How the Ransom Saves Us
“He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.”—JOHN 3:36.
1, 2. What was one reason why Zion’s Watch Tower was originally published?
“NO CAREFUL student of the Bible can fail to be impressed with the stress that is laid on the death of Christ,” stated the fourth issue of this magazine back in October 1879. That article concluded on this serious note: “Let us beware of anything that belittles, or sets aside the death of Christ, as the offering and propitiation for sin.”—Read 1 John 2:1, 2.
2 One of the reasons why Zion’s Watch Tower was first published in July 1879 was to defend the Bible teaching of the ransom. Its pages provided “food at the proper time,” for in the late 1800’s, a growing number of professed Christians began to question how Jesus’ death could be a ransom for our sins. (Matt. 24:45) At that time, many were falling victim to the theory of evolution, an idea that conflicts with the fact that man has fallen from a perfect state. Evolutionists teach that man is naturally improving and has no need for a ransom. Especially appropriate, then, is the apostle Paul’s counsel to Timothy: “Guard what is laid up in trust with you, turning away from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’ For making a show of such knowledge some have deviated from the faith.”—1 Tim. 6:20, 21.
3. What questions will we now consider?
3 No doubt you are determined not to ‘deviate from the faith.’ To that end, it would be good to consider these questions: Why do I need the ransom? What did it cost? How can I benefit from this precious provision that can save me from God’s wrath?
Saved From God’s Wrath
4, 5. What proves that God’s wrath remains upon the present wicked system of things?
4 The Bible and the hard facts of history show that ever since Adam’s fall into sin, God’s wrath ‘has remained upon’ the human race. (John 3:36) This is evident in that no human has been able to escape eventual death. Satan’s rival sovereignty has been totally unable to protect mankind from ongoing calamities, and no human government has been capable of fulfilling the basic needs of all its citizens. (1 John 5:19) So mankind continues to be plagued by war, crime, and poverty.
5 Clearly, then, Jehovah’s blessing is not upon the present wicked system of things. Paul said that “God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness.” (Rom. 1:18-20) Therefore, those who unrepentantly live ungodly lives will not escape the consequences of their conduct. Today, God’s wrath is being made known in the judgment messages that are being poured out like plagues upon Satan’s world, and such information appears in many of our Bible-based publications.—Rev. 16:1.
6, 7. What work is being spearheaded by anointed Christians, and what opportunity is still open to individuals who are part of Satan’s world?
6 Does this mean that it is too late for individuals to break free from Satan’s domination and come into God’s favor? No, for the door leading to reconciliation with Jehovah is still wide open. Anointed Christians, who are “ambassadors substituting for Christ,” are spearheading a public ministry by means of which people of all nations are being entreated: “Become reconciled to God.”—2 Cor. 5:20, 21.
7 The apostle Paul said that Jesus “delivers us from the wrath which is coming.” (1 Thess. 1:10) That final expression of Jehovah’s anger will result in the everlasting destruction of unrepentant sinners. (2 Thess. 1:6-9) Who will escape? The Bible states: “He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” (John 3:36) Yes, all who are alive and who are exercising faith in Jesus and the ransom when this system reaches its end will escape the consequences of God’s final day of wrath.
How the Ransom Works
8. (a) What grand prospect lay before Adam and Eve? (b) How did Jehovah prove to be a God of perfect justice?
8 Adam and Eve were created perfect. If they had remained obedient to God, the earth would now be full of their happy offspring living together with them in Paradise. Sadly, however, our first parents willfully broke God’s command. As a result, they were sentenced to eternal death and were expelled from the original Paradise. By the time that Adam and Eve had children, sin had affected humankind, and the first man and woman eventually grew old and died. This proves that Jehovah is true to his word. Moreover, he is a God of perfect justice. Jehovah had warned Adam that partaking of the forbidden fruit would result in death—and it did.
9, 10. (a) Why do Adam’s descendants die? (b) How can we escape eternal death?
9 As descendants of Adam, we have inherited an imperfect body prone to sin and eventual death. When Adam sinned, we were in his loins, so to speak. So the sentence of death included us. If Jehovah were to reverse the death process without the payment of a ransom, he would be untrue to his word. In effect, Paul spoke for all of us when he said: “We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am fleshly, sold under sin. Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death?”—Rom. 7:14, 24.
10 Only Jehovah God could provide the legal basis whereby he could justly forgive us our sins and free us from the penalty of eternal death. This he did by sending his beloved Son from heaven to be born as a perfect human, who could give his life as a ransom for us. Unlike Adam, Jesus remained perfect. Indeed, “he committed no sin.” (1 Pet. 2:22) Jesus thus had the potential for fathering a perfect human race. Instead, however, he allowed God’s enemies to put him to death so that he could adopt Adam’s sinful descendants and make it possible for those exercising faith in him to receive everlasting life. The Scriptures explain: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.”—1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
11. (a) How can the benefits of the ransom be illustrated? (b) How far-reaching are the benefits of the ransom?
11 How the ransom works can be illustrated by the situation of people who have been defrauded of all their savings by a corrupt bank and thus fell into debt. The owners of the bank are justly sentenced to years in prison. But what about the innocent victims? Reduced to poverty, they have no way out of their circumstances unless a kind and wealthy man takes over the bank and restores to the victims all their savings, relieving them of debt. In like manner, Jehovah God and his beloved Son have purchased Adam’s offspring and canceled their debt of sin on the basis of Jesus’ shed blood. That is why John the Baptizer could say of Jesus: “See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) The world of mankind whose sins are taken away includes not only the living but also the dead.
What the Ransom Cost
12, 13. What can we learn from Abraham’s willingness to offer up Isaac?
12 It is impossible for us to grasp exactly how much the ransom cost our heavenly Father and his beloved Son. But the Bible relates experiences that can help us to meditate on this matter. For instance, imagine how Abraham must have felt as he made a three-day journey to Moriah in obedience to God’s command: “Take, please, your son, your only son whom you so love, Isaac, and make a trip to the land of Moriah and there offer him up as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall designate to you.”—Gen. 22:2-4.
13 Abraham finally arrived at the place designated. Think about how heartrending it must have been for him to bind Isaac’s hands and feet and have him lie on the altar that Abraham himself had built. How painful it must have been for Abraham to lift the knife with which he was to kill his son! Imagine Isaac’s feelings as he lay on the altar, awaiting the sharp, piercing pain that would lead to his death. Jehovah’s angel stopped Abraham just in time. What Abraham and Isaac did on that occasion helps us to understand what it must have cost Jehovah to allow Satan’s agents to murder His Son. Isaac’s cooperation with Abraham well illustrates Jesus’ willingness to suffer and to die for us.—Heb. 11:17-19.
14. What incident in the life of Jacob helps us to appreciate the cost of the ransom?
14 The cost of the ransom can also be illustrated by an incident in the life of Jacob. Of all his sons, the one Jacob loved most was Joseph. Sadly, Joseph’s brothers envied and hated him. Yet, Joseph was willing to be sent by his father to see how his brothers were faring. At the time, they were shepherding Jacob’s flock some 60 miles [100 km] north of their home in Hebron. Imagine how Jacob felt when his sons returned with Joseph’s garment covered with blood! “It is my son’s long garment!” he exclaimed. “A vicious wild beast must have devoured him! Joseph is surely torn to pieces!” All of this had a great impact on Jacob, who mourned over Joseph for many days. (Gen. 37:33, 34) Jehovah does not react to situations exactly as imperfect humans do. Yet, meditating on this incident in the life of Jacob may help us to grasp, to some extent, how God must have felt when his beloved Son was mistreated and cruelly put to death as a man on earth.
Benefiting From the Ransom
15, 16. (a) How did Jehovah show his acceptance of the ransom? (b) How have you benefited from the ransom?
15 Jehovah God resurrected his faithful Son with a glorious spirit body. (1 Pet. 3:18) For 40 days, the resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples, strengthening their faith and preparing them for a great evangelizing work ahead. Then he ascended to heaven. There he offered to God the value of his shed blood, to be used in behalf of his true followers, who exercise faith in the value of his ransom sacrifice. Jehovah God showed his acceptance of Christ’s ransom by assigning Jesus to pour out holy spirit upon his disciples who were gathered together in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E.—Acts 2:33.
16 These anointed followers of Christ immediately began to urge their fellow men to escape God’s wrath by getting baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of their sins. (Read Acts 2:38-40.) From that historic day until now, millions of people from all nations have been drawn into a relationship with God on the basis of faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. (John 6:44) Having come this far, we need to consider two more questions: Were any of us given the hope of everlasting life because of our own good works? Once having received this wonderful hope, could we possibly lose it?
17. How should you view the wonderful blessing of being a friend of God?
17 The ransom is totally undeserved. But by exercising faith in it, millions today have become friends of God, with the hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth. Becoming Jehovah’s friends, however, is not an assurance that we will remain in such a relationship with him. To escape God’s future day of wrath, we must keep on showing our deep appreciation for “the ransom paid by Christ Jesus.”—Rom. 3:24; read Philippians 2:12.
Keep On Exercising Faith in the Ransom
18. What does exercising faith in the ransom include?
18 The theme text of this article, John 3:36, shows that exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ includes being obedient to him. Appreciation for the ransom should move us to live in harmony with Jesus’ teachings, including what he taught about morals. (Mark 7:21-23) “The wrath of God is coming” upon all who unrepentantly engage in such practices as fornication, obscene jesting, and “uncleanness of every sort,” which would encompass the persistent viewing of pornography.—Eph. 5:3-6.
19. In what positive ways can we show our faith in the ransom?
19 Our appreciation for the ransom should keep us busy with “deeds of godly devotion.” (2 Pet. 3:11) Let us set aside ample time for regular and earnest prayer, personal Bible study, meeting attendance, family worship, and zealous Kingdom-preaching activity. And may we “not forget the doing of good and the sharing of things with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”—Heb. 13:15, 16.
20. All who continue to exercise faith in the ransom can expect what future blessing?
20 When Jehovah’s wrath breaks out upon this wicked system of things, how happy we will be that we have exercised faith in the ransom and have shown an ongoing appreciation for it! And in God’s promised new world, we will be eternally grateful for this wonderful provision that saved us from God’s wrath.—Read John 3:16; Revelation 7:9, 10, 13, 14.
How Would You Answer?
• Why do we need the ransom?
• What was the cost of the ransom?
• What benefits come from the ransom?
• How do we exercise faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice?
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The door to reconciliation with Jehovah is wide open
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Meditating on these incidents involving Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob can help us to appreciate the great cost of the ransom