Message NotesSunday, September 16, 2012
The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of Salvation
Part I of III ─ The WHY of Salvation
There should come a time in the lives of each and every one of us when we would pause, even at length, to think about our salvation. There should come a time when we should wonder at the who, what, when, where, why and how of our own salvation.
? Who gives salvation; who receives it?
? What is salvation? What takes place within the confines and scope of salvation?
? When does salvation begin; when is it completed? When is it experienced?
? Where does salvation take place? Here or there?
? Why is there even a need for salvation? And Why did God do it like that?
? How does Salvation take place? How is salvation begun; and how is it completed?
These are questions that we, as Christians, should ask should be able to answer, as we are commanded to be ready to give an answer when asked about the hope in us! Therefore, our salvation is the topic for these three weeks. We will ask and answer the questions who, what, when, where, why and how about salvation. Today we will deal with the WHY part. And the best place to begin to answer WHY are we saved is the same place we should begin in answering any question with respect to any topic in Scripture ─ at the beginning! So let?s do just that!
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created by Him and for Him?..20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
In this Colossians passage, the Apostle Paul reveals to us that God (contextually, God the Son, Who according to v. 15 is the image of the invisible God) created all things ─ the invisible and visible things both in the heavens and on the earth. Specifically, the invisible and visible things referred to in this passage are places of rulership ─ thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities. These things have been created by Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ. And jumping down to v. 20, we can understand that Jesus Himself not only created these things, but He also reconciled these same things to Himself, through His death on the cross. That Jesus reconciled visible and invisible place of rulership reveals that for some reason at some point in time after He had created them there came a need for their reconciliation. These invisible and visible thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities both in the heavens and on the earth had ─ for reasons revealed in the Old Testament ─ fallen out of order, thereby needing to be brought back into their originally-created proper order. And the only way and means in all of creation that could bring about this reconciliation is the death and shed blood of the very One Who had created them in the first place. Heb 9:11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come [i.e., future things], He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation [i.e., the invisible tabernacle in the heavens]; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
The Why Part of Salvation
From previous study, we know what happened! We know that Lucifer, the invisible ruler who had been created to rule over the earth from the heavens, at some point in eternity past, rebelled against God seeking to raise himself and his throne above his equals throughout the whole Universe, even seeking to sit on God?s Throne, which is in the uppermost recesses of the north. Isaiah 14:12 ?How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! 13 But you said in your heart, ?I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High??? From previous study, we know that a third of Lucifer?s host of angels joined him in his rebellion, and as a result, the sanctuaries in which and over which they ruled became desecrated (Ezek. 28:11ff; cf. Rev. 12:4). Here is the reason for the invisible places of rulership in the heavens needing reconciliation. The succinct description of the desecration of their sanctuary is found in the second verse in the whole Bible: Gen 1:2 And the earth was (Lit., became) formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep?
And so God restored the ruined creation over a six day period, creating man on the 6th day for the purpose of replacing the invisible rulers over the earth. This set into motion the eternal plan of reconciling the invisible places of dominion in the heavens. The fact that man was created to rule over the earth is easily seen in the verses surrounding man?s creation in the first chapter of Genesis. Gen 1:26 Then God said, ?Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.?
Now at some point in our spiritual growth, we need to know about these things as they are necessary to know if we are to come into a better understanding of our own salvation.
? We need to know that man was created for a purpose, and we need to know what that purpose is.
? We also need to know that we have been saved for a purpose, and we need to know what that purpose is.
The truth is that the purpose of our salvation is one and the same as the purpose for our creation. And in knowing why man was created (to replace Satan and his angels in ruling over the earth) will go a long way in understanding the why of our salvation.
Let?s review a few more things that we already know. Once we understand that God created man to take Satan?s place, we have to then realize that for now, Satan remains as the ruler over the earth! It is specifically stated in Scripture (even in the New Testament) that Satan is
? the god of this world ─ II Cor. 4:4 ?in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
? the prince of the power of the air ─ Eph 2:2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. And in the Old Testament,
? the anointed cherub who covers (governs) the earth ─ Ezek. 28:14 ?You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there?
And even though Satan presently continues to rule, he disqualified himself from continuing to rule throughout eternity future through that ancient rebellion he led. Once we come to understand these things, we can come to understand WHY God originally created man in His own image and likeness (Gen. 1:26).
Now, in understanding the WHY of Salvation, we need to understand God?s image and likeness. One facet of God?s image is that He is a Trinity ─ three parts, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is easy to see then that man (having been made in God?s image) is also three parts ─ spirit and soul and body. One of the ways we can see this in the New Testament is to look at how Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to pray for the believers in I Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The significance of Paul praying for all three parts of man (spirit and soul and body) becoming entirely sanctified will be brought to light as we work through the remaining two lessons in this series of messages, but for now suffice it to say that man, who was made in God?s image and likeness is, like God, three parts.
Another facet of God?s image and likeness can be seen in a description of God found in Psalm 104:1 ?Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with splendor and majesty, 2 Covering Thyself with light as with a cloak? Here we see God is covered in light (glory) and clothed in splendor and majesty. This description of God is often seen like this in the OT and in some of the passages the very description itself portends His rulership as well. One example is found in: I Chronicles 16:23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. 24 Tell of His glory among the nations? ?. 27 Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and joy are in His place. 28? Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; ?31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; And let them say among the nations, ?The LORD reigns.?
God the Father is enthroned in the heavens, covered in glory and clothed in splendor and majesty as He executes His sovereign rule over all of creation. And Jesus sits at His Father?s right hand, Himself glorified, as He awaits His return to the earth when the Father send will send Him back. This passage in I Chronicles is a description of the time when Jesus, when He comes back to the earth to reign over all the earth.
Now? since man was created in God?s image and likeness for God?s stated purpose of rulership, it is evident that glory, splendor and majesty were to be his as well. The Psalmist wrote in
Psalm 8:4 What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? 5 Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, And dost crown him with glory and majesty! 6 Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
This same Psalm is quoted by the author of the Book of Hebrews as he was inspired to write about the coming Messianic Era. In a text revealing that the ?world [Lit., the inhabited earth] to come? will no longer be subjected to the fallen angels who presently rule over the earth, he wrote: Heb 2:5 For He [God] did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. 6 But one has testified somewhere, saying, ?WHAT IS MAN, THAT THOU REMEMBEREST HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT THOU ART CONCERNED ABOUT HIM? 7 THOU HAST MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; THOU HAST CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAST APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF THY HANDS; 8 THOU HAST PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.?
But we can know that the things mentioned in Psalm Eight and quoted in Hebrews chapter two has not yet been fulfilled, by reading the last half of v. 8! Hebrews 2:8 ?But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. And this delay, if you will, was also part of God?s overall plan.
Let?s pay particular attention to this last sentence in Hebrews 2:8: But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him [to man]. So what happened? If God created man to rule over the earth and 6,000 years later man is not yet in this position, then were God?s plans and purposes for man somehow thwarted? We have a passage from Isaiah revealing that all of God?s plans and purposes will be established! Isa 46:9 ?Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ?My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure?.
So let?s go back to the Garden, 6,000 years ago to see what happened, because here is where our understanding of the WHY of salvation must begin. Look again at Genesis 1:26 Then God said, ?Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [plural pronouns are used here, revealing that all three person in the God-head were participating]; and let them rule over?? all created things on the earth. Not only does God?s image and likeness portend rulership; but here God specifically states why He is creating man in His image and likeness. Now, if we understand the WHY of creation, then we can understand the WHY of salvation.
God formed the man from the dust of the earth and He breathed LIFE into the man! Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. God breathed His breath into the man and the man became a living being. Man was very unique in this, as it is not stated that God breathed His breath into any other created being ─ not the birds of the air, nor of the fish and sea monsters of the sea, nor of the beasts of the earth. God simply brought these creatures forth, as we see in Genesis 1:24 Then God said, ?Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind? 25 And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God brought forth living creatures, which obviously had breath in them, but the Scriptures do not anywhere state that God breathed His breath into the beasts of the earth, the cattle and everything else mentioned. Evidently, His breath was reserved only for mankind. And it was only after God breathed His breath into the man that he became a living being. Perhaps there is something to note here about life. Evidently it was God?s Spirit, entering into the man, which caused him to become a ?living being.? And this life is juxtaposed to the first mention of death just 10 verses down: Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ?From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.?
It is at this point in chapter two that God makes a statement about the man, which is really connected with God?s stated purpose for the man back in chapter one. Here in chapter two God follows the command that He gave the man by saying: Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, ?It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.? And this helper must be seen in connection with God?s stated purpose for the man that we read in Genesis 1:26. Immediately following His statement about creating man, God says: Genesis 1: 27, 28 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 And God blessed them; and God said to them, ?Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.?
We know specifically how God made a helper suitable for the man. God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept, God opened up the man?s side, took a part of his body, and from that part of the man God fashioned (Lit., built) a helper suitable ─ an individual who was made up of the very flesh and bones which had been taken out of the man?s body. When God brought her to the man, Adam named her ?woman, for she was taken out of the man?. These things are instructive to us.
Now, the Scripture then says: Genesis 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. The Hebrew word naked used here is a word that can mean partially naked ─ naked in the sense of having an under covering, but not possessing an outer garment. Based upon several Scriptural factors, this would seem to be the case for Adam and the woman in the Garden. With man having been created by God in His own image and likeness for the expressed purpose of ruling over the earth, just as God covers Himself in glory, so God covered the man and the woman in glory, yet we see the man and the woman ?naked and not ashamed?. They could not yet be fully clothed with the royal garments, nor could they step into the position of rulership because the man and the woman had to be tested first. Before they would fulfill their created purpose, they had to prove their worthiness to rule through the test of obedience. Hence, the partial nakedness, as they awaited the outer garments. And it was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that was the point of testing. Would they prove themselves worthy (through obedience to the command of God) and replace the incumbent ruler, or would they fail the test and if they failed the test, what would it mean that they would surely die?
We know the rest of the story. Shortly thereafter the woman, being deceived by the incumbent ruler of the world Satan, ate the forbidden fruit and she gave to her husband and he ate also. It was at that point that the two became ?naked? and hid themselves from God?s presence. Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. 8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. A different Hebrew word is used here for naked than previously used in chapter two ─ it is a word which can mean utter nakedness ─ i.e., no covering whatsoever. And this would seem to be the case here, as with this nakedness, they shamefully hid themselves, attempting to cover themselves with fig leaves ─ the works of their own hands. They had surely lost something! They lost their covering of glory! Remember this is all building the overall picture of the WHY of salvation.
So now let?s put a few more things together. Since the man and the woman were created to rule, having been created in God?s image and likeness ─ covered in light, but awaiting the reception of the garments of splendor and majesty ─ and since sin thwarted man?s purpose from being fulfilled, bringing him to utter nakedness, then the question is: Was God?s plan for man thwarted forever? May it never be! We have already seen that God?s plans and purposes which were spoken of in ancient times (even from the beginning at the man?s creation) will one day stand! And amazingly, even the apparent ?delay? in bringing His plans and purposes to fruition was within the scope of His plan from before the foundation of the world! Yes, His plans and purposes will yet be fully fulfilled! Otherwise He would not be God! So now it becomes essential to know and understand that the purpose of man?s salvation is one in the same as the purposes of man?s creation!
The federal head of mankind, Adam, lost the covering of glory, thereby forfeiting his right to rule. This completely naked condition has affected every person ever born to a man and a woman since then. Genesis 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.
But God has a plan to redeem/reconcile mankind from this fallen state. The first mention of this plan, which was forged from before the Universe was created, is found in Genesis 3:15. Before we read it, let?s realize that God spoke this promise to the very one who rebelled against God in the heavens during an age past, bringing about the need for the reconciliation of the invisible thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities in the heavens. Let?s also realize that he is the very same one who brought about the fall of man, bringing about the need for reconciliation of the visible thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities on the earth. To this one, whom man was created to replace as ruler over the earth, God said: Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.? Yes! God had (God still has) a plan! And this is the WHY of salvation!
? The original ruler over the earth was disqualified through his rebellion.
? Man was created to rule in his place.
? The original ruler brought about the man disqualification. But?
? God had forged a plan to remedy situation from eternity past.
This is the WHY of salvation!
The Scriptures tell us that Adam was a type of Christ ─ Rom. 5:14b Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. In the type, Adam lost his covering of glory, becoming totally naked due to his sin. In the antitype, Jesus laid aside His covering of glory when He came to the earth in the likeness of sinful flesh ─ naked, in the sense that He had no covering of glory ─ the very glory with which He had shared with His Father in all of eternity past. The reason Jesus came to the earth was to redeem us from death, and for this redemption there was a price to be paid. The price was the death and shed blood of an Innocent. The death of the sinless only begotten Son of God ─ the One Who was born to a virgin as the Son of Man, the One Who had created all things ─ would pay the ransom necessary for redemption and reconciliation. He made peace through the blood of His cross, reconciling both the invisible places of rulership in the heavens and the visible places of rulership on the earth. Jesus paid the price! But let?s be sure that we understand that the benefits of the overall scope of redemption and reconciliation are multifaceted. When Adam sinned in the Garden, his complete being was affected ─ his spirit, and his soul and his body ─ all three parts of man were affected by death at the moment of his disobedience. And all three parts of man must be redeemed through salvation if man is going to fulfill his created purpose.
For our last bit of time today, I would like for us to come to perhaps a clearer grasp of what death means as it is presented in Scripture. (In doing this, we will come to a clearer grasp of how salvation is presented in Scripture from start to finish! In order fully understand death (as it is presented by God), we must see where the topic of death is first mentioned in His Word and build our understanding from there. We have already seen that death is first presented in Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ?From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.? This is the command that God gave to the man in Garden just after God breathed His breath into him, when the man became a living being. We have also reviewed the details surrounding his disobedience, and herein is where we should begin to understand what death is! (I suppose that for most of us, the first thing we would think of concerning death is when our body dies. And although that is certainly part of it, it is not the primary idea of death as God presents it in His Word.) Understanding death would have to do with the opposite of our understanding life as we have seen in the first two chapters in Genesis.
Life is having God?s Spirit within, and being covered with God?s glory, while awaiting the reception of royal robes (garments of splendor and majesty), reflecting the image and likeness of God! And all this is for stepping into the purpose for which we were created.
Death, through sin, would be the opposite of life. Death takes God?s Spirit away, removes the covering of glory thereby making it impossible to receive the royal robes, (garments of splendor and majesty), not reflecting God?s image and likeness, and not fulfilling our created purpose.
If we keep within the context of the first mention of death in God?s Word, we would then come to understand from God?s perspective the WHY of salvation. Salvation must then deal with the spirit, and the soul and the body. For Adam and the woman, death involved:
? God?s Spirit leaving them, bringing about the death of their human spirits.
? They found themselves totally naked and ashamed (they were no longer covered with the glory), therefore they no longer reflected the image of God Himself. Herein is the death of their souls. Without the covering of glory there would be no reception of the garments of splendor and majesty; without the reception of the garments of splendor and majesty, there would be no stepping into that which the glory, splendor and majesty portended ─ rulership. Herein they would not possess their life/their soul in fulfilling their created purpose. Yet they still existed!
? And their bodies began the death process. Sin allowed their bodies to be vulnerable to sickness with their bodies eventually being separated from their spirit and soul, returning to dust.
And if death is presented in this way in Scripture (which it is!), then we will begin to understand that salvation ─ as it is presented in Scripture ─ will deal with all three aspects of death. (In the upcoming two weeks, we will find this to be true.)
Please let us remember that when it comes to mankind, death never means ceasing to exist! It always and only ever means separation. Perhaps we could grasp it like this ─ since Adam?s sin:
? Man is born dead spiritually, being separated from God even at the moment of conception. Our spiritual birth addresses this part of death, and is one facet of our salvation. (We?ll see more about that next week.)
? Man is born dead in relation to the soul in that he is walking in darkness. He is not covered in the light of glory, and being separated from the Glory of God, unable to receive the garments of splendor and majesty, thus disqualified from being able to fulfill his created purpose! This is the death of our soul/life. The salvation of the soul addresses this part of death. (We will see in the two weeks.)
? And the death of the body is really easy to grasp. Our body dies when our spirit and soul become separated from it. The redemption of the body is the facet of salvation that addresses this part of death. (We will also see more about this two weeks from now when we deal with the salvation of the soul in relation to the redemption of the body ─ the two are inseparable.)
In death, Adam never ceased to exist (nor does death ever make a person cease to exist)! God created man an eternal being, and ?death? never altars that. In fact, even today nearly 6,000 years after Adam and Eve were created, they still exist, even though their bodies have long since turned back to dust! And yet future, the very physical bodies of Adam and Eve will be resurrected, being brought together with their very spirits and their very souls, in order for them to stand before the very One Who created them. This resurrection is true for every single person who has ever lived and died since Adam was created. It is as true for Abel as it is true for Cain; it is as true for Noah as it is true for every single person who died outside the ark in Noah?s flood; it is as true for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; as it is true for the first generation of Israel. It is as true for you and me! Both the saved and unsaved alike will exist for all of eternity! We will all one day stand before the very One Who brought us forth. But more on that later! For now we can say with ancient Job: Job 19:25 "And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 26 Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; 27 Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes shall see and not another.
The WHY of salvation has all to do with the WHY of creation. God created man to rule in Satan?s stead. Satan, through sin, brought about the man?s disqualification to rule. Now man has a need to be saved, a need to be reconciled back to God in order for God?s plans and purposes to be established, which He declared at the very beginning and which He will yet establish at the very end, which, my friends, may come sooner than we think!
Next week, Lord willing, we will look at the WHO and HOW of salvation.