vicarious atonement of Christ

Two Sons and Two Fathers

Thursday, April 20, 2017

“And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:” (Luke 23:18 KJV).

One son will be liberated to live, and the other Son will be sentenced to die!

At the time of Christ’s trial, Barabbas is a prisoner (Matthew 27:16). Barabbas is a murderer, a robber, and guilty of “insurrection,” or rebelling against the government (Mark 15:7; Luke 23:18,19; John 18:40).

It is Passover. Roman governor Pontius Pilate has a custom that, at the feast, he releases a prisoner, whomever the people desire (Matthew 27:15; Mark 15:6). “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:20-22).

Israel’s chief priests, rulers, and common people all demand Christ’s crucifixion and Barabbas’ release, so Pilate gives the sentence (Luke 23:23-25). Guilty Barabbas is set free to live, and innocent Jesus Christ is condemned to be crucified. While Barabbas’ involvement in the matter seems insignificant upon first glance, God included it in His written Word because to provide us with an amazing illustration!

“Barabbas” means “son of the father.” Barabbas is a criminal, and he represents sinful, rebellious mankind who is worthy of death. He is bound by sin, and faces eternal death. Spiritually, sinful mankind is the son of Satan—man is of his father the devil (John 8:44). Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, God, “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), but took upon Himself our sins and was punished in our place.

Innocent Jesus Christ took the place of guilty Barabbas, which actually represented Christ taking the place of the whole world, suffering God’s wrath on our behalf! “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust…” (1 Peter 3:18). Thus, through Christ’s finished crosswork, we sinful sons of Adam (and Satan) can be freed from sin, and we can become the righteous sons of God.

The Bible’s Season of New Life

Monday, April 17, 2017

“God that made the world and all things therein… he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:24,25 KJV).

May we never forget the true meaning of Eastertime!

Satan is the master counterfeiter: from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures reveal how the devil schemes to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Whatever God does, Satan defiles that work by introducing false doctrine, distracts mankind from God’s truth by mimicking His actions, discourages God’s people from His ministry by using incorrect thinking patterns, and so on. Why? Satan wants the worship that God alone deserves (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).

Consider Christmastime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping the birth of the sun god in early winter—near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) took upon human flesh in the virgin Mary’s womb! Now, consider Eastertime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping fertility deities and new life in early spring, near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) died for our sins and resurrected victoriously over sin, death, hell, and Satan to give us new life! (To Satan’s delight, today’s average church member is not mindful of relevant sound Bible doctrine during Christmastime and Eastertime—the devil’s distractions have never lost their efficacy!)

The God of the Bible instituted in Israel a festival, Passover (the killing of a spotless lamb and its bloodshed in early spring), while they were still in Egypt (Exodus chapter 12)—Passover’s annual observance reminded them of JEHOVAH delivering them from Egyptian slavery unto new life. Israel did not understand its meaning until 1,500 years later. The true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ, died and shed His sinless blood during that annual Passover feast (early spring), and He resurrected in new life to give them spiritual life and liberty.

Yes, the pagans may have “hijacked” this time of year for the devil’s glory, but we can disregard their ignorance: spring is God’s season for new life. We can still use this season to bring the God of the Bible glory by remembering that He has given us physical life (today’s Scripture), and He offers us new life (that is, spiritual life) through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why was Paul eager to preach the Gospel to the Christians at Rome?

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 16, 2017

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #1

Friday, April 14, 2017

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Psalm 22:1-21 provides us with a glimpse of Jesus’ thoughts as He endured that awful crucifixion: He is greatly tormented physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Various verses in Psalm 69 provide additional insight, especially as death begins to close in on His soul. Written about 1000 B.C., these and other “Messianic psalms” graphically describe assorted events in our Lord’s earthly life (in this case, His crucifixion)… centuries before they occurred!

What Jesus Christ thought about while suspended on Calvary’s cross was the Holy Scriptures. He had faith in the Old Testament passages that applied to Him. No matter what happened to Him, He knew it was His Father’s will, and His Father would be glorified. As He stated earlier, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup [of Thy wrath; Revelation 14:10] from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt (Mark 14:36). “…The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him (John 8:29bc).

Do you realize what today’s Scripture is saying? Jesus Christ felt immense physiological and spiritual pain, but He thought about the overall view: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (cf. Psalm 16:8-11). Yes, the Old Testament spoke of His suffering, and those Scriptures must be fulfilled, but it also testified of His glorious kingdom that would follow, and those Scriptures also were to be fulfilled in due time! “…The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). While it did not diminish the extent of His distress and suffering, Jesus Christ kept in memory the glory His Father would give Him once He had endured the crucifixion (Philippians 2:8-11). It gave Him such joy. He felt grief unspeakable, but He also had joy unfathomable!

Our archived Bible Q&A: “Where was Jesus during the three days between His death and resurrection?

Love Commended, Love Rejected

Monday, February 6, 2017

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8 KJV).

Friend, one of life’s greatest disappointments and injuries occurs when you offer someone your love and they trample it underfoot. They did not deserve your love; you did not deserve their hate. Likewise, we do not deserve God’s love, yet we enjoy it; He does not deserve our hate, and yet He receives it.

“Haters of God” (Romans 1:30) gripe about how He was so cruel and bloodthirsty in the Old Testament. What stares them in the face is the groundwork, the predictions, of the cross of Christ, found in those ancient writings. As they mumble and grumble in total ignorance, they ignore the love that God commended toward them at Calvary. To “commend” means, “to offer/present as worthy of acceptance or praise” (similar to “recommend”). Howbeit, they will neither accept nor praise that love that motivated Christ Jesus to die for our sins! Since they reject Father God’s truth and His love proclaimed therein, He will give them exactly what they prefer.

Second Thessalonians chapter 2 pronounces their impending doom, the coming of Satan’s emissary, Antichrist, the extreme depths of human wickedness: “[10] And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [11] And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: [12] That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Once they are consumed in Jesus Christ’s fiery Second Coming, and swiftly ushered alive into the everlasting fires of hell, they will know that it is not God who is “unloving.” No, they were unloving in that they “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” from such a hateful place!

My friend, hate God no longer. Come to Him by faith in His Son, and His Son alone!

Household Rules #11

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God (Colossians 1:25 KJV).

And, just what is this “dispensation of God which is given to [Paul] for [us]?”

The Mosaic Law was not given forever; that dispensation was not meant to operate into eternity future. It was only given to Israel temporarily—namely, to prove to her that God would make her His people. The Jews could never do enough to please God: their religious efforts were utterly futile. Their nation would only exist because of God’s work. Although the Law was given to Israel, it showed all nations to be guilty before God” (Romans 3:19). “Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (verse 20). Chapter 3 proceeds to explain how there came a dispensational change—Law to Grace. With that new dispensation came a new Gospel!

Another one of the major “household rules” in effect today is we are under grace, not law (Romans 6:14,15)—that goes for initial justification before God, a right standing before Him to go to heaven, as well as for daily Christian living, practical sanctification. Our performance will never measure up to God’s perfect standards. However, Jesus Christ’s performance at Calvary does please God. The Gospel of the Grace of God, Paul’s Gospel, is most clearly and succinctly defined in 1 Corinthians chapter 15: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you…. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

We have a sin problem, friends, and commandments cannot help us. Thus, Jesus Christ died for our sins, shed His blood to pay for those sins, that by simple faith in Him and Him alone, we can join the Church the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:1-22), the Holy Spirit can baptize us into Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), all because of what Christ did, not because of our religious works….

A Saviour Who Will Save

Monday, January 2, 2017

“…Jesus Christ of Nazareth… Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10,12 KJV).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can save man from the everlasting hellfire he deserves!

A frequent objection made against Christianity is that every religion has “good” members, and to ignore them and limit heaven to a few Christians is unfair. This is a defected notion. How does one arrive at a definite conclusion when there is no one standard to gauge everyone’s “goodness?” They are “good” according to whom, according to what standard? Remember, relative morality actually does not help the sinner—he may be a “better” sinner than another, but he is also a “worse” sinner than yet another, and whether “better” or “worse,” he is still a sinner!

The God of the Bible has a simple method for determining righteousness. Today, He sees two types of people—saints and lost people. While both groups were born in sins (Ephesians 2:1-3), “shapen in iniquity [in the womb]” (Psalm 51:5), and “condemned already” (John 3:18), only the saints have come to realize their lost state. Job asked in Job 9:2, “How should a man be just [righteous, acceptable] with God?” Saints have come to the acknowledgement that they needed God’s righteousness, that they had a massive sin debt that they could never satisfy, that their “righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), that they could never possibly make themselves right before a holy God (He is the standard; Romans 3:23). The lost people, however, do not realize they are lost, for they believe their religious works “score points” with God and make up for their sinful deeds (2 Corinthians 4:3,4). They ignore the finished crosswork of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

Saints have come by faith to Jesus Christ, whose name literally means, “Anointed Saviour” (cf. Psalm 2:2; Matthew 1:21). As the writer of the book of Hebrews said, “[Jesus] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (7:25). Literally, no world religion has such a “Saviour” as Jesus Christ!

NOTE: Friends and readers, remember this ministry’s financial needs throughout 2017. Let me stress to you that this ministry has grown significantly, so we do need faithful (monthly) funding to continue serving you this year. Whatever you can give is greatly appreciated! You can donate electronically (and securely) to us by visiting https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux. Contact me at arcministries@gmail.com if you want to give by personal check via “snail mail.” Also, please remember our 60 Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. 🙂