Man needs to be saved not only from SIN, but from his SINS. This will require a change in his very nature. It is through Christ’s work on the cross alone that this salvation is effected. Although “salvation” is an all-inclusive word that embraces every redemptive process from regeneration to eventual glorification, the end result is to bring about an anthropological change. “We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3: 2; cf. Philippians 3: 21). It is not enough to paint a beautiful word-picture and say that all of this has been consummated when we know from the “hard evidence” that it is otherwise.
A.D. 70 did not bring about any change in man’s anthropological condition. He is still born in sin, commits sins, and will die in sin should he fail to exercise saving faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross.
When Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand, the first thing that should have LOGICALLY happened was the judgment of all mankind, Jew and Gentile, for their most heinous crime. The first thing that ACTUALLY happened was the proclamation of grace and forgiveness of sins to all men, starting with the Jew first, and later the Gentile. In A.D. 30, the throne of judgment was replaced by a throne of mercy, and grace still overrules judgment. That is what “propitiation” signifies. The Greek word hilasterion is the same word translated in Hebrews 9: 5 and the LXX as “mercy seat.” The message is clear. Christ’s death effected a Dispensational change in God’s dealings with man.
“And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2: 2).
If anyone wants to know why God’s character seems so different in the Old Testament to how it appears in the New, that is the reason. From Christ’s death a new administration of grace flows out.
Let’s keep in mind that Christ is not only the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5: 5), He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world (John 1: 29). It is believed that He does not exercise these offices concurrently, but is still consummating His role as a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13: 8). He will become the “Lion” once more when the present Dispensation ends.
The investiture of Christ in all of His Davidic royalty is described at length in Revelation chaps. 4 and 5. David was a man of war (2 Samuel 17: 8; 1 Chron. 22: 8), and his throne was one of judgment. Christ is not now at war with humanity. Through his ministers and heralds, He is issuing a general amnesty toward all mankind. “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
In Genesis 2: 21-22, it is stated that God put Adam into a deep sleep while He formed the woman. The church is the antitype of Eve, and is being formed during this current age. As to His judicial character, Christ may be said to be “asleep.” In Genesis 49: 9, we read: “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?” Christ defeated Satan in A.D. 30, and was “gone up” from the prey at His ascension. He is currently exercising His priestly functions in the Holy Place. When the age ends, however, the Lamb will become a Lion once more, and the guilty will be judged.
“And if any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12: 47-48).
The skeptic will sometimes ask: How do evil men get away scot free? Why does not God arise and put an end to evil? The answer, of course, is the Cross. The death of Christ was not answered by a message of vengeance, but by a message of peace, of “good will toward men” (Luke 2: 14). That is what grace is all about. It is not a license to commit crimes and offenses, but an economy wherein forgiveness is proclaimed on the alone condition of faith. The Cross is God’s answer to all evil. Never again in the history of the universe will there ever be such a wonderful Dispensation.
To philosophize the doctrines of God’s salvation will never do. To say that redemption has been fully accomplished when we see the results of sin and rebellion against God all around us, is to substitute the saving doctrines of truth for the “hath God said?” of the serpent. To say that we must enter the full blessings of salvation at death is to proclaim death the very best thing that can befall us, and to make the Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate cults the acme of salvific wisdom. To say that redemption was accomplished in A.D. 70, but that a “not yet” still applies to all believers, is to confess that, anthropologically speaking, the ruin wrought by the fall must go on forever. In that case, evil can never be truly defeated by Christ, and the skeptic’s concerns over the problem of evil are made valid.