Though man has sought various ways to free himself from sin and so make himself acceptable to God, there is in fact only one way that a person can be received by God, and that is through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross.
Scripture teaches us that the death of Jesus Christ was vital for the salvation the world (those who would believe in Him). The apostle Paul spoke of the importance of Christ’s death when he wrote, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). In verse one of the same chapter he tells the Corinthian Church that their salvation depended upon the truthfulness of the Gospel which included the death of Christ, “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand”. Therefore it is impossible to be a Christian and deny the importance of Christ’s sacrificial death.
It is the death of Christ that brings spiritual life to those who believe. To understand this we must first understand the reasons why He had to die. Therefore to understand the cross we must understand the nature of God.
Because God is absolutely holy (holiness itself) He cannot abide the presence of sin, and is as a result totally separated from sin and sinners, “For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44-45). God is so holy and requires all who belong to Him to be holy also. Therefore those who approach Him must come in absolute holiness or else be rejected. God is righteous in all of His dealings, “They shall abundantly utter the memory of Thy great goodness, and shall sing of Thy righteousness … The LORD is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works” (Psalm 145:7,17). This means that He does not have double standards. He is holy so demands holiness from us.
Knowing that man could not approach Him in His own righteousness, He ordained a series of sacrifices that would allow man to at least have his sins covered. These sacrifices involved the shedding of the innocent blood of sheep, goat, bulls, and birds. So now to come before Him there needed to be the proper sacrifice as payment. Though the blood of sacrificial lambs covered man’s sin it only delayed the coming judgement. The blood of animals merely allowed man into the presence of God but could not eternally remove his sin from him, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). Eventually those who had committed sin would be punished for it under the old covenant.
This reveals to us man’s condition before the holy God. He had made man perfect, “And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31) and gave him the right to approach Him, but very quickly sin entered the picture and forced a mighty gulf to appear between God and man. Because of this mankind fell into moral and spiritual depravity; “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12); “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Man became spiritually dead and was worthy of nothing less than the severest of punishments, “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
The fall brought with it consequences for all of Adam’s descendants – “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18). As a result:-
a) We are all sinners from conception, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).
b) As soon as we are born we begin to go astray, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” (Psalm 58:3).
c) Everything about mankind is evil, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
d) Man is a sinner at his very heart (in his nature) and has no ability to save himself or to understand the depths of sin in his heart, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
e) Fallen man is dominated by Satan.
We not only commit sin but we are sinners by nature – yet God still demands perfect holiness and righteousness if we are going to have a personal relationship with Him, Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Habakkuk 1:13). If we cannot save ourselves then we need someone else to redeem us, to pay the price for our sin completely. We know that animals, angels, and man cannot achieve this. Without help we lie in a state of impending death, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Therefore our condition before God is one of condemnation, and we await the outpouring of His righteous wrath against our wickedness, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).
But God has brought us that help and deliverance from the power of sin and Satan, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Here is the provision we need. There is someone who could pay the price.
The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He paid the price that we could not, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). He is the Righteous one who as the sacrificial Lamb could remove our sin and the corresponding judgement eternally from us. The price He had to pay was the same as God demanded under the Old Covenant, that is, blood (death), “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19).
This blood was spilt as He hung on the cross of Calvary. It is this blood that takes away our sin, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Isaiah foretold that this would happen, “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 53:5-6).
His death on the cross gives us the privilege of being made right with God (receiving righteousness), “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:22). Being made righteous we also have salvation through the same blood, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25). This salvation through Christ’s death on the cross is the central theme of New Testament revelation. In Ephesians 1:7 and 2:13, Paul writes, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace … But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
It is still absolutely impossible for anyone, regardless of how good they think they are, to make themselves right with God without the blood of Jesus Christ, “But God commendeth His love toward 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” (Romans 5:8-9). Nobody can boast about their own righteousness, for it is solely by Christ’s work on the cross that one receives salvation, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9), nor is it possible to do good deeds to receive eternal life, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). Therefore it remains a free gift from God to everyone who puts their trust in Christ, “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
Through Christ’s death we now can have a personal relationship with God. This would be impossible any other way. If Christ had never died, then their would be no way to know anything about God. “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:11). The atoning blood of Christ not only saves, cleanses from sin, but also closes the gap between ourselves and God which was caused by sin. The Bible speaks of Jesus actually closing that gap. We could not reach God if it were not for the blood of the Lord Jesus. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Through Him also the dominion of Satan over us is broken; we are no longer part of the fallen race, but are now a part of the Kingdom of Christ, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s … Ye are bought with a price … 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” (1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23, Colossians 1:13-14).
It was needful for Jesus to become a man to die for men, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). It was God’s plan to send His Son to do this for there was no other way. As stated, angels, men and animals cannot take away sin. It needed someone different from all of these. The only option was God Himself to come to this earth (without the Trinity even this would have been impossible). It needed God to become flesh, this is why “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). We can be assured that He was totally sinless, perfect, and holy for as Paul declares “For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ was the perfect sacrifice in every possible way, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).
Now we are not only saved but are accepted as God’s sons because of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:4-7).
God is totally satisfied with the price that was paid by Jesus Christ. For His Son paid the perfect sacrifice and was the “ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). This is why Luke could record that God bought the Church through “his own blood” (Acts 20:28). This proved God’s love for a sinful, fallen world. He was willing to give up the life of His Son so that we could have freedom to come to Him, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). There is nothing more than we need to do to become a child of God but believe on Christ’s finished work on Calvary. For when He cried “It is finished!” (John 19:30), God’s anger was no longer against those who believe in Christ, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1).
There can never be another way to be saved for there could never be anyone else who could pay the price for sin. Scripture tells us that there is no “salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Even though man continues to seek another way but by Christ Jesus, hey are doomed to failure and disappointment, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).