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Friday, September 27, 2013

The Cross and the Person of Christ # 16

The Cross and the "So Great Salvation"

3. Redemption

The word "redemption" at once indicates its own meaning. Man has been sold, or has sold himself. satan offered Adam a bargain (?), blinding his mind to the real issues involved. In unbelief and resultant disobedience in the matter of a precise Divine instruction, Adam bartered his soul for certain promised advantages, and sold himself to satan and sin, and the race with him. In that position man has remained, and the strength of it is that satan has rights because he has the round of his own nature. Redemption means that those rights are undercut and disposed of. That is done again in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus in His Cross. The great fact is that in Jesus Christ satan has no ground of authority because he has no ground of nature. There he is "cast out" (John 1231). satan's power of authority is death. The Lord Jesus "tasted death in the behalf of every man" (Hebrews 2:9), and met in Himself the final power of satan, that "through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14). Thus man is redeemed unto God and upon the redeemed man satan no longer has any claims.

A sidelight upon this is found in a legal process by which a Greek slave obtained his freedom and preserved it, and it is this well-known procedure that doubtless the Apostle Paul refers in Galatians verse 17. The Greek slave, when he desired to secure his liberty, did not bring his master his earnings and obtain his freedom with his receipt for the money; he went to the temple of the god, and there paid in his money to the priests who then with this money bought the slave from his master on the part of the god, and he became for the rest of his life a slave of the god - which meant practically freedom, subject to certain periodical religious duties. If at any time his master or his master's heirs claimed him, he had the record of the transaction in the temple. But on one point the records are silent. If he traveled, if he were far from home, and were seized as a runaway slave, what security could he have? I would seem that Paul gives us the solution. When liberated at the temple, the priest branded him with the "stigmata of  his new master. So Paul's words acquire a new meaning. He had been the slave of sin and of satan; but he had been redeemed by Christ, and his new liberty consisted in his being the slave of Christ. "Henceforth", he says, "let no man attempt to reclaim me; I have been marked on my body with the brand of my new Master, Jesus Christ." The one flaw in this illustration is, of course, that no man can earn the means for his own redemption. Christ alone could provide this.

4. Justification

Justification sets forth a standing or position to which the believer is brought. Each of the preceding steps relates and leads to justification. Substitution sees the sin question dealt with; representation sees the old creation removed and the new brought in; redemption sees the link with satan and his kingdom destroyed. When these three things have been effected, then we have the answer to the question "How can man be just with God?" (Job 9:2), or, in other words, How can a man stand in the presence of God as just, or righteous? The full answer is that we are justified in Christ Jesus. Through faith's acceptance of His substitutionary, representative, and redemptive work, we are now accepted in Him and are upon the wonderful footing of being regarded in the light of His perfections. He is made unto us righteousness from God. It is "the righteousness of (which is from) God through faith" (Romans 3:22). This position is an utter one from God's standpoint and must be so from ours. It is a position to be taken in its fullness by faith and maintained as a way in which to walk by faith. "The just shall live by faith" (Galatians 3:2; Heb. 10:38). satan will never cease to try to bring us back on to the old ground, and this he will do by by ever bringing up to us what we are in ourselves and getting our eyes off Christ. His methods are countless, but the answer to them all is "Not what I m, O Lord, but what Thou art," and a strong holding on and looking off unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.

5. Reconciliation

The justified are reconciled. In our natural condition, we were alienated from, and at enmity with, God, and indeed we were enmity against God. It only requires given conditions to bring out from every one of us some positive rebelliousness; but in Christ Jesus and His mighty reconciling work in His Cross, we who "were  far off are made nigh" (Eph. 2:13); we who were enmity are at peace. We are brought into the blessed fellowship of a new life and a new spirit.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17 - "Regeneration")

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