Benefiting Now from Christ’s Ransom
THE ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ is one of the greatest blessings ever made available to imperfect human creatures. Happy indeed are all those who avail themselves of it!
Perhaps someone will say, I do not need to be ransomed. I am not in bondage. I am free. I can come and go as I please.
Free? Perhaps, in a limited sense, but not truly free, not altogether free. Are we not in bondage to the workings of sin and death in our bodies? We cannot do perfectly, morally or otherwise; neither can we stave off the dying process, can we? Absolutely not! That is why Job complained: “Man, born of woman, is short-lived and glutted with agitation”; and why the words of David apply to all of us: “Look! With error I was brought forth with birth pains, and in sin my mother conceived me.”—Job 14:1; Ps. 51:5.
How did we get into this bondage? Through the disobedience of our first parent, Adam, even as we read: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” Our first parents ate sour grapes, as it were, and so we all have our teeth set on edge.—Rom. 5:12; Jer. 31:29.
But why should it take a ransom to relieve us of the injustice our first parent did to us? Could not God, simply out of love, forgive mankind their sins, since these are inherited? That is what the modernist clergy hold, but they thereby deny the Bible teaching of the ransom of Jesus Christ for our sins.
No, God could not simply forgive mankind their inherited sins, for that would imply that he made a mistake in sentencing Adam to death; that he did not foresee the consequences of his judicial decision. Besides, if he did that, he would be violating his own just laws and thus lose the fear and respect of his creatures. Sin had resulted in the loss of life and so it took an unforfeited life to cancel out the effects of sin. So we read that “unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place,” blood standing for the life.—Heb. 9:22.
However, Jehovah God could lovingly arrange for another to pay the penalty so that those victims of Adam’s transgression could be set free. Of course, to ransom mankind such a one would have to be perfect and possess the right to life. Since not one of Adam’s offspring could do this, God offered the privilege to his only-begotten Son, who gladly accepted it. So God transferred the life of his Son from heaven to earth, to the womb of a virgin. Thus it was that Jesus was born at once human and yet with the right to life, making it possible for him to ransom the human race.—Gal. 4:4.
Fittingly, John the Baptist introduced Jesus with the words: “See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” By his death on the torture stake Jesus Christ purchased the human race, dying for their sins, as we read: “Christ was offered once for all time to bear the sins of many.” And as Jesus himself testified: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” Yes, “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.”—John 1:29; Heb. 9:28; Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
A dead Jesus, however, could not benefit the human race. For Jesus to be able to pay the value of his sacrifice over to God’s justice and receive title to the human race, with the right to set it free from sin and death, and also to be able thus to benefit humankind, it was necessary that he be raised from the dead. This God did, but by raising Jesus as a spirit, or else his sacrifice would have been forfeited. Forty days later Jesus ascended into heaven, to present to God the value of his sacrifice.—Heb. 9:24; 1 Pet. 3:18.
THOSE BENEFITING FIRST AND HOW
The Scriptures show that two separate and distinct classes benefit from the ransom; that is, the ransom results in two kinds of destinies for those of humankind. A comparatively small number, 144,000, will inherit divine life in the heavens, and an untold great number will receive everlasting life upon earth. The smaller number are termed a “little flock,” also the “body of the Christ.” They are the ones “who have been bought from the earth,” to reign with Christ in the heavens.—Luke 12:32; Eph. 4:12; Rev. 14:1, 3; 20:6.
Ever since Pentecost these have been benefiting from Christ’s ransom. How? Upon receiving knowledge of God, his Word, his purposes and Christ’s ransom, these have exercised faith therein. As proof of their faith they have repented of their past selfish course of action, have converted or turned around to follow a course of righteousness, have dedicated themselves to do God’s will and have been baptized. On the basis of their faith and dedication and the ransom God declares these righteous, which means that while they are still in the imperfect flesh he gives them the right to human life. This they sacrifice so as to be able to accept God’s call to a heavenly reward, by means of which God recognizes them as spiritual sons.
These, having been ‘born again by the water of the truth and God’s holy spirit,’ enjoy a most precious relationship with God as his spiritual sons, all based on Christ’s ransom. God is their Father in a distinct and personal way. They have access to him in prayer, and at all times their affairs are his concern. They have the witness in their lives that they are God’s sons, while he is preparing them for life in the heavens. He “makes all his works co-operate together for the good of those who love God, those who are the ones called according to his purpose.” Of course, since the number of these is limited to 144,000 and they began to be chosen at Pentecost, 1900 years ago, it is to be expected that there would be only a few of these on earth at the present time, even as the facts show to be the case.—Rom. 8:28.
OTHERS THAT WILL BENEFIT
Christendom in general knows of only one destiny for those benefiting from Christ’s ransom, namely, heaven, but the Scriptures plainly show that most of those benefiting from Christ’s ransom will receive blessings right here upon the earth. That there would be two classes was foreshadowed on Israel’s annual day of atonement, for on it one sacrifice was made for the high priest and his family or household and another for the rest of the nation of Israel. It is also indicated by the words of the apostle John when he said that Jesus Christ “is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.”—1 John 2:2; Lev. 16:6, 15.
This fact is further borne out when the Scriptures speak of some as being of the seed of Abraham and as being kings and priests reigning with Christ. Obviously, there must be those who are to be blessed by the seed of Abraham and who are subjects over whom those kings and priests are to reign. That is why Jesus not only spoke of a “little flock” and sheep from “this fold,” but also of “other sheep” that he would gather to himself.—John 10:16; Gal. 3:29.
Since the vast majority of those for whom Christ gave his life as a ransom have died, it follows that there must be a resurrection of the dead if these are to benefit from that ransom. That there will be a resurrection for all in the memorial tombs or in the memory of God, the Scriptures repeatedly state: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear [Jesus’] voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”—John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.
These will come forth from the tombs during the thousand-year reign of Christ and will have the opportunity to learn of Jehovah, his purposes and his will for them. As they submit to Christ’s righteous rule they will have the benefits of the ransom applied to them, thus gradually attaining to mental, moral and physical perfection. At the end of that thousand-year reign they will receive a final test. Proving faithful under it, they will reap the full benefits of Christ’s ransom, the right to everlasting life in happiness in God’s paradise earth.—Rev. 20:5, 7-9; 21:1-4.
HOW YOU MAY BENEFIT NOW
It is also possible for some, not members of the bride or body of Christ, to benefit from the ransom this side of Armageddon and God’s new world. This opportunity is open to all men of good will today. If you would be of that happy number you must take a course similar to that taken by those who become members of Christ’s body. That is, you must take in knowledge of God, his purposes, Christ’s ransom and God’s will for you and exercise faith therein. This will lead you to acknowledge before God that you were born in sin, and so a transgressor of God’s law, and it will cause you sincerely to repent of your past course of action and abandon the practice of sin and embark upon a course of righteousness by dedicating yourself to the doing of God’s will, giving public testimony of the same by being baptized in water. Taking this course of action, you will become part of the great crowd of whom it was prophetically stated:
“Look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ . . . ‘These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. . . . the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life.’”—Rev. 7:9, 10, 14, 17.
Yes, you will be among those appearing righteous in God’s sight, wearing, as it were, white robes, washed in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. On the basis of your faith in the ransom God will forgive your sins, though not granting you the right to life at this time. Because of your faith you may also approach God in prayer and are able to serve him acceptably. As a prospective son of God you may therefore address him as “Father.” More than that, you may ask Jehovah for a measure of his holy spirit with the assurance that he will gladly give it to you.—Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:13.
By means of this holy spirit you will be able to follow a course of righteousness, but not without the additional help of God’s Word and his visible organization. By availing yourself of these you will be able to make your mind over and to put on a new personality. More than that, by reason of your having a measure of righteousness imputed to you, you are worthy of associating with the remaining ones of the body of Christ, who have had righteousness judicially imputed to them, and to share with them in the grand work that Jehovah is having done at the present time, that of ‘preaching this good news of the kingdom in all the earth for a witness to all nations.’—Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23, 24; Matt. 24:14.
But perhaps you will ask, Did not the faithful men of old have righteousness imputed to them? Did not they enjoy friendly relations with God? Did not they have the privileges of prayer and service of Jehovah and receive his holy spirit even though Christ’s ransom had not yet been provided? True. Until the paying of Christ’s ransom God imputed a measure of righteousness to his servants and granted them friendly relations on the basis of their faith, love of righteousness and the offering of animal sacrifices. Such animal sacrifices foreshadowed or pictured Christ’s ransom, but they did not afford permanent cleansing from sin, neither did they give hope of everlasting life. That is why the nation of Israel had to offer up these sacrifices year after year.—Heb. 10:1-4.
But with Jesus Christ’s coming to the earth and dying for man’s sins God provided a better, a lasting basis for forgiveness of sins and friendly relations with God and at the same time decreed that Christ’s ransom be the exclusive means. That is why Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” “Ask . . . in my name.”—John 14:6, 13, 14.
Because we are living so near to God’s new world of righteousness, the Scriptures show that all those benefiting from the ransom now may hope to be spared by God during the coming destructive war of Armageddon that will mark the end to the present wicked system of things, even as Noah and his family were spared during the destruction of the ancient world. Thereafter those of the “great crowd” will begin to receive the physical benefits of Christ’s ransom, gradually attaining to perfection of mind and body without first having to go down into death. This means that before them lies the prospect of never dying, even as indicated by the prophetic promise: “Seek Jehovah . . . Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zeph. 2:3.
Truly, most blessed is the lot of all those who avail themselves of the benefit of Christ’s ransom now!