Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Role of Jesus's Moral Example In Our Salvation #JesusFollowers

That Jesus was a Savior sent from God is a revealed truth, and is thus an essential article of faith. If there be any secret purpose, or mysterious efficacy in his doctrines and actions, they have not been made known, and therefore it is not a necessary part of a Christian's duty to search them out.

That Jesus is a Redeemer, and a Savior, with full power from heaven, is enough for anyone to know, who opens his mind to a ready reception of all the doctrines, which he has plainly taught, and who is determined to obey the precepts, and comply with the conditions of the Gospel.

But the busy curiosity of men has not been satisfied with this simplicity of faith. To believe in mysteries has been found a much easier task, than to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly; and hence many persons, in their notion of redemption through Christ, have indulged in fancies, which have little to do with the love of God, the religion of the heart, or a preparation for heaven.

John Taylor has some excellent remarks bearing on this point:

“Righteousness, goodness, and obedience, must be of the highest esteem and value with the Father of the universe, a pure and perfect Spirit; the only power, if I may so say, that can prevail with him, and the only acceptable price for purchasing any favors or blessings at his hands.”

This argument is rational, scriptural, and forcible. Place the subject in what position you will, and it must nevertheless be true at last, that a doctrine, which assigns the highest rewards of heaven to the exercise of righteousness and a cultivation of the moral powers, will be eminently fitted to encourage good morals, and quicken the pious affections. This will hold true of the above opinion respecting the way of salvation through Jesus, whether that opinion be an accurate deduction from the sense of Scripture or not.

So far from invalidating, it helps to enforce every moral precept, not only by insisting on a holy life as a necessary preparation for enjoying the benefits of Christ's death, but by maintaining that the power of conferring these benefits has been granted on the same consideration.

The wicked have broken his laws, and by this reason are subject to the penalty of disobedience; nor can they ever be reconciled to his good government, till their minds are renewed, their sins forsaken, and their characters changed. When this is done, a reconciliation will be brought about, not on the part of God, but of men. To produce this reconciliation, that is, to suppress all opposition to the wise and righteous laws of God, was the grand object of the Savior's mission into the world.

God is the author of the whole; and everything in the economy of redemption is to be traced to his love, and not to wrath or vindictiveness, for no such emotions can exist in the divine nature. Not a more imposing truth presents itself in the whole tenor of Scripture, and the whole moral work of creation, than that “God is love.”

The very reason why God sent His Son to be a Redeemer and a Savior is declared to be, that He loved the world. The well-being and happiness of His creatures contribute as much to His glory, as the beauty, order, and perfection of His works.

In what can a holy God delight more, than in beholding the creatures, whom he has formed with high and varied powers, enjoying the felicity, which results from the noblest exercise of these divine gifts, and which exhibits in a brilliant light the power, wisdom, and benignity of their author ?

When they have unwisely forsaken his counsels, and brought misery upon themselves, it does not excite anger in their heavenly Father, but compassion.

Everything done by him which has a tendency to reconcile men to God, constitutes a part of his great work. His instructions, his preaching, his wonderful Sermon on the Mount, his appropriate and beautiful parables, his advice, counsel, warnings, threats, promises, have their respective important effects. That he acted by the aid, and guidance, and power of his Father and our Father, these hold a distinguished place in the work of redemption through Christ, by convincing men of the truth of his doctrines, and strengthening their confidence in the divinity of his character.

The holy and perfect example of Jesus, his piety and humble submission to God, his deeds of goodness and love, his disinterested and unceasing benevolence, his patience in adversity and fortitude under every trial, his invariable uprightness of conduct and excellence of temper, all these are so many incitements to repentance and a good life.

Hence, redemption through Christ Jesus is not a consequence of his death alone, nor of any one single act, but of all he did, taught, and suffered during his ministry on earth.

(Adapted from a sermon by Rev. Jared Sparks, 1823)

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