The Unanswerable Question-Part 2
THE UNANSWERABLE QUESTION (2 OF 4)
I. The Great Salvation
We can be certain that when God calls a thing great, it really deserves the description. Man's idea of what constitutes greatness, and God's, are as far apart as heaven from earth. Man hails the discovery of the poles as a great achievement, but God rejoices in seeking, finding and saving a lost and guilty sinner. Man congratulates himself on the successful completion of a gigantic enterprise such as the construction of a great canal that links two oceans; or a huge dam that conserves an enormous water supply and furnishes a state with electric power; or in a railroad that connects distance places. But God speaks and rejoices in the accomplished work of His beloved Son, by which a full, free and eternal salvation has been provided from sin's doom, dominion and domain for every sinner who will receive Christ as his Savior and Lord.
Man thinks in terms of time, but God in terms of eternity. Man estimates the value of a thing from a natural and materialistic standpoint. God views things in the light of their spiritual and eternal value. In fact, God Himself tells us: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord." (Isa. 55:8)
Let us now consider several reasons why God's salvation can be truly described as being great.
First, it is a great salvation because of its Personnel. This consists of the Divine Trinity of the eternal Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each of Whom united in the provision of this great salvation. God, the Father, is its Originator and He made it possible by the gift of His beloved Son. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God is its Provider, and He made it available by His incarnation, substitutionary sacrifice death and resurrection and glorification. The Holy Spirit is its Empowerer and He makes it actual in the experience of the believer by His convicting and regenerating power. Thus the triune Godhead is intensely concerned and actively engaged in this great work of salvation, the greatest thing in the universe!
Second, it is a great salvation because of the Person who published it. Note the words: "Which at first began to be spoken by the Lord." Our Lord did not come into the world primarily to preach the gospel, but to make it possible for a gospel to be preached! This necessitated His incarnation, death, resurrection and glorification. His first recorded utterance was: "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" He declared: "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me and to finish His work." Again we hear Him saying: "I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work." From the cross, where He allowed Himself to be crucified in order to bear our sins, He cried with a loud, triumphant voice: "It is finished!" Before He ascended back to heaven He commissioned His disciples with these words: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature!" Thus the greatness of this salvation is demonstrated by the character of the Person who came to make it possible, died to make it actual and now lives to make it experimental in the lives of all who trust Him.
Thirdly, it is a great salvation because of the price paid to secure it. This price was nothing less than His precious blood, or outpoured life. God had declared: "The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: "for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." (Lev. 17:11)
Because of the absolute holiness, righteousness and justice of God, sin must be punished; either in the person of the sinner, or in the person of a divinely provided, offered and accepted substitutionary sacrifice which takes the place of the sinner, bears his sins and dies in his stead. This is what the Lord Jesus did for us when He willingly went to the cross and allowed God to put all our sins upon Him. As He bore our sins in His own body, all God's judgment against sin fell, in all its concentrated fierceness, upon Him. We read: "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed." (Isa. 53:6) The heart of the gospel is found in these inspired words: "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." (I Cor. 15:3) Thus this salvation is the most costly thing in the universe, for it cost the incarnate Son of God the suffering and death of the cross. While salvation is free, it is not cheap, for it was secured at infinite cost.
Fourthly, it is a great salvation because of the purpose it reveals. God's salvation reveals at least three things. First, it reveals the lost, guilty, helpless, hopeless and hell-deserving condition of man by nature. The infinite value of the precious blood of Christ, shed for our salvation, reveals, as nothing else, the awful character of man's sin.
"Oh how vile my lost estate, since my ransom was so great!"
It is only as we realize, in some measure, what it meant for Christ to be forsaken of His God in that "lone, dark and mysterious hour," as He hung upon that cross, that we can measure the lost and guilty state of man that necessitated such infinite suffering on the part of the Son of God. [To be concluded]