The idea of God's covenant
In the Old Testament, blood represents life. God's covenant with the Hebrews was centered on exchanging blood (of an innocent lamb) for Sin. Sin, then, as it does now, remains the issue for each person. The heavy load we each carry from the guilt of our sin cannot be dismissed. It is there!
Sin is a very serious matter as it brakes relationships (especially between God and man) and so serious is Sin, that God required the life of the person who committed the sin (their death, their blood). This is seriously frightening!
How God forgives Sin therefore, becomes very important, otherwise our lives would be forfeited. Sin somehow has to be dealt with as God is Holy and He cannot look upon Sin.
How therefore, does the Scriptures explain how Sin is dealt with? And this is really 'good news'.
First, the Old Testament covenant carried the idea of 'exchange' – the blood of an innocent lamb for the Sin of the Israelites. Although Sin is anathema to God, His love for us (mankind) was so great that He also had a Salvation plan (to save us from this wrath – and what good news is this!).
Second, This Salvation plan involved Himself, His Son (New Testament means New Covenant). The prophet 'John the Baptist' who seeing Jesus exclaimed, 'The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world'. Jesus' blood was shed on Calvary for this forgiveness of Sin (Once for All, the Bible says, no longer required was this constant sacrificing in the Temple). Jesus who did not commit any Sin, became the sacrificial Lamb (the exchange), the scape goat. See, we're free of Sin (although we still sin). What good news is this!
This is the theology. Jesus, without Sin, died on the Cross (for my sin, died in my place), and three days later rose from the grave, illustrating death is now defeated forever (that's good news!). The Apostle Paul can shout: "Death, where is your sting?" By me personally acknowledging my sin and asking Jesus to forgive me (repentance) bring with it a wonderful transforming experience (that's good news!).
This is centre stage. An agreement between two equals is one thing, a Covenant is something else, it's between God (infinite) and man (finite). These are not equal parties. The Covenant provides the covering for sin: the Old Covenant through the innocent blood of a lamb (over and over again); the New Covenant, the Lamb of God, (Jesus, God Himself), in the human form, The Messiah, once for all time (this is super good news!).
Statement: When we hear the words 'born-again' it refers to a spiritual re-birth where the Covenant takes on reality in an individual's soul (this is the transforming experience, the super good news!)
Here's the essence of the good news! It requires a decision. Will I accept this forgiveness of sin for what Jesus has done for me, and become a follower of Christ? The good news is that we are not damned to outer darkness – rather the Bible says we have this fantastic freedom.
In my next Letter I'll discuss the nature of how a believer expresses this invitation and how the Holy Spirit becomes engaged in each believer's life - and – our decision making.