“What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” (Psalms 116:12)
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Without our Lord’s sacrifice, there would be little hope for a better life. But hope is powerful, especially when inspired by the plan of God. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). When we truly believe in God and His plan, the result will be joy and peace. We have peace because we understand all things are in His hands, and joy knowing that His purpose is to ultimately bless all.
Christ’s Ransom Brings Hope
Death was not always the expected end for mankind. At the beginning of the human experience, Adam and Eve were created without the fear of death. Although death was a possibility, it did not become a reality until they disobeyed God and sinned (Genesis 2:17, 3:17‐19). Original sin appeared to negate the possibility that Adam and his offspring would enjoy an eternal existence.
Mankind’s downward spiral into sin con‐ continued for some four thousand years before the price that could offset original sin appeared. Balancing the scale of divine justice would provide an opportunity for life (1 Corinthians 15:22). Our Lord’s perfect humanity was the corresponding price for the perfect man Adam (Romans 5:17,18). Our Lord’s acceptable sacrifice means we can now have great hope for the future of mankind.
Justification is a scriptural term. Vines Dictionary defines it as, “the act of pronouncing righteous” (page 284). God established the standard for what would be deemed righteous. Because of disobedience, He pronounced Adam, and his posterity, unrighteous. So, only God can declare one to be righteous (Genesis 3:17‐19). Justification in the eyes of God, then, becomes the only path to righteousness and life.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1,2). Before justification could be granted, the stipulation required by God was faith in that which justifies. It is a reasonable demand. “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).
Faith in the blood of Christ is required for justification. This describes a heartfelt belief that our Lord’s sacrifice fully atones for Adamic sin. Once accepted, faith justification provides a standing before God. This justified condition provides peace with our Heavenly Father and gives “access into this grace wherein we stand.”
This justified condition does not suggest an actual perfection of being. To describe how an imperfect being can be justified before God, the phrase “reckoned justification” is sometimes used (See The Atonement Between God and Man, page 444). There is then a distinction between actual justification, where perfection of an individual exists, and reckoned justification, where the blood of Christ covers the sins of an individual. The purpose of reckoned justification is to eventually bring that individual to actual perfection, a condition that occurs once one is beyond the veil.
The Earnest of Our Inheritance
To accomplish the development of Christian character, each individual requires guidance and instruction from God. Because the ransom has made our justification possible, this assistance is now available and is one of the great advantages that we possess. We can now grow through understanding holy principles and through seeing the character of God reflected in His Word.
This process is described by the apostle: “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). God’s Spirit works in many ways. “Ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:14). God’s Spirit dwelling in us marks His acceptance, or “seal,” that we are now justified and acceptable. This brings us into a relationship with Him as sons and daughters.
The Holy Spirit is also an earnest, or “pledge” (Strong’s # 728), of our future inheritance. When we are raised as part of the Bride of Christ, then God’s influence will be more magnified through us. “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12). Greater works than even our Lord performed will be part of our future inheritance. It is hard to imagine a greater work than when Jesus raised the dead.
But his ministry was limited to a few short years, reaching relatively few individuals. The magnitude of our future work with the Lord will be worldwide, touching every person who has ever lived. It will have an immense impact for the entire Millennial Age, extending into man’s eternal future. So, our “greater works” will be in length of time and in its broad scale. What a prospect for good works that lies ahead for faithful saints.
The Abrahamic Promise
“If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). A benefit which the faithful Church receives through Christ is the privilege of becoming part of the seed of Abraham. This is more than an honor. It is an opportunity to make a difference and uplift the world of mankind. This provides a wonderful perspective as we desire to lift the burden of sin from the shoulders of our human family. There are many noble people who are sacrificing and working to better this world. Their efforts are laudable indeed. However, despite all they may accomplish, the world continues to suffer, and death is still a certainty. To partake of the seed of Abraham will mean so much more and bring profound results. This difference cannot be over‐stressed. The work of Christ will change the world and bring life back to a dying race. It is a prospect that only God could instill and it should inspire us to do whatever is necessary to be part of the seed of blessing.
The requirements placed upon any who would be part of the promised seed are both reasonable and necessary. The world has seen the devastating results when tyrants rule. But, unlike such power‐hungry individuals, the power and authority placed upon those who will reign with Christ will never be abused or misguided, but used wisely, fairly, and for good. This requires a ruling body that loves righteousness and will administer the kingdom in just and loving ways. Because the work is so great, and the position so elevated, the development of Christian character has been essential. Our training on this side of the veil is vital to the work of blessing others.
For now, the church is depicted as a garden yet unprepared for kingdom work. “A garden barred is my sister bride, a spring barred, a fountain sealed” (Song of Solomon 4:12). Someday soon, when the bride has finished her earthly course, the garden of fruits will be opened and the spring unsealed. Jesus’ words will then be fulfilled, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). What an incentive to bear the fruits of the Spirit!
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). The Chris‐ tian journey is often strewn with difficulties. It
is sometimes compared to a fish swimming upstream. The current of the world is contrary to the desire to live a righteous, self‐sacrificing life. The Lord knows our frame (Psalms 103:14) and how we need the fellowship of others who are walking in the same Narrow Way. We often lean on brethren for strength and encouragement and see Christ through them. The benefit of Christian fellowship is two‐fold. That gaining support from others is naturally uplifted. But, those providing support are also strengthened as they display the Christlike quality of serving others (John 13:14). The apostle stat‐ ed this was fulfilling the law of Christ. When someone bears the burden of another, it is not simply the mechanical obedience to a law, but done through understanding the value of serving out of love. Both parties are encouraged and their bond made stronger.
Strength in the Harvest Time
“I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). These words meant a great deal to those who knew Jesus personally. But he can become as real to us through the pages of scripture, and as we share in his sacrificing lifestyle.
We live in a unique time. Our Lord’s return answers many questions and enlivens our desire for the kingdom and to be with him. The harvest provides an opportunity to prepare for a share in the work of the incoming reign of righteousness (Matthew 6:33). But it is also a stressful, busy time. Many distractions attempt to lure us away from our service. Jesus’ final words when giving the parable of the wheat and tares are a reminder that we can be distracted. “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:43).
Our goal then is to have ears that hear his instructions and follow them as best we can, shutting out all worldly noise. The message of truth is special and carries a responsibility to those who believe. It can bring comfort in these troublesome times. And so, we share it with any listening ear. “Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11). Seeing the precious benefits we receive because of our Lord’s sacrifice, we join with the psalmist in asking, “what shall I render unto the Lord?”