring the highest possible price, the blood of God's only Son. This seems to have satisfied the government or justice of God and freed sinful man so he could be forgiven and enter into fellowship with God. Some debate whether redemption involved paying anyone for the release.
Neither the New Testament nor the early church formulated a theory to explain to whom the ransom and redemption ("buy back") was paid. They were content to accept the fact of ransom and emphasized this without any thought to explain its operation. There are several theories that try to explain the meaning of the redemption and ransom process. Some of these are based on Anselm's (1033-1109) "satisfaction" theory. Most theories are defective because the Bible is silent on this matter.
Propitiation is used in older English versions (KJV, ASV, etc.): "Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins" (Rom. 3:24, 25 "he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2); God "loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (4:10). Webster defines the term as "the act of making atonement" and "to make complete satisfaction for, atone for sin; as expiate sin." The thought behind propitiation is that through Christ's death God's holy wrath against sin is satisfied so that that man can be reconciled to God.
This term, as many New Testament terms, comes from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) and means mercy-seat covering. The Law demanded that sinners die for their sins. This demand was satisfied for the nation of Israel on the Day of Atonement, when the high priest took "two goats, and present[ed] them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation" (Lev. 16:7). There lots were cast to determine which one was for "the Lord" and which one would be "the scapegoat" (v. 8). The one the Lord's lot fell on would be offered as a sin-offering. The high priest would sprinkle its blood on the ark of the covenant's mercy seat, located in the Holy of Holies (Lev. 16:13, 14; 17:11; Exod. 25:17-22; Heb. 9:5). The blood symbolized the life of the body; when blood left the body, death occurred. This blood covered the sins of the people until the Messiah's suffering and sacrifice would take them away. The second goat was set free to symbolize the removal of sins by the sacrifice of the coming Christ. The book of Hebrews teaches that just as the high priest entered the Holiest Place with the blood of the sacrifice, so Christ with "his own blood he entered in once into the holy place [the heavenly tabernacle], having obtained eternal redemption for us" (9:12; cf. vv. 13, 14, 24, 26, 28). Christ the Passover Lamb "offered one sacrifice for sins for ever" (10:12; cf. v. 14).
Jesus Conquered Satan so We Can Overcome
Several Scriptures teach that Jesus conquered Satan and the power of evil. Jesus Christ came in human form, yet was divine, so "that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14, 15); "The Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (I John 3:8); "I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you" (Matt. 12:28); "To turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:18). This was the fulfillment of God's promise made to man after the Fall. Jesus was the One God was speaking about when He said to Satan that He (Christ) "shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Gen. 3:15).
This is just the beginning of satanic problems. In the end the devil will be cast down. John wrote in the Book of Revelation, "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Rev. 12:10, 11).
Jesus' death enables Christians to overcome their "flesh" or "old nature." As Paul wrote, "Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Rom. 6:6); "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [Because of this] let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (vv. 11-13). Paul wrote of his own personal experience: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). Later he wrote, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (5:16) and "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (v. 24).
Christ enables all men to be reconciled to God, and to be a part of God's chosen people. This is shown in the following Scriptures: "In Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. . . made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us. . . to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby" (Eph. 2:13-16; cf. Rom. 5:1; Col. 1:20-22); "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17); "All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" (II Cor. 5:18, 19). Through reconciliation the enmity of man towards God is done away with, and a peaceful relationship is restored.
Salvation is another term used to describe the results of Christ's suffering. Although this term is used more often in the Old Testament, it finds major use in the New too. In Romans, Paul uses the term in his theme of the book. He writes, "The gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16). He also writes about "the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 2:8, 9); "the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (Titus 2;10); "salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (3:15). The author of Hebrews writes that Christ "became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb. 5:9). And Peter writes, "That the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation" (II Pet. 3:15).
The Greek word translated "salvation" is soteria and carries the meaning of salvation, deliverance, preservation, safety. It is an Old Testament term. We see this when the Samaritan woman said to Jesus, "Salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:22), and when she said that He "is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world" (v. 42). There are many statements that Christ is the Saviour (Luke 1:47; 2:11; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Eph. 5:23; Phil. 3:20; et. al.). Paul reminds us that our Lord "hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (II Tim. 1:9, 10).
God's love for us was manifested by Christ on the cross. As John summarizes, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Paul writes, "The Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). He explained God's love further: "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Rom. 5:6-10). Paul then makes it clear that reconciliation is a "free gift" and that the believer will "receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ" (vv. 17, cf. 15). Grace now reigns "through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (v. 21).
All men can be ransomed, have redemption, overcome the flesh, be reconciled to God, have salvation from their sins, etc., because of what Christ suffered for us on the cross enableing us to be forgiven. All this brings the Christian "joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (Rom. 5:11).
The full implication of some of these teaching are understood by many, so let us study what Acts and the Epistles teach in more detail.
III. Jesus Explains Through the Apostles
In the chapter one of this book we covered what Jesus taught in the Gospels about the kingdom of God, repentance, belief or faith, being born again, discipleship, etc. Let us now look at what the rest of the New Testament teaches on these subjects.
Earlier we wrote about John's statement that Christ brought "grace and truth" (John 1:14, 17) and about our receiving "grace for grace" (v. 16). Let us take a closer look at grace.
Grace is defined as "the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflections in the life" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). The dictionary definition reflects the biblical concept of grace: "unmerited divine assistance given man for his regeneration or sanctification" (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary). It is "unmerited favor," yet it is more. Grace regenerates the sinner into a saint.
Salvation is made available to us through the grace of God, which is appropriated through faith. Paul wrote that we are "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood" (Rom. 3:24; cf. 3:26; 4:16, 24-25; 5:2; Eph. 2:8). The Mosaic Law did not justify, "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace" that we are justified (Rom. 4:16).
After Paul discussed justification by faith and grace in the book of Romans, he emphasized the effect grace has on believers. He did this when he answered the question, "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" (Rom. 6:1). His answer was "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (v. 2). He explained that "we are buried with him [Christ] by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (v. 4). He then went on to explain that "our old man [self] is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (v. 6). Because of this, sin is not to reign in the Christian, "for sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (v. 14). Chapter 6 of Romans clearly shows that grace is powerful enough to produce new life in Christians so that instead of living in sin they will want to walk in newness of life.
Grace will produce change in a person, and if there has been no change, the grace of God has not come upon him. As Paul wrote, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:8-10). The evidence of grace is a changed heart that brings forth good works. We see this aspect of grace stressed in Paul's letter to Titus: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:11-14; see also 3:4-8).
Several Scriptures exemplify how grace produces changes in believers. Let us review some of these here.
Paul's life is an impressive example of grace at work. He persecuted the disciples but was turned to a new way by grace (Acts 9). Years later he wrote about this grace. It was Jesus Christ our Lord from "whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations" (Rom. 1:5). He wrote to the Corinthians that he came to them "in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God" (II Cor. 1:12). It was "according to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation" to help build up this church (I Cor. 3:10). He had persecuted the church, "but by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all" (15:10). To the Ephesians, Paul explained that he was made a minister of the gospel "according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power" (Eph. 3:7). Grace was the force that made persecutor Saul into Paul an apostle and a servant of the Lord. It was God's grace that produced the holiness in his life that they observed.
There are many examples of the operation of grace upon large groups of people. At Antioch the gospel was preached to the Gentiles, and "a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord" (Acts 15:9). When the church at Jerusalem heard this, they sent Barnabas to investigate what had happened. And "when he came, and had seen the grace of God," he knew that God was at work among them (v. 23).
At the Jerusalem conference, which was called to decide how Gentile Christians relate to the law, Peter stated how the Holy Spirit was "purifying their [the Gentile's] hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9). Following this statement, Peter said, "We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved, even as they" (v. 11). Thus we see that cleansing and grace are closely connected.
At Ephesus, Paul closed his speech to a group of elders by commending them "to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Acts 20:32). These leaders were not to remain stagnant. Grace is able to build men up and sanctify them. The term sanctify means "to be made holy," and this is accomplished by the influence of the Holy Spirit upon the person (Rom. 15:16; II Thess. 2:13; I Pet. 1:2). Sanctification is the goal of the redemption brought by Jesus Christ (John 17:17, 19; I Cor. 1:2, 30; 6:11; Eph. 5:26-27; cf. 4:23-24; I Thess. 4:3; 5:23; Heb. 2:11; 10:10; Jude 1). Redemption frees us from sin and brings about a life of holiness (Rom. 6:19, 22; II Cor. 7:1; Eph. 1:4; I Thess. 3:11, 4:7; Heb. 12:10; 12:14; I Pet. 1:15, 16).
To the Corinthian Christians, Paul wrote that he was thankful for "the grace of God which is given you by Christ Jesus," so that they would be enriched. (I Cor. 1:4). These Gentiles came from a heathen background, and by grace they had new, enriched lives as saints. Yes, the Corinthian Church had its problems, but the Corinthian believers were to solve them and continue to grow. They were to "be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you . . . The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all" (II Cor. 13:11-14).
After the Fall, man was not left in a hopeless and sinful condition. Through the love of God, Jesus gave His life and was raised to bring justification by grace to all. Jesus told Paul that he would be sent to the Gentiles "to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:18). Paul was given grace to accomplish his mission. Today we can receive the same grace in our lives, and also receive forgiveness and be sanctified so that we can walk in newness of life as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Earlier we showed that Jesus taught repentance (Matt. 4:17) and that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations" (Luke 24:47). We will now show that repentance was a part of the apostles' teaching, and what it involves.
The Greek word translated "repent" involves a change of mind and turning away from sin. It involves a change of mind about Jesus Christ and about obeying His commandments. It involves a renunciation of sin and turning away from it, and turning toward God and living a life in obedience to His will.
Emphasis on repentance is found throughout the New Testament; it was preached by the apostles and other church leaders. After Peter preached his first sermon, his hearers "were pricked in their heart" and asked, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). He answered "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (v. 38). In his second sermon he preached, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (3:19). Some Bibles translate this as "Repent therefore, and turn again." Later, when he described what Jesus' death meant, Peter said, "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (5:31). When Simon offered money to Peter to buy the gifts of God that marked the Apostolic Age, Peter told him, "Thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I preceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity" (8:21-23). Peter saw in Simon bitterness and iniquity, and therefore he needed a changed of heart and actions, that is, to repent.
Repentance was not meant only for Israel: "God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18). Paul told the men at Athens that God "now commandeth all men every where to repent" (17:30). Paul testified to the Ephesian church leaders about "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (20:21). Repentance and faith were important parts of the Gospel message. Later, when he told King Agrippa about the Gentiles, Paul said, "They should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance" (26:20). Here Paul emphasized that repentance involves turning to God and changing behavior, that is, to do the works that spring from it.
In Romans, Paul wrote that man should not count on God's kindness, forbearance, and patience alone to escape the consequence of sin. Sinners will not escape the judgment of God unless they repent. Men should realize that, as Paul wrote, "the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Rom. 2:4). No one needs to fear judgment because God through His goodness is willing to grant repentance; only failure to repent will lead to condemnation.
When one sees what the holiness of God demands, and His kindness, and recognizes his own sinfulness, he should be grieved. This grief should produce the results that occurred in the Corinthian Church. They "sorrowed to repentance. . . . For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation" (II Cor. 7:10-11).
Peter wrote about the judgment we all face, stating, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering [patient] to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Pet. 3:9). The Lord's desire is that none should perish; therefore He is patient and gracious so that we can repent.
The New Birth
Repentance involves, as noted, a radical change of mind and heart. God's grace works repentance and will bring about a "new birth." We have seen earlier that Jesus said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Explaining how one could be born again, Jesus stated, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (vv. 5-6) .
 R. C. H. Lenski, Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel, Columbus, Ohio: Wartburg Press, 1946, p. 717.
John wrote twice in his first epistle about being "born of God." He wrote, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (I John 3:9-10). Then near the end of the book he wrote, "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not: but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not" (I John 5:18). If one is "born of God," he does not make a practice of disobeying his God. This does not mean that Christians cannot occasionally stumble, but when this happens, "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1:9). God is always merciful and gracious toward His children, and when we sin, He will forgive and cleanse us if we confess our sins.
Paul's writings help us to understand the new birth. He wrote that those "after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Rom. 8:5-6). Things of the flesh come from our inherited sinful nature. Later Paul stated, "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if be that the Spirit of God dwells in you" and "if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Rom. 8:9, 13). To "mortify" causes life to cease, to put a stop to something, to exterminate. The Christian does not walk as he once did. The Spirit brings a new life that is expressed in mind and deeds.
We can see how Paul expressed these same things to others. To the Corinthians he wrote, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Cor. 5:17). To the Ephesians he wrote that the Christian is a "new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:24). Thus the new man is restored to the position he had before the Fall, and is righteous and holy.
In Paul's letter to Titus, he emphasizes grace and the new birth. He wrote that God's grace "bringeth salvation . . . Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; . . . our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (2:11, 12, 14). Grace teaches us to put aside ungodliness and worldly lust. Grace is a central part of Christ's redeeming mission. His very purpose was to redeem man from sin and purify a people zealous for good words. Paul then admonished "to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another" (3:1-3). The new life in Christ through His reforming grace stands in sharp contrast to the old life in sin.
Why the change? Paul wrote, "After that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed [poured out] on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:4-7). The change was due to God's kindness, love, and mercy being active as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit brought them about. This involved regeneration, a translation of the Greek term paliggenesias. This term is a compound of words of palin, meaning "again," and genesis, meaning "birth." Thus it means "again-birth" or "new birth." This is the spiritual and moral renewal of the person. It comes about by the Holy Spirit being "shed" (poured out) on us through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the agent that regenerates and renews the old ungodly life to a godly life.
Peter wrote, "Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (I Pet. 1:22, 23). He then wrote about a change: "Laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (2:1, 2). Although Christians undergo a radical new birth, as newborn babes they still need to grow in Christ.
Repentance and the new birth result in discipleship. As mentioned earlier, a disciple is a learner, pupil, follower, apprentice, adherent, etc. Disciples are to be totally surrendered to Jesus' teachings and are to follow the way of life He wants them to live. As we have seen, Jesus often taught His disciples and followers throughout the Gospels. In the Gospels the word disciple(s) is used over 220 times, and in Acts the term is used some thirty times, showing this term was used frequently throughout the Church.
It is interesting that disciple, or any form of the Greek word mathetes, is not used in the rest of the New Testament. We are not sure why. In ordinary Greek usage mathetes is used for pupils who are in direct contact with their teacher. It has direct reference therefore to the status of Christ's followers while He was on earth. In another sense, we who have not known Christ in the flesh are His pupils too, but in Greek usage it would be strange to call us "disciples" unless we widen its usage somewhat. Nevertheless, Acts does widen the usage of the term in accordance with the Hebrew talmid, which is "pupil, follower, one faithful to a tradition." A talmid chachamim is a pupil of the wise, i.e., someone faithful to the tradition handed to him. 
 Robbert Veen, personal letter, Jan. 2, 1999.
Our concept of discipleship is derived from Scripture but not based exclusively on the Bible's use of the word; if it is, it is based on a limited number of texts in Acts. But it sums up beautifully what a Christian is, and in that sense we can use it as part of our modern terminology.
It need not be a surprise that disciple is not used in the letters because they are addressed to Christians as those "called to be saints" (Rom. 1:7; I Cor. 1:2; cf. Eph. 1:1; 2:19; 4:12). This term is used over 60 times in the Epistles. It is used once in the Gospels to speak of those Old Covenant "saints" that came forth from the grave when Christ died (Matt. 27:52). Along with saints, the terms believer and church are also used. In these words, the abstract meaning of disciple, pupil, is filled in with terms that refer to our status before God and our mission in this world. Discipleship is the word that comprises all of these into one (theological, not biblical) term. It also refers more directly to how people outside the Church might call us: followers of Christ, His disciples. That is the basis for the usage in Acts. An ordinary word in first century religious language is used to describe many particular elements of Jesus Christ, who is the Teacher (suffering with Him, etc.). We have the right to use it in a non-biblical sense as a key word to express what being faithful is all about.
Perhaps too there is another reason the term was not used. The churches the Epistles were written to probably knew the four Gospels' teachings, and from them they knew of Jesus' extensive teachings concerning discipleship. Therefore, it appears the writers did not use the term because they did not go over the same material again.
Although the word "disciple" is not used in the Epistles, the concept is firmly present. The term "follow" and its variations, as well as walk, are used frequently in the Epistles. Paul writes indirectly of following Christ: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (I Cor. 11:1); "my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church" (I Cor 4:17); "Be ye therefore followers of God . . . walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us"(Eph. 5:1, 2); "ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him" (Col. 2:6); "exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God" (I Thess. 4:1).
Peter writes more directly: "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (I Pet. 2:21). John writes, "he [that] abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he [Christ] walked" (I John 2:6).
Paul writes, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5); "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness" (I Thess. 5:5). The concept of following is also expressed by walking: "Now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light" (Eph. 5:8).
The teaching aspect of discipleship is emphasized. Paul writes about "teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Col. 1:28); "the grace of God . . . appeared to all men, Teaching us" (Titus 2:11, 12). He also exhorts to let the "word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom" (Col. 3:18), which would make them disciples.
Paul wrote, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 13:14). He also wrote about pleasing your neighbor and being likeminded "according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 15:5, 6). Paul drew from his own experience: "I am crucified with Christ . . . Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20).
There are many allusions to discipleship in the Epistles. There are also many Scriptures that make reference to the lordship of Jesus Christ and about our lives being in Christ; these involve the concept of discipleship.
Lordship of Christ
Discipleship means coming under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Today the use of the term "Lord" is common and popular, but Jesus points out some aspects of it in the Sermon on the Mount that are little understood. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven." He will tell some who claimed to do many things in His name, "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:21-23).
Jesus asked a question that needs to be answered by many today. "Why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). Following this question, He told a parable concerning the importance of keeping God's Word. Jesus stated, "Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them . . . is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock." When the floods came, his house stood. But "he that heareth, and doeth them not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth." When the stream broke against it, it immediately fell (Luke 6:47-49; cf. Matt. 7:24-27). There is no way to answer Jesus' question about not following His teachings. Those who follow what Jesus taught have a firm foundation and assurance of eternal life.
John the Baptist preached, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (John 3:3). Jesus applied the term to Himself: "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Matt. 4:7; cf. 12:8; 21:3). The disciples used the term as another name for Jesus (Matt. 8:25; 14:28, 30; 16:22; 17:4; 18:21; et. al.).
Repentance, Faith, New Birth, and Discipleship
Repentance, faith, the new birth, and discipleship are all necessary conditions for salvation. It would be wrong to believe that only one of these conditions was necessary for eternal life. All these are necessary conditions, and they are interrelated. The fact that these are interrelated is obvious. The sinner must repent in order to believe. Yet he must have some faith in order to repent; otherwise he could not. Repentance means he has changed from his rebellion against God. This change in mind and spirit involves being born again. Being born again, the Christian will become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Although repentance, faith, the new birth and discipleship are distinctive concepts, they work together to bring about salvation. They cannot be separated into a series of steps. They are not four steps to be taken one at a time; in various degrees, they all occur simultaneously.
But today many believe the only necessary condition for salvation is an intellectual assent of faith in Jesus. They misinterpret Paul's statement, "For by grace are ye saved through faith" (Eph. 2:8; cf. Rom. 3:28). They elevate this statement above all others and believe there is no need of repentance, the rebirth, or discipleship. Salvation is by faith alone, they say. But salvation is by grace alone. It is by God's grace that we repent, believe Christ, are born again, and become disciples of Christ.
Those who misunderstand Paul's writings on "justification by faith" fail to consider the struggle the early church had over keeping the Mosaic Law. Jesus explained that "the law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached" (Luke 16:16). The Law has served its purpose and was fulfilled, as He taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:17-18). The good news of the kingdom of God replaces it. John also notes this change and makes a sharp distinction between the two: "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17 NASV).
Paul explained the purpose of the law and grace in Romans. The law established a standard of holiness no man could keep so that "all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified" (Rom. 3:19, 20). The law brought knowledge of sin and not justification. But man can now be "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (v. 24; see 3:9-31).
Many of the New Testament epistles were written to show that it was not necessary for Christians to keep the Mosaic Law to be saved. We must keep this in mind today when studying these books. The emphasis in Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews on justification by faith is concerned with the relation of the Old Covenant to the New Covenant (Rom. 3:21; 9:30-32; Gal. 3:10-14, 23-24; Heb. 8:13; 9:15; 10:1; Acts 13:38-39). This emphasis on faith does not mean that repentance, the new birth, and discipleship are not required. Often when these books speak of faith, these other teachings are considered an aspect of faith or necessary results of faith.
If the reader has any doubt that the Christian is not to sin, he should study Romans 6. This book written about "justification by faith" has some of the strongest teachings that the Christian is to "walk in newness of life" and not have any part of sin. And he should also study Paul's epistle to the Ephesians and see that there is a place for good works because Christians "are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).
IV. God's Will for the Christian, and His Word
God's Will for the Christian
We have seen that God desires the Christian to be obedient. The question that must be asked is, To what is the Christian obedient? How does he know what God wants him to do?
First and foremost the answer is found in the reply Jesus gave to a lawyer, who asked, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matt. 22:36-40; cf. Luke 10:27, 28; Mark 12:30, 31; cf. Deut. 6:510:12, 13; Lev. 19:18).
Love towards God finds its expression in keeping God's commandments brought by His Son. Jesus told His disciples, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). The apostle John wrote, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:2, 3). Love is the foremost commandment Christians are to keep, but it is not the only one. Christians are to keep all the commandments given by Jesus Christ and His apostles for the Church Age.
The commandments of God for the most part are expressions of love. The apostles recognized that to love was to fulfill the law.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Rom. 13:8-10; cf. Gal. 5:14; Col. 3:14; Jas. 2:8
Second, one must realize that God's law or commandments do not originate within oneself, that is, one does not decide what he thinks is right and then do it. The source of right and wrong is from an outside authority, the Word of God, the Bible. Christians receive knowledge and power through the written Word to live a life of discipleship.
The Bible reveals God's will because it is inspired by Him. Paul emphasized this truth when he wrote, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (II Tim. 3:16, 17). Scripture is the source of doctrine and is to be used for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.  The Christian should be willing to literally follow the Word's teachings, from such major issues as loving one's enemies (Matt. 5:38-45, Luke 6:35), to not wearing gold, and women wearing modest, inexpensive dresses (I Tim. 2:9; I Pet. 3:3), etc. Scriptural teachings are not to be ignored; they are given for our benefit and compliance. Regardless what our personal opinions are, we should follow all the commandments. By following them, we will understand them and learn to appreciate them.
 For a more complete treatment of Scripture, see the author's book, The Authority of Scripture.
 The reader should recognize that the common sense principle does not mean accepting figurative language literally.
Another point to remember is that there are two kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world (Satan). The message of the kingdom of God was central to Jesus' teaching and preaching. His very first message was, "The kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Those who are part of this kingdom possess new values, of which the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) is an example. These standards are markedly different from the standards of the kingdom of the world. The kingdom of the world is composed of the children of Satan (Matt. 13:38; John 8:44; cf. 16:11) and is ruled by Satan (Eph. 2:2). The Christian is called to come "out of the world" (John 17:6; cf. 18:36; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 2:2) and not be a part of it (15:19; 17:12-14, 16; Mark 4:19; 8:36; 13:22).
The basic concept of the two kingdoms is also expressed in the Epistles. Paul introduced the third section of Romans (chapters 12-16) by giving practical instructions concerning the Christian life. He wrote, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (12:2). The Christian is not to receive his code of conduct or system of values from the world. Since his mind has been transformed by being renewed, he no longer views things as the world does. His renewed mind makes it inconsistent for Him to look to the world for guidelines. Only by turning from the world and being transformed by the renewed mind can he prove what is the will of God.
Peter similarity said, "As obedient children, not fashioning yourself according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [behavior]; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (I Pet. 1:14-16; cf. 2:5, 9; Rom. 12:1; Eph. 1:4; Col. 1:22; 3:1). "Be not conformed" expresses negatively the idea of holiness. The Christian's goal is to be holy because God is holy.
The apostle John wrote, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (I John 2:15-17). Again, a contrast is made between the world and God. The Christian is to turn his back to the lusts and pride of the world, since they are not of God. Rather, he is to turn to God, loving Him and doing His will. This turning is important because it carries the promise that those who do the will of God will abide forever. Christians often face situations where no direct word speaks to an issue. This does not mean Christians have nothing to guide them, because they always have the principle of love, i.e., love not the world, etc.
Christians will know God's will because they "walk in the Spirit, and . . . shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). The Spirit contends with the flesh and motivates Christians not to do the works of the flesh. Paul wrote that "the works of the flesh are . . . adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkeness, revellings, and such like" (vv. 19-21). Christians have no part in these activities. Christians have the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, which "is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (vv. 22, 23). Paul concludes, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (v. 25). Godly brethren abstain from the works of the flesh and walk by the Spirit.
Christians also must remember that church leaders and other brethren can help them to understand scriptural principles and therefore know what is right for everyday situations. Both the brotherhood and the elders can share their thoughts and experiences on these situations.
Christians should follow God's will naturally and out of love. Those who believe in Jesus and understand the love He has for them will love Him. Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). He promised He would send them a Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to guide and teach them. Jesus explained,
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. . . . If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. vv. 21-24
Jesus expects those who love Him to keep His Word. Those who believe in Him and keep His word will bear fruit. "I am the true vine and my Father is the husbandman. . . . These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:1, 11). The fruit of obedience springs from the believer's life in Christ and brings glory to God and joy to Christ and to the believer.
V. Come and Follow
The redemption brought by Jesus Christ is available to all who will believe, repent, obey, and follow Him as disciples. These are all important and necessary for eternal life. No person should think that faith alone will suffice. Faith alone will not nullify Jesus' teachings on repentance, the new birth, and discipleship.
Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30). This promise still stands today. Searchers will find that repentance, the new birth, and discipleship are all made possible because of God's grace. All should remember too that "many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:14). Many fail to "enter . . . in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because straight is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:13-14; cf. Luke 13:23-24). God is ready to justify (to declare the sinner righteous) all who will come to Jesus by His grace.
Read the Bible
This booklet has attempted to show how God's grace has made redemption possible through His Son, Jesus Christ. The reader is encouraged to turn to the Bible and search its passages to understand its message on redemption and God's will for your life.
The reader may wish to start a Bible study program by reading first the Gospels, especially Matthew and John. We should constantly read and study the Bible. To learn about God and His plan for us, we need to read, read, and read the Scriptures. Only then can we see for ourselves what Scripture teaches.
One who studies the Word sincerely and prayerfully in humility will find truth there. And we will find God's call to holy living.
Copyright by Biblical Viewpoints Publications, 1999. This booklet is by Leland M. Haines, Northville, Michigan.
The writer is the author of Christian Evidence, How We Know the Bible Is God's Revelation; The Authority of Scripture*; Redemption Realized Through Christ; and The Biblical Concept of the Church*
* coming soon. Now available at our bibleviews.com Internet site.
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May God's grace and peace be with you as you study His Word.