“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew ch1 v21).
That is the whole point, of course.
Otherwise this birth would have been no more special than any other birth.
The message of the New Testament centres upon what God achieved in Christ, through his death on the Cross and his Resurrection..
All this was happening “on account of our sins”, for the sake of doing something about them.
And the promised result is the forgiveness of sin.
A few years back, one of my Index threads was considering the question Does the Old
Testament have a remedy for sin?
Of course this was an example of what my Latin teacher used to call “questions expecting the answer No”.
The gospel claims to succeed where the Old Testament failed, which calls for the question to be re-examined.
We must begin with some view on the nature of sin, because that determines how
the matter can be remedied.
My theory of sin, as presented on previous occasions, defines it as a relationship problem.
Humanity has taken itself out of alignment with God’s will, a misalignment which undermines our relation with the God who made us.
The only kind of offering he ever wanted from us was a self-offering, but we hold ourselves back in disobedience.
I have also suggested that the roots of our disobedience and self-will lie in our distrust, constraining us, and disposing us to keep something
The Old Testament offers a code of law which (rather imperfectly) represents God’s will for our conduct. Since even God’s people were failing to
live up to that standard, the problem was not resolved.
The ritual procedures described in the Old Testament respond to the problem of sin by offering dramatized metaphors. Sin is a stain which needs to be
washed away, a burden which need to be carried away, something which needs to be covered up.
Their value lies in reminding the people that the state of sin needs to be remedied, and in acting out the assurance that it can
But they are not, in themselves, tackling the reality of sin.
The ideal remedy would be a complete change of life, renewing obedience through repentance, and offering ourselves to God in trust.
However, the history of repeated failure seems to show that we cannot make that commitment in our own strength.
It would be impossible to make progress without further intervention from God.
His possible options appear to be ignoring the fact that the work has not been done, or finding a way to do it for us.
In other words, forgiveness or transformation. “Turn your face away from our sins” or “Heal us from them”, as the Psalmist used to plead.
The message of the New Testament is about the way these needs have been fulfilled.
Christ has done what God wants
I’ve argued that the most basic requirement is the self-offering in obedience, the only kind of offering that God ever wanted.
The teaching is that Christ met this requirement in his own person. He made the whole of his life, up to and including the point of death, an offering
of himself to the Father.
Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God
So far, so good.
The next task is to bring the rest of us into that achievement.
We are in Christ
Another version of this requirement is the self-offering in faith, committing ourselves to God in trust.
That is exactly what the teaching of the gospel demands from us.
Our contribution to the outcome is our faith; that is, our willingness to rest, in trust, upon what Christ has done.
Our trust combines with his obedience to add up to the required “obedience in trust”.
Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved
This faith needs to be expressed in repentance, in turning ourselves back to God.
Repent and be baptised.
In our faith and repentance, we have received the Holy Spirit.
If the Spirit of God dwells in you.
In our faith we have received the Holy Spirit, and the receiving of the Holy Spirit brings us into union with Christ.
If anyone is in Christ
And once we are “in Christ”, we become part of
what Christ has done.
Thus Christ was crucified. Therefore, as Paul says, we have been “crucified with Christ”. Because we are “in Christ”, he carries us along with
him into his crucifixion.
Again, Christ was raised from the dead. Therefore, as Paul says, we have been “raised with Christ”. Because we are “in Christ”, he carries us
along with him into his resurrection.
You were baptised into the death of Christ
We have done what God wants
This heading follows logically from the combination of the previous two headings.
Just to recap;
1 ) Christ made a complete self-offering which fulfilled all that God required.
2 ) But if we are “in Christ”, we have done everything that Christ has done. He carries us along with him into his act of self-offering.
3 ) Therefore we have, in Christ, made a complete self-offering which fulfils all that God requires.
Thus we have reversed the ”original” human fault, and the problem of sin has been resolved.
Putting it another way;
1 ) Christ is in full and unbroken union with the Father, not alienated by sin.
2 ) But if we are in full and unbroken union with Christ…
3 ) Then we too are in full and unbroken union with the Father, not alienated
We are aligned with God’s will, because we are aligned with Christ, who is aligned with God’s will.
Thus the problem of the broken relationship has been resolved.
We are told that “God was in Christ” doing these things.
Since Christ has done the work, and we are in Christ, God “turns his face away from” the fact that we have not done it ourselves. That is the
Being “healed from our sins” is part of the transformation of life which the New Testament is expecting from believers (and which will need to be
considered on other occasions).
There is a promise that this transformation will be completed in the resurrection.
This, then, is the purpose of the New Testament.
To demonstrate that Christ is offering, decisively, the remedy for sin.
edit on 21-12-2018 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)