How We are Made Right with God
by Bob Burridge ©2010
The good news of the gospel isn’t anchored in our own efforts or feelings. It’s anchored in the work of Christ in fulfillment of God’s promise.
The person who needs to hear about Christ needs to be taken beyond his sorrow for sinning. If we just scare him with the fires of hell we drive him to whatever he believes is the escape. Often that’s not to the true deliverance they can have in Christ.
The statistics of emotionally charged revival campaigns are not very encouraging. The large majority of those who allege to come to Christ under those conditions show no change in their lives. After a few weeks they are never heard from again by the churches.
We need to point them to the work the Savior did, not to an emotional leap in the dark. They may come to God for mercy, but mercy comes only through Christ. Cries for mercy based on anything else are not the way to salvation.
First we need to be sure they understand the atonement. They may not know the word. You may not know the full theological definition of it yourself. But you need to lead them to the truth of it.
1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit”
The Demands of Justice
This verse begins with these words, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, …”
We humans are all unjust. We are sinners who stand accused before God. We are law-breakers.
As we see in Romans 3:23, “… all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Sin has a penalty as the Apostle Paul explained in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’
As those who sinned in Adam, and as those who sin by our own imperfect moral nature, we are guilty and condemned in the eyes of God.
Satisfying Those Demands
1 Peter 3:18 gives more detail about how that gift of God can benefit the sinner. Jesus died for the unjust. He was just one, innocent of any moral guilt. He suffered for the unjust. We are the ones who are not innocent.
Jesus only had to suffer once for all. He was that infinite sacrifice needed to cover so much guilt. The infinite God who is infinitely powerful, absolutely innocent and just, took on a full human nature to represent us just as Adam did.
Only the Messiah, God and man in perfect union, could stand as our representative. Adam represented the human race. Jesus represented those chosen by God. They weren’t chosen because of anything good in them. They were chosen by grace alone (Ephesians 1:4-5) — an act of a perfect love.
Our Savior died in the place of those God called to life by taking on their guilt and penalty. He suffered infinitely to pay our infinite debt. With the barrier of guilt removed we can be reconciled with God. This is what today’s verse teaches us, “… that he might bring us to God”
The guilt barrier is removed. God is reconciled with us and we with him. Aside from his atonement God is offended by us and we are alienated from him. In Christ there is reconciliation: The offense is removed so that God is not separated from us any longer.
With the separation between us and God ended, we have life in Christ.
The Benefits of Satisfied Justice
This important verse ends with this promise, “being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:”
Jesus died in the flesh. His human body and spirit were separated as a consequence of our sins. Then Jesus was made alive again by the act of the Triune God. His body was raised as ours will be some day. It was reunited with his human soul because the sin that caused physical death was paid for.
In him we are made alive again too because the guilt of sin has been removed. We are re-united with God by being born-again, made alive spiritually, regenerated. At death our bodies will be separated from our souls only temporarily. At our resurrection our bodies will be glorified and re-united with our souls forever. That union will be in full fellowship with God eternally.
This is the good news the person who doesn’t know Christ needs to know. We need to explain it in the best way we can and urge others to trust in it.
(Note: The Bible quotations in this article are from the New King James Bible unless otherwise noted.)