There are many pleasing theories in the world today that are very comfortable to the carnal mind. I was talking with a man about religion one time, and he presented his version of the Lord and the way to be saved. He said that really we were all going to the same place. He didn’t think that any religion was necessarily correct. Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, pagans, they are all going to the same place, just taking a different route, he said. They all have different beliefs, but God isn’t that particular, his view was that they really are all the same. You could do anything, say anything, believe anything, and you would still be headed to heaven, he said. There is no doubt about it; this view is a comfortable idea. You don’t need to worry if you are on the right path or not because every path leads to the same place. You don’t need to worry about anything; everything will be all right. Although this is pleasing to the senses, is this really what the Bible teaches? Does the Bible teach that it doesn’t matter what you believe or do? All that matters is that your heart is in the right place? Are there many roads to heaven or is there only one way to be saved?
The Only Name
“Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there in no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:10-12. Peter, speaking as he was moved by the Holy Spirit, (vs. 8) emphatically states that there is no other name under all of heaven by which we, or anyone else, may find salvation. There is only one name in which there is power to save—and that is the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. It may sound nice to think that there are hundreds of ways to be saved, that a person can go in any direction that he chooses and still be acceptable to God; the problem is, it simply doesn’t hold up with Scripture. It is only through Jesus that a person can find salvation, as we discover in John 3:16, 17. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The only name by which we can be saved is the name of Jesus, because He is the only begotten Son of God. God has only one begotten Son, and since the Lord of Glory has only one Son, then there is only one way to be saved. Jesus Himself made this very clear, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9. Jesus likened God’s church to a sheepfold with only one door. The only way that you could lawfully get into the sheepfold was through the door. There are not five or ten different doors through which a person may enter, there is only one, and that only way is through Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.
While it is true that the only name by which anyone can be saved is through Jesus, the plan of salvation is more involved than just that. There are going to be many people who knew Jesus’ name, but will end up being lost. Even demons know Jesus’ name. “Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, saying, ‘Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!’” Mark 1:23, 24. Not only did the demon know Jesus’ name, but he also knew that Jesus was the Holy One of God! Certainly there is more to salvation than just knowing Jesus’ name, or else this demon would be among the saved. What a revolting thought! To think that a terrifying demon would be saved! We have no need to fear, for that will not be. The Lord has already cast Satan and all his fiends out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-9, 4) and they will not gain admittance again.
Not only do the demons know that Jesus is the Holy One, but there are going to be many people who will claim to know and believe that Jesus is Lord, but this will not save demons or people. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:21-23. Here is a group of people who think that they are saved. They think that they have a right to enter through the pearly gates into the New Jerusalem, but alas, too late they find that they have been duped! They call Jesus ‘Lord.’ They work miracles in HIS name! They cast out demons in HIS name! They prophesy in HIS name! But, even though, they have prophesied and done all of these wonders in Jesus OWN name, they themselves are lost. Certainly if they are calling Jesus ‘Lord’ and work miracles in His name, they know the name of Jesus, the only way to be saved, but that is not enough. They are sadly deceived. They think that they were saved, when they really do not know the only way that they can be saved. How is it that demons and well-meaning Christians could be lost while knowing the name of Jesus?
Simply knowing the name of Jesus is not enough. A person can know that Jesus lived, he can know that Jesus died, he can know that Jesus rose, but simply having the knowledge will save no one. It is true that there is no other name by which a person may be saved, but there is more involved than just knowing that Jesus existed. In order for a person to be saved he must truly know Jesus. Jesus rebuked the disciples because they did not TRULY know Him. “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?” John 14:9. Not only is it possible to know about Jesus, and even spend a great deal of time with Him and still not know Him (as with the apostles experience), but tragically this sad fate will happen to billions.
We know many people in this world. We have business acquaintances. There are family friends. There are great-aunts and third cousins. There are the neighbors. We know all these people, but there is a difference in the way we know them and the way we know our spouse, children, or best friend. So there is a difference in the way that people know Jesus. Some know Jesus as an historical figure. Others know Jesus as a good man and mighty teacher. Others know that He is the foretold Messiah of the old covenant, the Son of God. And still others know Him as their personal Lord and Saviour. For some people the only time that they call upon Jesus is when they are swearing. Others spend an hour each week with Jesus as they serve their time at church. Some spend five or ten minutes a day while going through their prayers. But still others spend time with Jesus as they are walking down the street, as they are at their workplace. He is their constant companion and the hours they spend with him are not limited to time or place. They are not isolated from the world in some monastery, but moment by moment they are communing with their Lord.
Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3. It is only this personal companionship with our Lord that will amount to anything at all. It is only by personally knowing our Lord and Saviour that we can be saved. This personal relationship with Jesus as, not just a good person, not just a mighty teacher, not just the Messiah, but as our personal friend, Lord and Saviour, is the only way to be saved.
The Pharisees knew Jesus. They could not deny His existence. He lived and walked and taught among them, but Jesus said that they did not know Him. “Jesus answered, ‘You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.’” John 8:19. Even though they knew that He existed, even though they had talked and disputed with Him, they did not truly know Him. Jesus emphatically said that they did not know Him or the Father. They did not have a personal acquaintance with Him. He was not their personal friend, but rather their enemy. So today many know of Jesus. They know that He is the only way to be saved, but they do not really know Him. His life and teachings rebuke their lives and even though they know that He is true, they do not want to learn of Him. They desire to go their own way and do their own thing and that is exactly what they do. Like the Pharisees they may think that they know Him, but Jesus says, “I do not know you.” Luke 13:25, 27.
The throng that followed Jesus, knew Jesus. They had seen His miracles. Many of them had even experienced His miracles. They had friends or relatives who had been healed by the Saviour. Many had been among the thousands that miraculously received food from His hands at the feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand. This was the class who it was said, “And the common people heard Him gladly.” Mark 12:37. But even though they were the ones who heard Jesus’ words with gladness, it didn’t go much deeper than that. They were not with the Pharisees who were caviling and trying to find fault with everything that Jesus said, but they still didn’t truly know Jesus. When Jesus uttered some of the more testing truths, the truths that struck against the natural inclination of humanity, it was mournfully said of them, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” John 6:66. They knew Jesus. They knew His words, His life, His teaching, but they didn’t really know Him. When it came to leaving their preconceived ideas behind, when they had to go against their own desires, when Jesus’ teaching cut across the besetting sins in their lives, they refused to go any further. They had all the externals of being good followers of Jesus, but it didn’t reach down into their hearts. “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’” Luke 9:23. They refused to lift the cross. There are many in our world who have the same experience as the throng who pressed about Jesus. They come to church, they do all the things that “good Christians” should do, but when the Lord convicts their hearts of some besetting sin that needs to be given up for His name, instead of heeding the voice of God’s Spirit speaking to them, they harden their hearts. (Hebrews 3:8, 12, 15) Although they think that they know Jesus, as Jesus said to the Pharisees so He will say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” Matthew 25:12. All because they thought they knew Jesus, but they did not REALLY become acquainted with Him, the only way to be saved.
There were another group of men who were the most closely associated with Jesus of anyone upon the earth. These were the twelve disciples. In order for them to follow Jesus, they had to make many sacrifices. They left behind the comforts and amenities of home life to follow Him. “Then Peter began to say to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You.’” Mark 10:28. They picked up their cross and followed Him. They walked with Him along the way. They heard the wonderful words of life as they dropped from His lips. They saw the mighty miracles that He performed. They ate with Him, they were constantly with Him. But, even though, they were constantly with Him, there were still many things that they needed to learn. Jesus said, “Let these words sink down into your ears,” Luke 9:44. It was only those who allowed Jesus’ sayings to sink down into their ears who truly knew Him. Those who, not only traveled and ate with Him, but hung upon His every word truly knew Him. The eleven faithful disciples gained this experience after the crucifixion, but at least one had a deeper connection than any of the others. He it is who is our example of how we can truly know our Lord, how we can truly know Him who is the only way to be saved. This disciple was none other than John, the son of thunder (Mark 3:17), but who earned the endearing title, the beloved disciple (John 21:20-25.) It was John who was leaning upon Jesus’ bosom at the Last Supper. (John 13:23.) It was John who could not bear to be separated from His Lord and followed Him into the courtyard of the high priest. (John 18:15.) It was John to whom Jesus committed the care of His mother. (John 19:25-27.) It was John who was the first of the twelve to reach the tomb on the resurrection morn. (John 20:2-4.) It is the experience of John, the beloved disciple, which teaches us the only way to be saved. His relationship with Jesus was more than just a form. His relationship was not limited to mere externals, it was a deep, inwrought experience of the heart. He did not just say that he knew Jesus, but he really and truly did know Jesus.
It was John, writing many years after Jesus’ crucifixion, after he had spent decades in the service of his beloved Lord and Master, that gave us the clearest insights into this concept of truly knowing Him. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” I John 1:1-3. John, writing to the churches probably fifty to sixty years after the cross, reminds his hearers that he had personally seen, heard, and handled the Lord of Glory. It was his earnest desire that his readers may have the fellowship with Jesus that He had developed over the years. To John, his relationship with Jesus was not just knowing Him. It had gone far beyond that, it was a fellowship that they had one with another. This fellowship was the result of personally knowing Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour. John further continues, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” I John 1:6, 7. If we are walking and abiding in the light of truth, as Jesus is, we are going to have fellowship with each other. Amazing thought! Beyond the comprehension of our mortal minds. Weak, finite beings may rise to the height of fellowship with the Infinite One! This most precious experience that John had, he sought to lead others to have as well. This experience is by no means limited to two thousand years ago, but can, and is to be a part of our experience. How can we have that intimate fellowship with our Lord? How can we know Him better than we know anyone else?
Knowing His Death
In order to have that intimate fellowship with Jesus, it is essential to know why He had to die, the experience that He went through at His death, and what His death has accomplished.
Why did Jesus have to die? He did not have to die, but He chose to die. We have no choice. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” Rom. 5:12. By one man death spread its dark shadows over our fallen world. Because Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, the results of their sin passed upon all men. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve (not from some monkeys or amoebas) and because of our lineage to Adam and Eve, we are all destined to die. But that was not so with Jesus. He is not a descendant of Adam and thus the curse of death did not pass to Him. He chose to die for us. “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:17, 18. Jesus was not forced to die for us, He chose of Himself to lay down His life for us. Between the Father and the Son there was a most mysterious counsel and a counsel that we shall never be able to fully understand. The Bible calls it the counsel of peace. “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the Lord; Yes He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Zechariah 6:12, 13. By comparing the other Old Testament prophesies of the Messiah, it is easy to see that the Branch is another name for the Messiah. (Isaiah 4:2; 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15.) The counsel of peace was to determine how the justice and righteousness of God’s throne (Psalms 89:14) could be maintained; and also how He could condescend to save lost mankind. When Adam and Eve fell, there was indeed silence in heaven. Man had forfeited the wonderful promises and the Paradise that God had provided for them. But at that moment, when everything looked as if it were lost for humanity, Jesus, the Infinite Son of God, stepped in and volunteered to die in man’s behalf. It was not something He was forced or coerced into doing, He voluntarily chose to take man’s place. Thus it could be said of Him, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. From the very establishment of this world, Jesus made the commitment to die for lost man. Then when the “fullness of the time had come,” (Galatians 4:4) a voice was heard in the courts above, “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the Book it is written of me.” “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.” Psalms 40:7; Hebrews 10:5. The Infinite Son of God, the one equal with God (Philippians 2:6), chose to come down to rescue poor, sinful, fallen mankind. It was a voluntary act, a voluntary sacrifice.
Jesus said in John 12:23, 24, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” That very week Jesus was going to be crucified and die for the sins of the world. His hour had now come. Throughout the book of John the phrase, “for His hour was not yet come” keeps repeating (See John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20), but a change was taking place. Now His hour was come. As Jesus thought of the awful cup of which He was even then beginning to drink, He said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” John 12:27, 28. His soul trembled at the thought of the anguish that awaited Him, but then He remembered that it was for this very cause that He came into the world. Jesus was born into this world in order that He might die on our behalf. He used the illustration of a grain of wheat. If you preserve a grain of wheat all you have is one grain, but if you plant it, it will produce a hundredfold. So Jesus, by giving His pure and holy life for mankind, was to save millions. If He were not to give up His life, though, He would remain alone; for the only way that mankind could be saved was by the death of the Lifegiver. Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, “When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,… He shall see the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong,” Isaiah 53:10, 11, 12. Jesus looked by faith to those who were to be saved through His great sacrifice. He saw “His seed,” justified “many,” and was then able to “divide the spoil with the strong.” Through His sacrifice, the undeserving sons of Adam could be justified and could become once again the “sons of God.” (John 1:12, I John 3:1.) “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Hebrews 2:10. In order for Jesus to bring many “sons to glory,” He must be made perfect through the sufferings of the cross.
The only way that mankind could be saved was through the death of the One through whom “all things were made.” John 1:3. The only sacrifice that could wash away the debt of man’s sins was the One who had power to lay down His life and to take it again. (John 10:17, 18.) The claims of God’s holy Law are so great that God could not do away with His Law in order to pardon man. No, the claims of the Law had to be met. The price had to be paid, and the only One who could do that was the One of whom it was said, “in Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4. That is why Jesus’ death does not abrogate the Law. On the contrary, it exalts and establishes it. “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31. The death of the One who “is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17) was the only way that the price of our sins could be paid. It was only thus that God could be “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:26.
Jesus’ death was not just an ordinary death. That alone could never be sufficient. Jesus’ death was the anguish of our sins being laid upon Him. The just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, the pure and spotless One, for the stained and polluted, such was Jesus’ love for us. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” II Corinthians 5:21. It was not the physical suffering that caused the death of Jesus, but the weight of the sins of the world that were laid upon Him. Jesus only hung upon the cross for six hours. (Mark 15:25, 34.) To us that may seem like an eternity, but it was frequent that criminals would spend hours, and even days, hanging upon the cross until they were finally suffocated by their own body weight causing their death. But not so with Jesus. Jesus expired in six hours, surprising both Pilate and the guards. (Mark 15:44, 45.) It was not the pain and physical suffering of the cross that killed our Saviour, it was our sins. It had been prophesied hundreds of years earlier, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5, 6. As He suffered upon the cross; our griefs, our sorrows, our transgressions, our iniquities were all laid upon Him. The one who had never transgressed felt the heavy curse of transgression fall upon Him. The only One who had never done iniquity, felt the iniquities of the entire world bear upon His holy soul. The most unbearable weight that has ever been placed upon humanity was laid heavily upon Him. Truly He was made to be sin for us. He suffered the awful weight and guilt of sin as it pressed upon His innocent soul. He suffered, not just the first death that all men die, but He suffered the pangs of the second death for all of mankind. He was made a curse for us, that we might be freed from the curse. (Galatians 3:13.) But the most terrible of all was that Jesus, the One who had been with the Father from the days of eternity, (John 1:1; 17:5; Malachi 5:2) was separated from the Father. Sin was so awful; and in order to drink fully of the cup of human suffering and woe that He had put to His lips, He had to be cut off from God. (Matthew 26:38, 39.) Sin bore so heavily upon Him that He felt as if He would be cut off from the Father—forever. This terrifying thought wrung from His pale, quivering lips the mournful cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46. The enormity of sin was so great that He felt the broad black gulf that sin makes between man and His Creator. It was almost more than Jesus could bear. Truly He trod the winepress of God’s wrath alone. (Isaiah 63:3; Revelation 14:19.) He stood between God and man without an intercessor. (Isaiah 59:16.) As one writer puts it, “Upon Christ as our substitute and surety was laid the iniquity of us all. He was counted a transgressor, that He might redeem us from the condemnation of the law. The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart. The wrath of God against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation. All His life Christ had been publishing to a fallen world the good news of the Father’s mercy and pardoning love. Salvation for the chief of sinners was His theme. But now with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father’s reconciling face. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt.” Desire of Ages, 753. No, Jesus did not just die an ordinary death, nor even a martyrs death, He died the most excruciating, awful death of separation from the Father on account of our sins. Wonder of all wonders! The most full, complete display of eternal love possible.
Jesus’ death is everything to us. Without His death we are without God, and without hope. (Ephesians 2:12.) Wanderers in this strange world of ours, without an aim and without purpose. But since Jesus’ death, we can be freed from the endless drudgery of this life and be placed on a higher purpose. It is only through Jesus’ death that our sins can be forgiven. Jesus died that we might live. He took our sins upon Him in order that our sins might be taken from us. “For this is the blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission [margin, forgiveness] of sins.” Matthew 26:28. Jesus spilled out His blood in order that His blood might cover our sins. “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy, He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Micah 7:18, 19, KJV; Psalms 103:13. By Jesus’ death upon Calvary, these precious promises can become a reality. Our sins can be thrown into the very depths of the sea and can be removed from us as far as the east is from the west. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” Romans 3:24, 25. Through faith in Jesus’ precious blood that was spilt for us, all of our sins that were previously committed can be passed over. It doesn’t matter how great or how many there may be, they can be thrown into the very lowest depths of the sea, if we only come to Him in repentance and confession. The greatest sinner in the world will be freely pardoned, if he will only come in humiliation to the foot of the cross. When the hearers on the day of Pentecost were convicted of their sins and of the righteousness of Jesus, they asked, “What should we do?” Peter’s assuring answer came, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;” Acts 2:38. There must be a true sorrow for our sins. Without that true sorrow for our sins, we will never experience the cleansing from Jesus’ blood. There must be that “repentance to salvation not to be repented of” in order for Jesus’ blood to be applied to the soul. II Corinthians 7:10, KJV. Not only does there need to be true, heartfelt, deep repentance, there needs to be confession of our sins to our Great Sin Bearer. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9. We must come to Him in prayer and tell Him that we are sorry for our sins, confess our sins to Him, and ask Him to take them upon Himself. When we come to Him in true faith, He will not turn us down. Our sins will be washed away by the blood of the Lamb, but there is more to knowing Jesus than just knowing His death.
Knowing His Life
His death, as important as it is, is not the only element of Jesus’ life that we need to know in order to truly know Him. We must know His life, as well. “For if when 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.” Romans 5:10. Paul says that we become reconciled to God through the death of Jesus, but that we will be saved by His life. (There is more to being saved than what many realize. For more information on this important topic see Steps to Life’s booklet, Once Saved, Always Saved?.) If we shall be saved by His life, obviously we need to know His life. Without knowing His life, we will not be saved by it.
“Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” II Corinthians 4:10, 11. It is the life of Jesus that we are to show to the world. As we truly know the life of Jesus, we shall be able to manifest His life in our lives. Jesus death was all-sufficient to forgive and to wash away our sins; however, forgiveness of our sins is not the end, but really the beginning. As we come to Jesus in repentance and humiliation at the foot of the cross, and ask Him to cast our sins into the depths of the sea, Jesus, in His love and through the merits of His death, does just that. But, He desires to do more. It is then Jesus’ purpose to write His life in our lives, and that is what knowing His life is all about. “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;” I Peter 2:21-23. Jesus lived His life of perfect obedience to God’s holy Law to give us an example that we should follow Him. Not only did Jesus take our penalty of death upon Him, but he also lived a life of perfect obedience to give us an example to follow. “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” John 13:15.
For four thousand years, the devil had been accusing God and telling man that God’s requirements were too much, that God was asking the impossible. (The devil is using the same arguments today.) All had sinned, (Romans 6:23) all had fallen under the power of the devil, and not one had been able to live in perfect obedience to the God of Heaven. From Adam to John the Baptist, not one had lived up to God’s perfect standard. But Jesus came to this world to prove the devil a liar and father of it. (John 8:44.) In order for Jesus to prove that God’s claims were “holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12), He had to come in our likeness and defeat the devil on His own turf. In order for Jesus to prove that, through the grace and power of God, obedience is possible, He had to come in the likeness of fallen man. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man…. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:9, 14, 16, 17, KJV. Jesus voluntarily left His glory behind and was made lower than the angels in order that He might destroy the devil. Jesus went to the lowest depths, He took upon Him the seed of Abraham. He took upon Him, the likeness of sinful, fallen flesh. He took our nature with all its weaknesses and defects. Amazing love! The Creator of the universe would stoop to take our weakened, fallen nature. Jesus did not just take Adam’s nature before the fall; He took our nature after the fall. “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:” II Timothy 2:8. Why did He have to come in the seed of David, in man’s nature after the fall? “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:3, 4. God’s Law has a weakness, it cannot give the suppliant power to keep it. It points out the sins of the sinner and it also points the way the sinner should walk, but it does not and cannot give the sinner power to obey it. It was this weakness that God was remedying through sending His only Son in the likeness of our sinful flesh. Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s Holy Law in the likeness of our sinful flesh, in order to give us the example and the power to obey. Jesus condescended to this low estate in order that the “righteous requirement of the Law” could be fulfilled in us.
Jesus’ life shows all the heavenly beings, all mankind, and all the hosts of hell, that God is perfectly just and fair in His requirements of mankind. Jesus showed that it IS possible to live in complete obedience to God’s Law and His Word. Jesus, in our nature, defeated the devil once and for all in order to show to us that we, likewise, can be victors over the devil. Our part is to follow in the footsteps of the Master Teacher and rely upon His power. “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God…. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” I John 3:8, 9; Romans 8:7, 8, 13, 14. Jesus said to all those who desire to become Christians, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Mark 8:34. We must follow in the perfect example that our Lord, the Son of Man, gave to us. This following Him and death to our fleshly nature (sinful nature) is what the Bible refers to as the new birth. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” John 3:3; II Corinthians 5:17. As we understand and truly know how we are saved by Jesus’ life, we see that there is much more to the only way to be saved, than just the cross. The cross is where the journey begins, then the sins that have so long beset us must be laid aside (Hebrews 12:1, 2), we must follow the example of our precious Saviour, Jesus, and only then will the journey end at the mansion that Jesus is preparing. This is why Jesus, in His messages to the seven churches, repeatedly urged, “To Him that overcomes.” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21.) In order to reign with Jesus, we must overcome our sins here in this world. “To him who overcomes I .will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21.
Knowing His Mediation
“Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” “Who is He who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Romans 4:25; 8:34. The third crucial element of knowing Jesus, is knowing His mediation and intercession for us. Paul states that He was raised again for our justification. Further explaining, he says that Jesus is making intercession for us before the Father. He was raised for our justification in order that He could ascend to the Father and intercede on our behalf. Salvation does not end at the cross. Jesus’ ministry for us does not even end at the cross. The cross is, indeed, an all-sufficient sacrifice for sin, but it is just the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and of the Christian life.
At Jesus’ ascension, He ascended to the throne of God in the heavenly sanctuary and began His heavenly ministry for us. “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected and not man.” Hebrews 8:1, 2. Jesus is now officiating as our High Priest before the throne of God. Jesus’ work did not stop when He ascended to heaven. He is not now idly waiting for His people to get ready so that He can come to claim His own. He is earnestly working and interceding on their behalf. It is Jesus who is our mediator to the Father. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,” I Timothy 2:5. Jesus is our Intercessor, Mediator and High Priest to the Father. The one who took our nature upon Him and died in our behalf is now pleading His blood that we might be saved. This third part of Jesus’ work is just as important as His death and His life, for it is only through His mediation that we will be able to live His life of obedience. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;” Hebrews 7:25, 26. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost. He is able to save the absolute worst sinner upon the face of the earth, because He is living and making intercession before the Father. Without His continual intercession we would be lost through the attacks and sophistry of our adversary, the devil.
“My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” I John 2:1. John shows us why it is so essential that we have our Saviour mediating before the throne of grace for us. He divulges His reason for writing, in order that we may not sin. He longs for the church to fully live the example that Jesus laid down for us, of a spotless life, but then he adds that if we do fall, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ our righteous Saviour. Jesus is even now ministering in the heavenly courts in order that we may be given the power to sin not. Precious thought! Not only did Jesus live as our example, die on our behalf, but now He is mediating for us to enable us to overcome all sin. If perchance, we fall, He is there ready to catch us and present His blood of forgiveness if we will only call upon Him. Our high ideal that is set before us is “sin not,” but if we stumble and fall, Jesus, our Advocate, is interceding for us; and because of this we can come to Him and find His precious pardon. Not only is the promise that He is there, but it goes deeper than that, He even knows all the experiences that we go through. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16. Your wonderful Saviour and advocate knows exactly what you are going through. There may not be another person on the face of the earth who can understand the stress and turmoil that you are enduring, but Jesus can sympathize with you for He has been there before. Our Advocate was tempted in all points like we are. There is not a temptation that can be brought to bear upon us that our Saviour did not overcome, and now, with the knowledge of the fierceness of temptation He pleads for us. When we are tempted to give way to doubt and discouragement, He lifts His holy hands and pleads with the Father, “Behold, I have graven” them “upon the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16, KJV. He pleads His shed blood to cover our sins and pleads His spotless character to be imputed to us. (Zechariah 3:1-6.) It is through this wonderful assurance of His advocacy and high priestly ministry that we can truly “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. Because of His intercession, we have the assurance that we can come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain the mercy and grace that are so essential if we are going to overcome. Our Saviour is mediating at the throne of God to secure our forgiveness and to give us power to overcome.
The Everlasting Gospel
The true knowledge of our Saviour, His death, His life, and His mediation is the only way to be saved. It is this message that prophecy foretells as going to the entire world. “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’” Revelation 14:6, 7. The whole world is going to make a decision; whether they will accept this wonderful everlasting gospel or whether they will turn to their own way. God’s requirements are not hard and difficult, but they do require a complete surrender. Without this complete surrender to Him to forgive us for our sins and to give us the grace to overcome our sins, we shall be among those who cry, “The great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation 6:17. The everlasting gospel is simple, so simple that an unlearned child can understand it. This gospel is knowing Jesus, the only way to be saved. “And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him, who called us by glory and virtue.” Proverbs 9:10; II Peter 1:3. Friend, do you know Him? You have heard of Him from your childhood. The stories are familiar, but do you really know Him? Do you know Him personally? Do you know what He has done and what He is still doing for you? If you come to Him in repentance and humiliation, and tell Him that you want to know Him more and more everyday, if you comply with the simple conditions of repentance and confession at His nail pierced feet, He will say to you as He said to the woman caught in sin two thousand years ago, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11. The gospel could be put in no simpler terms than in those ten words. Jesus offers freedom from the condemnation of sin for all who know Him, who confess and repent of their sins; and then He gives the power to “go and sin no more.” Billions have rejected the only way to be saved because they clung to their terrible sins. Sins that crucified the precious Saviour. They loved their sins more than their Saviour. They were unwilling to overcome through His power and through His name. They cling to their sins and with their sins they will be destroyed by the fires of the last day. They did not truly know their precious Saviour. They do not know what He has done through His death, life and mediation. Do you know? Do you want to know more? Will you be among the glad company who have experienced the words of the everlasting gospel? Will you confess your sins to Jesus and be freed from the guilt and condemnation of sin and then choose, through the power that His mediation gives you, to overcome? Will you be among the group who, with Paul, can say, “I know whom I have believed” II Timothy 1:12?
All emphasis the authors unless otherwise stated.
All texts from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
The Desire of Ages, Ellen G. White, 1898.
The Ministry of Healing, Ellen G. White, 1905.