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Archive for the ‘atonement’ Category

Easter2017.png

The uncertainty and despair of Saturday dissolved as light broke on the horizon Sunday morning. The tomb of Jesus was empty, the stone rolled away, and the Roman seal broken. The angels announced to the woman who had come to the tomb, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you” (Matt. 28:5-7).

Jesus Christ rose from the dead bodily (that is, in the same, yet different, physical body He had before His death). His resurrection is the most important and dramatic event in human history. But what was accomplished by His resurrection?

Here are just a few of them:

  • It fulfilled Old Testament prophecies (Job 19:25-27; Ps. 16:10).
  • It fulfilled His own prophecies (Matt. 17:9; Luke 18:31-33).
  • It confirmed His deity (Rom. 1:4).
  • It demonstrated the perfection of Jesus’ obedience to the will of His Father (John 10:18-19).
  • It was proof that the Father accepted the atoning work of Christ (Rom. 4:25).
  • It provides regeneration for the elect (1 Pet. 1:3).
  • It provides assurance that the sins of believers are forgiven (1 Cor. 15:17-18).
  • It declares that He is Head of the church and ruler of all creation (Eph. 1:19-23; Col. 1:15-19).
  • It secures justification for believers and the assurance that they will never be condemned by God (Rom. 8:1-11, 31-34).
  • It guarantees the future bodily resurrection of all believers (John 5:26-29; 14:19; Rom. 4:25; 6:5-10; 1 Cor. 15:20, 23).
  • It guarantees Christ will judge the world (John 5:24-30; Acts 17:31).

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

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Good-Friday_ss_267935090

Good Friday is the day the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died by means of crucifixion on a cross – a vicious, brutal, horrific way to die. So why do we call it “good” Friday?

Listen to the prophet Isaiah:

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
and our sorrows He carried;
yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
and by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
to fall on Him” (Isa. 53:4-6).

The apostle Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

The apostle Peter wrote: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:21-24). 

Good Friday is good because Jesus died a death I should have died. He died as a substitutionary sacrifice for my sins, and the sins of all of His people. If that wasn’t enough, He lived a life of perfect obedience to His Father in my place. Good Friday is good because of what He accomplished, and we can rejoice in that.

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No Free Lunches

According to Milton Friedman, you can sum up economics in one sentence (paraphrased): “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

As long as I’ve been a Christian, I’ve reacted, almost viscerally, to the statement by saying,”Yes, there is! Salvation is free!” There may not be free lunches in economics, but there certainly are when it comes to God rescuing us from the penalty, power, and presence of our sin against Him, I thought. Doesn’t Romans 6:23 say, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord”? Of course it does.

Salvation is free for anyone who humbly repents of his or her sin, and places their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. There is no work or level of achievement that is required to be reconciled to God – simply faith.

But salvation was not free for the One who accomplished it. The first part of Romans 6:23, which I did not quote earlier, says, “For the wages of sin is death.” The penalty for sin is death and because God is just it must be paid. Someone paid it – Jesus Christ (the same Jesus Christ who committed no sin Himself). Earlier in the book of Romans, Paul wrote, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (5:8-11).

Salvation is free for me as a repentant sinner, but it cost Jesus His very life. Milton Friedman was right.

 

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Number 5-4Here are five good books on why Jesus Christ died and what His death accomplished.

  1. The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper. Packed with more truth per-square-inch than just about any other.
  2. The Cross of Christ by John R.W. Stott. A classic theological treatment of the subject.
  3. Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray. The first five chapters deal specifically with the death of Jesus.
  4. The Great Exchange by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington. Comprehensive Biblical study of the atonement. Very well done.
  5. The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul. A readable introduction.

Tolle lege! (which interpreted means, “Take up and read!”)

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Every now and then, we need to be reminded of what’s really important. What’s really important is the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.

As the church of Jesus Christ, we know our purpose – to glorify God, our mission – to make disciples of all the nations, and our objectives – evangelism, worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry/service. But what is our message? Our message is the gospel.

God created us to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. We were meant to have intimate fellowship with Him and each other.

It’s painfully obvious, though, that something has changed in that relationship. It’s called sin. Adam and Eve, our first parents, disobeyed God and sought to be their own gods, in effect. As a result, they were removed from the garden of Eden, alienated and separated from God. Adam and Eve also passed their sin on to you and me, too. We’re sinful by nature and, in addition to that, we choose to sin. God is absolutely holy and righteous, which means that our sin cannot go unpunished. The penalty of sin is death, which we all deserve.

All of that is bad news – very bad. The good news is even better! In His grace, mercy, and love, God has provided a way that we can be right with Him – through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, lived a life of perfect obedience in our place, which satisfies God the Father’s demand for perfection. He died a sacrificial death for our sins as our substitute, which satisfied God’s demand for justice. He victoriously rose from the dead, which proved that He is who He claimed to be and that He accomplished what He came to do – save His people from their sins.

Our response is to repent and believe. We turn from our sins (repent) and put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, in who He is and what He’s done for us. We rest all of our ourselves body and soul on what He has done for us and not anything we can do for ourselves.

The bad news is that we are sinful and separated from God. The good news is that Jesus has reconciled us to the Father! But that reconciliation is not automatic, it comes through faith and faith alone (not by any works or merit on our part). Every one of us  has to answer the question of what we will do with Jesus Christ? We can trust ourselves or Christ, which will it be?

The gospel is by far the most important message we have to offer the world. Where else are they going to hear it? Nowhere, that’s where. Like Paul, may we not be ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, the Jew first and also the Gentile (Rom. 1:16).

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The verse of the moment for Good Friday –

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

Jesus, who died a vicious, cruel, horrible, and bloody death – crucified on a cross – did it for the salvation of His people. He died a sacrificial death for our sins as our substitute. He offers us His perfect righteousness in exchange for our sins – the great exchange! That’s what Good Friday is all about.

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