My Faith – Salvation in Jesus Christ
Scripture: John 1:29
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
Lesson Goal: To understand that salvation is found only through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Introduction: Salvation and the Gospel are only good news when they speak to the bad news. John’s statement in chapter one, verse 29 makes not one but two declarations. First, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The second declaration in this verse is that we are the sinners in the world and we are the ones who need saved. Until a person realizes the need for salvation, they do not need a savior.
As wonderful as the Gospel is, if we don’t realize the sin in our lives, we do not need the Gospel. This was the purpose of the Law. Romans 3:20 says, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” The Law was never able to save but only to point out the fact that we need saved.
Last week we celebrated Independence Day. This is one of my favorite holidays. I usually put out a new flag, watch a few patriotic movies, grill some food, and spend time with the family. But one of the highlights of the day is watching fireworks. We usually do this last, because we wait until the sun goes down and it gets dark outside. Why? Would it make any sense to shoot fireworks right after lunch, before The Patriot comes on? Why do people choose to shoot fireworks at night? Because fireworks look a lot prettier at night. The different colors look better against a black sky. The Gospel is the same way. The good news of a Savior looks more beautiful against the backdrop of the sin and death and the guilt and shame in our lives.
Sin is not something we do; it is something we are.
One of the hardest things I find to do is apologize for something when I don’t think I was in the wrong. When my kids do something wrong and they are told to apologize, we usually get a short, annoyed, half-hearted apology, because most of the time they don’t think they did anything wrong.
However, when we show them where they were wrong and how they messed up, the apology is more sincere and heartfelt.
One of the most controversial things of the Gospel is showing someone that they are a sinner. But no matter how controversial that is, that’s where we have to start, because there is no good news unless there is bad news. “Before we can see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us” (John Stott).
Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Law shows us that we come up short of God’s standard for moral living. In fact, it is our nature to sin; no one has to be taught how to sin. That is our natural bent in life. We are drawn to sin because we are born as sinners.
• Do you find it easier to do the right thing or the wrong thing?
Because we are sinners, we cannot save ourselves.
• What do you think Heaven would be like if we could earn our own salvation?
I have to believe that if that were the case there would be a lot of prideful people in Heaven. I just don’t think that will be the place for anyone to try to outshine or one-up someone else with their story of how they made it to Heaven. We would become glory thieves who steal the spotlight off of Jesus. Paul says in Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
The truth is we aren’t capable of saving ourselves. The requirement for payment of sin was a spotless lamb. A prefect sacrifice. We just pointed out that we are all sinners. If we are sinners that means we are not perfect. Romans 3:10 states: “There is no one righteous, no, not one.” Therefore, we are not capable of providing the means of a substitutionary sacrifice.
Lehman Strauss writes:
Salvation is impossible with men but possible with God. What good works, law observance, wealth and rank cannot effect, God in grace has made possible. If salvation depended upon one’s religion and his own efforts, it would be impossible for anyone to be saved, but “salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). God Himself does all the saving from start to finish. “According to His mercy, He saved us” (Titus 3:5). Salvation is the sovereign work of God through which He rescues and delivers fully the believing sinner from the guilt and penalty of sin. And He has only one way of saving men. All hope of man being saved through his own efforts came to an end at Calvary when Divine love completed the work of redemption through the death of
As a lifeguard in my teenage years, I learned that when someone is drowning you can’t try to save them if they are kicking and fighting trying to save themselves. They will take you down as well. The drowning person has to get to the point where they “give up” and rely on someone else to save them. They have to trust the lifeguard.
When sin entered the world (Genesis 3), Adam and Eve’s first reaction was to try and fix it themselves. They tried to cover their guilt. They sewed fig leaves together to “cover” the guilt and shame brought on by their sin.
We try to do the same thing. But Isaiah says, “Even our righteous acts are filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Since we cannot save ourselves, we need a savior.
• In today’s society, why is it considered weak to depend on someone else for help?
Salvation through Sacrifice
The practice of providing a sacrifice for sin has been around since the fall in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned, and their eyes were opened revealing their nakedness, they sewed fig leaves together to “cover” their sins. But their works were not enough.
Because we are sinners and we can’t save ourselves, God provided a way for our salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Salvation and forgiveness always require a blood sacrifice. Hebrews 9:22 says, “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” In the garden when Adam and Eve’s works weren’t enough, God provided a more suitable covering for them. Genesis 3:21 says that God made for them garments of skin and clothed them. These garments came from an animal. Now, there were either two naked animals running around or there was a sacrifice, a blood sacrifice that took place in order for them to be covered.
Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord (Genesis 4). Only Abel’s was acceptable because his required a sacrifice.
In Exodus 12, we find the Passover. The children of Israel were to take a spotless lamb, sacrifice it, eat the flesh (body and blood), then cover the doorposts with the blood. Sound familiar? And when the wrath of God came through during the night, anyone who had sacrificed the spotless lamb and applied its blood to their home, the wrath of God would pass over and the people would be saved. Salvation came only through a blood sacrifice from a spotless lamb.
In Leviticus 16, God instructs His people that the covering of their sins would require a blood sacrifice. Known as the Day of Atonement, the forgiveness of sins came from the sacrifice of a lamb.
• So if animal sacrifices were required for the covering and removal of sin, why do we not sacrifice animals today?
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, took place once a year. Again, this was a day when the people asked God for the forgiveness of their sins by offering a sacrifice to Him. This was a yearly occurrence.
However, in John 1, when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he proclaimed “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John understood that with the coming of Jesus there would be a new way—a perfect one-time sacrifice sufficient for all of time. Jesus came as the ultimate substitutionary sacrifice for sin. When He went to the cross, the sins of every believer were laid upon Him. 1 John 2:2 says, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
And just as in the Exodus Passover, only when the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) is applied to our lives will the wrath of God pass over and we will be saved. Salvation comes only from the blood of Jesus Christ.