Leadership Development (15th September, 2020)
NEW TESTAMENT GOSPEL BENEFITS FOR PAST AND PRESENT BELIEVERS
The verses of Scripture under consideration teach important lessons about justification by faith and receiving salvation from the Lord. Imputing of God’s righteousness to believers is not peculiar to the New Testament. The Old Testament believers also received the benefits of reconciliation, righteousness, regeneration and spiritual resurrection from the Lord. Yet, it was not just for the worthies of old alone, “But for us also” who are now beneficiaries of the faithfulness, goodness and grace of God under the new covenant. We are now justified by faith through Christ who became our Substitute.
Point 1: THE BLESSING OF FORGIVENESS AND SALVATION
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered”. The blessing of forgiveness and salvation is only for the individual who personalises and appropriates the teaching of God’s word. That means, reconciliation with the Lord is a personal experience. To be sanctified, one must also believe in the Lord to take away depravity from his spirit. There are three things to note:
(i). The Condition of Forgiveness throughout the Scriptures
Repentance is the condition for forgiveness for all people in the Old and New Testaments. “The Lord is not… willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”. Forgiveness is available for everyone through the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. To be saved, repentance is a condition that must first be fulfilled.
(ii). The Confession and Forsaking of All Sins
Every sinner can call upon the Lord for salvation, forgiveness and cleansing of the heart while He is near. A sinner must “forsake his way…thoughts: and… return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and… abundantly pardon”. Confession goes along with forsaking of sin. A sinner must confess and forsake his sins with all sincerity of heart to be forgiven. Having confessed and forsaken his sins, he rejects the past and embraces the new life.
(iii). The Conversion through Faith in the Saviour
Conversion comes through faith in the Saviour. The word of God we hear brings conversion. The Gentiles in Phenice and Samaria were converted when they heard the gospel, fulfilled the condition of forgiveness and salvation and believed on the Lord. Conversion is the work of God, His grace and goodness. The joy of salvation comes when the sinner confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes in his heart that God raised Him from the dead. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. However, to have the faith to call upon the Lord and be saved, the sinner must believe the word of God he hears.
Point 2: THE BENEFITS OF FAITH IN THE SANCTIFIER
“Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” This is the work of grace that brings godliness into the life of anyone who comes for the full salvation of the Lord. The psalmist’s prayer reveals that God does not want a superficial cleansing of sin; He “desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part…” Whilst He makes us white as snow at salvation, He makes us “whiter than snow” at sanctification. David prayed for the replacement of the old heart. He also had faith that the Lord is able to “Create in [him] a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within [him]”. Like him, present-day believers should pray with assurance and faith that God is able to perform such work in them.
(i). The Imputation of Righteousness to the Penitent
God imputes righteousness to the penitent, blots out his iniquities and does not remember them anymore. He is justified because the Lord sees him as one who had never sinned. Therefore, those who are born again should not continue to remember the sins God has forgotten. “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” This imputation of righteousness is not only for the past believers, “But for us also [who] believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead”.
(ii). The Impartation of Righteousness to the Purified
God imputed the righteousness of Christ to us at salvation. But due to our fallen, depraved nature, He imparts His righteousness unto us through sanctification. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Because of the change that takes place in our heart, we are “made the righteousness of God in him”. It is a great privilege that Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
(iii). The Impartiality of the Righteous, Our Propitiation
“The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” He grants mercy, forgiveness, freedom from sin, and all the benefits of faith to anyone who comes to Him. The Lord is impartial. “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Christ justifies and makes us righteous. He imputes and imparts His righteousness and Spirit to all the redeemed because there is no partiality in Him.
Point 3: THE BENEFICIARIES OF THE FULLNESS OF THE SPIRIT
In his prayer, the psalmist asked for forgiveness, impartation of righteousness, creation of a new heart and spirit, and requested to be whiter than snow. He went further to ask the Lord not to take away His Holy Spirit from him. He knew he could not do or be anything without the Spirit of God. Hence, he prayed, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”
(i). The Partaker of the Spirit in a Prophet
David was a partaker of the Spirit of God. He was saved, sanctified, and had the manifestation of that Spirit which indwelled, controlled, led and gave him utterance. He said, “The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue”. Aside having the Spirit of God, he also had the spirit of prophecy. The prophets in the Old Testament were also “holy men of God [who] spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”.
(ii). The Promise of the Spirit of Power
The promise of the Spirit of power has been given from the Old Testament. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions”. This promise was fulfilled upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Saved and sanctified believers can also be filled with the Spirit of power. To get this free gift of God, which is available and possible, we must have strong passion and give enough time to personal and congregational prayers “…until [we] be endued with power from on high”.
(iii). The Possessors of the Spirit of All Possibilities
Possessors of the Spirit of God are not lethargic, lukewarm or cold. They have the power of utterance, the power to work miracles and the anointing to break every yoke. The Holy Ghost brings to their remembrance all things, even as they get older. We are quickened by the Spirit. The Spirit gives us boldness and courage to declare the word of God anywhere and in any circumstance. He fills us with the love of God, which is shed abroad in our hearts. Through Him, we experience signs and wonders in our ministry.