Who is happy or when is one happy? It is only when one is free – free of physical, mental, financial or social problems. The French philosopher Rousseau said, “Man is born free but is found every where in chains.” It can be political, social, physical, intellectual or even mental chain. The worst of all these is the chain of guilt that gives mental stress. It is the feeling of not doing the right thing. But the guilt of sin is the most devastating of all chains. It is the bondage of mind. It affects body, mind and soul. The mystery of it is that one may not be aware of it unless it is shown by the divine power. One may be so immersed in sin that the person may be immune to it. Sin can be dealt with only by God. Different religions have different ways to deal with sin.
The history of man, according to the Bible, can be summarized in three words; creation, fall and restoration. Out of these three, two were the works of God and the third was the result of man’s action. God created man for a purpose, but he slipped away from this purpose by his own action of disobedience. Then God worked out a plan to restore man from his fall and bring him back to His fellowship, for which man was created. Out of the 1189 chapters in the Bible two are devoted for the creation story, one for the fall of man and the remaining 1186 chapters are for the restoration of man from his fall and related themes. From this we understand that the restoration of man or his salvation is the most important theme of the Bible. The plan of salvation according to the Bible is the unique and the most easy one.
Jesus Himself is the restoration or Salvation. He came to the world with the message of love. The preparation of His coming, His life, and mission that made an impact on the world are the most outstanding factors of this account. While the Old Testament looks forward to the coming of Christ the restorer or Messiah, the New Testament records his life and teachings on which the Christian faith is founded. Jesus’ influence on man’s life is evident from the vast literature he has inspired and the mark that He has made on the history of mankind. A close examination of His teachings brings out the profound hope that He promises in the uplift of man from his desperate life-situations. This salvage of man’s soul is the message of the gospel. Let us examine how Jesus does this.
Jesus brings salvation by forgiving sin. While all other religions emphasize punishment and revenge for sin, He forgives sin. Sin is directly or indirectly related to the evils that we see in this world. It is the cause of all miseries that we have in this life. Prophet Jeremiah says, “Your sins have withdrawn good things from you” (Jeremiah 5:26). Many think that only breaking the ‘Ten commandments’ is sin. But James in his epistle says, “To him that knows good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) What is good, then? Any thing that pleases God is good and any thing that does not please God is bad and it is sin. The sin of the first man was that he disobeyed the command of God and displeased Him. Man was punished by sending him away from the Garden of Eden, that is the presence of God. Thus man was separated from God. Sin separates man from God. “It is your sin that separates you from God”(Isaiah 59:2. This separation is the spiritual death. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Sin not only results in spiritual death but also makes one guilty in this present life as well. It takes away the joy and the peace of mind.
But God has promised that He can do away with this sin. He says, “Come, let us reason, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” ((Isaiah 1:18). God provided a way for this act of cleansing from sin. It is accordance with His law. According to it it, it is only possible by atonement. That is, a death must be substituted by another death. Only blood can make the atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11) “With out shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin,”(Hebrews 9:22). This was the reason why Jesus died. He died for the sin of the world once for all. Those who believe in this sacrificial death of Jesus receive the forgiveness of their sins. “Neither by the blood of goat or calves but by his own blood he (Jesus) entered in once to the holy place having obtained the eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12). This act of Jesus two thousand years ago is still good. Because of His sacrifice Jesus makes mediation before God His Father for us. “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him seeing he lives for ever to make intercession for them.” (Hebrew’s 7:25) This sacrifice of Jesus was the mission of Jesus on the earth. So the basic Christian teaching is on the sacrifice of Jesus and the acceptance of it by faith as the propitiation for our sins. That is, we accept by faith that Jesus died in our place for our sins. This faith gives us confidence and fills us with peace and joy. This is the crux of the Gospel. Jesus said that he came as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). This is the happiest news in the history of man. Jesus is our ransom to free us from the bondage of sin and the condemnation to death. Peter in his Epistle says, “You were redeemed not with corruptible things as silver and gold…. but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb with out blemish and spot.” (1 Peter 1:18, 19)This is the uplifting act of forgiveness by Jesus. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) This gift is a free gift of grace. We are not eligible for this by our action, but in His Grace God sent His only begotten son so that our sins may be forgiven and we may be made free from this depressing, disgusted and devalued life of hopelessness and to be in the joyous eternal fellowship;
We can avail it easily by receiving this by faith. There is only one condition. We must repent of our sin. “Unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3) “Repent and turn to God so that your sin may be wiped.” (Acts 3:19) ” Now He command all people every where repent” (Acts 17:30) Let us receive this free gift by first repenting and then accepting Jesus and His great sacrifice by faith. This is the fulfillment of the Holy mission of Jesus our Lord and it is the achievement of our long cherished desire. Let us not disappoint our Master and let us not miss this coveted bliss.
This is the season of “Lent”, a period separated for self examination by keeping close to God’s presence and to see our own weaknesses and repent and accept God’s Grace of forgiveness, thus obtaining a spiritual awakening. May God help us.
“His love has no limit; His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He gives and gives and gives again.”
– Cherian Kurian