Saturday, April 29, 2023

The Sweet Aroma Of The Lord's Presence - Meditations On Jesus Anointing By Mary Of Bethany


    I was thinking back to the days of growing up at home. My father would bake cinnamon rolls. In the late Spring, we would get off the school bus and could smell the sweet aroma of those rolls wafting in the breeze amidst the dandilions. It didn’t matter what kind of day we had, that sweet aroma made it all better. 

    Certain scents evoke memories don’t they? Whether good or bad, aromas evoke an awareness of the presence of someone we know or once knew.

The sweet aroma we’re going to talk about in this post is a mixture of joy and sorrow, pain and healing.  The anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany is included in the sequence of events leading up to what would be the Lord’s Table, Gethsemane, His arrest, the trials, His flogging, His crucifixion, His resurrection. We find it in Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-11; and John 12:1-8, with our focus being on Mark and John's accounts. 

    The scent of the presence of the Son of God would waft its way in this scene once that alabaster vial was broken. For some, like Mary, it will evoke the reminder that here is her Savior. For others, like Judas, it will expose his treachery. That scent would accompany our Lord through His arrest, trials, flogging, and crucifixion. Let’s explore what I’m calling “The Sweet Aroma of His presence”. 

Release of the sweet aroma from a broken vessel.  Mark 14:3

    We begin by noting Mark's words in Mark 14:3 

"While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head."

    John Gospel records the same event in John 12:1-3 

"Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. 3 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume." 

    As we study these two chapters, we need not worry of any conflict in the accounts. Mark 14:1-2 tells us the events to follow occured two days before Passover. In John's account, we are told he arrived in Bethany six days before the Passover. The great commentators Alexander MacClaren and John Calvin identify Mark 14:3-11 and John 12:1-8 as the same event, reporting different details. Calvin states that we are not told of the day of the anointing by Mary in John, only that he arrived in Bethany a week before His crucifixion. Mark's narrative gives us the day of the anointing event itself, quite likely Jesus' final day in Bethany (on a Wednesday) before proceeding to Jerusalem to observe the Passover on Thursday evening of His final week. 

    So back to the account. Mark and John record that the perfume Mary poured out on Jesus' head was of "pure nard". It is interesting how the Greek word for “pure” is closely related to the word "faith". The perfume was such as to draw all those who smelled it to its source. 

    Faith is that firm persuasion of the Spirit to draw to Jesus in trust. Mary had to take the alabaster jar or vial and physically break its seal. The little alabaster jar itself was in the form of a slender vase, with the contents released upon the snapping of its neck from the base of the vessel. Mary's action illustrates the principle that the sweet aroma of Christ's presence is apprehended in the life of a believer who has yielded in brokeness to Him.

The motives behind why Mary anointed our Lord.

    We've observed how the anointing of Jesus required Mary of Bethany to break the alabaster vessel wherein the perfume was housed. The next question we want to explore is why she did it? Below we will enumerate the motive, meaning, and message of the anointing of Jesus.

A. The Motive of the anointing: Celebration.

    The setting and circumstances of Mark 14:3-11 and John 12:1-6 enable insight into this first motive of celebration. For one thing, the town of "Bethany"itself meant “house of affliction”. Jesus approached Jerusalem (which was scarcely but a few miles from Bethany) with the understanding He was to undergo the severest affliction of the cross. No doubt the Lord had prepared where He would be anointed. He understood the time was coming for Him to be ready for the cross and His death. 

    Secondly, the alabaster box itself, as mentioned, required breakage to release the perfume. Alabaster boxes or vessels were expensive to make. As we read in the text, upon Mary's action, Judas and others comment that what she did was a waste - costing a year's wages. This sweet perform was not native to Israel. It may had derived from India or the Orient. All we know is that due to its expense, the aroma from it would accompany the one who wore its scent. Nevertheless, the perfume inside was worth more than the container holding it. Furthermore, its intended object - Christ Himself - was worth more than anything, or anyone. 

    Thirdly, MacClaren, Calvin, and other commentators have noted that this meal was to celebrate the raising of Lazarus. John 12:1-2 states

"Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him."

    In as much as the meal's occasion is to celebrate the miracle wrought by Jesus in the rescucitation of Lazarus from the dead (John 11), it is Jesus Himself that becomes the focus of celebration - at least by Mary. Her anointing demonstrates that the presence of her Lord supercedes even the attendance by her once deceased brother - a point sadly lost on most attending.

B. The meaning of the sweet aroma – propitiation.

     When we speak of "propitiation", we refer to how God's wrath is satisfied by ther substitutionary death of an innocent sacrifice on behalf of the sinner. This idea lies at the heart of the Bible's teaching on "atonement", literally, God's act of enabling believing sinners to be "at-one" with Him. 

    This detail on the anointing of Jesus reminds us of how often the Old Testament would speak of acceptable sacrifices as being a “soothing aroma” before our God. Over 40x we see this, with first mention in Genesis 8:21, with Noah after the flood. Moses writes in Genesis 8:20-21

"Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done."

    The wrath of God, expressed in the sending of the worldwide Flood, was proven satisfied in the form of these offerings made by Noah. God then stated His covenant with Noah and all of human history to never destroy the world with a deluge. Quite literally, that "soothing aroma" speaks of "propitiation" or satisfaction of Divine wrath.

    Number 28:7-10 elaborates on the morning and evening lambs offered daily by the priest, how they were to emit a “pleasing aroma, soothing before the Lord”. God’s wrath, the expression of His holiness in opposition to sin, was required when sin was done. 

    Amazingly, in propitiation, the same God who is holy delivers the provision for propitating that wrath - the revelation about the various sacrifices. Why rehearse these Old Testament examples? Because the Old Testament sacrifices, in all their forms, pictures and pointed to what Jesus would perform on Clavary's cross.

    You see, Jesus came to be our propitiation, to satisfy the wrath of God. Paul's writes about Jesus in Romans 3:25 

"whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed."

    Other places in the New Testament are explicity that, just as the Old Testament sacrifices emitted a "soothing aroma" in temporarily propitiating the wrath of God, Jesus would permantly do so in His once-and-for-all substitutionary atoning work (see Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Mary's action at the end of our Lord's ministry would illustrate this point. 

    It is interesting to note that we twice find our Lord anointed in His ministry. Luke 7:37-50 records a different incident of a sinful woman anointing our Lord's feet with a similar ungent like we find in Matthew 26; Mark 13; and John 12. Why two accounts? In the Luke 7:37-50 record, Jesus is portrayed in that anointing as the sinner’s perfect righteousness, more than enough to grant a sinner covering, forgiveness, acceptance before God. Then of course in the Mary of Bethany account, we see how His soon death will have this soothing aroma. 

    So, we have seen the motive and the meaning of the anointing of Jesus in Bethany. What of its message?

C. The message of the sweet aroma – submission.

Our Lord would become that broken vessel as He underwent the torture and agony of Golgotha. Just as Mary broke the alabaster vessel containing the liquid to pour out on Jesus' head, He in-turn would later break bread in the institution of the Lord's Table to depict His body (see Mark 14:3 and Mark 14:22). Jesus did what He did in submission to the will of the Father.

     Did you know, the Christian is called to be the same? To live a life yielded to the Father. Paul describes this in Ephesians 5:2 

"and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." 

Or again, consider these words in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God."

     When we realize the lengths to which Jesus went to carry out the will of the Father (His Divine will at one with the Father, with His human will submitted to that Divine will), it strengthens Christian faith. One of my favorite verses, Hebrews 12:2-3 states it this way

"fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Closing thoughts:

    Today we have meditated on the act of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus in Mark 14 and John 12. We noted the principle of how the sweet aroma of His presence is apprehended in a life that is broken, willing to live for Him. We then considered three motives in the anointing: celebration, propitation , and submission. Would it be that all true followers of Jesus aspire to live as broken vessels that carry forth the sweet aroma of His presence, just as He went forth, giving His life for them. 

Thursday, April 20, 2023

The Plot For A Crucifixion


    In today's post we want to consider "the plot for a crucifixion". We begin by noting the following record of the plot in Mark's Gospel. 

Mark 14:1-2 “Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him; 2 for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”

    As we turn to Mark 14, we are treading holy ground. What will follow in that chapter and the next is shaped by the plot to crucify the Lord Jesus Christ. We can note the following outline of Mark chapters 14 and 15.

1. The plot to kill Christ (14:1-2). 

2. Preparation of the body of Christ (14:3-9).

3. The betrayal of Christ (14:10-11). 

4. The final meal with Christ (14:13-31).

5. The agony in the garden by Christ (14:32-52).

6. The Jewish trial of Christ (14:53-65). 

7. A denial of Christ (14:66-72). 

8. Pilate’s trial of Christ (15:1-5).

9. The Crucifixion of Christ (15:6-40). 

10. Burial of Christ (15:42-47). 

    As mentioned, this plot in Mark 14:1-2 shapes what follows. We want to ask this question: who was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? In answering this question, we will explore the plot which led to His crucifixion by consulting the parallel Gospel accounts and other passages in the New Testament. We will then investigate how a similar plot works in the life of the believer.

1. The plot for Jesus’ crucifixion.             Mark 14:1-2

*Pre-meditated by man.

Mark 14:10-11 "Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11 They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time." Matthew 26:25 "And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.” Acts 4:27 "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel."

*Prompted by Satan.

Luke 22:3 "And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve." Luke 22:53 "While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.” John 13:2 "During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him."

*Prearranged by God.

Matthew 26:39 "And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Luke 22:42-44 "saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground." Acts 2:23-24 "this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power." Acts 4:28 "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur."

*Participation by the Son.

John 13:3 "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God." Matthew 26:1-2 "When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”

    So, in considering the above four classifications of participants, we understand that man, Satan, God, and Jesus Himself were all involved in the crucifixion plot. Of course, God prearranged every detail. There was nothing random or out of control with respect to all that transpired leading up to and during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 

    Furthermore, Jesus Himself participated in two respects. As truly God, He had agreed to come to earth, become incarnate, and go to the cross. Then, as truly man, He willingly participated in His own crucifixion, never hestitating, never being a victim, but nonetheless receiving the agony that comes with experiencing God's wrath, let alone the physical, excruciating pain of crucifixion. 

    As we shall see next, the plot responsible for the crucifixion of the Son of God is used by God in the life of every Christian.

2. The plot for the Christian’s crucified life.   

    I recall listening to a sermon years ago by Charles Stanley. He recounted an archaeological discovery of an ancient church that had its baptistry shaped like a cross. I read another article about the oldest baptistry in the world, a church in Syria, where the baptistry is shaped like a coffin. Why mention this? Baptism’s meaning involves the language of crucifixion and resurrection. When we are born again by the Spirit on God in saving faith, Scripture describes us as baptized by the Holy Spirit into union with Jesus Christ. We call this the reality of the newbirth. 

    Water baptism is a re-enactment, a sign, a seal, signifying that prior reality of salvation in faith between them and God. Just as a child’s birthday party signals to those present that his or her natural birth had already occurred, so too does water baptism symbolize, signify, and state publicly that something already occurred inwardly, privately, between that person and God. 

    Moreover, water baptism is the convert’s way of stating: "I was once this way, my sins were buried with Christ, and now when I come out of this water, I’m going to walk forward and not look back." Water baptism is not where salvation occurs, since it is the God-given New Covenant sign of the miracle of the new birth and saving faith given by God prior to that. It provides an audio/visual method of conveying to all present of the miracle of regeneration that is unseen in saving faith - wherein I die, am buried, and am raised with Christ. 

    The Holy Spirit's work of uniting us to Christ's death, burial, and resurrection is called "Spirit baptism", spoken of by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 and alluded to nearly 100 times in phrases such as "in Christ", scattered through the New Testament letters. The water baptism administered to new converts is theologically connected to the reality of the Spirit's baptizing them into union with Christ at saving faith. This is why you only see those persons who made a prior commitment of faith getting water baptized in the New Testament.  

    Consider how the Apostle Paul uses crucifixion language in describing the Christian life. 

Romans 6:3-5 "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." 

*Premeditated by man.

The Christian is called for involvement in their co-crucifixion with Jesus Christ. Notice how the language of crucifixion is used to describe the Christian life. Romans 6:8-11 "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Colossians 3:8-10 "But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him."

If the Christian tries to live for God through any other means than the plot of crucifixion, they will fail. In water baptism, not only do I see a picture of the beginnings of the Christian life, but also what ought to be the pattern for the remainder of the Christian life. 

    Some try to prop up the self through religious activity, busyness, or being moral. However, the still-remaining corruption of sin, that impulse Paul calls elsewhere “the flesh”, even in the garb of church-life, will resist God, just as much as flesh that never darkens the doors of the church (Romans 8:5-6). 

    Others think that making friends with the world will make their Christian life more palatable to others, forgetting 1 John 2:15 "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 

    You and I (if you are a Christ-follower) need to see that cross not only as the tool of our salvation, but sanctification (1 Cor 15:31 “I die daily”.) It is we who must, as our Lord did, willingly go to the cross. Others will be used of God, no doubt, in mocking us and rejecting us. Fellow Christians and non-Christians alike are often included in the crucifixion pattern imposed by God upon the Christian life. 

    Unless we understand the cross-shaped nature of the Christian life, we will never be more than hapless victims of random circumstances. Jesus, the crucified one, was no victim.  The Christian living in the light of the cross, won’t be either. 

*Promptings of the kingdom of darkness.

Did you ever wonder why as a Christian you undergo so much spiritual warfare? The kingdom of darkness wants to destroy every Christian, yet they know if the Christian is pushed to die to self, then that will diffuse their efforts. Think of Jesus. Although Satan did not possess full knowledge of what all the cross would accomplish, He knew Jesus was set on going to the cross. He wanted to destroy Jesus, yet He was aware at least that Jesus had come into the world to save sinners (see 1 Timothy 1:15).

    We read these words in 1 Peter 5:6-8 

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." Romans 16:20 "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."

*Prearranged by God.

This is the most important point of the plot of a crucifixion. Whenever we as Christians undergo adversity, recognize it is all prearranged by God for the purpose of conformity to the Lord Jesus. Romans 8:28-29 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren." No wonder Paul noted the following.

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

Galatians 6:14 "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

*Participation by the Son.

The Son of God was active in His own crucifixion (John 10:17). He is present at all points throughout the Christian life. The crucified life includes the Son’s active involvement. His ongoing work in Heaven for you is based upon the work He accomplished here on earth. 

1 Peter 4:13-14 "but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you."

Acts 7:55 "But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."


    As we close out today's post, we have noted the plot for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and that same plot working its way across the life of the Christian. 

*Pre-meditated by man.  

*Prompted by Satan. 

*Prearranged by God.  

*Participation by the Son. 

    Is it no wonder that Paul wrote what he worte in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Introducing And Summarizing Major Views On The Millennium In Revelation 20


    There are certain chapters in the Bible that godly Christian people differ upon in their interpretation. Revelation 20 stands among one of the most discussed, and at times, hotly debated chapters among the 1189 chapters of God's Word. Today we want to note some key positions on the so-called "millennium" that one finds when studying this amazing chapter of the Book of Revelation. The term "millennium" itself means "thousand years", referencing the six occassions it is found in Revelation 20. Whether these references speak of a literal period of future time here on earth or a present, spiritual reign of Christ, constitutes the eye of the discussion.

Points upon which all Bible believing Christians agree in interpreting Revelation 20

    Before getting to the differing interpretations, let us first consider what all Christians agree upon with regards to Christ's second coming generally and Revelation 20 in particular.

1. Christ's literally, bodily return. 

    Clearly all are in agreement that Christ will have a literal, bodily, visible return.  According to Bible Teacher John MacArthur, 1 out of every 25 New Testament passages speak on His return. In all the major positions held about what we read in Revelation 19-20, virtually all interpreters are united in affirming that Revelation 19:11-21 is speaking about Christ's literal, bodily return to earth. Whichever view one holds about the millennium (see later on in this post), all agree that the Jesus in Revelation 20 is truly God and truly man. He reigns over His Kingdom depicted in Revelation 20 in a physical, glorfied body which He has retained since His ascension.

2. Revelation 20:11-15 finds near universal agreement.

    In my consideration of the major viewpoints on Revelation 20 from listening to lectures, sermons and readings of nearly all the major creeds and confessions of church history, it is observed that the latter half of Revelation 20 (vss 11-15) finds near universal agreement. There is some debate over who exactly the "small and the great" are (whether they be believers and unbelievers or unbelievers only). Nevertheless, throughout church history, the major areas of emphasis on this particular section of Revelation has been the resurrection of the dead and final judgment. We read the following in Revelation 20:11-15

"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

    In considering the above two points, there is general uniformity on Revelation 20:11-15 (especially 20:14-15) as to the final judgment that will occur as the closing event before the eternity of Revelation 21-22. 

    What this means then is that our area of focus is narrowed down to Revelation 20:1-10. We can view what he wrote as one vision, comprised of three sections. Why the three sections? Whether we are reading the underlying Greek text or any English translation, certain "time indicators" point to a sequence within the vision. I'll underline them below for the reader's reference. 

Revelation 20:1-3 "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time." 

Revelation 20:4-6 "Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years." 

Revelation 20:7-10 "When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."      

Why there are differences of interpretation on Revelation 20:1-10

   As mentioned, the real areas of difference of interpretation on Revelation 20 arise from how the first ten verses are approached, understood, and applied. The science and principles of interpretation are known as "hermeneutics". What follows below are five differences of interpretation one can note when reading books, articles, commentaries, and listening to sermons on Revelation 20.  How one answers the following questions will determine whichever position one holds to on the millennium (whether Pre-millennial, Amillennial, or Post-millennial). 

1. Is Revelation 20:1-10 recapping current history from Christ's resurrection to 2nd coming or is it following from His 2nd coming in Revelation 19:11-21?

2. Is the reference to "First Resurrection" speaking of salvation or of a future resurrection of the righteous at Christ's return?

3. Is Revelation 20:1-10 detailing more than one resurrection or is there only one general resurrection of both righteous and the wicked at the end of history? Many will include discussion of 20:11-15 in answering this question.

4. Is the Kingdom of Jesus Christ only spiritual and present, spiritual and earthly with an already/not yet component or entirely earthly in the future?

5. Is the number "1,000" a literal reference to a future 1,000 year reign of Jesus or is it a symbolic round number referring to His current reign in Heaven over the earth or a little bit of both?

Listing out the four major interpretations of Revelation 20:1-10

    Three major positions, with one having two variations (and thus a total of four views in all), exist in determining the answers to various interpretive issues and questions outlined above.  Though many details could be cited, yet for simplicity's sake, we will list each viewpoint, their names, and their broadest definitions. 

1. Premillennialism - Those who hold to this teach that, when Christ returns, He will set up a literal earthly kingdom for 1,000 years, followed by a brief loosing of Satan to deceive the nations, the Great white throne judgment and then the bringing in of the "New Heavens and New Earth".  The reason for the name "premillenialism" is due to the prefix "pre" referring to "before" and "millennium" being "1,000 years". As stated earlier, two variations exist within the Pre-millennial interpretation which for now we will just list their names: 

a. Classical or Historic Premillennialism 

    Sometimes called "Post-Tribulational Premillennialism", this variation is the oldest of all the major eschatological or prophetic views on the millennium. Some of the early church fathers espoused this viewpoint, however, it must be noted that the stress laid upon the future earthly phase of Christ's kingdom here on earth. In more recent versions of this position, the timing of the tribulation has become more of a talking point. It regards the rapture (catching away of believers by Christ) and His second coming to earth as one event. One author has depicted this view as follows:


b. Dispensational Premillennialism (sometimes called "pretribulational premillennialism).

    This position is most common in North America and somewhat in the British Isles (though not as much as it once was). When we say "dispensation", we refer to how God executes His providential dealings in different eras of history. It holds that due to distinctions between Israel and the Church, the Church will not have to endure the tribulation period. Sub-variations of this view exist between those who are pretribulational and those who believe God's wrath doesn't begin until midway through the tribulation, with the rapture occuring then (known as mid-triublationalism). There are those who claim this view is most recent, however, others will argue it was but a reclaiming of what earlier Christians taught. The imminency of the rapture of the church (that is, not knowing when it is going to occur) marks this view. Below is a comparison between this view and what will be the other remaining two major view of the millennium (Amillennialism and Postmillennialism).

Note: the picture above is from

2. Amillennialism.

    We have so far observed two variations in the "premillennial camp" - namely classical premillennialism and dispensational premillennialism. We now will turn to a view that approaches Revelation 20:1-10 in a different light. This position (amillennialism) teaches that Christ began His reign at His ascension into Heaven and is ruling and reigning over a spiritual kingdom right now.  Being that it denies a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ, the term "A-millenialism" is used (a=no and millennium = 1,000 years).  History (according to this view) will continue in its downward spiral and at the end Christ will return, judging the world and Satan, and bring about the new heavens and new earth. We can summarize Amillennialism by the following diagram (picture derives from

3. Post Millennialism 

    This position teaches that Christianity will continue to increase until the whole world is taken over by the gospel. Though not every individual will be saved, yet post-millennialists contend that every nation will eventually see many of their people saved.  It generally teaches that the church will continue to evangelize until so many people are converted that Christ will then return at the end of the future golden age or "millennium" )post = "end" millennium= 1,000 years).  Post-millennialists take passages such as Psalm 2 and missionary passages such as Matthew 28:18-20 to refer to the triumph of the gospel over unbelief. Below is a depiction of this view (also derived from the site

So why do the millennial viewpoints matter to you?

    As we close this post today, some may ask about the relevance of the debate. The big takeaway is that however you understand God's closing out of history governs how you live for Him today. Other related issues, such as how the church carries out the great commission; how we interpret Scripture; and how we prepare for His soon return are shaped by how one understands the questions I raised about Revelation 20 at the beginning of this post. I'll leave the reader with a list of resources that can aid greatly in personal study on this topic.

1. The Meaning of the Millennium: four Views. Edited by Robert G. Clouse. IVP Academic. 1977

2. Rose guide to Bible Prophecy by Timothy Jones. Rose Publishing, 2011.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Six Reasons Why Jesus' Resurrection Is Significant For You Today

1 Corinthians 15:19-20 "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep."


      Happy Resurrection Sunday! Below are some reflections on the significance of the Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead. Notice the follow reasons why the resurrection of Jesus is the most important truth of Christianity, life, and existence...

1. The resurrection provides the basis for truth, meaning and life's purpose

      To begin, the clearest statement found in the Bible on the significance of Christ’s resurrection from the dead is found in 1 Corinthians 15:19-20a 

“If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most pitied. (20) But now Christ has been raised from the dead…” 

    All Christianity, and life, and the entirety of existence rises or falls with this doctrinal and historical reality.

2. The resurrection is the best explanation for the beginnings and spread of Christianity

      The historical, physical, supernatural resurrection of Jesus from the dead and physical post-mortem appearances best explain why the disciples switched from skepticism to robust faith. Additionally, unless Jesus had physically resurrected from the dead and had made post-mortem appearances, the early church would not had begun.

3. The resurrection of Jesus is the power-source behind the preaching of the Bible

      Christian doctrine would be jeopardized (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) were it not for Jesus' resurrection. Christian preaching and the church itself would have no reason for being practiced if Christ had not risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). Moreover, any ability to gain abiding hope in this present life must be abandoned if Jesus Christ had never risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 29-58). 

4. Jesus' resurrection is the basis for worship and adoration of God

       But praise be to God – Jesus has risen – and thus we serve a risen, exalted Savior! The existence, reality, and identity of the true and living God of the Bible is verified by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (Romans 6:4-11; Romans 8:11; 1 Peter 1:3). Jesus’ own Deity and true humanity are both verified by this event (John 10:17; Romans 1:1-3; Romans 9:5). Christ’s resurrection from the dead – deemed “firstfruits” in 1 Corinthians 15:20b - guarantees the Christian’s future, glorified, transformed resurrection body at His return (1 Thessalonians 4:13-16; 1 Corinthians 15:42-58). 

5. Jesus' resurrection validates the truth of the Bible

         Christ’s resurrection also paved the way with regards to the prophecies and predictions about the Old Testament saints in the resurrection of the righteous, of which Jesus' followers will have a part (Job 14:14; Daniel 12). The Kingdom of darkness and Satan himself stand condemned and defeated as a result of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (Colossians 2:11-12; Hebrews 2:11-14; 1 Peter 3:18-20). 

6. The resurrection of Jesus is relevant for the power to live the Christian life today

        To summarize – Jesus’ resurrection stands as the epicenter of Christian experience, doctrine, history, the present and future hope for all who trust in Him. The Bible makes the invitation for you, if you have not done so, to entrust your life to Jesus as your Savior, Lord and Treasure. Romans 10:9 states:

"If you will confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved". 

May all who read this have a wonderful Resurrection day!

Saturday, April 8, 2023

A Study On What Jesus Did Between His Death And Resurrection


1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.


       I was once asked a rather interesting question: "What Jesus did between the time He died until He raised from the dead?" This post aims to answer that question. The question concerning what Jesus did between His crucifixion and resurrection is relevant to what is historically known in the Christian Church as "Holy Saturday". Central to this post is the notion that Jesus proclaimed victory over the powers of Hell. Furthermore, once Jesus declared His triumph, He then presented His once and for all sacrifice for sin to the Father between His death and resurrection.

The significance of the Saturday the falls between "Good Friday" and "Easter Sunday"

       Today is the Saturday that lies between "Good Friday" and "Easter Sunday". This day, simply called "Holy Saturday", considers what all was potentially taking place during the interment of Jesus' body in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. In the book "Preaching through the Christian Year", an ancient practice of the early church is recounted: 

"In the ancient church, the tradition of the Easter Vigil played an important role. Catechumens (young converts to the Christian faith), after remaining awake and watchful throughout Saturday night, were baptized early on Easter morning and then joined the Christian community in Holy communion." 

        I'm sure some readers, for instance, can recall "Easter Sunrise Services" and other Christian traditions that urge the church to recall her central identity in Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. As a boy, whenever our family would attend such sunrise services, the anticipation, the excitement, hung in the air. The great thing about Holy Saturday is the expectation that builds-up in the Christ-follower's heart as the look forward to Easter Sunday. 

A reminder about the mystery of Christ's incarnation.

         Over 2,000 years ago, Christ's physical body laid at "rest" in the tomb while He, as man, in His immaterial soul, presented His accomplishment to the Father and proclaimed victory. The mystery of the incarnation reminds us that the Eternal Person of the Son came to take unto Himself true humanity (see Matthew 1:21-23; John 1:14; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 10:5-7). As He ever remained truly "God with us", He came to be also "man for us" (see Matthew 1:21-23; John 1:14; Romans 1:1-3; 9:4-5; Titus 2:11-13). 

    As truly God, the Person of the Son retained eternal perfections such as omnipresence, omniscience, and the inability to die. As truly man, the Person of the Son experienced the limitations that come with being man, including being in one place at a time (locality, Luke 2:49; Philippians 2:5-7), finite knowledge (Matthew 24:36), and the ability to die (mortality, Mark 10:45; John 10:11). In this post, the focus rests upon all Jesus would experience as "man for our sakes", reminding the reader that whenever we speak about Him, we distinguish between who He remained to be as "God with us" and "man for us".

Holy Saturday is all about "rest" and "victory"

        The Apostle's Creed, an ancient confession of faith still recited by Christians the world-over, includes this phrase:

"He was crucified, dead and buried. He descended into hell, on the third day He raised from the dead." 

       Christians historically have emphasized this major theme of "rest" for Holy Saturday. Such rest, both spiritually and otherwise, could only be achieved as a result of Christ finished work on the cross and what was (then) His pending resurrection. The work Jesus did in-between death and resurrection cemented together the victory of the cross and what would be His victory over death. It honestly comforts me to think of how helpless the powers of darkness were in preventing Christ from these decisive actions. 

        Robert Webber in his book: "Ancient Future Time", comments on Holy Saturday in regards to the theme of "rest":

"Saturday is a day of rest and preparation for the great service of resurrection. It is a day to keep silence, to fast, to pray, to identify with Jesus in the tomb, and to prepare for the great resurrection feast."2

          So with the twin themes of "rest" and "victory", Holy Saturday gets the Christian ready for the glory of the resurrection that is central to Easter Sunday. What follows from here is an attempt to draw together the New Testament testimony of what Jesus did.

Stitching together the New Testament passages that reference Christ's proclamation of victory between that first Good Friday and Easter Sunday

         The four Gospels detail the events of Christ's death, burial and resurrection.  The remainder of the New Testament (Acts, 21 Epistles and Revelation) unfold the meaning what He achieved. The Apostle Peter in his first epistle aims to show how we as Christians ought to stand firm in God's grace (1 Peter 5:12). Peter's letter ties in our ability to stand in such grace to what Jesus Christ accomplished.  1 Peter 3:18-20 will act as our telescope to view the New Testament passages that reference the events of "Holy Saturday. To do this, we will consider the following two main thoughts about Christ's accomplished work:

A. The Purpose of Christ's Accomplished Work - reconciliation.  1 Peter 3:18

B. The Proclamation of Christ's Accomplished Work - Victory.  1 Peter 3:19-20

A. Purpose of Christ’s Victorious Work – Reconciliation 3:18 

i. What did He do? He died 

He died for sins.  As Dr. Danny Akin of South Western Baptist Theological Seminary once noted: "He lived the life I couldn't live and He died the death I should have died."

ii. Whom did He die for? The unjust 

Romans 5:6-8 states - "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 

         Jesus' death on behalf of sinners accomplished two necessary effects required for reconciliation with God. The first necessary effect was expiation, that is, the removal of the cause of God's wrath upon us - our sin (Romans 5:10). The second effect had to do with propitiation, that is, the satisfaction of God's wrath (1 John 2:2). Below in the next thought (point "iii"), we see why expiation (taking away of sin) and propitiation (satisfying wrath) are necessary for reconciliation.

iii. Why did he die? To bring us to God (reconciliation) 

Dr. Michael Horton notes: 

"The result of God's wrath being satisfied is reconciliation. Just as we are first of all passive subjects of God's wrath when God propitiates, we are passive subjects of God's reconciliation at the cross.  We do not reconcile ourselves to God; God reconciles Himself to us and us to Him."3

iv. How did He do it? Death and resurrection

Christ's death, burial and resurrection are at the heart of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The New Testament mostly focuses upon Christ's death and resurrection.  However, what went on during the three days He was buried is not explained in near as much detail as the two book-ends of the Gospel: namely Christ's death and resurrection.  

         Death and Resurrection serve to explain how Christ accomplished what he achieved. What He did in His burial (down below) reveals some of the behind (and under) the scenes work He did in insuring our ability to walk as believers in His Victorious work. 

B. Proclamation of Christ’s Victorious Work – Victory 3:19-20 

i. What did He do between His death &    resurrection? Proclaimed victory 3:19 

John MacArthur has perhaps explained this text better than just about everyone I've read or heard: 

"He was announcing, proclaiming (and) heralding a triumph. About what? It must be pretty obvious, about His triumph over sin, about His triumph over death, about His triumph over hell, about His triumph over demons, about His triumph over Satan." 4

ii. To whom did He proclaim His victory? The  demons reserved for judgment. 3:19-20 

         If we were to attempt to offer a faint outline of what Jesus did between His death and resurrection, we could maybe understand why He went to proclaim His victory to the demonic realm.  Much activity was done by Christ in this short-span of time. 

         First He went immediately into the presence of His Father by way of the Holy Spirit in his human spirit to present His once and for all sacrifice (Hebrew 9:15). 

          Next, He went down into those regions of hell where some of the demons (especially those who rebelled in Noah's day) are being reserved for judgment. 

          Thirdly, Christ would had released the Old Testament saints from the righteous realm of the dead (i.e. paradise) to lead the captives out to where they could come with Him to where the saints go in this age (Ephesians 4:8-11). Some have connected this particular event to when the saints came out of their tombs in Matthew 27:52-53.

          Fourthly, Christ's proclamation of victory insures that hell will not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18) as well as fulfilling the fact of His triumph over the demonic realm (Colossians 2:14-15). 

         Fifthly, Christ's resurrection from the dead meant He had completed His mission of proclamation and thus He arose as a victorious King, subduing all cosmic powers under Himself (Acts 2:24; 1 Peter 3:22).

iii. Why did he proclaim His victory? To  guarantee Christian victory 3:19-20 

         He did this to pave the way for what would be His ascension into Heaven 40 days after His resurrection from the dead (Ephesians 4:7-10). 

iv. What was His victory over? Sin (1 Pet 3:18), hell (1 Pet 3:19-20; Col 2:11-12), grave (3:18,21b)

Revelation 1:4-5 states - 

"John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood".

Closing thoughts

As we draw this post to a close, let's remember our two main thoughts for today's post:

1. The Purpose of Christ's Accomplished Work - reconciliation. 1 Peter 3:18

2. The Proclamation of Christ's Accomplished Work - Victory. 1 Peter 3:19-20

        What Jesus accomplished was proclaimed by Him both in heaven and to the defeated demonic realm. Such activities provided grounds for which future generations of Christian could stand who by grace through faith trusted in Jesus. The cross of Good Friday and the work of Holy Saturday pointed to what would be the great victory of Easter Sunday. He has risen! As Christians, we rest in these works of Jesus.

1. Fred B. Craddock; John H. Hayes; Carl R. Holladay and Gene M. Tucker. Preaching Through the Christian Year - Part A. Trinity Press International. Harrisburg, PA. 1992. Page 227

2. Robert Webber. Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality Through The Christian Year." Baker Books. 2004.

2. Michael Horton. The Christian Faith - A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way. Zondervan. 2011. Page 500

Friday, April 7, 2023

The Goodness of Good Friday - A Meditation On Romans 5:6-21


    Today is what Christians the world-over call "Good Friday". Why call a day "Good" when the most evil act perpetrated by men - the crucifixion of Jesus Christ - took place? The ultimate cause behind the crucifixion was God Himself (Acots 2:23-24; Acts 4:26-28).

    He as the Father sent the Son to become the incarnate Jesus of Nazareth. The Divine Son would live a perfect human life as "The Word made flesh" (John 1:14), to qualify as the "perfect Lamb of God", to die once and for all for sin (1 Peter 1:17-18; 3:18). The goodness achieved that day far outweighed the evil. 

    As we consider this Good Friday, we will look at one of the clearest passages in the Bible on the atoning death of Christ - Romans 5:6-21. What we will discover is the goodness of Good Friday.

1. The Goodness of salvation accomplished.   Romans 5:6-8 (WHAT HAPPENED FOR ME)

Paul writes in Romans 5:6-8 "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 

John Murray, past Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, wrote a classic book in 1975 on the atoning work of Jesus Christ entitled: “redemption accomplished and applied”. I’ve always found the terms he used in that title helpful in wrapping my arms around this weighty doctrine so central to Christian salvation – the atoning work of Jesus Christ. 

For me, “salvation accomplished” means the historic event of the cross, along with His resurrection from the dead. This is what Jesus Christ did for me or what we could also call "what happened for me". 

    The cross is where sin’s debt was paid for, and the empty tomb is where the payment was approved. Murray’s book discusses at length how necessary Christ’s death was on the cross to accomplish salvation. There were no other methods or ways God could had set forth His saving work. 

    For Murray, the plan of God in proposing His plan of salvation required an absolute effort from Himself in bringing that plan to its completion. As it concerns Jesus’ work on the cross, Murray writes: 

“Without it, we lack the elements necessary to make intelligible the meaning of Calvary and the marvel of its supreme love to men.”

Remember, in salvation accomplished, I’m talking about what Christ did for me. This is what had to happen for me, on my behalf. It would require all four Gospels to present what Jesus accomplished "for me" in a span of six hours. Let me mention two verses from the Gospels of Mark and Luke that highlight "salvation accomplished".

A. He bought me from my sin. 

 Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 

    The term “ransom” concerns the price paid to emancipate a slave. In His humanity, Jesus lived a perfect life of 33 years, fulfilling what was required by God’s Law. He offered up a perfect life through His active obedience. 

    For Him to be qualified to accomplish redemption at the cross, He had to live a perfect life prior to it. It was His perfect humanity that provided valid payment for my sins, and it was His deity that provided infinite value in payment for my sins.   

B. He sought me despite my sin. 

Luke 19:10 "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” 

    Now we have the act of death on the cross. The perfect life offered up in being the ransom for sinners qualified Him to be our Savior leading to the cross. It is here that what He accomplished paid for salvation at the cross. Remember, we have not only a perfect humanity, but the undiminished deity of the Divine Son of God. He paid the ransom to God as man and acted salvation as God. The title “Son of Man” speaks both to His deity and humanity. As man, Jesus Christ sought after Zachaeus. As God, He knew where to find this wee little man. 

    So, we see that the first good of Good Friday was that "salvation was accomplished by Christ", defining what needed to happen for me". But now notice secondly....

2. The Goodness of salvation applied.   Romans 5:9-11 (WHAT HAPPENED TO ME, IN SAVING FAITH)

In salvation accomplished, I understand that something had to happen for me. I could not bring it about. But now in salvation applied, upon the work of saving grace in saving faith, I understand something happens to me. That which “happened for me” is a historical, physical event, acted forth by God, for God, for sinners such as myself. Now what is needed is a connecting heavenly work, done by the Holy Spirit to apply that accomplished work to me. 

    The historical event becomes the heavenly reality granted "to me" at saving faith. We don’t have time to expound on all the graces that the Holy Spirit works forth in the sinner’s salvation. We know that those whom He calls on the inside of the heart by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), He brings forth that miracle of the New Birth, saving faith, and repentance. John 1:12-13 spells this out, as well as 2 Timothy 2:25. What happens to sinners so drawn, called, and converted by the Spirit through faith in salvation applied?

A. My legal problems with God ended in justification.  Romans 5:9

    Paul writes in Romans 5:9 " Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." 

    Why God's wrath? Why did the settled opposition of the Divine Father need directed at the Divine incarnate Son on the cross. We read in Deuteronomy 27:26 "Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’" 

    The Law of God was violated originally in the Garden of Eden. When God made man, He placed within his heart the law of God in the form of the human conscience (Romans 2:14-15). 

    This form of God's Law was broken in the treachery of our original parents. Millennia later, that same Law, given to Moses and Israel in inscripturated form, came with a curse for any who violated it. The Apostle Paul comments in Galatians 3:10 "For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Gal 3:24 "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith." 

    Unless Christ bore the curse, I and all descended from Adam would have legal problems with God. Because Christ bore the curse as the New Adam, that meant His perfect life of righteousness could be "imputed" or credited to my otherwise bankrupt spiritual account at saving faith. This is what the Bible calls " justification by faith". But notice also...

B. My spiritual plight with God ended in reconciliation.  Romans 5:10

    We read further in Romans 5:10 "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (see also Romans 3:23). We are spiritually separated from God from conception and birth (Psalm 51). What is needed is reconciliation. 

    Paul explains how bad off we all are in Ephesians 2:12 "remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world."

     When a sinner, so drawn by the Spirit in saving faith, trusts in all that Christ is and has accomplished, the grace of reconciliation is applied. 

C. My relational pain with God ended in adoption. Romans 5:11

    We read on in Romans 5:11 "And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." How can a reconciled, justified sinner have confidence to exalt in God lest they are also considered as adopted sons and daughters? Paul writes in  Galatians 4:6-7 "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'  7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." 

    We then read in Ephesians 2:18 "for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father." The argument of Romans 5 follows through into Romans 8, where Paul brings forth the truth of the believer's adoption by God (Romans 8:14-16). 

    These three truths of justification, reconciliation, and adoption comprise the three-braided rope of "salvation applied" at saving faith - a rope that cannot be broken. Then, what we find in Romans 5:12-21 is an introduction to what will be the overall argument that follows in Romans chapters 6,7,8, what I am calling "salvation experienced". 

    We saw in "salvation accomplished" that something happened for me. We observed in "salvation applied" that something happens to me in saving faith. But the Christian life doesn't stop there. Notice....

3. The Goodness of salvation experienced.  Romans 5:12-21 (WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ME, SANCTIFICATION)

As mentioned, Paul is introducing what He will expound upon in Romans 6, namely the experiential union the Christian has with Jesus Christ. To introduce this truth, Paul places side-by-side the first Adam, original Adam, and then of course Jesus Christ, whom Paul calls elsewhere the "New Adam" (see 1 Corinthians 15:45-47). 

    Adrian Rogers has noted that we gain more in Christ than we lost in Adam. The Scriptures bear out that our overall experience and identity is defined by whomever we have union. As I cite the remainder of Romans 5:12-21, I'll insert headings in parenthesis that expound what we can call "the badness of sin experienced in Adam" and "the goodness of what is experienced in Jesus Christ".

A. The badness of sin experienced in Adam.   Romans 5:12-14 

    Romans 5:12-13 (Sin’s consequences) Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (sin’s condemnation) for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 

     Romans 5:14 (sin’s corruption) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

B. The goodness of salvation experienced in Jesus.  Romans 5:15-21

    Romans 5:15-21  (imparation of the Son’s consequences) But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 

    Romans 5:17 (the imputation of the Son’s credited righteousness) For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

    Romans 5:18 (the inwardness of the Son’s completed work) So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    The above gives us a taste of the goodness acomplished on the cross, applied in saving faith, and experienced in sanctification.  

    For any reading this post today, let me ask you: have you received by faith all that Jesus accomplished for you? If not, wherever you are at, simply pray and ask God to forgive you of your sins and ask the Lord Jesus Christ to become your Savior, Lord and Treasure. Acknowledge that you trust in His finished work on the cross and that you believe He raised from the dead. You too can then have applied the goodness of Good Friday, and from this day forward experience the goodness of Good Friday worked forth in you by the Holy Spirit.