God's Plan: Good News for All People!
Good news for a man who is starving would be to hear where to find food! Good news for a man dying of thirst in the desert, would be news of a spring full of
water! Good news, for a very ill man, would be news of a doctor who can heal him. But best news of all that we find in the Bible is that God Almighty has a plan to save us. He comes to us while we are lost sinners, and offers help and salvation in all its fullness.
When a Christian talks of "salvation," he means that God has made him free from:
1. the guilt of sin, because all his sins have been forgiven by God.
2. the power of sin, because God gives him victory over sin.
3. the eternal punishment with which God will punish every sin.
He has received a new life of peace and joy, and a personal relationship with God.
Promised From the Beginning
We find again and again that the Bible goes against our human way of doing things. By nature, we try to earn our salvation and victory over evil by our own efforts. We give alms, make great sacrifices and meditate
for hours. We have high respect for our own achievements and so we try to climb up to God by our own efforts. But no one can purify his own heart and change his own sinful nature.
When we discover this, the Bible has good news for us: God's way for us is completely different! He knows that we cannot change ourselves, and so he has made a plan that we may be saved.
When Adam and Eve became disobedient and tried to hide from God, it was God who took the first step. He came to
look for them and asked, "Where are you?" (Genesis 3:9.) Today he asks you the same question. Have you discovered that you are far away from what God wants you to be? Know that God loves you, and that he wants to help you.
In the same chapter that we read of Satan's victory over Adam and Eve, God promises that a descendant of Eve would have the final victory over Satan. He tells Satan,
"I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel."
And so, for thousands for thousands of years, God repeats again and again his promise of a Man that will bring blessing to all mankind. We read those promises in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Sacrifices are Examples
To prepare the way for this Man who would solve the greatest problem of all mankind, God chose first of all one man,
Abraham, and repeated the promise to him. Abraham's descendants became a whole nation, the children of Israel. God saved them from slavery in Egypt and gave his law to them. He also commanded them to make sacrifices for their sins. The punishment of sin Is death, as we have learnt already. Now God started to teach the Israelites two important lessons:
1. They had to learn how terrible sin is in the eyes of God. The punishment for any sin is death. God in his grace accepted the death of
an animal in the place of the death of a human being. Every time that they saw one of those animals killed as a sacrifice, they realized how great their sins were.
2. This brings us to the second lesson: that one need not pay for one's own sins. The sinner laid his hand on the head of the animal, and that action symbolized that the person's sin was laid on the animal (Leviticus 1:4).
Of course, no animal can really pay for the sins of a human being, as we read in the book of
"For the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sins."
But these sacrifices were examples of the sinless Christ that would come to take the sins of mankind on him, and to be punished for the sins of mankind.
"So God does away with all the old sacrifices
and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their place."
Jesus Paid the Debt
Again and again God spoke through
the prophets to explain his plan. Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ the following prophecy was written:
"Because of our sins he was wounded,
beaten because of the evil we did.
We are healed by the punishment he suffered,
made whole by the blows he received.
All of us were like sheep that were lost,
each of us going his own way.
But the Lord made the punishment fall on him,
the punishment all of us deserved."
Thus we learn that the Lord Jesus, by his death on the cross, paid the full price as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity. (This will be explained more fully in lessons 11 and 12.) This is worthy of deep and careful thought.
Whenever a man commits a sin or does a wrongful act (such as telling a lie, or stealing, or misleading a girl, or having lustful thoughts, or any other of the many ways that evil enters life), he incurs a "debt" before God. He incurs
"Karma". And so, over the years this debt grows larger and larger, and all the good deeds that we do can never cancel any of it.
No One Can Pay This Debt Himself
Even if we could pay for a sin with a good deed, we would never be sure how much to pay. What must one pay for the debt of a lie spoken? Or what must one do if one has fallen into some sexual sin? You see, if we were left to ourselves to wipe off all our "Karma," what a hopeless task we
would have! Can we ever hope to satisfy a holy God?
At school we need to have 40% or 50% to pass an examination. But to pass God's examination on the whole of our lives, from our first day to our last, we need 100% to pass. God says in the Bible that the laws of God are like the links of a chain, for:
"Whoever breaks one commandment
is guilty of breaking them all."
Nobody can hope to live a sinless life from his first day to his
last. Nobody can earn eternal life by himself.
Reform is Not Enough
Some people realize that they have been living in a sinful manner. Then they decide to reform themselves and try sincerely to live a good life. Is this enough? Will this good life cancel out the debts of sin?
Let us take the example of somebody who asks for credit at a shop. He promises to pay his debt at the end of the month. When the end of the month comes around, he discovers that his debt
at the shop is more than his salary! He will never be able to pay his debt. Suppose he goes to the owner of the store and explains his problem. Then he says, "I see that it is wrong to buy on credit. From now on I shall only pay cash!" We will find that the storeowner is not satisfied. Why not? Because the previous debt has not yet been paid!
Reforming your life is all very good, but first of all we need to make sure that our debts with God are all paid. And this is exactly
what God made provision for through Jesus Christ. In our next lesson we will learn more about him.
Test Yourself No. 10.
State whether the following statements are true or false. Then compare your answers to those given when you click here: [answers].
1. Man can change his nature by using his own will.
2. A good education can give us a pure heart --
3. No nation or human being is free from the curse of sin
4. It is enough to try and live a good life.
5. Christ opened the way to forgiveness by his death on the cross