by Pastor Jerry L. Lewis
From Psalm 31:5, we read:
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.
Jesus Christ spoke those words just before he died. His voluntary death on the Cross illustrates a stubborn love from which there is no turning back.
Jesus could just as well have said “I have decided to love you, and there’s nothing you can ever do to change that. My love for you doesn’t ever change. And I’m not just going to say the words, I’m going to prove it to you in my actions.”.
The way Jesus proved his love for us is wrapped up in the process of “redemption.” Let me briefly tell you how that works.
The apostle Paul tells us in Romans that we all have sinned, and that the payment or penalty for sin is death. We all have an Eternal death warrant hanging over our heads because of that sin. It might as well say, “I, God, condemn (you put your name in the top blank) to eternal death for the following sins,” and they are listed below, line-by-line, every one. There is even a blank space at the bottom for the sins of tomorrow, next week, next year.
I’ve heard lots of people say, “Well, I think that if you lead a good life (live the Ten Commandments, follow the Golden Rule, etc.) you’ll be just fine with God.
Don’t believe that for an instant.
If we die with unforgiven sin, we’re going to spend a real long time in a real bad place because there won’t be any sin in Heaven. Neither the water of baptism nor the sweat of good works can wash away sin.
Only blood can do that.
In the story of the Garden of Eden, we see that after their eyes were opened to the effects of sin, Adam and Eve were frightened and covered themselves with leaves. God instead covered them with the skins of animals.
Animals die when their skin is removed and their blood is shed. Do you see what has just happened? An innocent one has died (shed its blood) to cover the sins of the guilty.
God allowed that innocent blood to temporarily cover the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement much like an umbrella for one year.
That’s why they spent centuries sacrificing animals and putting the blood on the altar. Only blood can cover sin.
That was the Old Contract.
But it still works in a similar way today. If we can find an innocent substitute to die in our place, our sin debt will be paid and we can be counted as sin free before God (redeemed).
I can’t die for you, nor can anyone else. Only an innocent one can do that; one criminal can’t die for another.
You see, we all inherit a sin nature. God said in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), “I will visit the sins of the fathers unto the children to the third and fourth generations.” One way very narrow interpretation is to explain that the sins of our great-grandfathers are affecting our lives today, and our sins affect our children and grandchildren.
This sin nature is passed down through the father’s side of the family. It is like a family curse. Only Jesus, whose father was The Holy Spirit, escaped inheriting a sin nature.
The good news is that on the bottom of our death warrant is a “substitution clause” that reads something like, “I, Jesus, being innocent and free of sin, will pay the penalty for the sins of (your name goes here). The only blank line is where you write in, “Jesus forgive me, and help me do better.” Jesus has already signed His name at the bottom in blood, His blood.
There’s nothing in there about going to church every Sunday. There’s nothing about stop doing a bunch of these things, or about start doing a bunch of those. Just forgive me Jesus.
You will probably want to make some of those changes sooner or later, but right now it is just about Jesus and you.
When we decide to use our “substitution clause” and ask Jesus to forgive us, He pulls out a (figurative) rubber stamp with the word “CANCALLED” on it and dips it into His blood. Then He stamps the first sin on the list “cancelled.” Then the next, then the next, clear to the last one.
Then in that space in the bottom for tomorrow’s sins, He stamps “cancelled” all over that too. We may sin tomorrow, but there’s no place to write it down.
When he hands the warrant to God the Father, God looks at the first sin and says, “Well, someone died for this sin because I see the Blood. And this one, and this one, too,” right on down the list. When He gets to the bottom, God looks up and says, “Well, (your name), looks like you’re invited to a party in Heaven. You have been redeemed from the debt of sin.
God continues, “Someday you and Jesus will walk arm-in-arm down the main street of Heaven laughing, loving, singing, and having a great old time. Everybody that’s used their substitution clause will be in that party too, including long lost friends and relatives.”
“Unfortunately," God concludes, “the road to Hell is made wide for the many who want to go there. People who like to argue and detract from My purpose, and those who try to justify their own sin, will have plenty of time to do so in a real warm place.”
Those who die rejecting God’s most costly gift can only plead for a quick and merciful death. But like Prometheus, their agony endures forever. They can be tortured, burned, brutalized, and be beheaded (for we know who is down there with them).
The only thing they can’t do is die. All their cuts and burns and broken bones will “heal” tonight, and tomorrow is a brand-new day in Hell.
People, you must use your substitution clause to make it to that party in Heaven. There won’t be any VIP passes here. You won’t argue your way out of this. You’ve got be “washed in the blood” as the old song says.
Perhaps there’s a few of you reading this who may be thinking of re-booting your God theories in the last few minutes. Take a few moments of silence now to thank Jesus for what He’s done for you, and if you have never used our substitution clause, use it right now. “Forgive me Jesus. Get me ready for that big party. Forgive me Jesus I know you Died for me.”
If you’ve just used your “substitution clause” and believe Jesus has forgiven you, I don’t have to tell you something is different.
Most people describe the feeling of something like a mighty fountain building up inside of them: a fountain of love, relief, and joy. Some realize the suffering Jesus went through on their behalf and weep openly in sorrow for their sin, or in the joy of forgiveness.
You are now a different person whether you understand it or not, and that’s what matters. Leave the silly arguments for a later time.
Rejoice, for there is a new name written down in Heaven. Yours! Tell someone what Jesus has done for you, so hopefully their name won’t be written Someplace Else.
I can almost hear the "experts" Poo-pooing this explanation. But now they won't be able to stand in front of the Living God on the Day of Judgement and say, "Well, nobody ever told me." Not now.