The ABC of the Gospel
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus….let us draw near.
At my first approach to God I was made nigh by the blood of Christ, and to continue in that new relationship I came through the blood every time. It is not that I was saved on one basis and that I now maintain my fellowship with him on another. You say, “That is very simple, it is the ABC of the gospel.” Yes, but the trouble with many of us is that we have moved away from the ABC. We have thought we had progressed and so dispense with it, but one can never do so.
For it is the one secure way to him. Of course, were it conceivably possible for the precious blood to suffer any change, the basis of our approach to God might be less trustworthy. But the blood of Christ has never changed and never will. God looks upon it, and is satisfied. Our approach to him is therefore always in boldness.
Religion complicates our relationship with God. Once we move from being relationally with God and move toward a rule-based religion, we are actually distancing ourselves from God. Besides all this, no religious practice or ritual is sufficient to allow us to draw near to God for all our attempts at righteousness is nothing more than “filthy rags.” The deception of Satan tries to convince us that we are capable of covering our sins and if Gos somehow discovers them, He will punish or destroy us.
From the very beginning we find humans attempting to cover their sin. Once Adam and Eve had ate the fruit and discovered their nakedness, they made for themselves fig leave clothes. But it was in vain. What their story teaches us is that at best any effort on our own to clothe ourselves- whether fig leaves, rituals, or any other religious trappings- it will be only temporary. Consider the fact that had they been successful in covering themselves, the fig leaves would eventually wither and fall apart leaving them in the same state as before. Again and again they would have had to seek out new leaves and make new coverings, most likely on a daily basis.
Thankfully God found them in their hiding place and provided covering for their sins through the shed blood of innocent animals and pointing to the ultimate covering of the blood of the Lamb. It wasn’t long before their descendants forgot this story and entered again into the futile race to find redemption by their own efforts. The sad story is that the more they depended on their effort the less they turned to God and in dong so their minds and hearts became increasingly corrupted. The story of Noah and the Ark reminds us that human attempt to be righteous fails for the sin nature is so strong that it deludes us into thinking that wrong is right. Noah wasn’t delivered by his own effort but by following carefully the instructions if God and working in corporation with Him. God gave the plan and Noah built the Ark. But it was God who shut the door and kept Noah safe- not because Noah was perfect but because “Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord. The first act after the door was opened was the offering of a sacrifice. Once again it was the shed blood of a lamb pointing toward the Cross.
We find God making covenant promise to Abraham while standing in a river of blood flowing from the animals Abraham had sacrificed.
It was the covering of the blood of lambs smeared on the door posts and lintel of the Israelites homes that kept them safe as the death angel passed over Egypt on the night of deliverance.
It was the blood of sacrifice that permitted the High Priest to come into the Holy of Holies and offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people.
By the time we get to Jesus’ day, the rituals were elaborate and religious laws ruled the day. Instead of a living relationship with God that stemmed from the heart, it was a dead religious ritual that had took on a life of its own and the practice of it was more important than God Himself. Religion had become so much a bondage that Jesus described those who practiced it as “sepultures full of dead bones,” beautiful on the outside but fill with death inwardly. What an apt description of religion.
How sad it is that religion often hinders our relationship with God and how sad it is that we as Christians have complicated the ABC’s of salvation. I pose some questions to us:
Was God sending His Son to redeem us sufficient or would we rather have “fig leaf” religion that we attribute success to our efforts? (“I thank God I’m not like that sinner.”)
Was Christ dying on the cross a sufficient sacrifice for the penalty of my sins? If so why do I keep trying to earn grace?
Is the shed blood of Jesus sufficient to forgive all my sins and to cleanse me from all my unrighteousness? If so why am I letting my past dictate my present and affect my future?
Over and over again the Bible teaches the truth that the shed blood of Jesus on the Cross is sufficient and the only means to find redemption and have eternal life. Hebrews makes it clear that there is no more need for the sacrifice of sheep or cows for Christ Jesus has once and forever brought our salvation through His own blood poured out on the mercy seat in heaven.
We are the people of the New Covenant and our salvation isn’t completed by our feeble attempts of righteousness. It is completed by the work of Christ on the Cross, period.
You might say but what about how I live and what I say or do? Isn’t that important too?
Absolutely, but not if we put the cart before the horse. Our works of righteousness and our living holy comes out of a close relationship with Christ and a proper assessment of the price of our redemption. As long as we feel we have in some way “earned” our salvation, we feel justified in living as we choose. Once we see the extreme price that our redemption and salvation cost God, it is our overwhelming gratitude and love that motivates us to live in righteousness. Our service to God stems not from earning “gold stars” but a desire to please Him. Once we comprehend that we have access to His presence our prayer life moves from obligatory duty to delightful conversation with our Heavenly Father.
As Christians let us ask God to deliver us from the bondage of the old covenant and bring us into the new and living way of the new covenant in which we trust in the power of the blood of the Lamb slain alone.
Revelation gives us the necessary insight in to this way of living:
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom (dominion, reign) of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come; for the accuser of our [believing] brothers and sisters has been thrown down [at last], he who accuses them and keeps bringing charges [of sinful behavior] against them before our God day and night. And they overcame and conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, for they did not love their life and renounce their faith even when faced with death.”
Revelation 12: 10-11
Notice nothing of religion, ritual or works are mentioned here. Two things:
“They overcame him(Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony.” In other words their testimony was that the blood of Christ that had been applied to their hearts was sufficient alone. They depended solely on its power and trusted not in any of their works or rituals.
Religion will always leave us short of the mark no matter how hard we try, but Christ through the power of His blood will complete the journey.
As the old hymn says:
What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Dr. John Thompson