“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).
Man’s efforts to save himself are many and varied and go back to the beginning of time. Adam and Eve succumbed to the devil’s temptation and listened to him instead of God who created them. Their deception expelled them from the perfect sanctuary that God had provided and propelled them into a world of sin that has affected every person since them as well.
God’s warning that that they would die if they ate of the forbidden fruit was not heeded; they partook of it—and died, that very day; their immediate death was spiritual and eventually physical. When God came down in the cool of the day for his daily visit with Adam and Eve, they had moved from their place of innocence and were attempting to hide from God and their sin. How futile their efforts were to cover their sin behind fig leaves.
Adam set the pattern for self-redemption, and mankind has been attempting with every imaginable effort since then to find a remedy to cover his sin and buy salvation for himself. Sadly, every attempt has failed! Only God’s plan would work. Even as He sent Adam and Eve from Eden, God activated the plan that would affect all of His creation that fell under the curse of sin, the plan that had been in place before creation of life on earth.
“And I will put enmity between thee [Satan] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed [Jesus]; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
Since Adam and Eve were created with the ability to procreate “after their own kind,” death passed to their progeny and eventually to us. Death strips life of its ability to function, so man became powerless to redeem himself from death that sin and disobedience brought upon the human race. The dead know nothing and can do nothing of themselves. Since “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and sin brought death, that left mankind helpless. In his spiritually dead condition, man could do nothing to save himself.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
What a dilemma! The curse of sin has left us inert and alienated from God, unable to have life. But we know that life is available, because God had a plan from the beginning! It was to give new life to those who were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). His plan was perfect and available to everyone. We just know in our hearts there is something better, something more than this life offers. Now if we can just reach it. What about doing good deeds? Can they bring that “something” we are searching for? Won’t they count for something? No! They are empty because they are done by the dead. The only good deeds God can recognize are the ones done by those alive, who have been born again and have new life, His life. Their names are recorded in His birth record book, so there is no question about their birth. He even knows how many hairs are on their head! He sees their deeds and records them.
The methods we humans have used for self-redemption are too numerous to name and the list gets longer all the time. Some things satisfy the human spirit for a little while; and sin itself brings pleasure—but only for a “season,” a short time. When the pleasure has worn off, we have to look for something else to try to resurrect the life lost by sin. Again and again, we try to find that one thing or that one person who will bring lasting joy, peace and satisfaction. Alas, nothing we try is sufficient to quell the longing we have from deep within us; it goes unfulfilled.
Of course, God knew this all along that no attempt man made would be sufficient. That’s why He had this marvelous plan ready to execute to bring new life to His sin-dead creation. In due time (God’s time), God sent his Son into this sin-cursed world, because He “so loved” them and wanted reconciliation which they had been unable to achieve by their own efforts. God had given His Word through prophesies all through the ages of the coming Messiah, and He had even instituted substitutes of animal sacrifices pointing to the fulfilling of the prophesies when Jesus would come to offer His once-for-all-time sacrifice at Calvary. God honored the animal sacrifices but they were a temporary solution and had to be constantly repeated. Then the day came when substitutes would no longer be used. Jesus came to earth and gave His life in our place and delivered us from the power of death that sin held over us.
Nothing that man did before Jesus, nor since, can redeem us from the death that sin brought. None of our efforts, no matter how high or worthy they may seem, will bring us life. They are all dead works. The remedy is so simple that the highly intelligent will overlook it unless they look to God for the answer, yet the simplest minded person can comprehend it. It can be summed up with Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Romans 5:6 tell us “we were without strength” [Of course, we were. We were dead!], but in God’s time, “Christ died for the ungodly [us].” Why would Jesus do this? We are by nature sinful and just as the Hebrews led by Moses filled their minds with Egyptian “goodies” forgetting the slavery, we “all like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way [self-redemption]; and the LORD hath laid on him [Jesus]the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Why? Because of LOVE. Love that we cannot fathom. When we were still sinners, He loved us! With unconditional love! Without favoritism, He loves us, everyone—enough to die for us! Would we die for the murderer, the child molester, the terrorist or (pick the worst sin you can think of)? Hardly! Jesus did! How can you measure love like that?
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother [or sister] abideth in death” (1 John 3:14).
All of the prophesies that pointed to His coming were fulfilled by Jesus. When He hung on the cross, ladened with our filthy sins, He loved us; He redeemed us from the sin-death and made new life possible. Our part—Just believe in Him and accept that He did it for us! Too simplistic? Many think so and still try their own methods. All other efforts of redemption will utterly fail. Only what Christ did for us on the cross will be accepted by God.
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).
The price had been paid for our sins by an innocent life on a cross at Calvary, the only life Who qualified to pay the sin debt.