under a special agreement with
presents "New Life in Christ" Course 3
under a special agreement with
Man's Rebellion Against God
God created the first man, Adam, because He wanted a race of people who would glorify Him, but Adam rebelled against God. In our last lesson we saw the terrible results of Adam's disobedience. Not only did Adam become a sinner himself, but he also produced a race of sinners. Instead of having God's life within them, men became separated from God because of sin. Instead of having God's nature, men became sinful and self-centered. Instead of ruling over the earth, men became slaves of sin and Satan.
How could this race of sinful men glorify God and fulfill His purpose? The answer is: It could not.
God's purpose had not changed
God still wanted a race of people who would glorify Him. But how would God bring this about? He would do it through another man! Since ruin came to the human race through one man, God would provide salvation for the human race through one man, Jesus Christ. The Bible says,
"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous." Romans 5:19
God's Second Man
God's first man had failed to glorify Him, so there had to be a second man to be the head of a new race that would glorify God. God chose His own Son to be this second Man. The Bible says,
"The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second Man is the Lord from Heaven." 1 Corinthians 15:47
God loved us and He wanted to save us. To make our salvation possible, God would send His own Son into the world. He would die for the sins of all men. Then He would rise again to become the Head of a new race—the children of God. By His death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus would make it possible for us to get out of Adam's sinful race and to become the children of God. Now let's see how God did this.
The first step was the Incarnation. What do we mean when we speak of the Incarnation? We mean that God became a man. The Son of God Himself became a human being. How marvelous are the words,
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among US…" John 1:1,14
The One who created man became a Man Himself. This is truly a great mystery.
An even greater mystery is the means by which God became a human being. The first man, Adam, was created as a full-grown man, but the second Man, Jesus Christ, entered the human race as a tiny baby.
The Lord Jesus was born of a virgin. He did not have a human father. Who, then, was His father? His Father was God! Mary, His mother, was engaged to marry Joseph; but before they came together in marriage, an angel appeared to Mary and said,
"The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35
The angel also appeared to Joseph and said,
"Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:20-21
(The name Jesus means "Saviour.")
Jesus Christ, the God-Man
Jesus Christ is called the God-Man because He was perfect God and perfect Man. He was God because God was His Father, and He was Man because Mary was His mother. He was one with God, and He was one with the human race. He is called "the Son of God" because He is the only begotten Son of God the Father. He is called "the Son of Man" because He represents all men. The Bible says,
"…great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh…" 1 Timothy 3:16
Why did the Son of God come to this earth as a man? For two very important reasons.
1. He came to destroy the works of the devil. The Bible says,
"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." 1 John 3:8
2. He came to make a way for us to get out of Adam's sinful race and into the family of God. This is what it means to be saved.
How the Second Man was Tested
The first man, Adam, was tested. It was necessary that the second Man, Jesus, be tested also. The Bible says,
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Matthew 4:1
Why did Satan tempt Jesus? His purpose was to get Jesus to disobey God. Three times Satan tempted Jesus to act in self-will. Three times Jesus refused to do so. Satan was defeated!
The first man, Adam, was conquered by Satan because he disobeyed God. The second Man, Christ, was triumphant over Satan because He obeyed God.
The Lord Jesus faced other tests in His life and was victorious because He delighted to do His Father's will. The Bible says,
"Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered." Hebrews 5:8
Because He had learned to obey His Father in all things, He was prepared for the final and greatest test, that of the cross.
Jesus was made sin for us
As the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus came to bear the sins of the whole world. The Bible says,
"For He (God) has made Him (Jesus Christ) to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:21
In the Garden of Gethsemane, as He thought about how He would be made sin for us, the Lord Jesus fell on His face and prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me…" So great was His agony that His sweat became as great drops of blood. But here, as always, He was obedient to the will of His Father, and He prayed,
"…nevertheless not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39
The terrible death of the Lord Jesus
The Lord Jesus was taken into the court of the Roman governor, Pilate. There He was stripped and beaten with a whip made of hundreds of leather thongs, each of which contained a piece of sharp metal or bone at its tip to cut into the flesh.
He was mocked and spit upon. His face was marred as no man's face had ever been marred. A crown of thorns was mockingly placed on His head. He was given a cross to bear to Calvary, the place of His execution.
At Calvary Satan did his utmost to cause Jesus to do something that would keep Him from being a perfect Saviour. But, in spite of all that Satan did, Jesus continued to love God with all His heart. He continued to trust His Father. He continued to love His fellow man. He refused to pity Himself. He would not save Himself. He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
At the end of His life, God's second Man could say,
"I have glorified You on the earth: I have finished the work which You have given Me to do." John 17:4
The glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ
The body in which the Lord Jesus had lived for thirty-three years was taken down from the cross, tenderly wrapped in grave clothes, and placed in the tomb of a rich man. For three days and three nights, His body lay in the tomb. Then something miraculous happened. Jesus was raised from the dead by the mighty power of God!
God's second Man had been obedient to His Father in all things. Death could not hold Him. He rose from the grave—the Victor forever over sin, death, and Satan. The Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples in His resurrected body and showed them the nail prints in His hands and the mark of the spear in His side.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the most important events in the history of the universe. The Cross of Jesus Christ is God's master plan for dealing with the sinful human race and with Satan and his rebellious hosts of fallen angels.
When Jesus died on the cross, Satan thought that he had achieved a great victory. But he was never more mistaken. The very cross by which Satan meant to end the life of the Son of God became his own undoing. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God destroyed the works of the devil and set free those whom he had enslaved. The Bible says,
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Hebrews 2:14-15
Jesus returned to Heaven
The Lord Jesus Christ appeared on the earth for forty days after His resurrection. He was seen by many people. On one occasion He appeared to over 500 of His disciples. Before He ascended back into Heaven, He commanded His disciples to go into all the world and to preach the Gospel to every creature. He gave them this wonderful promise,
"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matthew 28:20
As they beheld Him, the Lord Jesus was taken up from them and a cloud received Him out of their sight. In His glorified, resurrected body, the Lord Jesus left the earth and, passing through the clouds, He went back into Heaven.
Jesus Christ—Lord of all
God made His second Man, Jesus Christ, to be Lord of all. There is a beautiful passage in the book of Philippians which tells how the Lord Jesus humbled Himself and how the Father has exalted Him:
"And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:8-11
Jesus Christ—the Head of a New Race
God the Father has not only made Jesus Christ to be Lord of all, but He has also made Him to be the Head of a new family. This new family is called the children of God.
Now there are two families in the world. Each of these families has a head. Adam is the head of the sinful family which he produced and Jesus Christ is the Head of the new family called the children of God. Each one of us when we were born, became a member of Adam's sinful race. But now, by His death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to be born again spiritually and to become the children of God.