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THE GREAT SALVATION
A Review of the Three Cases of Pardon in the Gospels. The
Significance of the Cross. The Great Salvation which Began to be Spoken by Christ.
HAVING called attention to the four divisions of the New Testament and the design of them, we will now, before proceeding with the history of each case of pardon recorded in Acts, refer again to the cases of pardon given in the gospels. There are only three instances of forgiveness recorded during Christ's personal ministry. The first one is the man afflicted with the palsy, and recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Jesus first forgave him, and then to demonstrate that the Son of Man had power on earth to forgive sins, He said to the sick of the palsy, “Arise, take
' up thy bed, and go unto thine house.”a The next case given is a woman, who was a sinner, but who washed Jesus's feet with tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head. “And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.” The last case is the thief on the cross. Jesus said unto him, “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”c These comprise all the cases of for
a Matt. ix. 6; Mark ii. 11; Luke v. 20. b Luke vii. 37-48.
c Luke xxiii. 43.
giveness of sins, unless we consider the casting out of demons as equivalent to pardon.
Upon these we would remark, that in the first case Jesus demonstrated His power to forgive by working a miracle. In the second case, we have an example for all time of the pure and sinless One forgiving a sinful woman, and in the last case the depth of His mercy reaching to a man who was a self-condemned criminal. Thus we learn that even the lowest, the fallen, and most depraved of earth may hope in Jesus. But, says one, may I now be pardoned as the man afflicted with the palsy, the woman at Jesus' feet, or the thief on the cross? If all the circumstances were the same, no doubt that the same results would follow. We have no promise, however, that Jesus will ever tabernacle in the flesh again as He did in Palestine. Never again will a palsied man be let down through the roof of a house to be healed by the Lord. Never again will a sinful, sorrowing woman bedew His feet with tears, nor will His feet and hands be pierced with nails while a suffering, dying thief by His side asks to be remembered when He comes into His kingdom. It must never be forgotten therefore that these acts of pardon were performed while Jesus was personally on the earth, and that, too, before His death, and before He had given commandment to both saint and sinner. Before the death of Jesus His approaching reign was preached. After His death remission of sins was preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. While Jesus was personally on the earth He sowed
broadcast His blessings and none could stay His hands or say “What doest thou ?” But when He died and left His will to His executors, the blessings henceforth have been bestowed in accordance with His will. The New Testament was not of binding force while the testator lived. As well might we expect Him now to address the multitude an He did then, to heal the sick, cure the blind, raise the dead, or to pardon now, as He did then. He could not do this without violating His last will and testament, in which the terms of pardon are fully set forth. When He appeared to Paul, after His ascension, to make him an apostle, He did not pardon him, but sent him to one of His disciples to learn what to do. All blessings, after the death of Jesus, flowed in the broad, deep channel of the gospel, and all persons thereafter addressed supernaturally by Jesus, by angels, by visions, or by the Holy Spirit, were not pardoned by direct supernatural power, but were sent to ministers of the gospel to learn what they should do to be saved. It is important to note that in these three cases of pardon given in the gospels they were pardoned by the word of the Lord, but that there were no terms required in order to pardon. In all cases subsequent to the death of Jesus there are terms of pardon required, but the evidence of pardon is the same, being the word of the Lord spoken by divine authority.
Having briefly called attention to the three cases of forgiveness mentioned in the gospels, we now note the fact that there is only one case given in which
Jesus made known, in a figurative way, the terms of
, admission into the kingdom of God. This was in the case of Nicodemus. As admission into the kingdom was the subject of conversation here, this case, unlike the other three, agrees with the terms as declared when the kingdom became established, and the figurative language in regard to being born again, “born of water and of the Spirit,” a becomes intelligible when viewed in the light of the terms of pardon as announced on the day of Pentecost, and in all subsequent cases of admission into the Church of Christ or kingdom of God.
It should be borne in mind by every student of the Bible, that from the giving of the law on Sinai until the death of Jesus on Calvary, there is not a single command given to the Gentile world. There are some individual cases of Gentiles becoming Jews, but the Jews had no command to evangelize, none to preach their religion to the world; but their prophets were directed to predict the coming One and the universal reign of the Prince of Peace. John the Baptist's mission was to the Jews only. Christ's personal ministry, and that of His apostles during His life, was "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”—to the Jews, and to develop principles which were to predominate in His coming reign. His kingdom was not established until He had conquered death: “For the suffering of death he was crowned.” His Church did not exist before He arose from the ruins of the grave, and it was built on the great facts con
John iii. 5.
b Heb. ii. 9.
nected with the subversion of the empire of death, "and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” “That through death he might destroy him that had the
power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” He died that remission of sins might be preached in His name among all nations. He died for our sins. He died, and since His death the redeemed in heaven sing a new song. “For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." He di
He died, and it is His dying love that is preached. He rose, and it is His risen power that makes Him almighty to save. He rose, and because He rose the gates of death are broken and liberty to the captive is proclaimed. He ascended, and “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”c Then, and not until then, was wrought out and brought in an everlasting redemption for all the children of men.
We live on this side of the cross and should be determined not to know anything but“ Jesus Christ and him crucified.”d The banner of the cross is the banner of victory. The preaching of Christ crucified is “the power of God and the wisdom of God," altho it was to “the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” e “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of
Eph. iv. 8. di Cor. ii. 2.
a Heb. ii. 14, 15.
b Rev. v. 9.
1 Cor. i. 23.