We were often asked: “Why God had to send his only son Lord Jesus to be crucified and die in order to save mankind!? Were there other means of salvation available?” Would keeping the Law, good works etc. be alternative ways of salvation. Some, with an earthly approach, even asked if other religions provide salvation? Some church leaders could explain clearly but quite often, discussions on the subject result in no conclusion.
Spiritual elements/Laws exist and function as they do whether you know about them or not. There have been incidents that Christians missed out a lot through a lack of understanding of scriptural truths and their position in Christ (Hosea 4:6). I feel an urge to share, especially for those new converts, on the above subjects, which are so fundamental and crucial to a Christian.
There is only one God in this Universe. God made covenants with men. God never broke a covenant. Men broke covenants, one after the other. In God’s RIGHTEOUSNESS, God had to judge mankind (who had to face the consequences after breaking the covenants) but with God’s LOVE, God not only provided salvation for Adam and Eve after their fall, but always made a subsequent covenant to provide remedy after men failed to keep the previous one for which God had to judge.
Each covenant contains 3 main elements: (1) The words/promises of the covenant, usually the blessings that come with keeping the covenant and the curses if man breaks the covenant. (2) The shedding of blood, to indicate that the covenant is a matter of life and death (life is in the blood Lev.17:11). When blood sacrifice is made, it represents life commitment of the parties entering into the covenant. (3) A seal or outward visible sign to remind the parties to the covenants.
The very first covenant God made with mankind was the Edenic covenant (with Adam who relayed the message to Eve after she came into the scene):
(1) The words/ promises: (See Genesis 1:26, 27 & 28 , Genesis 2:15, 16 & 17)). (2) Shedding of blood: God cut Adam’s flesh and blood was shed to produce Adam’s bride, Eve. (3)The seal: Tree of life, which represented Adam and Eve’s never-ending life with God AND the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which symbolized the curse if they break the covenant (if they eat of the fruit, they would surely die). Note that if Adam and Eve never broke the covenant, death would have never come into the world.
Adam and Eve broke the covenant. Sin brought the curse of death. The wages of sin is death(Romans 6:23). Spiritual death caused them separation from God, and they lost their authorities over Satan. If there was no new covenant made by God, they would have their physical death immediately. However, God’s love, as manifested, necessitated a new covenant, the Adamic covenant which then spared Adam and Eve’s lives. The Adamic covenant revealed God’s plan of redemption, judgment of sin and the curses upon men, women, Satan and the snake (see Genesis 3: 14 to 19 inclusive, the words of the covenant). As for the blood, God killed an animal and covered Adam and Eve with the skin of the animal. The seal is the skin of the animal. It is essential to know that in Gen. 3:15 when God said to the serpent:
“… he will crush your head.” The seed of the woman, Lord Jesus will bruise Satan’s head, conquering principality, power, and rulers of darkness. But when God said to the serpent,”… you will strike his heel.” God saw to it that Lord Jesus would be crucified. (So, as early as in Adam’s days, God committed into death His only son, Lord Jesus, for the salvation of mankind) And WHY was it necessary?
‘When one sins and has to be judged, another person who is also a sinner cannot say that he will be judged in one’s place and be one’s substitute. Only a sinless, innocent person can offer himself to be the substitute of the first sinner. All men are sinners and nobody can be Adam’s substitute except the one and only God’s only son, Lord Jesus, who was sent to be born as a human ( but as a sinless man) and be crucified to be a substitute for the redemption of Adam’s sin and our sin.’
For that to be workable and be completed, it had to take 4,000 years until Lord Jesus came to be born. So, God’s salvation plan, after Adam & Eve sinned, appeared as:
I. Killed an animal and covered Adam and Eve’s bodies. This symbolized that:
- Salvation can only be from God; it can never be from man (Adam tried his own way to cover his /Eve’s bodies with leaves but man’s way could not work.);
- Salvation must be with the death (the wages of sin is death) of an innocent victim and shedding of blood. (See again the importance of blood covenant per above)
(Hebrews 9:22 “... everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness).
(See also Leviticus 17:11 “… For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourself on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.)
As said, Adam and Eve should have died immediately, because the wages of sin is death, if not for the Adamic covenant. But, the innocent animal **, which was killed, shed its blood in place of Adam and Eve whose sin were transferred to the animal temporarily but were only covered (Psalm 32:2), not yet forgiven until Lord Jesus came. (See Rev.1: 5,6 and many N.T. verses). Men had to wait until Lord Jesus’ spotless blood was shed 4,000 years later for the forgiveness of sin.
** Noted that this was the first death on earth, purely because of sin.
The institution of animal sacrifices came to be a reminder to people, from Adam’s time, and spanned for about 4,000 years to 33 A.D. of their coming Redeemer, Lord Jesus, who would shed his own blood as a sacrifice for the redemption of mankind. Adam passed on the important sacrifices to his sons, Cain and Abel. Abel obeyed and did what God said. But, Cain knowingly offered the fruits of the ground without the shedding of blood and got reprimand from God. (A product of the curse, the earth, could not remove the curse (Numbers 18:12-14) and ( Lev. 27)). The fruits of the ground could not have pictured the atonement at Calvary or been a sin offering (Heb. 9:22).
During these 4,000 years, men continued to break covenants but God all along kept His covenants. Each time men broke it, God made another covenant to restore mankind. These included covenants of Noahic, Abrahamic , Mosaic, Palestinian, Davidic (I have skipped a lot of details in these areas) until the New Covenant in which Lord Jesus shed His own blood to complete the redemption. (That was the last covenant. The promises were Lord Jesus’ Salvation for us by shedding His own blood, once and for all. The seal of the covenant was The Holy Spirit.) His blood superseded all the animals’ blood shed in all O.T. times. He became the innocent person who died in our place. His spotless blood was shed in place of ours . As a human, He died, went to Hades, conquered Satan because He was sinless. His bought us back with such a high price. He took the key of Hades. All the saints in O.T. times (including Noah, Abraham, Moses, David etc.), whose sins were up to then covered, became at that moment forgiven. They, who could not go to Heaven yet at the time of their death, but kept in a safe place in Hades) until this moment, went with Lord Jesus to Heaven. This incident was recorded in one of the Psalms in which God allowed David to have vision of what would take place after 1,000 years from David’s time and such incident was re-stated partly in Acts 2. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom all by itself(Matthew 27:51), symbolizing that, after salvation was completed, we could go into the Holy of holies to see God face to face, unlike the saints in the O.T. time. Lord Jesus took His precious blood to Heaven to be seated at God the Father’s right hand and continuously interceding for us. All men who repented and accepted Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour, had his spirit brought back to life again and reconciled to God. The blood of Lord Jesus cleanses us and the Holy Spirit could dwell in us. Christians are already, at this moment, seated at the right hand of God the Father spiritually. Christians now have authority over Satan who was defeated by Lord Jesus. The curses were nailed to the cross (Galatians 3:13) by Lord Jesus. Salvation includes prosperity and good health for Christians (See Galatians). All these are in a nutshell and we can explore the same subject for hours and hours.
An understanding of the blood covenant will indicate to us why shedding of His precious blood was the only possible means of Salvation for us (all because of God’s grace). It further tells us that even if one can keep the Law, one still needs Lord Jesus’ blood for cleansing. Or, there will be no Salvation for him. Surely we know that nobody can keep the Law which was put in place by God for purposes other than salvation, mainly for self-recognition of one’s own sins.