Discover a few of the inclusions in our “benefits package” of salvation.
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
In Part one of this series, we looked briefly at the fact that at our salvation, we were given much more than we realize. As great as it is to be forgiven of our sins, this is just the introduction into the abundant grace in which we now stand (Rom. 5:2). Our forgiveness came as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. Having been forgiven, we stand justified before God “(just as if I’d” never sinned). We can better understand and appreciate God’s amazing grace when we see “justify” as it was used as a legal forensic term in the courtroom of Paul’s day. After hearing the evidence, the judge would pronounce the defendant either “condemned” or “justified.”
The one who is justified has been declared (not made) righteous and then treated as such. This is where grace comes in for the Christian. We are declared righteous only because Christ, as our substitute, paid the penalty our sins deserved. He died in our place. Because of His sacrifice, we are declared righteous even though we are guilty. As a result of being justified as a gift, we receive the additional gift of God’s own righteousness. As Christ becomes our life, His righteousness becomes ours, and it has nothing to do with the belief that Christ kept the Law for us, thus making us righteous. That’s legalism, and it has no place in the life of the Gentile believer, who was never under the Law (of Moses). It was only for the nation of Israel. Christ never needed to become righteous or to be declared righteous. He always was righteous, and it was His intrinsic righteousness that was accounted to us.
So far, we can see that believers are recipients of the gift of being justified and the gift of righteousness. A third gift is the gift of satisfaction, not ours, but God’s. This isn’t one that we think much about or even consider, but we should, and it’s all tied up in the word propitiation. To propitiate is “to satisfy the demands of.” In our case, it’s the righteous demands of God’s law (in which His righteous character was displayed). The specific requirement regarding man’s sin was that the soul that sins must die (Ezek. 18:4). Sin requires death. Blood must be shed because the life of the flesh is in the blood (Lev. 17:11).
Therefore, sin must be punished by death, and when blood is shed on behalf of the guilty one, God’s wrath against sin is satisfied. God is satisfied. In the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament), propitiation is translated “mercy seat” (where the blood was sprinkled). This kept God from judging His people. It covered all their guilt. This is where God met with man.
AS I SEE IT
For us today, Jesus is the only place where God in heaven will meet with man on earth. Jesus is our propitiation, our mercy seat. This is why Paul sums up: There’s one God and one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5). Because Jesus is our propitiation, we can know for certain that God is holding nothing against us (unless we are harboring unconfessed sin). We are free to draw near to the throne of grace to receive God’s mercy whenever we need it. What a gift!
As wonderful as this is, God’s grace keeps on coming, overflowing like an unstoppable fountain, refreshing and overflowing. It’s been here since we were born again, but we, to our shame, have been unaware of it, taken it for granted, ignored it or neglected it. Let’s not let Satan rob us of our joy any longer. Here’s another example of God’s abundant grace-the gift of reconciliation.
Reconciliation is tied to the word atonement, which means “to bring together that which had been separated.” When the King James version of the Bible was published in 1611, atonement meant “at-one-ment,” coming from a position of enmity to one of friendship. This is why the KJV uses atonement in Romans 5:11″
While most other translations substitute reconciliation for atonement, the KJV is equally accurate, based on what the word meant back then. (Today, we tend to see atonement as the entire work that Christ accomplished on the cross.) In any case, the point is that Christ willingly endured the cross to bring us back into an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. He reconciled us to the Father. Our relationship to Him has been changed completely, and this is a gift we should treasure forever.
We all know the pain of a broken relationship when we were at fault. Praise God, we also have experienced the joy when the breach was repaired and the friendship was restored. When sin separated us from God, He was the one in pain. He longed for us to be reconciled to Him when we couldn’t have cared less. If He hadn’t done what had to be done, we’d still be hell-bound self-serving rebels separated from the Father’s love. Reconciliation was the Father’s gift to us.
I hope this little journey will encourage you to seek out the other gifts included in God’s package of abundant grace. As we dwell and come to appreciate each one, we can’t help but fall more in love with the giver of all good gifts. His love for His children is limitless. Pay attention as you search His word. His gifts are hidden in plain sight for those who are searching. Enjoy the hunt!
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.
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