- No Mercy Without Judgment – We read in 1 Cor 15:56 that “the sting of death is sin …” and in Rom 6:23, “… the wages of sin is death …” . In this verse, as well as many others in the Bible, we notice that God is linking death to sin. Because of this fact, we know that God is not referring to physical death but to spiritual death, which is ultimately the eternal “second death”, or Hell. Jam 1:15 also expresses the same idea as it pinpoints the origin and progression of all sin: “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”. The reason this is so is because sin, by biblical definition, is the transgression of God’s Law, as stated in 1 John 3:4, an exceedingly relevant verse: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law”. You and I are fully aware that when we break one of the laws of our land there will be consequences, and in the case of sin the consequences are eternal in duration and intensity. Our sin is like an insurmountable debt of infinite proportions that can never be paid, as the parable in Mat 18:34 explains, “And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him”. Everything in the Scriptures shows us that God is not to be trifled with or lightly esteemed. It is no wonder that the Bible uses such horrific language as “… Vengeance is mine, I will repay …” found in Rom 12:19; and Heb 10:31 warns, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”. Eternal God is a God of Law, and the Bible is His Law Book. God created the universe and established His physical, moral, and spiritual laws according to His infinite wisdom and sovereign will. He enforces His rules for His righteous purposes and for His glory according to His standards of perfect justice. Every sin we commit is a transgression of God’s Law, as we read in 1 John 3:4. Therefore, every sin is judged by God Himself, in the Person of Jesus Christ, as John 5:22 declares: “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son”. The “wicked” in Psa 9:17 are all those from all the nations of the world who are unsaved on Judgment Day: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God”. Hell is terrible, and it exists because God created man to be accountable to God for his actions, because God’s perfect justice demands payment for sin. However, before God will send anyone to Hell that person must be tried and found guilty of committing a crime. Sadly for us all, a guilty verdict is certain, as James 2:10 states: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all”. Ultimately, God alone gives or takes away physical life; but what is infinitely more important is the state of our soul, according to Mat 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”. Only those whose names are written in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21:27) will be spared the eternal anguish of Hell, which is figuratively called the “lake of fire” in Rev 20:15, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”. Remember that references to “fire” and “smoke” in the Bible are often used to symbolize the wrath of God. Consider the testimony of Him, Who as the Judge of all the earth, is soon to appear to both try and condemn all who have not been clothed with His glorious righteousness in the sobering words of Rev 19:11–21. Is God justified in His anger? The answer is definitely yes! Gen 18:25b asks the rhetorical question, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Rom 3:5b–6 poses the question, and then proceeds to answer it: “Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?” Ultimately, everything that God does is for His Own glory. And that is certainly true of His anger, which will be vindicated.
Acts 17:31 “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man [Lord Jesus Christ] whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
Luke12:4–5 “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him [God], which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”
Rev 19:11–16 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Rev 19:20–21 “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”
- He Hath Poured Out His Soul Unto Death – God’s Laws are a reflection of His righteousness, and God has bound Himself to execute judgment righteously. That means there can be no “plea bargains” and no “pardons” at the Judgment Seat of Christ – the penalty for sin must be paid. So, where does mercy come into the picture? But God, by His grace, love, and mercy, did pay the penalty of eternal damnation for His people through the atoning work of Jesus Christ at the cross. What exactly did Christ offer? The Lord Jesus Christ was made sin and became a curse as He poured out His soul – that is, His life – for those whom He came to save. Now, that is the greatest act of mercy in the history of the world “For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell” (Psa 86:13). God’s mercy is predicated on the atoning work of His Son as we read in Heb 2:17. 1 Cor 15:22–25 asserts: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”. In other words, all those in Adam die and all those in Christ shall be made alive again. Who are these “all” that are recipients of God’s mercy? We read these words in Mic 7:18, “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”. The “remnant of his heritage” refers to those whose sins God has forgiven – those upon whom God has bestowed His gift of salvation. First and foremost, it was the will of God, as we see in Gal 1:4: “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world: according to the will of God and our Father”. Secondly, it was the love of God as Rom 5:8 (and Eph 5:25–27) states: “But God commendeth [exhibits] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. Thirdly, He had to do what man was utterly incapable of doing as Tit 3:5 reveals: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost”. Fourthly, it was done in humble obedience, as Php 2:8 indicates: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself; and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”. The Bible informs us that we cannot serve two masters in Rom 6:16: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”. Rom 7:5 explains, “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death”. To be “in the flesh” signifies that we are not saved; however, to be “in the spirit” is language that refers to somebody that has become a child of God. In John 3:6 the Bible declares, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” and verse 7 continues, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again”. There is a specific moment in time that God applies His Word to the heart of each individual He plans to save (the elect) and gives him spiritual hearing. That is when God makes him a true believer. That is when that individual passes from “death” unto “life”. That is the moment of the spiritual “first resurrection” of the soul of each believer from the dead, as we see in John 5:24–25. John 11:25–26 emphasize the fact that true believers, who have been spiritually resurrected from “the dead” (that is, from their natural spiritually dead condition), will never have to face eternal death again because God has given them eternal life, as we read in Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. To summarize, man either pays the penalty of the second death himself or Jesus Christ the Savior pays it for him. There are no other options. However, if we are not saved during our temporal lifetimes, we will have to stand for judgment and experience the “second death” in the “lake of fire”, where there is no hope of salvation forevermore. The good news is if Christ is your Savior, then He was laden with your sins; He stood for judgment in your place; He was found guilty; He paid the penalty for your sins; and you have eternal life that can never be lost. The bad news is if Christ is not your Savior, you will experience the “resurrection of damnation”; you will stand before the Judgment Throne of Christ; you will be found guilty; and you will pay the penalty of the “second death” yourself. That is the two-edged Gospel message of salvation. It is indeed “a matter of life or death”.
Matt 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Matt 20:28 “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
John 10:11,15,17–18 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep … As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep … Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh 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 commandment have I received of my Father.”
Heb 2:17 “Wherefore in all things it behoved him [Jesus Christ] 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”
John 5:24–25 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”
John 11:25–26 “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”
- My Righteous Servant Shall Justify Many – We read this intriguing question in Job 15:14 reveals, “What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?” and in Job 25:4a, “How then can man be justified with God…?”. Unfortunately, in our day and throughout history, man has been actively engaged in the sinful pursuit of developing various “religions” and man-made “salvation” programs. The fact remains that man cannot be righteous by anything he does on his own. Isa 64:6 affirms, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away”. With respect to these “do-it-yourself” efforts, God declares in Luke 16:15, “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God”. Pro 20:9 asks, “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?”. Then how can one be justified or made righteous in the eyes of God? Rom 3:20–25 declares, “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight”, but we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. The Bible outlines for us the profound truths that Christ, Who is Eternal God, had to empty Himself of His glory to take on human flesh as the ultimate servant. He had to become sin and then – the greatest mystery of all – He had to suffer the unimaginable agony of everlasting Hell for His elect people to procure their righteousness and eternal salvation. What is the significance of the phrase, “a minister [or servant] of the circumcision for the truth of God” in Rom 15:8 : “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers”? Circumcision has to do with “cutting off”, and Christ was “cut off” when He suffered Hell for His people, as Isa 53:8 reveals. We have been looking at some verses that feature the word “many”, and there are numerous other passages that feature the word “all” as well with reference to salvation. However, these can only be understood properly by comparing Scripture with Scripture and see how God qualifies the word “all” with regard to all of the elect. Take the case of 2 Tim 4:8: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing”.
Php 2:5–8 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Isa 42:1–4 “Behold my servant [Lord Jesus Christ], whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.”
Isa 53:8 “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he [Lord Jesus Christ] was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.”
Rom 3:20–25 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;”
- He bare the Sin of Many, and made Intercession for the Transgressors – The Bible has so much to say with regard to our sinfulness, and by the same token, much to say about God’s love – the only solution to our sin problem. We read in Rom 5:19, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous”. What the “first man” (or Adam) failed to accomplish, the “second man” (or the Lord Jesus) gloriously fulfilled. Heb 7:25 explains, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them”. Also, 1 Pet 3:18 serves to identify Christ’s redemption for His people, who are referred to as the “unjust”, from sin, spiritual death, and Hell, as follows: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit”. Here we see the greatest exchange that has ever taken place in this universe. Here we see righteous God, Who is holy, pure, and sinless become unholy, impure, and sinful. Simultaneously, we see unrighteous unsaved man, who by nature is unholy, impure, and sinful become holy, pure, and sinless by the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ that is given, or imputed, to him. In other words, those who are “justified” (or “made righteous”) have had their sins forgiven like the publican who was “justified” (or saved) in Luke 18:14, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other …”. Isa 53:11, describes the mission of the Lord Jesus: “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities”. God is identifying justification with sin-bearing and by extension with the payment for sins, as we also learn from 2 Cor 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”. This underscores the fact that God is incapable of merely “pronouncing” a person to be “righteous” or “holy” without His divine justice being actually satisfied. What this signified is that the punishment for sin – eternal damnation – must be paid either by the Lord Jesus or by each guilty human being himself. Of course, Christ made that payment for all of God’s Elect. The “travail”, or “work”, that Christ had to endure was eternal damnation, which the Bible calls the “second death” in Rev 21:8. Psa 130:3 poses the very relevant question, “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” Indeed, the Lord Jesus was able to successfully atone for the sins of His people as Isa 53:11 so triumphantly announces. Lord Jesus was not only a spotless passover lamb but also a high priest who makes intercession for His Elect. All who do not possess the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior will hear the words of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Judge in Mat 7:22–23 echoing throughout eternity: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”.
Isa 59:16–17 “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.”
Isa 53:11 “He [LORD] shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Heb 9:28 “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Mat 26:28 “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
1 Pet 1:18–19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”
Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
Heb 7:24–26 “But this man [Lord Jesus Christ], because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 26For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;”
- He shall Divide the Spoil with the Strong – In the Luke 11:21–22 account we witness the plundering of the “strong man’s palace”. In this context the “strong man” is Satan; his “palace”, or house, represents his kingdom, where we all start (Col 1:13), that Christ vanquished at the Cross. In accordance with God’s salvation program, all of God’s elect throughout history are being “freed” from Satan’s prison, as we learn from a citation that outlines the Savior’s divine mission in Isa 61:1: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”. The “darkness” and “power of Satan” that underlies an unsaved person’s life are carefully delineated in 1 Cor 6:9–11. In order to defeat Satan, Christ had to become sin for every true Christian; and then had to suffer the equivalent of eternal damnation on their behalf, as expressed by His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (which means “winepress”) as Heb 5:7 relates: “Who [Jesus] in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him [God] that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;”. Although Christ defeated Satan in real time at the Cross, Jesus spoke of Satan’s impending downfall as if it had already happened in Luke 10:18, “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” and affirmed in John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out”. Satan was spiritually “bound” at the cross and through out during the New Testament “Church Age” and is released for a “little season” during great tribulation, to deceive the nations – but his doom is sealed. He will be judged on the Last Day and be cast into the eternal “lake of fire”, as we read in Rev 20:7–10.
Isa 53:12 “Therefore will I divide him [Lord Jesus] a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong [Satan]; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Mark 3:26–27 “And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. 27 No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.”
Luke 11:21–22 “When a strong man [Satan] armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger [Lord Jesus Christ] than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.”
Col 1:12–14 “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
Rev 20:7–10 “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.