Behold the Lamb of God
By Dave Hunt
Islam teaches that on the “last day” (which literally cannot come until Muslims have murdered all Jews on earth) all Muslims whose good deeds outweigh their bad deeds will enter Paradise. Following the example of their prophet Muhammad, killing non-Muslims, especially Jews, is among a Muslim’s best deeds. Dying in the process of killing any non-Muslim in jihad is the only assurance of Paradise that Islam offers. This is the tragic lie that motivates suicide bombers in Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to deliberately target defenseless women and children.
Many who call themselves “Christians,” both Protestants and Catholics (though they may eschew the slaughter of Jews), have basically the same hope of reaching heaven by doing more good (in their estimation) than evil. Even elementary justice recognizes the folly of such an expectation.
No earthly court of law would annul a speeding ticket because the defendant had driven more miles within the speed limit than exceeding it-or set a killer free and reward him for saving the lives of more people than he had murdered. Surely such an outrageous concept, repugnant to the human conscience, would not justify anyone in the eyes of the infinitely holy and righteous Judge of the universe!
No matter how many “good deeds” a person may have done, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) and by His perfect standards are “condemned already” (Jn 3:18). Nor can the One who says, “I am the LORD, I change not” (Mal 3:6) and whose Word “For ever…is settled in heaven” (Ps 119:89) go back on His Word: “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the [Word] that is gone out of my lips” (Ps 89:34).
We know that “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8) and that He desires to “have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). But He is also infinitely holy and righteous and cannot condone sin. He has declared, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Eze 18:4, 20); and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). That sentence stands. “He cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13).
Then how can God pardon sinners from eternal punishment without violating His own perfect justice? Would He not encourage sin and become an accomplice by forgiving the guilty? And how could He cancel the judgment He has pronounced without undermining His integrity?
Scripture declares that whoever breaks even one commandment “is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Why? Disobedience of any of the Ten Commandments, no matter how slight it may seem from our perspective, is rebellion against God-and that is the essence of all sin. That being the case, how could the infinitely holy God fulfill His loving desire to forgive sinners?
This is the central issue. Yet this vital question isn’t even asked in Islam or Hinduism or any of the other world religions. They all promote the popular delusion that an excess of good deeds outweighing the bad will tip the scales of justice in the sinner’s favor. But that isn’t justice!
Clearly, keeping the law perfectly in the future (even if possible) could never make up for breaking just one law in the past. Is the failure to recognize that fact the fatal flaw in all religions? In fact, no thinking person could persist in this delusion. Men knowingly wink at such religious fraud in order to drive from conscience the awful fear of the consequences of rebellion against a holy God.
No, this deceit is maintained by stifling the convicting truth-the truth that God has placed in every conscience. Pride refuses to face the terrible implications of man’s guilt before God. Nor can Islam, Buddhism, false “Christianity,” or any human religion afford to admit the truth. It would lose its power over the masses if it confessed that it had nothing to offer, and that God alone could provide forgiveness to sinners.
Forgiveness of sin? How is that possible? Guilt, punishment, and pardon are clearly matters of justice-and justice cannot be set aside even by love, mercy, or grace. God’s righteous justice requires that sin’s penalty be paid in full. Any religion claiming to influence God to forgive sin is a fraud!
The penalty for the violation of God’s perfect law, which God’s infinite justice demands, is necessarily infinite. Finite man would be separated from God, eternally suffering to pay that impossible debt.
Only God himself, who alone is infinite, could pay the infinite penalty. But how could He? He is not one of us. If only God could become a man…! And that is exactly the wonderful plan of salvation that unfolds throughout the pages of God’s Holy Word, the Bible-and only there.
Biblical prophets foretold that God himself would come to this earth through a virgin birth: the seed of the woman “shall bruise thy [Satan’s] head” (Gen 3:15); “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us]” (Isa 7:14); “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…and his name shall be called…The mighty God, The everlasting Father…” (Isa 9:6).
The Qur’an says that Allah is ever merciful and forgiving, yet he offers no just basis for such forgiveness. The Qur’an comes from one man, Muhammad, who claimed to be inspired by Allah speaking through Gabriel. Muslims rely upon Muhammad and the Qur’an, although the Qur’an itself exhorts the “Prophet” to confess his sins day and night (Surah 40:55, etc.) and declares that Allah changes his mind: “Such of our revelation as we abrogate or cause to be forgotten, we bring [in its place] one better or the like thereof” (Surah 2:106); “We put one revelation in place of another…” (16:101).
In contrast, the Bible came to us via about 40 men over the course of 1,600 years. Thus for each of its writers we have 39 other witnesses from different cultures and different times in history. Most of them never met. The only thing they had in common was the claim of being inspired by Yahweh, the one true God of “Abraham…of Isaac…and of Jacob” (Ex 3:15, plus 11 more times), the “God of Israel” (Ex 5:1, plus 202 more times). Their writings are harmoniously integrated with intricate themes developed from one to another in a manner that proves divine inspiration.
One theme running throughout from Genesis to Revelation is the crimson thread of God’s plan of salvation. This is carefully unfolded in deepening revelation from writer to writer-and supported by hundreds of prophecies that have been fulfilled without change or failure. God has left no doubt that He himself has come to earth through the virgin birth to pay the infinite penalty His own justice demands for sin, providing a just and eternal salvation.
Salvation for sinful man was part of God’s plan from all eternity. He knew that Adam and Eve would believe the serpent and that all their descendants would continue in that rebellion. God’s promise of forgiveness, however, is continually renewed through His prophets.
The means of salvation comes ever more clearly into focus through the unfolding picture presented in the Old Testament sacrificial system. It begins with the sacrificing of animals to provide the skins with which God clothed Adam and Eve after expelling them from the Garden. It was a temporary covering, not full forgiveness: “…the blood of bulls and of goats [can’t] take away sins” (Heb 10:4).
The promised Savior was called the Messiah. That He would have to give His own life for the sins of mankind was pictured repeatedly in the sacrifices of innocent animals-especially the offering of a spotless, unprotesting lamb. We first meet the lamb as Abel’s sin offering. Cain’s insistence upon offering, instead, the efforts of his own hands was a clear rejection of God’s salvation and a prototype of all religions that have followed. The persecution throughout human history of those who obey God was also foreseen in Cain’s murder of his brother, Abel, because Abel’s slain lamb was accepted while Cain’s good works were not.
Repeatedly, a sacrificed lamb pictured the promise of the true Lamb of God, who would give “himself a ransom for all…” (1 Tim 2:6). That the Lamb would be the very Son of God was also foreseen. As Abraham led his son Isaac up Mount Moriah to sacrifice him there at God’s command, believing that God would raise him from the dead, Isaac asked, “…where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” In faith, Abraham responded, “God will provide himself a lamb…” (Gen 22:8).
That promise runs through the Bible: “the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me” (Isa 48:16); “the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 Jn 4:14). Failing to understand their own prophets, and thinking that the Messiah would immediately take the throne of David, most Jews didn’t realize that He had to come first as the promised Lamb to be crucified for their sins in fulfillment of the Levitical offerings. Only upon His Second Coming in power and glory would He establish an earthly kingdom.
The sacrifice of a lamb and sprinkling of its blood upon the “two side posts and on the upper door post” of their houses (Ex 12:7-13) caused the destroying angel to pass over the Israelites when God’s judgment fell upon Egypt, bringing Israel’s deliverance from cruel slavery, and still celebrated as Passover by Jews worldwide.
Sadly, exactly as the prophets foretold, Israel mocked and crucified the “holy one of God,” whom even the demons recognized (Mk 1:24; Lk 4:34)! Few heeded John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29).
In contrast, there is no just basis in Islam for forgiveness of sin. And even in Catholicism, which makes much of Christ’s crucifixion, its sufficiency is denied by the claim that in the “sacrifice of the Mass” He is being perpetually offered. Thus the penalty is never paid on Catholic altars. For if it were, as Scripture says, the Mass would have “ceased to be offered…the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins” (Heb 10:2).
The continual offering of the supposedly “transubstantiated” body and blood of Christ on Rome’s altars rejects clear biblical declarations that “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many….[W]e are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once…after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, [He] sat down on the right hand of God….[B]y one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified….[T]here is no more offering for sin” (Heb 9:25-10:18). Every attempt to add to or to perpetuate Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on the cross is a denial of Christ’s triumphant cry, “It is finished” (Jn 19:30).
As in false “Christianity,” so in all the world’s religions, the penalty for sin is never paid but hangs over worshipers’ heads like a sword of Damocles: “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Rom 3:20). Only Christ could and did pay the penalty of sin-but how can believing in Him justify a sinner? Paul confronts that very question: how could God “be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom 3:26)? He answers that there is nothing we can do but accept the sacrifice of Christ, which God has accepted on our behalf, and thereby we are “justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom 3:28): “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31)-“for by grace are ye saved through faith…not of works…” (Eph 2:8-10).
Many who claim to believe in Christ insist upon adding their own efforts in partial payment for their salvation. But salvation is a gift: “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23). To attempt to pay for salvation with church membership, prayers, or good deeds is an insult to Christ, who paid the full price-and is a rejection of the gift of God’s grace.
Some claim that Christ did not die for all mankind but only for those predestined to salvation, leaving the rest to eternal torment. Yet every picture of Christ’s sacrifice in the Old Testament was for all Israel. But every Jew was not saved, because all did not believe. Salvation is by faith.
The Passover was not only for all Israel but for all Egyptians also, who would in faith kill a lamb and apply its blood to their houses. The manna was for all Israel; no one was left out. So it was with the water out of the rock: “[they] did all drink the same spiritual drink [from the rock]…and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor 10:4). And so it was with the Day of Atonement, all Levitical sacrifices, etc. These were for all Jews and for any strangers who would believe. There was never a hint that any sacrifice or other provision from God was for only a certain elect group.
We need not speculate whether John 3:16 means that God so loved all the world that He gave Christ to die for all. Christ settles that issue by introducing His cross to Nicodemus with another example from the Old Testament: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3:14, 15). Indisputably, being healed by looking to the serpent, exactly like all other Old Testament provisions pointing to Christ, was not for a limited number within Israel but for all who would believe.
So it is with every picture of the coming Lamb of God. Isaiah declares, “all we like sheep have gone astray…”(Isa 53:6). This is an indictment of every person in Israel, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). In equally clear language, Isaiah adds the good news: “the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all…” (Isa 53:6). Just as all have gone astray, so Christ died for all: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Tim 1:15). Satan tries to snatch these “good tidings of great joy…to all people” (Lk 2:10) out of the hearts of those who hear it, “lest they should believe and be saved (Lk 8:12).
Let us stand upon God’s Word, proclaiming to all the world that a Savior was born in Bethlehem, “the lamb of God,” to bear away the sin of the world; that He died on the cross for the sins of all; and that the gift of eternal life is offered freely to all who will receive it in childlike faith. TBC