Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Atonement: Salvation, Sanctification and Free Choice

Today's lesson is about the Gospel. Rom. 1:16

-why must man be saved?
-what does it mean to be saved?
-how can man be saved?
-why did Jesus have to die?
-What exactly happens at salvation?
-why do Christians continue to struggle?
-Being disciples, making disciples and ambassadorship.

The answers to these questions are real—that is they are not just “because that’s what God said” type answers.

-we are real, and our life and choices really matter: to both God and man! Our nature had to be changed form selfish to holy and Jesus really did have to suffer the punishment and death for our sins if we were going to be saved!

The atonement or atonement theory attempts to provide answers to the questions listed above. Atonement means reconciliation, Christ's atonement was therefore the means of reconciling humanity with God.

I. Why must man be saved? Matt. 10:28 and James 2:26

Summary: Man has a bad heart and the heart is of ultimate importance!
-Man’s Sin Nature or Bad Heart resulted in spiritual death, which means it is impossible for him to have a relationship with God. It also resulted in all men sinning: Paul says for all have sinned! and in Romans 6:23 Paul says, the wages of sin is death and eternal punishment: mankind is in a bad way!

Biblical Text highlighting the importance of the heart—i.e., the soul’s ultimate motivation:
Matt. 15:8-9
Matt. 15:19-20
Jer. 17:9

II. What does it mean to be saved?
1. Man must be restored to proper place before God and furthermore must be able to maintain that place.
2. Three necessary requirements for salvation:
a. The damaged soul must be repaired.
-the damaged soul is incapable of having a relationship with God.
b. The sin penalty must be paid.
-Note that Jesus’ sinless life not only allowed him to suffer for our sins but also allowed humanity—through Jesus—to merit eternity with God. The Bible tells us the wages of sin is death and that the lost will be eternally separated from God: sin requires eternal punishment, or the equivalent, for the sins of each person.
c. Free choice must be maintained.
-salvation must entail restoring man to the original state — after initial creation and that was a state of holiness with an ability to make free choices that have real consequences.

III. How can man be saved?
1. What can be done to fix the damaged soul?
a. First, a creature cannot choose to fix its nature.
-“For the chooser is what is broken”
b. Nature is prior to choice. Therefore choices are result of nature, not a means by which a nature can be fixed.
c. Only the Creator can re-create or fix a nature: the person with a sin nature is powerless to do anything about it; he must rely entirely on the grace of his Creator God to fix the nature. Eph. 2:8, 9
2. How can the sin penalty be paid?
a. It cannot be paid by a sinner keeping the law.
-Important: keeping the law—or proper behavior—cannot be used to satisfy an instance of breaking the law.
i. Example: When a person runs a red light, he or she cannot argue for innocence based on the fact that they had stopped at all the other red lights.
ii. Example: A murderer may not offer to the court an argument for his innocence such as that even though I killed this person; I allowed all the other people to live.
iii. Galatians 2:2
b. Only someone who has no sin can die for sin.
-see above the brief discussion on how a person must always keep all the law and cannot use keeping the law as a means for “making up” for an instance of breaking the law.
3. How can our free choice to sin — which must result in eternal punishment — be maintained, yet God not have to punish us?
-Jesus suffers the equivalent of eternal punishment vicariously for us.

IV. Why did Jesus have to die?
1. First note that scripture indicates there was no other way.
a. Matthew 26:39
b. Luke 22:42
2. The death and suffering of the second person of the Trinity, if not absolutely necessary, would have to be considered a terrible act instead of the greatest display of love.
3. Jesus was the only person who had not sinned.
-The lack of sin made it possible for Jesus to pay for our sins and to merit eternity in heaven.
4. The necessity of the Incarnation:
a. Why the second person of the Trinity took on a human nature:
i. The virgin birth and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit provided for the sinless human nature of Jesus.
ii. To live a perfect life in order to merit our perfect standing before God and to suffer and die for our sins.
iii. So that he could suffer and die for our sinful choices.
-The Second Person, in his divine nature alone, could not suffer or die—for a perfect immutable person cannot die.
iv. Much more could and needs to be said about the incarnation, but that is beyond the scope of this lesson.

V. What exactly happens at salvation?
a. Through grace by faith we understand we are lost and in need of salvation and ask God to save us. - Eph. 2:8, 9
b. Then instantaneously, God through the Holy Spirit repairs our damaged soul making it reoriented to God. We are now a new creature in Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit:
i. 2 Cor. 5:17
ii. Galatians 6:15
c. By the atoning sacrifice of Jesus our sins are paid for:
i. Romans 4:7-8
ii. Romans: 8:1
d. Holy Spirit now — in some way — dwells with us. He is our guarantee of continuing salvation, and our helper. (Certainly there is much more to be said concerning the role of the Holy Spirit in both the life of the Christian and non-Christian, however that is beyond the scope of this lesson.)
e. Note that our decisions still result in ultimate consequences: that is, Jesus suffered the consequences—punishment and death—our sinful choices merited.
f. The saved person is now in right standing soulishly and judicially: that is our sin nature has been repaired and our sin debt has been paid.
g. We also now merit eternal life with God, due to Jesus’ living a perfect life. That is Jesus atoning sacrifice didn't just take care of the negative aspects of our sinful nature and sinful choices, but also positively, earned us eternity with God.

VI. Given our new nature and standing before God: why do Christians still struggle with sin issues? Romans 7:19-24 Paul struggles.
1. Although God gives us a new heart, he does not reformat our mind.
-we still have sinful thoughts and habits that must be dealt with.
2. Salvation is instantaneous: sanctification is a process.
3. Salvation is by grace alone: sanctification involves our effort.
4. We must put on the full armor of God.
a. It starts with salvation, but it does not end there.
b. We seem to have many spiritual streakers: they have put on the helmet of salvation, but nothing else. 
5. Romans 12:2
6. Proverbs 4:23
a. Do your best to maintain innocence, stay away from sinfulness.
b. Philippians 4:8

God loves you and has provided a means for your salvation.
If you are saved, he has provided means for your sanctification.
* Note: 3 necessary requirements for mankind to be of ultimate importance—or value:
1. Man must have God as Creator and Ultimate standard.
a. We must have a Creator
b. God is an eternal, immutable perfect being. This makes him the standard or measure for all lesser beings.
c. The creatures that are most like God are the most valuable being—e.g., humans are more valuable than dogs.
2. Man must be immortal.
a. If humanity lasts only for a time, then ultimately we are not valuable. If each person passes out of existence at death; then there is no ultimate meaning.
3. Our decisions must really matter—that is mankind's choices must result in ultimate consequences. Or it could be stated, that our Ultimate Destination must be decided by our free choice.
a. The question of election or predestination might be raised against this point.
b. It seems clear in scripture that our choices are real and have consequences.
c. Also, I believe that God’s acts of election do not have to be made to contradict with the fact that man has complete freedom to make “real” choices.

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