The primary purpose of Jesus coming into the world was for salvation. The Bible declares that all mankind has been lost and there is no hope of redemption—apart from God’s intervention. Thankfully, the Lord was not content to leave us in our helpless condition. In order for each one of us to be saved, God would have to act on His own. He must come to earth as one of us, while at the same time—remaining God. By a perfect life, set apart from sin, retaining the eternal worth of an eternal God, He could offer His life for ours. The Christian Gospel is far different from the religions of the world. God died for the people He created. He came and humbled Himself and took all of our suffering and the curse of death. Then He freely offered this salvation to anyone who would receive it, without cost.
Zechariah describes the coming of the Messiah, bring our salvation.
Zechariah 9:9d Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.
New Testament Fulfillment:
John 3:16-19 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. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
What Are You Expecting?
Israel was expecting a Messiah that would set them free from the oppression they were enduring under the Roman government. When the Messiah arrived, the Jews did not recognize their Messiah because He did not meet their expectations. The primary purpose of the Messiah’s arrival was our salvation. The major body of Old Testament prophecies are centered around the announcement that God was sending His Son to be the One sacrifice for all of man’s sins.
It is interesting that people’s response to Jesus Christ will depend largely upon their predisposition to their sin.
If someone is keenly aware of his sinfulness and the fact that he cannot ever be good, no matter how hard he tries, then he is more likely to receive Jesus Christ. If a person holds the view that he is basically a “good person” and that his sins are not nearly as bad as some other people, then the salvation that Jesus offers is not really that attractive. In fact, he may even be offended that it has been implied that he is a sinner.
Many people today, Jew and Gentile alike, are not able to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord because they love their sin more than a desire to be forgiven. Jesus said that those who have been forgiven much—loves much.
Luke 7:47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
It is not that Mary’s sins were any greater than yours or mine—it was Mary’s attitude regarding her sin. In her heart, Mary recognized the depth of her need and seriousness of her condition. Her sin’s had separated her from God and they had covered her with guilt. Mary understood that if the Lord did not forgive her, there was no hope of eternal life—nor happiness. It was because of her sincere humility over her present condition, and her certain trust that Jesus had fully paid for her sins—that Mary relied upon Him for everything. The great love that Mary had for Jesus, originated from her deep gratitude for what Jesus had done for her. Out of her gratefulness, she expressed actions which displayed this love. Mary cared nothing for the scorn or ridicule of the elders of Israel. She was not impeded by Simon’s home, his guests, nor the correct protocol. Jesus was nearby and she could not withhold the expression of her love for Him.
Because Mary recognized how much she had been forgiven, she loved much.
Those who do not recognize the depth of their sins and the true state of their spiritual condition, do not feel a sense of love or gratitude for what Jesus has done. In one of my conversations with a leading atheist, he told me that he doesn’t think that Jesus death on the cross is that big of a deal.
“The crucifixion story doesn’t strike me as that big a deal. Sure death sucks, but why single out this one? Lots of people die. In fact, lots died from crucifixion. The death of one man doesn’t make all the others insignificant. Was Jesus not a man but actually a god? If so, that has yet to be shown. It’s not like this death is dramatically worse than death today. Crucifixion may no longer be a worry, but cancer is. Six hours of agony on the cross is pretty bad, but so is six months of agony from cancer.” —Bob Siedensticker
In his comments, we can see that this man does not consider that his sins were the reason that Jesus had to die. He doesn’t understand that the suffering that Jesus endured, while on the cross, was not just for his sins, but for the whole world. Jesus has been God, forever; why would He choose to be tortured and experience all of our filthy and vile sins, when men like this will simply trample underfoot, the love that Jesus has shown to us? What is truly incredible is that Jesus knew about men like this and their hatred of Him, even when He was dying for them, and yet He still chose to give His life.
How serious are our sins?
John 8:3-5 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (NIV)
Was the woman in the above verse a bigger sinner than most other people?
How you respond to this question will define your reaction to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
How would you rate this woman’s sin:
( ) Not as serious as many other sins.
( ) Not as serious as my own sins.
( ) More serious than many other sins.
( ) More serious than my own sins.
If your honest opinion is that this woman’s sin (caught in adultery) is more grievous than your sins, this would likely define your love and appreciation for Jesus sacrifice as less significant.
If your honest opinion of this woman’s sin is that she is not as great a sinner as yourself, then you will likely appreciate and love Jesus to a greater degree.
Who is this woman?
Mary Magdalene was a known prostitute in Jerusalem. In John chapter 8, she is brought by the Pharisees before Jesus to be judged for her adultery, being caught in the very act.
John 8:4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (NIV)
As a result of her encounter with Jesus, she turns from her sin and begins to follow Him as her Savior. Luke later records an evening when Jesus is having dinner at the home of Simon, one of the Pharisees. Suddenly, Mary burst into the home of Simon and falls at the feet of Jesus—weeping convulsively, anointing His feet with her tears and fragrant oil. Simon is indignant over a known prostitute coming into his home, and immediately begins to wonder to himself why Jesus, if he were a true prophet, would allow such a woman to touch Him.
Jesus, knowing what was in Simon’s heart, begins to tell him a story…
Luke 7:40-43 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.”
Jesus establishes an important principle of salvation: those who have a deeper sense of their own sin, will love and appreciate what Jesus has done for them in forgiving their sin, in greater measure, than a person who does not consider themselves much of a sinner.
Luke 7:47 “Therefore I say to you (Simon), her sins (Mary), which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
It is important to distinguish here that Jesus is not saying that one person’s sin is less grievous than another. The point being—all sin is the same before God, however, not all people see themselves as sinners to the same degree. To those who think themselves more righteous and not in great need of a Savior, they will always love Jesus less than someone who fully appreciates the depth of their sinfulness and estrangement from God.
In other words, people who have a deep sense of gratitude for the sacrifice that Jesus has made for them, are likely to love Him more. Whereas, people who have not experienced a deep sense of remorse for their sins—or how much He suffered for their sins—will not feel as much love or appreciation for what Jesus has done.
In reality, every transgression is the same before God. Every sin causes a person to be excluded from the presence of God and to forfeit eternal life. The sin of lying causes the same penalty of death as the sin of murder. Sin is defined as: missing the mark of perfection—falling short of the glorious ideal that God has established for all human beings.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
Psalms 53:3 Every one of them has turned aside; They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.
Romans 3:10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one…”
Many of us have seen the text from John 3:16 displayed during a football or baseball game. The majority of the people of the United States have heard that God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son.
John 3:16 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.
There is, however, more to this verse than simply the Love of God for the sinner. Just three verses further in the text, we see a description for why most people will not receive this love that God offers through Jesus Christ:
John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, (but) men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Most people love their sin (darkness), and they do not want to turn away from those sins and surrender their life to Jesus Christ. Today, we have a politically correct Gospel that leaves repentance from sin out of the salvation message of Jesus Christ. The word of God states emphatically that there is no forgiveness of sin without sincere repentance. There is no eternal life without a willingness to turn from sin and to live a new life of righteousness.
Even after we have surrendered our life to Jesus Christ, we will still continue to sin. The difference is that we are no longer living in a continual lifestyle of disobedience to God. When sin occurs, it is by a moment of weakness or during a time when we are not thinking correctly. It is not because we have a mind set that loves sin and a desire to pursue it. Salvation only occurs when there is sincere repentance from our sins and a genuine sorrow for having offended God. Once this Godly sorrow occurs and we experience a true conviction to repent and act upon that desire, God is able to forgive all our sins and grant us eternal life.
David’s prayer of repentance towards God in Psalm 51 is a perfect example of sincere repentance.
Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise. Psalms 51:1
This is a long and heartfelt prayer of repentance. David did not make any excuses for his sin; he took ownership of them all, and he rightly laid blame for his errors on himself. In David’s repentance, he exonerated God of all fault, and defined judgment for our sins by God as a just act.
Today, when people come to receive Jesus as their Savior, very often, the message of repentance from sin is not even a part of the prayer for salvation. Often, it is “Jesus, I want to accept you as my Savior….,” as if the Lord would be very fortunate if we asked Him to accept us.
John wrote that all of us are already under the condemnation of God because of our sins.
John 3:17-18 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The whole world, apart from Jesus Christ, remains under the condemnation of God. Jesus came to rescue us from this fate. If you were hanging over the edge of a cliff and someone reached out his hand to lift you away from certain death, how would you respond? What would be the attitude of your heart having been saved from a fate of destruction? Thankfulness? Perhaps a desire to live a better life since you came so close to death?
Why is it difficult to honestly tell a person; out of a conviction of deep and abiding love, that if they fail to receive Jesus as their Savior, there is no hope of eternal life? We are not condemning someone if we tell them the truth about their present situation; we are loving them. Why is it that if we tell people that they need to repent of their sins, we are told that we are “judging” them and no one has the right to judge anyone else? Jesus never said that we could not judge sin and tell someone to repent; otherwise, how could the Gospel be preached at all?
What we are prohibited from doing is condemning people for their sins. Condemnation is final judgement, which only God has the right to execute. Judging that a person is on a dangerous course of sin that will lead to the loss of his eternal life is not only approved by God, but encouraged.
James 5:20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
Ezekiel 3:20 Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.
In other words, if we see a person committing sin and we warn him to turn from his sins—to Jesus for Salvation and he refuses our warning, God will hold him accountable for his sins and release us from guilt. If, on the other hand, we fail to warn a person, and his sins lead to the loss of his eternal life, God will hold us accountable because we failed to give warning.
Even when we do warn others, we are to do so with great gentleness and humility, understanding that we ourselves are often tempted and may also fall into sin.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
The first clause of the new covenant from God is that a person must repent and turn from his sins to Jesus Christ. John the Baptist came before Jesus to prepare the hearts of the people for His arrival. John’s message was—Repent!
Matthew 3:1-2 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
I recently viewed at a website that claims to have over 6,000 people registered who have stated that they once believed in Jesus Christ but now no longer believe in Him or follow Him. The Bible describes certain circumstances in which this may occur.
1. A person has not sincerely repented of his sins and has not honestly received Jesus as his Savior.
1 Corinthians 15:2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
2. A person has believed, but through the deceitfulness of sin, they have later fallen away.
Hebrews 3:13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
3. A person becomes discouraged by trials or the deceitfulness of riches, and falls away.
Matthew 13:20-22 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
The Bible describes our salvation as originating with God and His earnest desire to convey forgiveness and eternal life to all those who request it. Nowhere in the Bible do we observe God using force on anyone in order to save them. We are saved because of a willing act of our heart and will, and we remain saved by a continued willingness of our heart and will. If we chose to fall away from Jesus, we are certainly able to do so.
We should understand salvation from God’s perspective in the eternal— those who fall away, never really were saved in the first place. If they really were saved, then they would have remained with the Lord and continue to trust Him. This is most likely the source of confusion for those who teach that “once saved, always saved.” The premise of this doctrine comes from the revelation of scripture that God has known, from before time, who would be saved and has therefore predestined them to eternal life.
Romans 8:29-30 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified…
God’s knowledge in determining an outcome in advance of its actual occurrence is based on His knowledge of all things. God knew who would exercise their freedom of choice and receive Jesus as their Savior, therefore, He can speak of these individuals in the eternal realm as—chosen before the foundation of the world. This all-knowing wisdom of God does not negate the responsibility that each human being has to make the right choice, nor the consequences of choosing poorly.
In this way, both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, work together side by side, to accomplish the determined will of God in all things.
Acts 2:23 Jesus, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death…
Here, we see that God had a determined purpose and foreknowledge of Jesus’ death, but also allowed evil men to act themselves and crucify Jesus. We observe both the sovereignty of God and the free will of men working together. God, knowing that evil men would seek to put Jesus to death, also ordained that He should be put to death to accomplish our salvation.
A sad reality of the present-day church is that very little is done in properly discipling those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. All new believers require counsel in the realities of continuing sin and the constant need for daily repentance of those sins. For many who are not told that they will continue to struggle with sin even after they are saved, the reality of this struggle is too much to bear, and they often give up. Others find that when they see those who claim to be Christian leaders in the church are really hypocrites or do not display the kind of character that Jesus exhibited, they become discouraged, disillusioned, and walk away from Jesus.
We must come into such a deep awareness of Jesus as a person, that He becomes our only source of enduring and continued faith. If we place our eyes on people, we will always be disappointed. If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will never be disappointed.
Hebrews 12:1 …let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…
If a helper would come alongside a new believer to teach and encourage them, there would be fewer of those who fall away. It is impossible to prevent every person from walking away from Jesus. Some will do so no matter what is done to help them in their walk. The sad truth is that there would be fewer who do give up and walk away from Jesus if there were more who loved enough to help the new believers in their walk with Jesus.
The church has failed to deliver what was formerly a prerequisite for salvation: repentance from the old life of sin and a turning to a new life of righteousness. Because many people never come to a realization of how destitute they are and the hopelessness of their situation, before Jesus comes into their life, they do not have a genuine appreciation for the high cost that was paid by the Lord in order to make our salvation a reality.
If we have only a minor appreciation for what it cost Jesus to perfect our salvation—with a slight awareness of the great sinners we were when He died for us, our love for Jesus will also be diminished.
If we understand how greatly Jesus suffered and how much He had to give up to purchase our salvation, then we will love Him in a way that is worthy of His great gift.
 Atheist, Bob Seidensticker of “Patheos,” states in his article 10 Reasons why the crucifixion story makes no sense.”