Lesson 2 – The Redemption of God
THE FALL OF MAN
As originally created by God, the human body was a pure vessel containing one essence, the element created by God. As a result of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, a foreign element was injected into man’s body, transmuting it into the flesh. The body which once was pure and sinless now contains the evil element of Satan. According to Romans 7, this element is the indwelling sin which makes its home in man’s flesh. In Romans 7:17 Paul says, “So now it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.” This evil substance, the nature of sin that has contaminated our body, still dwells in our flesh. Therefore, we should have no confidence in our flesh because it has been fully occupied and saturated with the sin of Satan.
We may use a parable as an illustration. A little boy has been charged by his mother not to touch a certain bottle because it contains poison. One day, while the mother is away, the child takes the bottle and drinks some of the poisonous liquid. He transgresses his mother’s prohibition, but that is actually a small matter. The truly serious thing which happens is that poison has entered into his being. Likewise, in the day that man partook of the tree of knowledge an evil substance entered into his body. Thus, it is not merely a matter of transgression, but a matter of a poisonous element, sin, the nature of the evil one, having entered into the human body. No one can deny or argue the fact that, although we might have been saved for years, we still have this evil element in our flesh. Even as you are reading this message the evil substance of sin dwells in your body.
As a consequence of the fall man’s spirit was deadened, becoming insulated from God and losing its function toward God. Although the spirit was deadened, neither sin nor Satan himself entered the spirit of man. We thank God for this. Nevertheless, man’s spirit within him was deadened. Ephesians 2 tells us that before we were saved we were dead. In what part of our being were we dead? We were not dead in our body or in our soul, but in our spirit. What does it mean to be dead? To be dead simply means to be without function or sensation. If my hand is without function, it is a dead hand. By God’s creation we all have a human spirit (Zech. 12:1) by which we may sense God and contact Him. However, as a result of the fall man’s spirit was deadened; it became functionless and senseless, no longer possessing the ability to contact God. The God-contacting function of the human spirit was deadened. When we repented and applied the redeeming blood to cleanse our conscience, our deadened spirit was quickened. Then our spirit began to sense God and contact Him. Now the more we say, “O Lord, I love You,” the more alive our spirit becomes. The more we say, “Lord, cleanse me, wash me, and cover me with Your prevailing blood,” and the more we confess our sins and praise the Lord, the more living our spirit will be.
Due to the fall man’s soul was corrupted, his body changed in nature, and his spirit was deadened, losing its function toward God. We must realize that this was not merely a matter of outward transgression; it was an inward damage to man’s being. Each of the three parts of man—the body, soul, and spirit—was affected by the fall. The body was changed in nature, the soul was contaminated, and the spirit was deadened. We all were such persons. If you are not saved, you are still like this. Your body is indwelt by sin, your mind is corrupted, your soul is contaminated, and your spirit is deadened. How we thank God that we have been redeemed by and washed in the blood of Christ, that our spirit has been made alive, that our soul is under the process of renewing and transformation, and that our body will be brought under the direction of our spirit.
THE LAMB OF GOD
In John 1:29 when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he proclaimed to everyone: “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!” When man fell from God, God righteously had to require man to pay for those sins by the shedding of blood (by giving his life). But because of His love, God told the people they could substitute lambs and other cattle as sacrifices for their sins. By doing that, the people were spared from God’s judgment.
Those Old Testament sacrifices were types (symbols) of Christ. God required those sacrificial lambs to be without spot or blemish (Exo. 12:5). Christ came as the real Lamb of God. Before, the people had to offer the sacrifices over and over again. Their sins were not actually taken away; they were merely covered up (Heb. 10:11). But behold the Lamb of God who takes away our sins! Jesus offered Himself once for all (Heb. 9:28; 10:10, 12) for the forgiveness of all (Matt. 26:28). Because we have committed many sins, God requires the shedding of our blood. But Christ shed His blood for us. By believing in the Lord Jesus, we are completely forgiven of our sins and are freed from God’s penalty of death!
THE BRASS SERPENT
In the Old Testament, when the children of Israel sinned against God, many of them were bitten by serpents and died. When they cried out to Moses, the Lord told him to lift up a brass serpent on a pole. Everyone who looked at that serpent was forgiven, healed, and kept alive (Num. 21:4-9). In John 3:14 the Lord said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” This means that when the Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross, He was lifted up as the brass serpent. He died so that the serpent might be destroyed. As the Lamb, He died on the cross to take away our sin. But as the brass serpent, He died on the cross to destroy the old serpent, Satan, the Devil (Heb. 2:14).
The brass serpent had only the likeness of a serpent. It did not have the poisonous nature. In the same way, Christ was made in the likeness of the flesh of sin (Rom. 8:3) yet He had no sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15). When Christ destroyed Satan, He also did away with the satanic nature in our flesh.
THE GRAIN OF WHEAT
Now we must see that Christ also died as the grain of wheat. This is something on the positive side. In John 12:24, Christ described Himself as a grain of wheat: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” When you plant a seed in the ground, that is a kind of death, a burial. But what happens after that? Life comes up! It even bears fruit to produce more seeds.
The life of a grain of wheat is hidden inside its outer shell. When the grain falls into the ground, the shell breaks and the life inside is released. In the same way, Christ’s divine life was contained and concealed within the “shell” of His body. His death on the cross broke that shell so that His divine life could be released. His life was released so it could get into us! Before, He was the only God-man, a single grain. But through His death He has released His life. When we believed and called on the Lord Jesus, He came into us and we became His multiplication, the many grains!
BELIEVE AND BE BAPTIZED
To believe and to be so baptized are two parts of one complete step for receiving the full salvation of God. To be baptized without believing is merely an empty ritual; to believe without being baptized is to be saved only inwardly without an outward affirmation of the inward salvation. These two should go together. Moreover, water baptism should be accompanied by the Spirit baptism, even as the children of Israel were baptized in the sea (water) and in the cloud (Spirit)—1 Corinthians 10:2 and 12:13.
Mark 16:16 does not say “who does not believe and is not baptized shall be condemned.” This indicates that condemnation is related only to not believing; it is not related to not being baptized. Believing itself is sufficient for one to receive salvation from condemnation; yet believing needs baptism as an outward affirmation for the completion of one’s inward salvation.