Links Daily Devotional

Enduring Grace

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17, ESV)

Step aside, Mr. Day. As good as you may be, and as good as Rory and Jordan and Henrik have proven themselves as well, there is a new No. 1 in the men’s game. Dustin Johnson secured the position with an unrivaled Sunday performance at Riviera.

Jesus cannot be succeeded; more than that, he needn’t be.The women’s game has seen any number of changes since the retirement of Annika Sorenstam, and the men are now experiencing similar circumstances as Tiger Woods’ excellence fades further and further into the past. Day’s reign lasted a year, but change has come and Johnson’s season will require more winning if he is to secure his spot at the top for more than a few passing weeks. Such is the cluster of heirs apparent.

Since the life and ascension of Christ, others have come along to suggest a supplanting narrative. Their message, though presented in different terms, is always the same: you need more than Jesus. You need another creed, greater discipline, a catalog of religious works, more almsgiving, a separated life, another leader. Any or all of the above are the more complete way to salvation.

Let’s make this plain: there is no more complete way of salvation. Jesus cannot be succeeded; more than that, he needn’t be. Now let’s consider why.

In the laws of God given through Moses, we find the order of operations: “…when atonement has been made, that person will be forgiven” (Numbers 15:28, NIV). Atonement precedes forgiveness. The writer of Hebrews affirmed this in the context of Jesus’ death when he wrote: “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22).

But the writer of Hebrews saw not only the similarity between the atoning work of Christ’s blood and the temple sacrifices, he saw also a dynamic difference. The atonement of Christ lasts. Forever. Look: “Every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12).

How is this possible? The writing of Paul referenced in today’s central passage provides the answer. On the surface, this statement—that our faith is futile without the resurrection of Jesus—seems errant. Wasn’t it the death of Christ, with his spilled blood, that bought our salvation? It was! And yet without the resurrection, that blood would have been like the shed blood of every sheep and goat—temporary. It is through the resurrection that the atonement of Christ endures. And with the atonement, forgiveness. And with forgiveness, eternal life.

Here’s a great way to start your week: rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ. By it, the grace of God survives—from Jesus’ day till now, from now into eternity.

Jeff Hopper
February 20, 2017
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