The Saviour of Mankind
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
Since the foundation of every saving truth is Christ our righteousness, all truth pertaining to our redemption must be studied within the context of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:11:
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
This includes the subject under discussion, the humanity of Christ. Unfortunately, there is today much confusion as to what constitutes the gospel. This problem must, therefore, first be corrected before we can enter the discussion of the human nature Christ assumed at the incarnation.
What did our Lord mean when He commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature? The answer to this question can be summed up in one sentence: Christ and Him crucified. This is what constitutes the good news of the gospel and the central message of the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18:
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2:
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Many have given the word “gospel” a very general meaning. As a result, there is much confusion on this subject. The Bible describes three phases of salvation that are related yet distinct. These three phases of salvation are:
Failure to see the relationship and distinction between them has produced the confusion in our midst. The following is a brief description of these three phases of salvation, showing their relationship as well as their distinction.
This is the unconditional good news of salvation obtained for all humanity in Christ’s holy history. It is referred to as the objective facts of salvation and is a finished or completed work, to which mankind has made no contribution whatsoever.
For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.
It is, therefore, entirely the work of God and, hence, described by the apostle Paul as the righteousness of God.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
It is this holy history of Christ — His birth, life, death, and resurrection — that saves sinful man — now, and in the judgment. When received by faith, the gospel becomes justification or righteousness by faith.
It is important to note at this point what Christ actually accomplished in this gospel, for every subjective experience in the believer’s life is based on the finished work of Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that God sent His Son into this world to save mankind from sin.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
But sin is a threefold problem. Most Christians are aware that sin is the transgression of the law that results in guilt and punishment. But the Scriptures also defines sin as a force, a law or principle that resides in our sinful nature.
Romans 7:17, 20, 23:
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.... Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. ...But I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
Finally, the corruption and physical infirmities of our being are also part and parcel of our sin problem from which we need to be redeemed.
1 Corinthians 15:53-57:
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ, by His life, death, and resurrection saved fallen humanity from all of these three problems, so that the true gospel offers mankind salvation full and complete.
...Made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus....
Consequently, those who respond to the gospel message in faith stand perfect in Christ, in performance, in justice, as well as in nature. This is what justifies and qualifies them for heaven.
The only way this could be realized is by Christ assuming our sinful nature that needed redeeming. As was often stated by the church fathers in the first five centuries of the Christian era: “that which was not assumed by Christ could not be redeemed or healed.”
The Fruits of the Gospel
This subjective experience is what the Holy Spirit produces in the life of the believer who has accepted the gospel by faith and is walking in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16, 22, 23:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.... But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
In saving us from sin, Christ not only saved us from death to life, but also from sinful living to a life of good works.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Hence, the gospel is not only the means of our salvation into heaven but is also the basis of holy living and good works.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
This holy living or fruit bearing is referred to in Scripture as sanctification. These fruits do not contribute one iota towards our justification [which qualifies us for heaven] but witness the salvation we already possess in Christ by faith. Therefore, sanctification must not be equated with the gospel, even though it is good news, but must be defined as the fruits of the gospel. Failure to distinguish justification from sanctification has produced the insecurity common among so many. We must ever keep in mind that the justification of the believer is based on a finished work, the gospel, but sanctification is an ongoing process that will continue as long as life will last.
Through the gospel, the believer stands perfect in Christ; this is the basis of assurance. But the good works prove that the believer’s faith is genuine and not a sham.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.
You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
True justification by faith must express itself in behavior, and behavior must embody salvation. Genuine justification by faith, therefore, always produces good works; even though these works may not be apparent to the believer.
But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’”
It is for this reason the New Testament teaches that we are justified by faith alone...
For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
...Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified...
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.
...but judged by works...
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out — those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
2 Corinthians 5:10:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
...the works being not the means, but the evidence of justification by faith.
You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
Further, as mentioned above, justification is entirely God’s doing and a finished or completed work, while sanctification does involve our human co-operation, walking in the Spirit, and, as already indicated, is an on going process, “the work of a lifetime.”
The Hope of the Gospel
This refers to the ultimate reality of salvation, which will be experienced by all believers at the second coming of Christ. It is at this time that “this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
1 Corinthians 15:53:
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
The Bible calls this experience glorification. The experience of conversion and the process of sanctification does bring about a change to the Christian’s character, but not one iota of change to the believer’s nature. This remains sinful throughout the Christian’s earthly existence or until the second advent.
It is for this reason Christians groan, waiting patiently for the redemption of their bodies.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Like sanctification, glorification must not be equated with the gospel but with the hope of the gospel. For while the gospel is the good news of salvation for all people, the second advent is not. It is the blessed hope only for the believers who are rejoicing in the gospel; but to the unbelievers it is the great day of His wrath.
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
With the gospel defined we can now proceed with our discussion on this important subject of the human nature that Christ assumed at the incarnation.