As I mentioned in the last blog (http://flagshipchurch.org/2012/04/24/truth-for-today-substitute-needed/) not just anyone can pay for the sins of another. Everyone is obligated to pay the same debt because everyone is a sinner. To have our sin debt paid, sin destroyed, and to be renewed from the inside out and be made righteous in the sight of God, we need a complete spiritual transformation that only Jesus Christ can provide!
In John 3 Jesus referred to this spiritual transformation as being “born again.” He was speaking to a man who had been DOING things all of his life to try to bring himself to God. However, Jesus makes it clear to this man that what he needs is a new birth. Listen to the words of Christ as He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 ESV).
The problem with DOING is that:
- It does not take away the things we have previously done. In other words good works never take away or cover past sin.
- It does not change our spiritual identity. Scripture makes it clear that we must become righteous. This righteousness can never be earned. God provides His righteousness through a “transfer” that happens when one trusts Christ and what He has DONE.
- It does not please God. Hebrews 11 reminds us that without “faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please [God]” (emphasis mine). As a matter of fact DOING to be right with God is like saying that what God has DONE is not good enough or acceptable to us.
Jesus goes on to tell this very religious man that “…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5b KJV). Every individual experiences the “water birth” (natural birth), but every individual needs to experience the “spiritual birth.” I had the privilege to see each of my children come into this world through the natural birth process. However, the spiritual birth is not something that can be seen with the physical eyes; it is an inward transformation that takes place within one’s heart. Evidence of this birth will be seen as the individual grows in their love for and knowledge of Christ. Just like one cannot see the wind but can see the evidence of the wind, evidence for true Christianity will be demonstrated as one grows in their walk with God.
There is only one Substitute that can provide all of this for us. We find out who this substitute is in various places throughout Scripture, but notice what Romans 5:6 and 8 says-“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (ESV, emphasis mine). Hebrews reminds us that Christ “tasted death for every man.” Jesus also made it clear that only one Substitute will bring us to God. Notice His words in John 14:6b-“I am the way, the truth, and the life: NO MAN cometh unto the Father, but by ME” (KJV, emphasis mine). Jesus made it as clear as anyone can possibly make it. He leaves no room for misinterpretation! We do not come to God through baptism, church membership, a priest, a religion, or any other way. We come to God through Jesus Christ and what He has DONE!
Not only did Christ die for our sins, but three days later he physically and literally walked out of the grave! No other religious leader can make that claim and back it up. He was seen of over five-hundred eye witnesses after His resurrection. His disciples had returned to their old line of work and were discouraged. After they saw the risen Christ, they once again walked away from their careers, and every one of them followed Christ until they day they gave their life for His cause. If they knew the resurrection was just a hoax, why would they be willing to die horrible deaths for a message they knew to be a lie? Would you die for a lie?
I will conclude with these words from Cary Schmidt as he writes about the resurrected Christ, “He came to Earth for one reason—it was the only way to rescue us from the ruthless enemy of sin. This enemy had so invaded our world that it was holding us hostage to condemnation. God loves us so much that He literally came to Earth to rescue us” (DONE: What Most Religions Don’t Tell You About the Bible, p. 61).