Issues Pertaining to Sin and Salvation
By Al Stoner
Sin and Salvation. The Bible has primarily to do with sin and salvation. We are speaking here of salvation that is of God, by the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit. This is salvation from sin, with all of its deadly effects, from moral and religious errors, along with their incarcerating consequences, from the curse of the Law, from the bondage of corruption, and from the wrath to come. It is salvation unto eternal life, unto immortality, unto an everlasting dominion the the world to come, and unto the marriage of the Lamb, of which all of God's redeemed sons and daughters shall be made partakers. The primary issues of life, as well as "the issues from death" (Ps. 68:20), that pertain to us while we are yet in this world, have to do with sin and salvation from sin along with the many consequences that the entrance of sin into the world has introduced. The professed church has been grossly recreant in its failure to faithfully declare the real issues that beset men and women in this wicked and perverse generation in which we live. These are issues such as preparing men to die well, and to give a strict account for the deeds done in the body in that day when God shall judge the secrets of men by that Man whom He has ordained, namely the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son.
From the perspective of the effects that sins has brought upon men we are speaking of consequences. However, from the standpoint of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, sin has introduced numberless complexities, foreknown unto Him alone, which were not easy even for Him to justly resolve.
But that is what salvation is largely about--namely the just and righteous resolution of those complexities, so that the Father and the Son would both be glorified through the sufferings of Christ and the glory which has followed, and, by this also, believing men would be eternally delivered from their sin and its consequences. Equally true is the inconceivably great blessedness unto which they are being delivered in the ages to come. "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him" (I Cor. 2:9).
God is "merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Exod. 34:6),as the Scripture declares, but He is also "righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works" (Ps. 145:17). He is "of purer eyes than to behold evil, and" cannot "look on iniquity" (Hab. 1:13). "He cannot deny Himself" (II Tim. 2:13), which is to say that the Lord God cannot and does never act in a manner that is contrary to His own holy and righteous Character. Therefore if men, in their carelessness and neglect of "so great salvation" (Heb. 2:1-2), are banking on God making an exception for their individual case, they are hoping in a cloud that will swiftly vanish out of sight.
As we have mentioned, the salvation which is in Christ Jesus is a salvation from sin, from the curse of the law, and from the wrath to come, and unto the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ throughout the endless ages to come. It is the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. For "there is none other Name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). This way to glory is so narrow that only the Lord Jesus Christ, and those who are in Him can make safe passage through it. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (I Cor. 15:50), nor can "the unrighteous" (I Cor. 6:9), nor can they which "do such things" as the Apostle enumerated in Galatians 5:19-21. To express this another way, the only way for men to arrive safely in the world to come is to "be found in" (Phil. 3:9) "Jesus Christ the Righteous" (I Jn. 2:1-2), "not having" our "own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Phil. 3:9).
But from the perspective of "the principalities and powers in heavenly places", their primary focal point is "the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10-11). And it is in this arena of sin and salvation that God is demonstrating to the heavenly intelligences His manifold wisdom. Angelic beings are presently being schooled in many of the ways of God that were heretofore unknown and unperceived by them. There were things about God's Person and Character that were hidden from their eyes in former times because the paths of service, in which they traversed, did not reveal to them the things which they are presently and earnestly scrutinizing (cf. I Pet. 1:12).
For example, how would God justly and righteously remedy the exceedingly grievous sin issue? The holy angels had witnessed some of their own number sin, with God consequently casting them down to hell (II Pet. 2:4) without remedy. With regard to the holy angels, in all of their familiarity with, and their love and reverence for, the God who created them, they never beheld the likes of their Creator seeing the travail of His Son's soul and being satisfied (that sin was once and for all put away) (cf. Isa. 53:11). This is the "God who created all things by Christ Jesus" (Eph. 3:9). They had witnessed His great severity and wrath in casting down to hell those, who, among their own number, had rebelled against their Creator, who is blessed forever.
The holy angels had known of the love of God in former times in measure in His gracious dealings with them, but not at all to the degree in which this same God would spare not His own Son, and deliver Him up for us all (cf. Rom. 8:32). They beheld as God justly commended His love toward us (cf. Rom. 5:8) who were unlovable, justifying the ungodly (Rom. 4:5), when He "sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I Jn. 4:10) at a time "when we were yet without strength" (Rom. 5:6). Truly, these are breathtaking things for both men and angels to behold and consider wherever eyes are not holden. We give thanks to God that in His manifold wisdom He has devised "means, that His banished be not expelled from Him" (II Sam. 14:14).