By Randy Harshbarger
Early in God’s dealings with mankind, he made a promise that pointed to the time when the Savior would come and deal a death blow to Satan, the enemy of all men. Genesis 3:15 says: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” God continued to give reminders of his intent for salvation to come to all as he told Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3: “Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great. And be thou a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse. And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”
In the fullness of time Christ came, finally dying on the cross. Seemingly the cross was a defeat for the Lord (the bruising of the heel) but after three days, God’s Son burst forth triumphantly, overcoming death (the bruising of the head). The grand scheme of redemption was unfolded as Christ the promised seed came and died for every man (cf. Gal. 3:6-16). Now all men could hearken to the call of the gospel leaving sin behind for a new relationship in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). The kingdom of God was established. The prophecy of 2 Samuel 7:12-13 points to the establishment of the Messianic kingdom. “When thy days are fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, that shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”
Even the angels desired to know about the coming events of salvation (1 Pet. 1:10-12) but evidently could not know. The “mystery” was revealed making known the great love of God for all, as men in turn give glory to God in his church (Eph. 3:8-21).
Why is this salvation great? It is great because it was procured by the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:19: “but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, (even the blood) of Christ that raised him from the dead, and gave him glory; so that your faith and hope might be in God.” Saving man from sin Christ frees us from sin’s consequences (Rom. 6:23). The shedding of Christ’s blood must be understood in terms of Christ’s dying. Christ “tasted death” for every man (Heb. 2:9). He literally died. He literally experienced death for each one of us. He was without sin but died for our sins. Paul says: “in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).
Salvation is great because of the horrors of hell. Jesus said: “And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The righteous reap eternal life but the wicked are cast into everlasting fire (Mt. 25:46). “But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). Torment awaits those who do not avail themselves of the salvation that Christ provides (Rev. 20:10). The sooner we realize that we face the consequences of our sins, namely an eternal hell, the sooner we can wake up to the possibility of being part of God’s family.
Salvation is great because of the joys of heaven. You will be in heaven just as long as the lost will be in hell – for eternity. Jesus reassures us by saying: “Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:1-3). May we work now while we can, as we seek to do the Lord’s will. The greatness of the salvation provided and offered compels us to follow the example of Christ in obedience to every command of God (Heb. 5:8-9). If Christ the Son felt compelled to obey the Father, who are we to think we do not have to obey?
Salvation is great because it is revealed to us in revelation of words we can read and understand and obey (Eph. 5:17). 2 Peter 1:19-21 says: “And we have the word of prophecy made more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.” Without this salvation we would have nothing but loss to look forward to. The loss of our soul. The loss of heaven. The loss of being with the Lord for eternity. Let us not neglect the salvation that has been brought down. The question is not: Can I afford to obey the gospel? The real question is: Can I afford not to obey the gospel? It is a great salvation. It is too great to neglect.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 21, p. 659
November 5, 1992