the plan of salvation


Is there a perfect plan of salvation? If so, who arranged it? For whom was it made? What was it like? Of course, if there is one, God must be back of it and Jesus must be involved in it. But if such a plan exists, what is it like? Let’s begin with this point – according to the Bible the salvation of every living person depends on Jesus Christ.

This is true whether they lived two thousand years before His birth, as Abraham did, or whether they live two thousand years after His birth, as we do. How is this? The plan of salvation called for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross as the payment for the sins of all time. Hebrews 9: 15 says, “for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” At the center is Christ. He was given for all mankind, whether they lived before His death or after His death.

How does this sacrifice relate to both the past and present? Those in centuries prior to Christ’s coming were unaware of the exact role He would play in their salvation or of His connection with later generations. Nor did the writing prophets have a clear idea how things would be worked out. Peter said they searched for more light on the subject (1 Pet. 1: 1 0). Regardless of how much or how little they knew, there is a truth revealed in the Bible that forever makes every man dependent on Him. That truth is, “without shedding of blood is no remission” (He b. 9:2 2).

Without the giving of the life of Christ there is no pardon. His death is the perfect offering for sins, theirs and ours. Who were these people who lived so long ago? The Bible deals with people who lived in two great time periods prior to Christ’s coming: first, the Patriarchal, that extended from Adam to Moses, and second, the Mosaic, that extended from Moses to Christ. The time period after the death of Christ is the Christian.

To be more specific, the Patriarchal age actually extended from Adam to Christ for the Gentiles, and for about fifteen hundred years, paralleled the Mosaic age which involved the Israelites only. In other words, from Adam to Moses, all men stood together before God, with God communicating to the heads of families. But in the Mosaic age

Section 1

God singled out the Israelites and gave them a special covenant. From that time until Christ died, the Israelites were subject to the covenant given at Sinai. The rest of humanity didn’t receive this special covenant. So they continued as they had before it was given. Both the Patriarchal and Mosaic periods ended at the cross.

In each of these time periods God gave laws and called on men to obey them. But the laws differed, depending on the age in which the people lived and whether they were Gentiles or Israelites. In the Patriarchal age the head of the family served as a priest, while in the Mosaic age only Levitical priests were permitted to do the actual sacrificing.

In the Christian age no animal sacrifices are to be made. The laws in these ages are so distinct one could not possibly be subject to any two sets at the same time. Once the change from the law of Moses to Christianity had been accomplished the New Testament prohibits a return to the earlier system (Gal. 5:4; Rom. 7: 1-7). There was a place for all three and each served its own purpose. The point is, God made the crucifixion vital to the effectiveness of each one. One thing called for, in each of these time periods, was a sacrifice. From the beginning, such offerings were made a part of divine service. In the beginning Abel offered a sacrifice (Gen. 4:4; Heb. 11 :4).

Later Noah offered a sacrifice immediately after the flood (Gen. 8: 20). Still later, when the covenant with Israel was given at Sinai, animal sacrifice was made a part of it (Num.29). In each case they were offered for sin, yet according to scripture they could not remove sin permanently. The reason? “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Reb. 10:4).The sin was remembered (Reb. 10:3), and another sacrifice had to be made. It is easy to see that although the Israelites continued their animal sacrifices, their sins would be remembered year after year.

When Jesus gave His life, their sins would finally be blotted out forever. Without Jesus there was no eternal pardon. His was the final payment. This again attests to the perfection of the offering of Christ. During the first two time periods God revealed His will in various ways (He b. 1: 1, 2). Sometimes He used types (examples), as in the case of Moses the mediator, prophet and lawgiver. Moses was a type of Jesus who would serve as the greater mediator, prophet and lawgiver (Deut. 18:18-20). The father in the Patriarchal age and the Levitical priest in the Mosaic age, offering animal sacrifices, were types of Jesus who later offered Himself to atone for sins. These examples were no longer needed when the final mediator and the final sacrifice

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came along. Otherwise a conflict would have developed. How could a system that depended on animal sacrifices and a human priesthood continue, after Jesus the real lamb of God, had been offered and after the great High Priest (Jesus) began His work? A change of the priesthood necessitated a change of the law (He b. 7: 12). God had one overall plan in which He called on men to tum to Him for salvation. The conditions He gave in each case were peculiar to the age in which the people lived.

The Israelites were subject to the covenant given at Sinai. All others were subject to the system that had been in force from the time of Adam. Both would be superseded by Christianity when the time was right (Gal. 4:4). The specific conditions for pardon that applied to Christianity would be announced when Christianity would be introduced.A timely question at this point is, if people who lived before the coming of Christ could live by the rules given them, and then receive pardon when Jesus died on the cross, why was there a need for Christianity? Why didn’t God permit the Patriarchal and Mosaic systems to continue till the last day, and on that day have Jesus give His life to take away sins? Would not all sinners have had an opportunity to be forgiven? Why was there a need for Christianity? If the other systems worked,

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why change them? There was a need because of what Christianity offers. The book of Hebrews gives what is probably the best reasons for Christianity, as it contrasts the old covenant with the new. It points out the new (Christianity) offers: a better hope (7: 19), a better testament (7:22), a better covenant (8:6-13),

better promises (8:6), a better sacrifice (9:12-14, 23), a better mediator (3:1-6), a better priesthood (7:11,15,16,24-28), a greater tabernacle (9: 11 ).There were also prophecies to be fulfilled concerning Christ: the virgin birth (Isa. 7: 14; Matt. 1 :23), His sacrifice (lsa.53 :7), and more. In addition there were prophecies to be fulfilled that involved His being the descendant of Abraham (Gal.3:16), and the son of David (Lk. 1:32,33).

Other reasons for Christianity include: Christ’s coming and sacrificial death were the greatest demonstrations of God’s love the world has ever seen (John 3 : 16;Rom. 5: 8,9).His coming provides the world with the clearest view of the Father. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14: 9).His coming enabled Him to bring life and i1nmortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1: 10). His coming provides the perfect example for us to follow. Others, as Abraham, David and Moses, had their strong points, but they also had their weaknesses. Jesus was sinless (1 Pet. 2:22; Phil. 2:5-11).God’s grace is best shown at Calvary.

There He gave His Son for us (John 3:16).The gospel is God’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1: 16). Christianity is the most powerful effort ever made to enlighten lost men. It offers the most evidence to build the trust that is needed. Christianity offers immediate pardon, fellowship, peace and hope. We become the sons of God the moment we obey. Step by step God revealed the truth, presenting evidence that led to Christianity .Jesus was involved in the plan from the beginning.

He was to leave heaven and on earth suffer for the lost. Now sincere men can examine the evidence, be convinced, and be persuaded to turn to God. When Jesus came, earlier covenants were taken away. They served their purpose in leading men to Christ. Once He completed His work they we:-e regarded as stepping stones, as a schoolmaster to lead to Him (Gal. 3:24 ).The perfect plan of salvation is God’s plan that has been revealed through the centuries and completed with Jesus

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We might even think of its revelation as a drama played out in three acts. The Patriarchal age would be act one in which the problem is presented. The Mosaic age would be act two in which great effort is exerted to deal with the problem and the third act would be the Christian age in which the problem is resolved. Of course the analogy is not precise, in part because of the overlapping of acts one and two as God dealt with the Gentiles and Israelites, since the two systems were operating for about fifteen hundred years at the same time. One marvelous thing about it is that, in the final act, we learn provision had been made for those who took part in the first two as well as for those in the third. This is God’s perfect plan of salvation, planned in heaven, executed on earth and revealed to us through the Bible.

Why was Christ’s sacrifice so perfect? Because it met the demands of both justice and mercy. A son gets in trouble, is arrested, charged with a crime, condemned and fined. But he has no means to pay the fine and faces a jail sentence. His father then steps in and offers to make the payment that will satisfy the demands of justice. In doing so he shows, to some extent, how much he cares. So with us. We sinned and are justly condemned. We have no means to pay for our wrongs. But God, our Father, makes the payment, not with money for this is insufficient, but with a willing Son who is ready to give up his life to save all who are condemned. In offering Himself He proves His love and the love of His heavenly Father. The result? Everyone is invited to share in the blessings, and all who accept by meeting the conditions of pardon, receive it.

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Christianity Offers:
A perfect Savior (John 1:36; Heb.10: 14; Acts 4: 10,11).
Perfect pardon (He b. 8: 12). Sins are not disremembered for a year but forever.
A perfect administration (Acts 2:47;Isa. 55:6,7). God pardons and the Lord adds to His church which is the family of God. We do not depend on our fellow men making a decision about our relationship with God.
A perfect system of grace. Pardon is offered by our meeting the conditions He named, not by wild schemes offered by others or meritorious efforts on our part.
A perfect revelation (2 Tim. 3:16;Jude 3). It is able to make us spiritually mature.
A perfect invitation (Matt. 11: 28).It comes from the Lord Himself.
Perfect coverage. The gospel is offered to every person of every race and color (Mk.16:15,16)
A perfect solution (repentance and confession) for Christians when they make mistakes (1 John 1: 7), again based on Christ’s offering on the cross.
Perfect conditions for the lost that are simple enough to be understood and that will be accepted only by humble penitent believers.

What are these conditions of salvation in the Christian age?

How are lost men to answer heaven’s call? They are:

To believe in God and in Christ (Reb.II :6; John 8:24).
To repent of sins (Luke 13:3; Acts2:38).
To confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:10; Matt. 10:32).
To be immersed in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22: 16; Mark 16:16)

At this point the lost alien sinner is forgiven, saved. He is then God’s adopted son. He is added to the church. And he is ready to live a faithful Christian life.

Today, why should anyone want to change a single thing?

Why should anyone want to do anything more or less, or to become anything other than just a Christian?
Why should anyone want to risk his eternal destiny, especially with so many warnings against being misled? (Prov. 14:12; Matt. 15:9,13,14;7: 13,22).
Even those who preach another gospel are condemned (Gal. 1 :8,9).

Christianity is God’s perfect plan of salvation for today. We need to accept it and rejoice in it.