(This series is taken from the book “Redeemed” by Jack Exum, published in e-Book format on Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/488224 (as well as on Amazon.com).
It is ridiculous, a far-fetched fantasy, the most unbelievable, silly, foolish fiction ever heard, IF IT WERE NOT TRUE! God became a man, and lived a perfect life, was crucified on a Roman cross, and through the shedding of his blood, he provided the way of REDEMPTION FOR ALL MANKIND.
Salvation is ‘By grace through faith’ (Ephesians 2:8). Paul was a highly educated man, perhaps genius… and declares, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” Man’s ‘wisdom,’ falls short of God’s, and His plan to save man, (I Corinthians 1:18-29).
Here are a few things that many struggle in believing… 1.) God created the heavens and the earth! (Genesis1:1) 2.) Noah built an ark. Genesis 6:14). 3.) Abraham was told by God to leave his country and go where God wanted! (Genesis 12:1-4) 4.) The prophet Isaiah spoke of the virgin birth (of Jesus)! (Isaiah 7:14) 5.) Jesus said his blood was to be offered for the remission of sins! (Matthew 26:28) 6.) Jesus’ death was for us! (Hebrews 2:9) 7.) Paul the ‘persecutor’ was converted, and became a preacher (Galatians 2). All of these are TRUE!
The logical, pragmatic, reasonable mind often says, “NO WAY,” while the heart says, “YES!” You can have DOUBTS, QUESTIONS, in your head and FAITH in your heart. As your faith grows, doubts leave, and conviction comes. As Paul said, “… faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17).
The primary purpose of the cross of Christ was to uphold God’s righteousness in forgiving sinful man. How could God be righteous and justify, forgive, sinners, and still retain his righteousness?
How can God be true to Himself and yet justify sinful man? His righteousness demands that someone has to pay the price, and ‘balance the books.’ A perfect, innocent sacrifice was needed – JESUS had to die on the cross. Without Jesus death on the cross, God could not justify saving us, so we would be lost (Romans 3:20-26). Jesus paid it all. Through the cross, God’s righteous and man’s salvation is secured. HE DIED FOR SIN – SO WE CAN DIE TO SIN.
Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). His life was changed just as ours can be changed.
Jesus spoke of this ‘drastic change’ in terms of a “new birth.”
The elements of this “new birth are a ‘birth’ of “water” AND “Spirit” (one birth with two elements) (John 3:5). On Pentecost, 3,000 respond to the message of Peter who said “Repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:36-40). Two commands were given, (1) Repent and (2) be baptized. Two promises were given, (1) Forgiveness and (2) the gift of the Holy Spirit. These believers experienced the “new birth,” and were added to the one body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13).
(All references are from the 2011 edition of the NIV.)