Jesus came to give himself as a sacrifice for all peoples so that we could escape our corruption and reconnect with God. God declared this plan at the beginning of human history. He then signed it in the sacrifice of Abraham by pointing to Mount Moriah where Jesus’ sacrifice would be provided. Then the Jewish Passover sacrifice pointed to the day of the year when Jesus would be sacrificed.
Bad News … The Law of Sin and Death
Why is his sacrifice so important? This is a question worth asking. The Bible declares a Law when it states:
For the wages of sin is death…Romans 6:23
“Death” literally means ‘separation’. When our soul separates from our body we die physically. Similarly we are even now separated from God spiritually. This is true because God is Holy (sinless) while we have become corrupted from our original creation and so we sin.
The diagram illustrates this. It pictures two cliffs with God opposite from us with a chasm between us. Just like a branch cut from a tree is dead, so we have cut ourselves off from God and become spiritually dead.
Merit from our Good Efforts is insufficient
This separation causes guilt and fear. So what we naturally try to do is build bridges to take us from our side (of death) to God’s side. We do this in many different ways: going to church, temple or mosque, being religious, being good, helping the poor, meditation, trying to be more helpful, praying more, etc. These deeds to gain merit can be very difficult – and living them out can be very complicated. The next figure illustrates this.
The problem is that our hard efforts, merits, and deeds, though not wrong, are insufficient because the payment required (the ‘wages’) for our sins is ‘death’. Our efforts are like a ‘bridge’ that tries to cross the gap separating us from God – but in the end cannot do it. This is because good merit will not solve our root problem. It is like trying to heal cancer (which results in death) by eating vegetarian. Eating vegetarian is not bad, it may even be good – but it will not cure cancer. For cancer you need a totally different treatment.
This Law is Bad News – it is so bad we often do not even want to hear it and we fill our lives with activities and things hoping this Law will go away. But the Bible stresses this Law of sin and death to get our attention to focus on the cure that is simple and powerful.
For the wages of sin is death but…Romans 6:23
Good News of Life
The small word ‘but’ shows that the direction of the message is about to change directions, to the Good News of the Gospel – the cure. It shows both the goodness and love of God.
For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)
The good news of the gospel is that the sacrifice of Jesus’ death is sufficient to bridge this separation between us and God. We know this because three days after his death Jesus rose bodily, coming alive again in a physical resurrection. There exists historic, compelling evidence for this. Abraham’s sacrifice and the Passover sacrifice prophetically acted out Jesus’ coming sacrifice. God planned these signs pointing to Jesus to help us find the cure.
Jesus was a human who lived a sinless life. Therefore he can ‘touch’ both the human and the God sides and span the gap separating God and people. He is a Bridge to Life which the diagram illustrates.
Given as a Gift, not earned by Merit
Notice how God offers this to us. He offers it as a … ‘gift’. Think about gifts. No matter what the gift is, if it is really a gift it is something that you do not work for and that you do not earn by merit. If you earned it the gift would no longer be a gift – it would be a wage! In the same way you cannot merit or earn the sacrifice of Jesus. It is given to you as a gift. It is that simple.
And what is the gift? It is ‘eternal life’. That means that God has cancelled the sin which brought you and me death. Jesus’ bridge of life enables us to re-connect with God and receive life – which lasts forever. God loves you and me that much. It is that powerful.
The Gift Received
So how do we cross on this bridge of life that Jesus gives to us as a gift? Again, think of gifts. If someone gives you a gift it is something you do not work for. But to get any benefit from the gift you must ‘receive’ it. Every time a gift is offered to a recipient there are only two alternatives. Either recipient refuses the gift (“No thank you”) or receives it (“Thank you for your gift. I will take it”). Likewise, you must receive this gift that Jesus offers to benefit from it. You cannot simply believe, study, meditate upon it, or understood it. The next figure illustrates this as we ‘walk’ on the Bridge by turning to God and receiving His Gift offered to us.
So how do we receive this gift? The Bible says that
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be savedRomans 10:12
Notice that this promise is for ‘everyone’. Since he rose from the dead Jesus is alive even now and he is ‘Lord’. So if you call on him he will hear and give his gift to you. You call out to him and ask him – by having a conversation with him. Perhaps you have never done this. Below is a prayer that can guide you. It is not a magic chant. The specific words used do not give it power. It is the trust like Abraham had that we place in him to give us this gift. As we trust him He will hear us and answer. The Gospel is powerful, and yet also so simple. Feel free to follow this guide if you find it helpful.
Dear Lord Jesus. I understand that with my sins I am separated from God. Though I can try hard, no effort and sacrifice on my part will bridge this separation. But I understand that your death was a sacrifice to wash away all my sins. I believe that you rose from the dead after your sacrifice so I know that your sacrifice was sufficient. I ask you to please cleanse me from my sins and bridge me to God so I can have eternal life. I do not want to live a life enslaved to sin so please free me from sin. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for doing all this for me and would you even now continue to guide me in my life so I can follow you as my Lord.