Thursday, September 15, 2011

By Means of Death

And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 09:15, NKJV).
In Romans, the Apostle Paul writes this:
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7, 8, NKJV).
When I come face to face with the realization that I needed someone to die for me so that I might live, it undermines any illusion I might harbor about my personal worthiness. That is a good thing.

When I further understand that the Someone in view is the perfect and righteous Son of God, who knew no sin, and came to this planet precisely for the purpose of saving me, it emphasizes the truth about my helplessness and Christ's unspeakable heroism.

It is by means of death, His death, that I am redeemed from my transgressions against God's perfect Law, and through that redemption I become eligible to receive eternal life. It is not mine by anything other than inheritance, a beneficiary of Christ's Last Will and Testament - the New Covenant in His blood. It is certainly not mine by anything I have done other than heed the call, the invitation, to believe.

And it is only by inheritance that I could receive it, since I could never earn such a treasure, nor could anyone but He, who has been granted authority over all flesh, bequeath it to me.

Like any other Will and Testament, the testator - the author of it, had to both own what is being handed down, and had to die in order for the provisions to take effect.

So, my Savior had to die. For me.

His death was not of natural causes, nor was it in any way untimely. It was a deliberate act of sinful men according to the preordained counsel and foreknowledge of God.

Unlike human material inheritance, what is mine by Christ's death is more like genetic inheritance than anything else - it determines who I become. It changes who I would have been otherwise. It gives me His likeness, and empowers me to take on His traits and character. It changes me fundamentally and forever.

But like human inheritance, I can do nothing to forfeit this gift, or be disqualified as a recipient, because it is unconditionally mine by means of His death. There is a finality to the bequeathment that is irreversible because, in that legal sense of inheritance, His qualifying death is irreversible. 

The only thing that will prevent me from appropriating my inheritance is my willful rejection of the offer. I can refuse it, but if I sincerely receive it, I can't lose it, nor can it be taken from me.

No matter who I am or what I have done.

And in receiving my eternal inheritance, I am necessarily transformed by it. Who I was before receipt is very different from who I become afterward, and that transformation involves yet another death - my old sinful self. That part of me the Bible calls the natural man.

Thus, by means of death I am made alive, a new man, a new creation. I am no longer a son of Adam, but a son of God by faith. I am born again into a new family.

This is the greatest example I can conceive of God working all things together for good; even the most egregious enemy - death itself.

Without Christ, human death is entry not into annihilation, but into a horrific realm as far from God, and therefore as far from all that is good, as it is possible to be.

With Christ, through belief in Christ, human death is entry into His presence, and into a place prepared especially for my everlasting joy.

But make no mistake, the gift was not free. It cost God the life of His Son.