The dictionary defines altruism as, "feelings and behavior that show a desire to help other people, a lack of selfishness: behavior that is not beneficial to, or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others" Webster's New World Dictionary states altruism is, "unselfish concern for the welfare of others."
The firefighters, police officers, and others who rushed into the World Trade Towers again and again, on 9/11 were people that acted in an altruistic manner. Without thought or regard for their own safety, they acted for the benefit and well-being of others. 341 firefighters gave their lives on that day as they moved to save thousands who worked in or were visiting the Towers.
On April 28, 1968 near Da Nang, Vietnam Robert P. Shellem of the 7th Marines gave his life in what was called the Vietnam Conflict. He was one month and eleven days passed his nineteenth birthday. He wasn't drafted, he wasn't forced into the war. As with almost all Marines, Bobby volunteered. As with all soldiers, he placed his life in front of those in danger endeavoring to protect them.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
These words were uttered by Jesus Christ shortly before he laid down his life so that others could have life. Those who willing sacrificed their lives in New York, and those in the military who have placed themselves in harm's way, gave those whom they saved more time in this life. But Jesus not only made more time available now, he also made eternal life available.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
The thief in this verse is the adversary. This verse very clearly states the purpose and desire of the adversary; steal, kill, destroy. Set that in contrast with the altruism of Jesus Christ who came so people could not only have life, could not only have life more abundantly, but could also have eternal life. Jesus didn't do the things he did for what he was going to get out of it. Yet, God also rewarded him for his obedience. Jesus acted for the benefit of others, including the benefit to God who was to gain a family because of the actions of Jesus.
With God the point is always that all involved receive profit and benefit because His directions are followed. God is in the profit and blessing business. God is in the business of giving life.
But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Israel was often compared to sheep because sheep require a leader, they require a shepherd to help them stay out of trouble. Without the benefit of having holy spirit Israel required a shepherd and a leader. But those who believe in the Administration of Grace are never called sheep because of God's creation within believers today, which is God's gift of holy spirit.
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
"I have the power to lay it down", it was his choice! God did not order him, God asked him to lay down his life. Just like it was the choice of the firefighters on 9/11. They didn't have to run into a building that was burning and on the verge of collapse and Jesus didn't have to act to save the world by turning his pure and innocent life over to the Devil's men.
And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
This is the night Jesus was arrested.
And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
The Gospel of John tells us that it was Peter who drew his sword and cut off the man's ear and the Gospel of Luke tells us Jesus reached out and healed the man's ear. Even when he is illegally and wrongfully arrested, Jesus acts to benefit another by healing the ear of one that came to take him.
Jesus didn't need Peter's sword. Had Jesus chosen to fight his arrest, he had all the help he would have required at his disposal.
Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
Although there is no set number the Bible gives for a legion of angels, the Roman army at the time had between 4,500 and 5,500 men in a legion. Jesus could have had more than twelve legions of angels at his disposal. Using the size of a Roman Legion for a legion of angels, I think the angels could have handled anything the Roman military, or the High Priest, could have sent out to arrest Jesus.
But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
Jesus of his own freewill followed the will of God to lay down his life. He acted so the scriptures would be fulfilled. He acted not in favor of his own best interests but rather for the benefit and blessing of others.
So what does all this talk of altruism and Jesus mean to us?
Jesus had lived a perfect life. He had earned his place in the presence of God but he wasn't going to stand before God without bringing us along also.
1 Peter 3:18
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
All of mankind followed in the footsteps of Adam, for all sinned and came short of the glory of God. The only nature man had left to him after the fall of Adam was our natural nature. The natural nature can only move with what it can register by way of the five senses and the five senses reject God because He does not register, for God is Spirit. And spirit doesn't register with our five senses. So God asked His just son to die in place of the unjust.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Far too often Christianity has laid the blame for the atoning death of Jesus at the feet of God. But it wasn't God who set the price for the removal of sin. God is all about life. His adversary is the one who is the author of and carries the power of death. The wages of sin is death. Death is what the adversary is willing to pay you for standing with him.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
When a person stands with God, that person has life. When a person stands with anything else, that person has death. For there is only one way to God, and that is through His son and the accomplished work of His son. To stand with, or move with anything else is to stand with God's adversary. The Devil has many covers and alternate paths for people to follow but all lead to death, for the adversary has no life in himself, or in his methods of self righteousness.
Because Adam stood with the Devil he choose death over life. Because mankind has stood with the Devil, mostly through ignorance rather than deliberately like Adam, mankind has also chosen death. Man today is no sharper than the nation of Israel was in the Old Testament.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Given the choice between life and death, blessing and cursing, and God still had to tell Israel what was the best choice! We seem to be no smarter today.
Because Adam's action sold all of mankind into slavery to the Devil it was the Devil who set the price to buy mankind back. The Devil owned mankind and it is the owner of an object that sets the price of the sale of that object. For God to redeem, or buy back, mankind He had to pay the price of a perfect, sinless sacrifice. God didn't pay the price to Himself! It wasn't God's men who came to arrest Jesus! It wasn't God's men who beat and crucified Jesus! Simple logic confirms who received the price for mankind's redemption.
1 Corinthians 6:20
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
1 Peter 1:18-19
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
We were bought with a price. A price that Jesus Christ paid with his freewill sacrifice, and his complete obedience to his Father, a lifestyle of altruism. He acted on our behalf, even at the expense of himself. He kept himself sinless by always subjecting his own will to the will of God.
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith [believing] in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
This is what God has done for us in the accomplished work of Christ. He has paid for our sins with the life of His son. We could have pretended to pay this price ourselves. The problem with me paying for myself is twofold. First, I die! Secondly, not only do I die but I fail to get to God because I would die in unrighteousness. Trying to pay this price on my own is a plan that will fail every time.
God's plan of Jesus Christ being my sin offering has a much better result in that my sin's are gone, that is remission. That is what God in Christ has done for me. Then, this justification opens the door for God to accomplish something in me, but that's another teaching.
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith [accomplished believing] of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
It was Jesus Christ that accomplished complete believing and by that perfect life and the sacrifice of his life I am justified. Justification is the complete and total removal of the penalty of sin. Jesus died in my place. When I should have died for my wrong actions Jesus steps in and gives his life in my place. This is done for me because of God's grace, mercy, and love.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his [God's] grace;
If you sell an item at a pawn shop you have the right to come back at a later time to buy that item again. You have the right to redeem the item. When Adam was formed, made, and created he was God's, he was a part of the Kingdom of God. But mankind became the adversary's because Adam sold us. We were sitting on the adversary's shelf because Adam, like all natural men, didn't have the ability to buy us back. Adam didn't even have the ability to buy himself back!
If the person doesn't have the means to buy back the item he sold, then the pawn shop owner has the right to set a price and put it up for sale. God used the blood of His own son to buy us back. We were redeemed by his blood which is the figure of speech double metonymy. His blood is put for the loss of his life and the loss of his life is put for the atoning work his sacrificed accomplished.
Who [Jesus Christ] was delivered for our offences [our sins], and was raised again for our justification.
Jesus Christ was delivered for our sins and God raised him again when we were justified.
In order to be considered officially dead a person had to be in the ground for 72 hours, or three days and three nights. Somewhere along the line Christianity lost the meaning of this as they changed three days and three nights into Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. But that is what happens when tradition becomes more important than the words of God.
When Jesus Christ was considered officially dead, God raised him from the dead. He was raised when we were justified because it is as though we died with him. This is our identification in Christ. This identification broke our doulos, or slave relationship with the Devil. For the only way to end a doulos relationship is through death. The penalty for our sin's, condemnation and death, had been paid. Then, when we were officially dead at 72 hours, God raised Jesus because our justification was complete. This is what God has done for us in His son. No truer act of altruism has ever been undertaken or accomplished.
Then, because our sin's have been removed, because our sin's had been paid for, mankind can once again be at peace with God, like Adam before he sinned.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
We have peace with God! Peace is the absence of strife. Where there is peace there is no worry or fear. Peace is refreshing, it is comforting, it is healing.
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
Those who were saved on 9/11 do not sit home in doubt, worry, and fear. They honor the fallen firefighters by living their lives, lives that have been rescued from destruction.
What God has accomplished for us is justification. God has reconciled us to Himself by removing the sins that separated us from God. It's past time we accept the altruistic work of Jesus Christ and walk in our reconciliation. It's time for us to walk forth in newness of life.
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.