What must I do to be saved? The short answer is, “Believe in God and obey Him.” It was true of Adam and Eve. It was true of Abraham, Moses, and Joshua. It is true for me today. What is required of people is to meet the conditions our Lord reveals to us. Does my obedience have the power to same me? Nope. The grace that saves through faith rests with God (Ephesians 2:8-10). That brings us to Leviticus chapter sixteen.
This subject came up in relation to our study of the Day of Atonement. God gives instruction to Aaron through Moses to show how he is to atone for his sins, those of his family, and the people of Israel. The blood of a bull and a goat was sprinkled on the ark of the testimony and the other furniture in the tabernacle, “Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins.”-Leviticus 16:16.
The word atonement means to reconcile, cover, or pay a ransom in exchange for forgiveness. During our Bible class I quoted from the New Testament, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”-Hebrews 10:4. Then I said, the sacrifices Aaron offered didn’t actually have the power to atone for the sins of Israel. The blood of Jesus on the cross flows both ways and that Christ’s blood made the Old Testament sacrifices efficacious (a fancy word for: “having the power to produce a desired effect”).
So, “How can this be?” Can these two sentences be true?
- Aaron had to offer animal sacrifices to be forgiven.
- The blood of those sacrifices did not have the power to forgive.
Allow me to use a modern day illustration. If my car is dead, what must I do? The following are all correct statements:
- I must make an appointment with the mechanic.
- I must take my car to the mechanic.
- I must agree to let the mechanic fix my car for a fee.
- Neither A, B, or C actually repairs my vehicle.
Meeting the conditions for something to be done, is not the same as having the ability to actually do it. This relates to a sacrifice of atonement in the Old Testament and baptism in New Testament. There is no doubt, Aaron’s sins would be forgiven if he offered those sacrifices. There is no doubt my car will be fixed if I follow steps A, B, and C. This is true even if I die before my car is actually fixed. Aaron died before a sacrifice occurred which was actually capable of forgiving sins (Matthew 26:28; I Corinthians 15:3; I John 1:7; etc). However he met the conditions God laid out for forgiveness. The ability of a mechanic to fix my car makes the conditions I met effective. If I never meet the conditions, I will never meet with the solution.
Praise God he has provided grace through the sacrifice of his Son! Thank Jesus who paid the price and whose blood has the actual power to forgive and save me from the just penalty of my sins! May I ever be grateful for the Holy Spirit who revealed the terms of forgiveness to mankind! When I turn in faith and submit my life to Christ in baptism; I come out of darkness and I am saved, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”-I John 1:7.