The Three R’s of Salvation 
by Jack M. Lane
 

This world needs salvation. The people of earth need to realize there is a different way of life, a better way. What the people of the world don’t know is that their Creator is actually, at this moment, working out a plan of salvation that will affect all mankind. The blood of the crucified Messiah has always figured prominently in the Christian faith. From time to time we ought to remind ourselves of how essential that blood actually is to God’s plan of salvation. In this article we will discuss three aspects of God’s strategy which will ultimately bring all of mankind back to their Creator.

 
"The LORD said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand’” (Genesis 4:10-11, NIV throughout).
 
These words were spoken to Cain after he committed the first homicide by killing his brother Abel. But these words could also be generalized to all of us; they fit well into our own condemnation because of our own sin. We have all sinned. We have all, by our sinful actions, thoughts, and intents, brought about the death of our brother Yeshua, and his blood was poured out onto the ground for our sakes.
 
It was because of humankind’s sin that Yeshua, the son of God, had to die. And because of every person’s sin, everyone has been driven from the ground and cursed. In many Christian communities we refer to “the Fall” and how we are under a curse. It wasn’t simply because Adam sinned, or because Cain sinned. We all sinned (Romans 3:23).
 
In Matthew 27:4, Judas Iscariot cried out, “I have sinned, for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” the priests replied. “That’s your responsibility.” This can also be generalized to us today. It really is our responsibility. Each one of us is responsible for betraying innocent blood. Each one of us brought about the death of our sinless Savior, and the shedding of His blood.
 
One of the most chilling passages of scripture occurs in Matthew chapter 27. Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, was trying to appeal to the crowd that Yeshua was not guilty of a crime deserving death. Pilate was trying to let Him go! But the crowd would have nothing of that.
 
Matthew 27:24-25:
 
24 “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’
25 All the people answered, ‘Let his blood be on us and on our children!’”  
 
What an incredible irony that turned out to be! The crowd took on the responsibility for the death of this man, even to the point of pronouncing a curse on their own children! And yet, what they said came to pass! The blood of Yeshua, the sacrifice for the people—the One whom God gave because of His love for the whole world (John 3:16)—actually did cover them, and their children, and every generation to this day.
 
As Yeshua had said just a little earlier, in Matthew 26:28, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
 
There was a time, recorded in John’s Gospel, when Yeshua was teaching some difficult concepts. At one point he told them, in John 6:53-56:
 
53 ... “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”
 
In verse 60, “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” And, in fact, in verse 66, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
 
This concept of eating human flesh and drinking blood was very difficult for those who understood torah and tried to live by every word of God. They knew they were not allowed to eat blood because of what the scriptures taught. For example, in Leviticus 17:10-14, Moses had written:
 
10 “‘Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood—I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people.
11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.
12 Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.”
13 “‘Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth,
14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.”
 
In Deuteronomy 12:16, Moses had said: “But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.” He went on to state:
 
27 Present your burnt offerings on the altar of the LORD your God, both the meat and the blood. The blood of your sacrifices must be poured beside the altar of the LORD your God, but you may eat the meat. ...
23 But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.
24 You must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water”
(Deuteronomy 12:27, 23-24).
 
He repeats in Deuteronomy 15:23: “But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.”
 
Yet here we have just read where Yeshua said that His followers are to eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have life in them!
 
Of course, we realize that we’re actually eating unleavened bread and drinking wine. We need to have these substitutes. Paul explains, in 1 Corinthians 10:16: “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” Paul quotes Yeshua a little later, in 1 Corinthians 11:25: “In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”
 
So we have the bread and the cup as symbols of Yeshua’s body and blood, as substitutes for actual human flesh and blood. It makes sense, since it wouldn’t be possible for people down through the ages to eat the flesh and drink the blood of a man who died in the first century A.D. It isn’t possible! So we need these substitutes.
 
In fact, under the sacrificial system of the Levitical priesthood, wasn’t the animal being offered, in fact, a substitute for the person who sacrificed the animal? The animal died because the person had sinned. The person didn’t die. The animal, who had not sinned, was sacrificed for the sin of the person, and the person walked away from the ceremony justified, to go home and go on with his life. So the idea of a substitute for the real body and blood of Yeshua would not have been totally strange to an ancient Jew already familiar with the sacrificial system.
 
 
Redeemed by the Blood
 
Paul said we “participate” in the body and blood of Messiah. In this article we’re concentrating on our involvement in the blood. What are some of the things that happen when we participate in the blood of Yeshua? What benefit is there in believing in the blood? John wrote, in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”  If there is one thing people need, it’s to be purified from sin!
 
We also find, in Revelation 1:4-6, that the blood frees us from sin:
 
4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,
5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
 
In Revelation 5:7-10, we gain more information:
 
7 He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
9 And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth”
 
Yeshua’s blood purchases people. His blood has redeemed us. What does it mean, “to redeem”? It means we have been released, liberated, freed, emancipated, delivered, rescued, or saved. These are all synonyms for the verb “redeem.” The name for the act of redeeming is the noun “redemption.” That’s the first of the three R’s: redemption.
 
We need to remember this important part that Yeshua himself plays in God’s plan of salvation. We should remember that obedience to God is always voluntary. We aren’t going to be forced to obey God. It’s completely voluntary on our part. Of course, if we don’t obey God, we can’t expect to inherit the things He has promised.
 
It’s the same with Yeshua. He wasn’t forced to be obedient, but He chose to go through that terrible, horrible, awful experience in order to give us this cup of wine we drink.
 
In Philippians 2:5-11, Paul tells us about this:
 
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
 
Or, if you prefer, “at the name of Yeshua the Messiah, every knee should bow in heaven and earth.” He’s been given the name that is above every name. God has exalted Yeshua, the man who shed his blood for us, to the highest place, and at Yeshua’s name—the name that is above every name—every knee should bow. Doing this, Paul says, brings glory to God.  
To the congregation in Ephesus, Paul wrote how we in the faith have been redeemed, or purchased back. In Ephesians 1:7 he writes, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” In Ephesians 2:13 he says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”
 
Paul wrote to the Colossian church that God used the body and blood of Yeshua to reconcile all things to Himself. Colossians 1:18-23:
 
18 And he [the risen Yeshua] is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—
23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.
 
Verse 23 begins with that tricky little word “if.” It makes what Paul is saying sound conditional. It sounds as if we are reconciled to God, and we are considered holy in God’s sight, and free from accusation, only if we continue in the faith, only if we continue to hope for what the gospel—the good news—has promised us. Is it possible to fall away and lose everything? It certainly is. That’s why we need to remain vigilant and not fall away. If we do fall away, we are doing a disservice to the blood which was shed for us. This is explained in Hebrews 10:26-31:
 
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,
27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
 
 
The Blood of a Lamb
 
How does Yeshua’s blood redeem us? We saw that God gave Israel the sacrifices of meat and blood to cover their sins. For instance, in Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” We also saw how the blood was to be poured out like water, which prefigured Yeshua’s blood pouring out onto the ground on Calvary. John relates the fulfillment of this when “one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water” (John 19:34).
 
In 1 Peter 1:18-21, we read:
 
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
 
What did Peter mean by “the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers”? Did he mean obedience to God? Was that the empty way of life? Certainly not! That isn’t an empty way of life. Rather, he’s talking about the sinfulness that lives in all of us, the hollow feeling we experience which has been described as “a God-shaped hole in our hearts.” It’s why we need Yeshua’s blood.
 
Mankind has often substituted religion—a series of man-made customs and traditions—for the unachievable task of making ourselves over into better creatures. Notice what Yeshua taught, recorded in Mark 7:1-9:
 
1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and
2 saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were “unclean,” that is, unwashed.
3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders.
4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?”
6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”
9 And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
 
Yeshua was warning strongly against traditions of men which replace the clear commands of God. Notice also what Paul taught in Galatians 1:13-16:
 
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.
14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
15 But ... God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased
16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles.
 
This is “the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers” that Peter mentioned. Religion—customs and traditions as a part of man-made religious practice—isn’t the answer. Our religions don’t save us.
 
Anciently, Israel had the Levitical priesthood, and a large part of that priesthood was the God-given sacrificial system. But there was a problem with the sacrifices, too!
 
 
Sacrifices Don’t Save the Sacrificer
 
There was a flaw in the sacrificial system of Israel—the sacrifices didn’t really forgive sin! Notice what Paul writes in Romans 3:19-26:
 
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
 
Do you see what it says here? Observing the law doesn’t make you righteous. Righteousness comes from the inside. It’s a gift from God. All observing the law does is make you a law-keeper. And it’s through the law that we become aware of what sin is! The law defines sin.
 
This is in Romans chapter 3. Paul develops this idea over the next several chapters. For example, in Romans chapter 5, Paul tells us that we are justified by faith (verse 1), that Christ died for the ungodly while we were still powerless (verse 6), that God demonstrated His love for us by having Christ die for us while were still sinners (verse 8), that we have been justified by Yeshua’s blood (verse 9), that we were reconciled to God through Yeshua’s death while we were, in fact, enemies (verse 10), and that this reconciliation with God is through our Lord, Yeshua (verse 11)! 
 
But does this mean that the law has been “done away,” as so many believe? Not at all. Yeshua said, in Matthew 5:17-19:
 
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
 
The law, or God’s torah (instruction) is still in effect today. The Ten Commandments, the laws given to Israel, the teachings of Yeshua, are all in effect today. The point being made here is that law-keeping does not require God to save us. Salvation, being saved from death, is a free gift from God. But that does not excuse us from being obedient to God. (For more information on this subject, see the articles, “The Law and Grace,” and “The Law and Sin.”)
 
But knowing this, how could the members of the congregations Paul was writing to have the problems they had if they knew about the sacrifices and obeyed torah?
 
Hebrews 10:1-4:
 
1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.
3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins,
4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
 
Obedience to God, obedience to torah, is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. The sacrifices were shadows, representations, not the ultimate reality. The ultimate reality of the sacrifices is the sacrifice of Yeshua. That one sacrifice, done one time, took the place of all the sacrifices of Israel. All the goats, all the lambs, all the sacrifices throughout the holy days and throughout the year, point to the one sacrifice of Yeshua.
 
Hebrews 9:6-10:
 
6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry.
7 But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.
8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.
9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.
10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
 
Then along came Yeshua, and the part he played in becoming our high priest in heaven:
 
12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.
14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
 
If it is not possible for the blood of animal sacrifices to actually forgive sins, then we can see that the sins of the people were not actually taken away, but rather covered over (the meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated “Atonement”) so that the people were outwardly clean. On the other hand, it is the blood of Christ which cleanses our consciences and allows the righteousness from God to come into our lives. And we are made new, from the inside out.
 
Now that we have seen this, we can take another look at Romans 3:25-26:
 
25 God presented him [Yeshua] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He [God] did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
 
All those sins by all those people who sacrificed all those animals—were still there. They had been covered, but they had not been truly taken away. It is only through Yeshua’s blood, and our faith in that blood, that our sins can be totally obliterated—removed, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). (See “Two Views of the Day of Atonement.”)
 
In each generation, God calls people to an understanding of His way, and in every generation some people come under the blood of the Savior and have their sins washed away, leaving room for the Spirit of God to fill up the God-shaped hole in their hearts. And so it is that in every generation, God has people who are willing to accept His righteousness in their lives.
 
As for the rest, those who have not heard the gospel or accepted the sacrifice of Christ, they will have their opportunity later, at the foot of the Great White Throne, in the future, when the rest of the dead come back to life. (See “A Very Happy Ending Indeed.”)
 
That sacrifice is made. It’s there. That sacrifice will be waiting patiently for people later on to approach and understand and accept, and come under that blood. Again, in Hebrews chapter 10:
 
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool,
14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
 
This brings us to verse 19, and a really interesting new development in our relationship with God and with our High Priest Yeshua:
 
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,
20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,
21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
 
Hebrews 12:18-24:
 
18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them,
20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.”
21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
22 But [instead] you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,
23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,
24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
 
Abel’s blood cried out from the ground and caused a curse to fall on Cain. Yeshua’s blood cries out from heaven, from the real Holy of Holies, and causes the curse to be lifted from us. And in the future, when everyone will be given an opportunity to know what we know, the curse will be lifted from them, too.
 
Revelation 7:9-17:
 
9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
 
 
A Larger Picture
 
This gives us an overview of the sacrifice of Yeshua, and the meaning and significance of his shed blood. At this point, though, it’s time to put this knowledge into a larger context.
 
Ancient Israel had a meaningful Passover in Egypt, which was followed by their departure from Egypt. We have a meaningful ceremony, remembering what the symbols mean, when we participate in the bread and wine. This fits into a larger context of our own departure from spiritual Egypt, which represents our personal departure from sin in our lifelong journey as a disciple and follower of God.
 
Christ our Passover has been sacrificed, therefore we keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:8). In the Christology of the holy days, the blood of Yeshua has meaning and significance for us in the spirit of the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
 
Remember how Paul wrote to the Colossian congregation that God used the body and blood of Yeshua to reconcile all things to Himself. Colossians 1:18-22:
 
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Yeshua],
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.
 
What does it mean, to reconcile? What does God do when He reconciles the universe to Himself? To reconcile is to settle affairs, to put things right, to bring together, to reunite, to resolve differences, to patch things up, to square things up, to merge things back together again. These are all ways of defining the word “reconcile.” God wants to put things right, to put the picture back together again. Not just for Israel, not just for believers, not even for the whole world, but, as it says in verse 20, “all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
 
What does that mean, “things in heaven”? If we have done our math correctly, about 33% of the archangels, and about the same percentage of regular messenger angels, defected, turned away from God and from righteousness (Revelation 12:1-9; Isaiah 14:12-15).
 
Can God rectify this situation through Yeshua’s death? It’s difficult to say. But the implications really get our attention, to think that there are problems in heaven—unresolved problems in heaven—that God plans on fixing through the agency of Yeshua’s death.
 
In verse 18, Paul said that Yeshua is the head of the ekklesia, the firstborn from the dead, and has supremacy, or preeminence, in all things. It reminds us of the time Yeshua said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:17). But what does that mean in reference to verse 20 of Colossians 1: “and through him [Yeshua] to reconcile to himself [to the Father] all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his [Yeshua’s] blood, shed on the cross.”
 
There are a number of things that are not spelled out clearly in scriptures. It will be exciting to discover the meaning of this verse.
 
 
Problems in the Congregations
 
Have you ever wondered why Paul had to write to so many churches about so many problems they were having? Weren’t the people converted? They seemed to be real church members. He didn’t address them as if they were false members, but as genuine, bona fide members of the ekklesia. Why weren’t they perfect? This may partly answer that:
 
In that day, Judah-ism was the predominant religion in Judah. There were a number of denominations of Judah-ism, but at least people were going to their synagogues and worshipping. They weren’t what we would call converted, with the Spirit of God in them, but were rather like any other carnal group of people. They broke into denominations; they had varying ideas about things; some of the people were good, some were not so good.
 
Remember that the sacrificial system did nothing to change the person who sacrificed the animal. All it did was cover the sin of the person. But the person remained basically the same.
 
Remember also what Paul wrote in Romans 3:19-20:
 
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
 
The purpose of the law, and the purpose of the sacrificial system, was not to make people righteous, but to make people aware of what sin is. We have a lot of laws today from the various governments we live under. That’s what legislators do—they pass laws! But all any law can do is regulate behavior. It can’t change the basic personality and human nature of people. It’s the same with God’s laws.
 
Continuing in verse 21:
 
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
 
People can be justified freely. You don’t need to go through all sorts of steps, sacrifice animals, bow to the east, or recite all kinds of things. You don’t have to go through all those things found in man-made religions in order to be justified. People are justified freely, through God’s grace—His favor, His forgiveness, His never-ending patience with people. That wasn’t what was being taught in the religions of man, or even in the various denominations of Judah-ism.
 
So now, along comes this new “sect of the Nazarenes,” as it was called (Acts 24:5), and it looks like just another new denomination of Judah-ism. But there is a difference: the people are actually righteous, holy, and completely different from the inside out, as a gift from God, because of their faith in the sacrifice of Yeshua. This is where the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth comes from (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
 
As we read earlier in Hebrews 9:13-14:
 
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.
14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
 
It’s the blood of Christ which cleanses our consciences and allows the righteousness from God to come into our lives.
 
Again, in Hebrews 10:22: “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
 
The people of God are being made holy, their hearts sprinkled with Christ’s blood to cleanse them of a guilty conscience. If you ever wondered in what way God’s law is a law of liberty (James 1:25; 2:12 – “law of freedom” in NIV), this is the liberty. If you’ve ever wondered how Yeshua sets us free (John 8:31-36), this is how he sets us free.
 
When God sets about to remove our stony hearts and give us hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 11:17-20; 36:24-27), and then write His laws on our hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16), and when we die to the old man (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9-10) and rise to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4), we are supposed to be changed people. We are supposed to come through the experience having the mind and attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5). We are supposed to be new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17).
 
So why did Paul have problems to work out in the various congregations he oversaw? In the various denominations of Judah-ism, one could expect human nature to raise its ugly head now and again. On the other hand, it seems to be a shock, a surprise, and a disappointment to read about the very real issues Paul was addressing in a people who were supposed to be converted. Was Paul just setting a high standard—raising the bar really high—for the people to try to achieve? Was the book of Hebrews saying the same thing so we would all try harder to be righteous? That doesn't really follow the idea that righteousness comes from God and isn’t something we can work up.
 
All we do—the best we can do—is obey God, obey torah, obey the law. But that doesn’t make us righteous. Faith in Yeshua and his sacrifice allows God to put His righteousness in us.
 
So what are we to think of these congregations in Paul’s day? What went wrong? Here’s one possible explanation: Even with the Spirit of God living in us, we can still fall short and act like carnal humans. Have you ever experienced that? Has that ever happened in your life? If the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets (1 Corinthians 14:32), it seems logical that the Spirit of God is also subject to the person in whom that Spirit resides. God doesn’t force us to be righteous. That would take away our freedom. He helps us to be righteous.
 
What the people in the Nazarene congregations were working on was not so much how to strictly follow the 613 laws of Genesis, or strict adherence to various other laws to win God’s favor. What Paul recommended was that people work on things like considering others to be better than themselves (Philippians 2:3), to think of pure things (Philippians 4:8), to behave toward each other with forgiveness and a lack of judging and condemning (Colossians 3:13; Romans 2:1). After all, Paul said, who are we to judge somebody else’s servant—especially if that other person is God (Romans 14:4)?
 
When you look at how people in the congregations were to treat each other, work with each other, help each other, edify each other, love and respect each other, you can’t help but see that the central theme is relationship. Not law-keeping as an activity, but our connection, our bond, our association with God and with fellowman. And that’s the second of the three R’s: Relationship.
 
 
Our Relationships
 
What’s important is not what we know, but how we treat others, especially in the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). It’s not how scrupulous we are in tithing mint, cumin, and banana seeds (Luke 11:42), but how we live our lives. It all comes down to relationship.
 
Paul wrote that we can have all the really great knowledge, and understand all the depths of scriptural insight, and even be a martyr for the faith, and do all sorts of really great works, but if we don’t have the right relationship with each other, it’s all a big waste of time (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
 
In fact, Paul goes on to tell us that a good relationship is patient and kind; it does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs; it does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth; and it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. The right relationship never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
 
So if we are in a right relationship with other members of the body, and with the head of the body, and with the Father in heaven, we will be patient with all of those individuals; we will think kind thoughts about them; we will not be proud and boast about our relationship with God; we will not be rude to others who are seeking God; we will not remember real or imagined misdeeds or insults; we will not rejoice when someone else has a problem or a trial; we will want to protect and defend others; and we will want to keep hoping, keep trying, and keep on keeping on. That reads like a job description, doesn’t it?
 
If the people in the early congregations, who believed in Yeshua, who accepted the free gift of God (Romans 5:14-19), and who put away the old man to walk in newness of life, also made every effort to do these things on a daily basis both at home and in the congregation, these traits would become habits over time, extinguishing and replacing their older habits which they had before they came into the faith, and these new traits would serve to forge a new person out of the remnants and shards of the old one.
 
What Paul and the other epistle writers were doing was to help these first century Christians in their quest to become more like God and less like what they had been before. Only God could give them the ability to overcome and become new, but each person had to participate in the process to make it happen. That’s relationship, and the importance that relationship plays in the growth of the individual and in the growth of entire congregations.
 
We’ve talked about redemption and relationship. Let’s look more at the third of the three R’s: Reconciliation.
 
 
Reconciled to God
 
Let’s read the entire second chapter of Ephesians:
 
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
 
Look at that. It is by grace that we have been saved, not by works, so that no one can boast. We cannot do it ourselves.
 
10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
 
We do have good works to do. We have been saved by grace, but there are good works God has prepared for us to do. What are those good works? Sacrificing animals? Maybe some would have thought so in those days. But that's probably not the message for us. The temple is gone, the Levitical priesthood is basically out of work right now, and there are no sacrifices going on. So those are probably not the good works God has prepared for us to do. Maybe it has something to do with some of these other things we’ve been looking at.
 
But even though we understand that God has prepared good works for us to do, we must also remember that we are not saved by those good works, so that no one can boast! We are saved by the blood of Yeshua, and our faith in him.
 
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)—
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.
 
This is not God’s law being abolished, but a man-made set of laws that made it a sin for a Jew to befriend a Gentile. When Yeshua was at Jacob’s well in Samaria, speaking to a local Samaritan woman, she exclaimed, “‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans)” (John 4:9). Man-made religious rules often separate people, but it has never been God’s will.
 
Years later, Peter ran up against this man-made law when he was sent by God to the Roman army officer Cornelius in Acts chapter 10. He said (paraphrased), “It’s considered a sin if I sit down with you, if I visit with you in your home, or if I counsel you. All of that is considered a sin. But you know what? God has shown me something else” (Acts 10:28). That’s the law Paul is talking about here—a man-made law that separated Jew from Gentile in a way never intended by God.
 
Continuing in verse 15 of Ephesians chapter 2:
 
15 His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, [Jew and Gentile] thus making peace,
16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both [Jew and Gentile] have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
 
Do you recall what the error of the Jews was? They thought they could earn their salvation by law-keeping. The New Testament scriptures teach again and again that salvation is a free gift from God, and is only attainable through faith in Yeshua, who is central to the religion of the first century church.
 
Some people teach that God’s law is done away, that we aren’t obligated to obey God any more. They base this mistaken notion on the idea that obedience doesn’t earn us our salvation. There are many ways to refute this dangerous notion, but let’s just consider this one idea for now: Obedience to God is voluntary. It always has been. We don’t have to obey God. But, on the other hand, God doesn’t have to give us salvation, either!
 
Our obedience is voluntary. Our salvation is a free gift. We are not obligated to obey God, but neither is He obligated to give us the free gift.
 
Picture yourself as a parent with a very rebellious child, who refuses to obey you. Now this unrepentant child comes and demands a gift from you. Are you obligated to give this wayward rascal anything? Why, then, would God feel obligated to give His precious gift of eternal life to children who are rebellious, sinful, who deliberately refuse to live in the way God as a parent asks us to live?
 
Does that picture help you to see why God may choose not to give His free gift to some? Obedience is necessary for God to come into our lives and work with us, reshaping us from the ground up. But obedience doesn’t “buy” us salvation. Obedience is a natural outcome of having the righteousness of God, apart from law, in our lives through His Spirit.
 
In Romans 6:17, Paul writes, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching [the form of torah] to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Verse 22 says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”
 
Do you see it? The righteousness that comes from God is what makes us righteous. It’s nothing we can work up on our own! Paul says it’s a progression, a cascade of events: we have to pass through being righteous (and that righteousness is from God) on our way to gaining eternal life! And that’s why Paul finishes his thought by saying, in verse 23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
 
 
Saved By His Life
 
In Romans 5:9-10, Paul tells us even more about this amazing reconciliation:
 
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
 
This may seem like a small point, almost like splitting hairs. What Paul is saying is that we have been justified—we’ve been made right, our sins have been forgiven, we have been set right with God—we have been justified through Christ’s death, but we’re saved by his life!
 
It helps in understanding a lot of scriptures to know this difference. If Christ died for our sins, and stayed dead, our sins would be forgiven. But that would be it. But because he came back to life, he was the first born from the dead (Romans 8:28-30; Colossians 1:15,18; Revelation 1:5). Because he lives, we will live. Both the crucifixion and the resurrection play a separate but equal part in our salvation.
 
Continuing in Romans 5:11: “Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
 
This concept of being justified ties in with the concept of being reconciled to God. Of course, we’re viewing that from our standpoint. Let’s consider God’s point of view for a moment.
 
 
God’s Point of View
 
God is up there; He has the whole universe, and He has His whole plan. He says, “I am going to reconcile humankind to Myself.” Why do humans need to be reconciled to God? Because we have sinned, we have fallen short (Romans 3:23; 5:12), there is a wall of separation because of our sins (Isaiah 59:2). So God needs to do something to reconcile everyone to Himself so He can be everyone’s Father and we can go on into eternity, into the future, throughout the universe (Romans 8:18-22; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
 
In 2 Corinthians 5:16, Paul writes: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.”
 
We know God’s overall plan. He’s going to offer everyone who has ever lived, and everyone who will ever live, the same chance at salvation, the opportunity to accept the gospel! Everyone we talk to is our future brother or sister. They are going to have every opportunity to come into the faith with us at some point. We should not see people in our everyday lives and say, “Ah! Sinner! Get away from me! You! You’re condemned! You’re lost! Get away!” No, we don’t look on anyone in that way any more.
 
Continuing in 2 Corinthians 5:16:
 
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
 
We are no longer Jew or Gentile. We are one creature in Christ. And everyone around us will have that opportunity, too, later on.
 
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
 
The gospel—the good news—is the message of being reconciled to God through Christ’s sacrifice.
 
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
 
Yeshua never sinned in his life. But all the sins of the world were put on him. He became sin for us so that we can dump this carnal nature and get rid of it, and have it replaced by the righteousness that comes from God.
 
Verse 21 says Yeshua took on our sins for the purpose of being sin for us, to take on the penalty for those sins in our place, so that in him—and that’s the key, “in him”—we might become the righteousness of God. We yield ourselves over to God’s righteousness and allow that righteousness to come into us.
 
There is a message of reconciliation and a ministry of reconciliation. That reconciliation is based on faith in Yeshua Messiah, always keeping in mind the sacrifice of Yeshua’s body and blood for our benefit, to blast away our sins, and to open wide the gates of salvation—not only for us, but for believers throughout all time, and believers who come back to life after the Millennium and believe.
 
Remember that all humans will be given the opportunity to be saved. We aren’t the only ones. Everyone we know, everyone we have ever met or will ever meet, will also be given the chance to change their lives and win the victory. We are simply the firstfruits. We’re called ahead of the rest, not instead of the rest.
 
The key to reconciliation is relationship. Relationship means how we treat others, how we relate to others, how we deal with others—both humans and beings in the spirit world. And the key to relationship with God and reconciliation with God is Yeshua Messiah.
 
In Philippians 2:9-11, Paul writes,
 
9 Therefore God exalted him [Yeshua] to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus –
 
At the name of Yeshua, at the name of YahShuah, at the name of Yehoshuah, at whatever name we think sounds the most appropriate or accurate—at the name of our savior,
 
every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [or, if you prefer, every tongue should confess that Yeshua Messiah is Adonai], to the glory of God the Father.
 
Doing that glorifies God the Father. It’s His plan. It’s His universe! And it says if we do this, it glorifies God.
 
And so we have the three R’s of salvation: Redemption, Relationship, and Reconciliation.
 
 
Quote From a Sermon
 
The remainder of this article is a fitting excerpt from a message entitled, “Freedom through Christ’s Blood,” delivered originally on August 2, 1874 by Charles H. Spurgeon.
 
My last words—and they shall be very few—are to be IN HONOUR OF THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT. ...
 
If we are free men and women in Christ Jesus, it is because the blood of Jesus ratified the covenant of our liberty. It is because God saw the blood and delivered us. Let me remind you of that beautiful verse, in the Book of Exodus, from which I have preached more than once. The blood of the paschal lamb as you know, was to be sprinkled on the lintel and the two side posts of the houses of all the children of Israel; and what did God say about it? Did He say, “When you stand outside your house, and look up at the blood, I will save you”? No, He did not say that; but, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” Ex 12:13. It is God’s sight of the blood of Christ which, at bottom, is the reason for the salvation of the redeemed. ... In sacred contemplation, the Father surveys the sacrifice of His Son with supreme satisfaction; and as He sees the blood, he spares us for His Son’s sake.
 
But then, dear friends, the blood of the covenant is also to be extolled because it is our sight of it that brings us peace. When we realize that Jesus died for us, there is peace in our soul. I do not know whether you are like me in this respect, but there are times when I, as it were, take the fact of my eternal safety for granted; but there comes a severe sickness, or deep depression of spirit, there comes a time when death has to be looked in the face, and the sense of past sin rises vividly before me, and then it is a blessed thing to stand once more at the foot of the cross, and to look up to Jesus hanging there, and to say: “... like a penitent I stand, And there confess my sin.”
 
And as I meditate upon that theme, despondency goes, pain is forgotten, and I say, “Yes, yes, yes; I am safe; I am saved by the precious blood of Jesus. I do love him, and I would fall down at his dear feet, and weep with mingled repentance and gratitude—repentance because I have sinned, gratitude because I have such a gracious Saviour to put my sin away.” Brethren and sisters in Christ, let us praise the blood because God sees it, and praise the blood because we also see it by faith.
 
Praise the blood, too, because, when we really trust in it, it gives us liberty. If you get away from the blood of the covenant, you get into slavery; but keep close to that, and you are at liberty. ...
 
There are some preachers who cannot or do not preach about the blood of Jesus Christ, and I have one thing to say to you concerning them—Never go to hear them! Never listen to them! A ministry that has not the blood in it, is lifeless, “for the blood is the life thereof;” and a dead ministry is no good to anybody. Leave out the atoning sacrifice, and it would be better for the people that the places in which a Christless, bloodless gospel is preached should be all burnt to the ground, for the atoning sacrifice is the soul and life and marrow of Christianity. Rest you in that, and you are saved; but get away from that, and you have wandered where peace and life and safety can never come. God Almighty bless you, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.
(from Spurgeon’s Sermons, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
 
 
 
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