In this essay, the prophet Isaiah speaks of salvation in the context of justice. In order for God to forgive sin, there must be a just basis for that forgiveness. When a person wrongs us, we may choose to forgive his error and release him from the debt he owes us.
In order for God to have a just reason to forgive, a penalty must be paid by the person who committed the wrong. According to the law of God, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22).
Jurisprudence requires that a penalty be paid when a crime has been committed. To enact laws without the enforcement of those laws would constitute injustice. God has said that the soul who sins will die; therefore, when we sin, the law requires that we must die.
“Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.”1
Only God possesses the right to institute laws by virtue of His title as Creator. Since He is perfect in every regard, His law is always just and true. It is impossible that God could institute any directive that did not have a righteous basis.
The law of the LORD is perfect…2
We may not understand the laws of God; but we should accept, as a basic fundamental principle, that whatever God has said is the truth—for He cannot lie.
Titus 1:2 …God, who cannot lie…
Hebrews 6:18 … it is impossible for God to lie…
When the Messiah comes, He will not fail to bring the justice of salvation to every nation and all people.
“He (Messiah) will not fail nor be discouraged, Till He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”3
New Testament Fulfillment:
And this gospel (of Messiah) will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.4
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.5
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith—to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.6
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.7
The purpose of God’s law
If the Lord has commanded us to adhere to certain rules of moral conduct, these directives will always have our best interests at heart. His infinite wisdom and eternal knowledge of all things allows Him the benefit of knowing the reasons and consequences for every law that He institutes.
Every law of God is designed to order and protect human life, the animals that share this world with us, and the planet itself.
Imagine that God would declare laws by His wisdom and then fail to enforce them by His power. If God did not punish those who break His laws, then He could not be trusted to reward those who obey Him.
The Justice of God
What kind of nation would the United States be, if the laws instituted by the executive and legislative branches of our government were not enforced by the judicial branch with penalties exacted against those who violated these laws? This land would be unsafe and unfit for any decent person to live in.
If God cannot be trusted to do what He has said, both positively and negatively, then He cannot be trusted at all. What makes God trustworthy is the certainty that He always does what He says He will do. More importantly, since God has promised to punish sin, we can understand that there are moral absolutes in the world. We are not left to decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. All of the laws of civilized societies have, as their origin, the laws of God—defined first in the Old Testament. Each one of us understands that if we break human laws, we will suffer a penalty for our errors. In the same way, this prophecy of Isaiah 42:4 defines the future ruler of this world as righteous in all of His judgements.
Part of the justice of God is to forever deal with the curse of sin and death. God did not create human beings to suffer the horrible effects of sin, sickness, and death. He made us perfect, morally upright, and eternal. The dreadful condition the world is in today is due to sin. If anyone should deny that sin is a reality, they would have to be completely blind to all of the unjust actions of human beings that occur every day on the earth. Rich and prosperous people do not sin more than the poor. I have traveled a good part of the earth, and the universal truth I have discovered about people is that they are the same everywhere you go. There is selfishness, evil, corruption, and violence in every corner of this planet. One of the stunning proofs for the validity of the Bible, as the word of the Living God, is the manner in which He describes our true nature.
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.8
The purpose and plan of God is to end all sin and the horrific effects that it causes. We have been robbed of the infinite blessings that God so earnestly wants to give us. Sin has ruined our lives and our planet, and deprived us all of the beauty that life was meant to contain. Soon the Lord will restore the earth to His original purpose and make all human life full of joy, and perfect forevermore.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.9
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”10
First, God must deal with our sins, then He can restore us. The method by which the Lord has dealt with all of our sins is by the death of Jesus, the Messiah. He took our place and paid the penalty that was due for the sins of the whole world.
As much as God loves us, He cannot break His own law: The soul that sins must die.
When the Lord created man upon the earth, His creation was perfect in every regard. Until sin was brought forth—first, from the heart of Lucifer and later by the heart of Adam—there existed no imperfection anywhere on earth. God did not create sin; this moral defect came into existence in the heart of His creatures by their willing acts of rebellion against God and His law.
Simply defined: Sin is a moral defect that came into existence by disobedience to God’s commands.
If man would obey what God has said, he would be the ultimate benefactor. Every person could live upon the earth in a perfect environment. There would be no sickness or death. No one would harm any other person. Every part of human existence would be perfect. Sin is the fatal flaw that has ruined life for human beings.
Alienation from God
Of greater significance is the fact of man’s estrangement from God due to his sin. It is impossible for God to have communion or fellowship with man in his present sinful state.
Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.11
But God said to Moses, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 12
Unless God should remove man’s sin by a just method, he would remain in this isolated and irreversible condition forever, with no hope of redemption.
Terms For Redemption
As established by Ezekiel 18:4, above, the law of sin requires a penalty of death initiated against the guilty party. No sin is sufficiently dealt with under the law of God without the punitive action of God’s judgement. Either the sinner must die for his sins or a redeemer must come in his stead to bear the penalty of death for him.
Under the law of God, there is a provision in His justice system for a substitute to be offered. This principle is illustrated by the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were only shadows of the true intent of the Law: to provide a single, perfect sacrifice that would permanently remove all sins forever.
The animals that were brought to the priests for sins were an example of the future offering Jesus would make to fully pay for all of our sins. This one sacrifice would bring to an end the Old Testament need for perpetual sacrifices and fulfill every requirement of God’s law to forgive all sins.
The Old Testament provision for dealing with our sins originates from the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 1.
Now the LORD called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock.’ If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting.”13
The important components of the sacrifice required for sin:
- The sacrifice must be a male.
- The sacrifice must be without blemish.
- The sacrifice must be offered of his own free will.
- The guilty shall lay his hand on the head of the sacrifice.
- The sacrifice will be accepted on his behalf.
- The sacrifice will make atonement for him.
- He shall kill the sacrifice before the Lord.
It is interesting that Jesus is described as possessing all of these qualities in His life.
When we arrive at the New Testament, we see Paul describing these sacrifices that were made by the sinner under the old covenant. Paul describes these as only a shadow of the good things to come. These sacrifices were an example of how God was going to forgive the sins of all people after the Messiah came and offered His one sacrifice for all sins, for all time.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.” Then I said, “Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.” Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.14
The sacrifices of the Old Testament were a temporary covering for sin, not a permanent removal of them. When Jesus came as the Messiah and offered His perfect life as God dwelling in human flesh, this one sacrifice was sufficient to remove the sins of every person forever. The only remaining stipulation requires each person to approach God themselves through this sacrifice of the Messiah, and believe that His death has atoned for their sins. When this is done wholeheartedly and with faith in what God has said, this person is saved.
This sacrifice of Jesus Christ was the just basis that God required in order to pay for the sins of all people.
When God chose to punish His Son instead of the sinner, He was able to righteously carry out the sentence of death upon Jesus for the wrongs we committed, without punishing those who committed the acts directly. Jesus bore the full penalty for the sins of all people, for all time. In this way, God can be both Just and Merciful. The opportunity for a full pardon exists today for every person because Jesus was willing to die for us.
When the Old Testament speaks of the Messiah bringing Justice, this means that He is coming to make a way for all of us to be seen as just in the sight of God, because the Messiah has removed all of our sins.
What happened to our sins?
The Bible describes forgiveness as the remission of sin. The basic meaning of forgiveness in this context is to send away our sins. Another way of thinking of forgiveness or remission is that when God forgives our sins, He separates us from them, so that they no longer exist.
When Jesus died on the cross, God had a just basis to forgive us, provided that we choose to remain under the protection of Jesus’ offering for those sins. Without us personally appropriating to our own account what Jesus has done for us, we remain guilty, with no hope of salvation by any other means.
How salvation works
Therefore, as through one man’s offense (Adam) judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act (Jesus) the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.15
At the moment we ask God to place into our account the righteous sacrifice Jesus made in taking the penalty for all of our sins, His righteousness is transferred to our account. Our many sins are removed from our record as if they never existed.
God now has a righteous and just basis to forgive us and grant us eternal life.
Knowledge is insufficient.
This is why it is not enough to simply know who Jesus is. We must enter into a personal relationship with Him whereby we ask God to appropriate to our personal account Jesus’ death for our sins. God will not forgive us on the basis of Jesus’ death until we ask Him. To force us to take Jesus’ sacrifice for our salvation—without our full consent—would be a violation to our freedom of choice.
As much as God loves us, He will not force anyone to be saved. He provided a just basis for our sins to be permanently removed, then He made available this forgiveness to every person. For this reason, if we fail to seize this one-time offer for a full pardon for all of ours sins, those sins will forever remain on our account. At the end of our earthly life, we will face the judgment for those sins.
What happens when you believe?
For the person who has believed that Jesus died for their sins and has asked Him for forgiveness based on Jesus’ sacrifice, this person immediately has the removal of all their sins. At death and even into the life to come, there awaits no future judgment by God. Jesus took the penalty for our sins, and He was judged in our place so that no judgement awaits anyone who has received Jesus Christ as their Savior.
For the person who will not believe and ask God for a pardon for their sins based on Jesus’ sacrifice, those sins remain on their account forever. At a day future, all those who have a record of sin remaining on their account after their death will stand before God and pay for those sins themselves.
When Isaiah writes that the Messiah will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth—in this prophecy, he is describing what the Messiah will accomplish. Nearly 700 years before Jesus was born, and gave His life as our sacrifice, God was informing the world, through His prophet, how and when our salvation would be accomplished. It is a sacrifice of such great worth, that God has a just basis to forgive all those who come to Him based on the merits of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.16
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.17
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.18
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.19
Salvation is available for every person. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world—not just for the good or a select few. In fact, it was for the very worst whom Jesus gave His life. There is no sin that Jesus cannot forgive. There is no guilty stain upon a man’s life, that Jesus cannot wash it as white as snow. There is no sinner who is so lost, that Jesus cannot find him and bring him home to heaven.
Is it too late?
You may think of yourself as the greatest sinner the world has ever known. Perhaps you have committed murder, adultery, or any other sin that you know in your heart was wrong. Jesus will forgive you of any sin you have committed. He will expunge these mistakes from your record at the moment you call on Him in repentance and receive Him as your Savior.
Isaiah’s picture of the Messiah describes Him as unable to fail in delivering salvation to all people. Though the task is great, He shall accomplish the purpose for which He came to the earth. All those who believe in Jesus can find the forgiveness of their sins now and eternal life as a present reality.
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.20
The skeptic may scoff at the claim that there is a God who made all things and cares for the plight of man. A fact that no one can dispute is the reality that millions and millions of lives, over the course of the past 2,000 years, have been incredibly changed by coming into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There is no argument against the reality that following Jesus will change a person’s life. There is no program of man nor diligent work, which can be done by any human institution, that has the same lasting and profound effect, that simply surrendering a life to Jesus can equal.
Though God may not be seen, His power to change a human life is visible and unmistakable.
There are many Old Testament prophecies that testify of the eternal desire of God to make Himself known to us, and provide a way for every person to experience the forgiveness of their sins and find eternal life.
1 Ezekiel 18:4
2 Psalms 19:7
3 Isaiah 42:4
4 Matthew 24:14
5 Luke 24:47
6 Romans 16:25-27
7 Revelation 7:9
8 Genesis 6:5 (ESV)
9 Psalms 16:11
10 1 Corinthians 2:9
11 Isaiah 59:1-2
12 Exodus 33:20 (RCR)
13 Leviticus 1:1-5
14 Hebrews 10:1-10
15 Romans 5:18-19
16 2 Corinthians 6:2
17 Hebrews 9:27
18 Ephesians 2:13
19 Acts 4:12
20 John 20:31
Categories: Agnostics and Skeptics, Atheists, Forgiveness of Sin, Jesus is the Messiah, Justification, Leading People to Jesus, Messianic Prophecies, New Testament Criticism, Not understanding salvation, One Way to Heaven, Reasons For Unbelief, Resurrection Proven by Secular Sources, Robert Clifton Robinson, Salvation through Jesus, The failure of religion, The Historical Jesus, True Repentance, Why Jesus had to die