The Atonement: The Ordeal of the Suffering Servant, Part 2.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Isaiah 53:4-6 forms the middle section of the five portions of Isaiah’s fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). These three verses form what is arguably the most significant statement of substitutionary atonement contained in the Old Testament. Everything Isaiah has written thus far, and everything he will subsequently say, frames these three verses.

Today, we examine Isaiah 53:5. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

But he was pierced for our transgressions.” Isaiah 53:5 begins with the conjunction “but.” The word indicates a contrast in what has been written prior to this verse. The prophet wanted to make sure that there was not misunderstanding as to why the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would die on the cross. It would be on behalf of the sinner. It would be on behalf of His people.

The phrase “he was pierced” literally means the penetration of a sharp object into the body which can harm, wound and even kill. The subject remains the Servant of Yahweh. The question is then asked: why was he pierced? The answer is given in the second half of the sentence: “for our transgressions.” The word “transgressions” means defiance to authority, rebelliousness, wrongdoing and the committing of a crime. Notice that these acts were ours, and not His.

Also notice the small word “for.” It means in behalf of, in lieu of, in place of, or instead of. In the Greek language of the New Testament, it is the word “huper.” The late Swiss theologian Karl Barth once remarked that, in his evaluation, the word “huper” was the single, most important word in all of the Greek New Testament. Isaiah was calling attention to the fact that Jesus Christ would die on the sinner’s behalf.

“He was crushed for our iniquities.” The Servant was bruised, beaten, and oppressed because of our misdeeds, sin and the resulting guilt caused by our wickedness.

“Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.” The Servant received the chastening, punishment and the judicial penalty which would bring to sinners completeness, soundness and safeness from the wrath of God.

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:7-10 says, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now 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.”

“And with his wounds we are healed.” The wounds and pain Jesus endured on His people’s behalf resulted in healing. Many take this verse to mean strictly physical healing. It becomes a proof text for health and wealth preaching. However, the word “healed” means to be put into a right state, eventually cured of the sickness of soul and the state of sinfulness, which is the core reason we physically die. It means to be justified.

I Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

Have you repented of your sins and received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? His work on the cross is the only means by which sinners can be justified and reconciled before God the Father. Trust in Him as the only One who can save you from the penalty, power and eventual presence of your sin.

Meditate upon the word by Keith and Kristyn Getty entitled Beneath the Cross of Jesus. 

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I find a place to stand,
And wonder at such mercy
That calls me as I am;
For hands that should discard me
Hold wounds which tell me, “Come.”
Beneath the cross of Jesus
My unworthy soul is won.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
His family is my own—
Once strangers chasing selfish dreams,
Now one through grace alone.
How could I now dishonor
The ones that You have loved?
Beneath the cross of Jesus
See the children called by God.

Beneath the cross of Jesus—
The path before the crown—
We follow in His footsteps
Where promised hope is found.
How great the joy before us
To be His perfect bride;
Beneath the cross of Jesus
We will gladly live our lives.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Atonement: The Ordeal of the Suffering Servant.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)

“All professing Christians know that the cross is important, but we often fail to grasp the all-encompassing significance of it—that the cross is not only at the heart of our faith, but it encompasses the entire existence of our faith, our life and our worship. In order for us to possess a proper theology of the cross, the reality of Christ crucified must possess us in all we believe, and in all that we do.” Pastor Burk Parsons

Isaiah 53:4-6 forms the middle section of the five portions of Isaiah’s fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). These three verses in this section form what is arguably the most significant statement of substitutionary atonement contained in the Old Testament. Everything Isaiah has written thus far, and everything he will subsequently write, frames these three verses.

I have entitled this section The Ordeal of the Suffering Servant. An ordeal is a setting or a circumstance of torment, suffering, tribulation, trouble and affliction. Isaiah described the ordeal the Servant of Yahweh, Jesus Christ, would endure. However, the prophet made it quite clear the ordeal Jesus encountered and experienced was not because of any sin He committed, but rather His ordeal was on our behalf because of our sins.

The Messiah’s humiliation and agony of being despised, rejected and not esteemed is explained in Isaiah 53:4-6. The text presents, as one author writes, “a staggering awakening” regarding the ultimate reason for the cross.

Today, we examine Isaiah 53:4. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)

Surely.”  This adverb means truly and certainly with a strong sense of emphasis on the truth of what is going to be said. What truth was so predominant in the prophet’s mind?

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” On the surface it may seem that this verse is saying that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, helps people through their griefs and sorrows. While this is biblically true (Hebrews 4:14-16; I Peter 5:7), this is not what this particular text means.

On the contrary, the sure truth is that the Messiah, has borne and carried something on behalf of sinners. The word borne means to carry, to lift and to bear. The word carried means to carry a heavy load. What is it that Jesus has borne and carried?

The text says, respectively, our griefs and our sorrows. The word “griefs” means illnesses, wounds and afflictions. “Sorrows” means pain, anguish and suffering.

Israel in particular and the world in general, often tend to evaluate Jesus’ death as the result of Him being stricken, smitten and afflicted by God for His own sin. Stricken means to be violently struck. Smitten means to be destroyed or to be struck resulting in death. Afflicted means to be mistreated, oppressed and to suffer.

However, the text is saying that Jesus took upon Himself the humiliating death on the cross not only because of the griefs and sorrows we experience because of other people’s sins, but also the griefs and sorrows we have caused other to experience because of our own sin. It was on our behalf, and because of our sin, that God the Father struck, smote and afflicted the sinless Son of God.

The pain the Servant bore was our own. The affliction He endured was because of the affliction we have caused others and others have caused us. It was the price to be paid for our sins and for our salvation.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Jesus acts as the Substitute, taking our place at the bar of God’s justice. For this reason, we sometimes speak of Jesus’ work on the cross as the substitutionary atonement of Christ, which means that when He offered an atonement, it was not to satisfy God’s justice for His own sins, but for the sins of others. He stepped into the role of Substitute, representing His people. He didn’t lay down His life for Himself; He laid it down for His sheep. He is our ultimate Substitute.”

This truth is beautifully expressed in the song His Robes for Mine by Chris Anderson and Greg Habegger. May it be our testimony on this Good Friday.

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.
Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.
In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

Refrain:
I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:
Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.
Bought by such love, my life is not my own.
My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.

His robes for mine: what cause have I for dread?
God’s daunting Law Christ mastered in my stead.
Faultless I stand with righteous works not mine,
Saved by my Lord’s vicarious death and life.

His robes for mine: God’s justice is appeased.
Jesus is crushed, and thus the Father’s pleased.
Christ drank God’s wrath on sin, then cried “‘Tis done!”
Sin’s wage is paid; propitiation won.

His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.
Christ, God’s beloved, condemned as though His foe.
He, as though I, accursed and left alone;
I, as though He, embraced and welcomed home!

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

The Atonement: The Confession about the Suffering Servant, Part 3.

“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:1-3)

“If we fail to understand what God is saving us from—namely wrath, judgment and hell—we will never understand His mercy. If we are not confronted with the wretchedness of our sin, we will not be able to rest in His amazing grace. For it is only when we grasp that we in our sin put Jesus on the cross that we can begin to see what God did for us at the cross.” Burk Parsons

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, today’s theme title is taken from Isaiah 53:1-3. It is the second of five sections in Isaiah’s Fourth Song concerning the Servant of Yahweh. Today, we examine Isaiah 53:3: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Three words stand out in this verse regarding the reaction of the people towards the Servant of Yahweh: Jesus Christ. He was (1) despised; (2) rejected; and (3) not esteemed.

As we begin examining this verse, please notice that Isaiah used the state of being verb “was” to describe the people’s reaction to Jesus Christ. While Isaiah is writing about events which will take place hundreds of years in the future at the time of this prophecy, he presents it from the perspective of eternity and the people’s realization of what Jesus did in history.

He was despised.” Literally it reads, “He was the One who was despised.” Yahweh’s Servant, Jesus Christ, received nothing but contempt, ridicule and hatred by the masses. He became the object of their scorn and ridicule.

He was despised and rejected by men.” Not only was the people’s attitude toward Jesus one of contempt, ridicule and hatred, but ultimately this resulted in rejection. He was forsaken and deserted by the people for whom He came to die. Jesus was not the political leader they had hoped He would be, but rather was the suffering servant who provided atonement which the people did not feel they needed Him to be.

“And as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised.” Because the people despised and rejected Jesus so much, they literally turned away from Him. What a contrast it will be when Jesus is eternally exalted before everyone because of the rejection and scorn He received while suffering on behalf of His people.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

“And we esteemed him not.” It is interesting to note that the prophet includes himself in this evaluation. He does not deny the sinful condition of his own soul when examining the Servant’s substitutionary atonement (cf. Isaiah 6:1-7).

The verb esteemed is an accounting term meaning credit, to impute, or to determine value. It means to think in a detailed logical manner regarding a particular object.

Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “The Hebrew word “esteemed” is an accounting term—the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word logizomai meaning “imputed” or “reckoned.” It’s a vital word in the biblical doctrine of justification.” The English Standard Version translates the word as “counted.”

Genesis 15:6 says, “And he (Abraham) believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”

Romans 4:3 – “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Within the context of Isaiah 53:3, the prophet is saying that Jesus’ Messiahship did not add up or make sense to the people. They wanted a Messiah like the kings of the world rather than the King of kings and the Lord of lords. They counted Him to be worthless. However, His apparent worthlessness would result in sinners being counted righteous. What irony!

Therefore, it is said the Yahweh’s Servant that He was truly “a man of sorrows.” He was a human being who experienced pain and anguish. This not only applies the physical pain Jesus experienced while on the cross, but also the extreme mental anguish associated with that pain. Along with being a man of sorrows, Jesus was also “acquainted with grief.” He knew what it was like to experience the wounds of afflictions.

As Dr. MacArthur states, “Isaiah is writing this prophecy with an eye to the cross, and his focus is on the profound agony—both the physical pain and the soul-shattering grief—that Jesus endured. The torment of his body and soul was so appalling that he literally became “one from whom men hide their faces.”

Hymn writer Phillip Bliss expressed it this way.

“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;                                                                                              
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 Guilty, vile, and helpless, we,
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full redemption—can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 Lifted up was He to die,
“It is finished!” was His cry;
now in heaven exalted high;
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 When He comes, our glorious King,
To His kingdom us to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Atonement: The Confession about the Suffering Servant, Part 2.

“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:1-3)

“If we fail to understand what God is saving us from—namely wrath, judgment and hell—we will never understand His mercy. If we are not confronted with the wretchedness of our sin, we will not be able to rest in His amazing grace. For it is only when we grasp that we in our sin put Jesus on the cross that we can begin to see what God did for us at the cross.” Burk Parsons

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, today’s theme title is taken from Isaiah 53:1-3. It is the second of five sections in Isaiah’s Fourth Song concerning the Servant of Yahweh. Today, we examine Isaiah 53:2: “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” There are three metaphorical statements contained in vs. 2 pertaining to the Servant of Yahweh: Jesus Christ. All three contain statements regarding why Israel had such contempt for the Servant of the LORD.

First, “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground;” Isaiah begins to focus on the servant’s humble beginning. He grew up in His humanity before Yahweh like a sapling or a sucker branch. A sucker branch is, as one commentator explains, “a useless , uncultivated, unwanted parasitic shoot off the main plant.” Gardeners remove them in order so that they will not drain resources from the main trunk. These type of shoots are prevalent on olive trees.

The Servant was not distinguishable from any other infant. He appeared to be ordinary. When Jesus Christ was born, very few recognized Him for who He was. There were the shepherds (Luke 2:8-18), Simeon (Luke 2:25-32), Anna (Luke 2:36-38) and others who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38). That was pretty much it.

The Servant grew in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). John the Baptist recognized Jesus for who He was at His baptism (Mark 1:11; John 1:29) as few others did (Matthew 13:53-58).  His beginning was ignoble and insignificant (John 1:46).

A root out of dry ground closely parallels the first statement. No one plants a root in dry ground. If it does appear, it is because it is a weed that no one cares for and would rather eliminate.

Second, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him.” Jesus had no physical appearance or positon of wealth and power which would attract people to Him. He looked like any other common man.

Third, “and no beauty that we should desire him.” Jesus had no particular appearance or facial features that were necessarily outstanding. He did not attract people because of His beauty. No one took pleasure in wanting to look upon His face. He probably would have not qualified as a male model.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The Servant will arise in lowly conditions and wear none of the usual emblems of royalty, making his true identity visible only to the discerning eye of faith.”

Dr. Don Carson writes, The gulf between God’s message and man’s opinion is very plain, in the contrast between what is revealed (cf. v 1 with Rom. 10:16–17, 21) and what is naturally attractive (2) or impressive (3). Cf. the reaction to the humiliated Jesus in e.g. Mt. 27:39–44 and to the preaching of the cross (1 Cor. 1:23).”

I Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Have you been drawn by the Holy Spirit to see and understand the significance of the cross of Jesus Christ. Take this moment to repent and remember all which He accomplished on the cross for His people.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Atonement: The Confession about the Suffering Servant.

“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:1-3)

“Death is the great equalizer.” W. Robert Godfrey

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, today’s theme title is taken from Isaiah 53:1-3. It is the second of five sections in Isaiah’s Fourth Song concerning the Servant of Yahweh. In these three verses, and for the next three days, we will consider the Confession about the Suffering Servant.

What exactly is a confession? We normally think of a confession with respect to an acknowledgment by an individual of a committed crime. When I was growing up, one of my dad’s favorite television programs was the hour long court room drama Perry Mason. Each week’s episode featured a climatic and dramatic confession on the witness stand by the actual murderer under cross examination by the famous, fictional defense attorney.

A confession is also a declaration and affirmation of truth or that which is real. It does not necessarily always involve the admission to a sin or criminal act. It may refer to a truth which is often ignored, denied or ridiculed. Such is the case with the atonement of Jesus Christ.

The Prophet Isaiah begins recording Yahweh’s confession regarding His Servant in Isaiah 53:1. It takes the form of two questions. “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

In spite of the details surrounding this prophecy, few would recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah; the Servant of the LORD when He appeared. Israel did not welcome Him at His first advent.

John 1:9-11 says, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”

John 12:37-38 says, “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

 What was true regarding Israel’s inability to recognize Jesus Christ as the Servant of Yahweh also applied to the Gentile nations. The Apostle Paul applied these two prophetic questions to the world at large. Romans 10:16 says, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”

As Yahweh’ spokesperson, Isaiah posed the question, “Who has believed what he has heard from us?” In the Hebrew, the question is literally, “Who has believed?” Isaiah asked the question with respect to and concerning Yahweh’s Servant: the Messiah. In other words, Jesus Christ.

The verb “believed” parallels the noun “faith.” It is the Hebrew word He-emin. It means trust, dependability, and what is known to be firm and reliable. This definition parallels the Greek meaning of trust in, dependence upon, commitment to and worship of an object worthy of such trust, dependence, commitment and worship. In short, God and God alone.

Who has believed what he has heard from us?” This rhetorical question has an obvious answer: no one! Within the immediate context, the pronoun “who” specifically refers to Israel.

Dr. John MacArthur, from his book The Gospel According to God, writes, “Bear in mind that this passage represents the collective confession all Israel will make on that day yet future when the nation finally turns to Christ. The words, of course, would be a suitable expression for anyone who has known about Christ but spurned Him for some time before embracing Him as Lord and Savior. But in this context, it is a remarkable confession of national repentance and we need to understand it in that light.”

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” The phrase “arm of the Lord” refers to Yahweh’s power and strength. It is the potency and ability to accomplish something (cf. Isaiah 51:9; 52:10; 59:16; 62:8; Luke 1:51; John 12:38). It is a power and strength which the LORD alone possesses.

It is this power and strength of the LORD that has been revealed or uncovered. Initially, it refers to the many miracles Jesus Christ would accomplish during His three year ministry. However, ultimately the LORD’s power and strength refers to the powerful message of the gospel. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Dr. John Walvoord explains, The Jewish remnant will lament the fact that so few people will believe their message about the Servant, and that so few will acknowledge their message as coming from God and His strength.”

As it was with Israel, so it is with unbelievers today. Many believe that they are justified before God solely by their physical death. The reasoning is that all you have to do to become accepted by God into heaven is to die. He welcomes everyone.

However, that is not what the Bible says. Our acceptance by the LORD God is solely based on sinners being justified by grace alone, through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Romans 3:21-16 says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

May you have your hope for righteousness and acceptance before God based solely on the person and work of Jesus Christ: The Servant of Yahweh.

May God’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Atonement: The Humiliation of the Servant of Yahweh, Part 3.

“Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” (Isaiah 52:13-15)

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, today’s verse is Isaiah 52:15: “so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” (Isaiah 52:15).

Concerning the theology of the cross and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, Pastor Burk Parsons writes, “One of my greatest fears for the church today is that we will become bored with the cross of Christ. I am concerned that any mention of Christ and Him crucified is leading many professing Christians to say to themselves: ‘Yeah, I know all about Jesus dying on the cross for my sins—let’s move on to something else. Let’s get past the basics, and let’s deal with bigger theological issues.’ I firmly believe that Satan is set on trying to destroy us, but he’ll settle with just getting us to lose our astonishment of Christ and Him crucified.”

As the Prophet Isaiah speaks the Servant of Yahweh’s exaltation and humiliation, he once again addresses the exaltation of the LORD’s Servant because of His humiliation.

“So shall he sprinkle many nations.” The Servant of Yahweh remains the subject. It is He, as a consequence of His humiliation spoken of in vs, 14, who will purposely sprinkle the masses. What does this mean? “Sprinkle” is associated with cleansing by the priest under the Mosaic Law (Lev. 4:6; 8:11; 14:7). It also means to startle someone and to leave them speechless. This Servant, who many have not considered important at all, will actually provide the most important thing for nations and their kings: namely, cleansing from sin. This truth will astonish people.

John 1:29 says, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

 “Kings shall shut their mouths because of him.” With rare exceptions, most politicians believe they have the right to speak about everything. It usually doesn’t matter the subject or the circumstances. However, they will be speechless when the Servant of Yahweh returns in power, might and glory.

Psalm 2:1-5 says, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

 “For that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” Eventually, when the Lord returns to earth, all those who did not understand or desire Him will fully understand and comprehend who He is and what He has done.

The Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 52:13 in Romans 15:21. He does so in order to verify that he has fulfilled him ministry by proclaiming the Gospel to those who had never before heard of the Servant of Yahweh: Jesus Christ. I encourage you to contemplate the lyrics to Kristian Stanfill’s song Behold the Lamb. 

See Him there, the great I Am
A crown of thorns upon His head
The Father’s heart displayed for us
Oh God, we thank You for the cross.
Lifted up on Calvary’s hill
We cursed Your name, and even still
You bore our shame, and paid the cost
Oh God, we thank You for the cross.
Behold the Lamb
The story of redemption written on His hands
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours
We sing Your praise
Endless hallelujah to Your holy name
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours.
All for us, this sacrifice
For every sin our saviour died
The Lord of Life can’t be contained
Our God has risen from the grave
Oh, our God has risen from the grave.
Behold the Lamb
The story of redemption written on His hands
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours
We sing Your praise
Endless hallelujah to Your holy name
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours.
When the age of death is done
We’ll see Your face, bright as the sun
We’ll bow before the King of kings
Oh God, forever we will sing.
Behold the Lamb
The story of redemption written on His hands
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours.
We sing Your praise
Endless hallelujah to Your holy name
Jesus, You will reign forevermore
The victory is Yours.
You reign forevermore.
The victory is Yours.
King Jesus reigns forevermore
The victory is Yours.
Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? Have you received His imputed righteousness as your own? If not, then I encourage you to repent of your sins and receive Christ and His forgiveness (John 1:12-13).

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

  

 

 

LORD’S DAY 15, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 15 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. The theme for the next several weeks concerns the subject of God the Son.

Q. What do you understand by the word “suffered”?

A. That during his whole life on earth, but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.1 This he did in order that, by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice,2 he might deliver us, body and soul, from eternal condemnation,3 and gain for us God’s grace, righteousness, and eternal life.4

1 Isa. 531 Pet. 2:243:18.
2 Rom. 3:25Heb. 10:141 John 2:24:10.
3 Rom. 8:1-4Gal. 3:13.
4 John 3:16Rom. 3:24-26.

Q. Why did he suffer “under Pontius Pilate” as judge?

A. So that he, though innocent, might be condemned by an earthly judge,1 and so free us from the severe judgment of God that was to fall on us.2

1 Luke 23:13-24John 19:4, 12-16.
2
 Isa. 53:4-52 Cor. 5:21Gal. 3:13.

Q. Is it significant that he was “crucified” instead of dying some other way?

A. Yes. By this I am convinced that he shouldered the curse which lay on me,
since death by crucifixion was cursed by God.1

1 Gal. 3:10-13 (Deut. 21:23).

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Atonement: Books on the Atonement.

Each Saturday, during this series on the atonement of Jesus Christ, I will submit some books for you to consider reading which concern the substitutionary atonement of and by Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners. Some of these books are by authors you may readily recognize. Others you may not. Some of the books are by contemporary authors and pastors. Others are by pastors and theologians from church history. All are beneficial.

Today’s book originates from a series of plenary session messages given by various pastors and theologians at the 2008 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, which is annually sponsored by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. The book, compiled by Editor Richard D. Phillips, is entitled Precious Blood:  The Atoning Work of Christ.

Richard Phillips writes in the preface that, “At the very heart of our Christian faith is a precious red substance: the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The sin-atoning death of Christ is remarkable for being at once most offensive to the world, most treasured by the church, most astonishing to the mind, and most stirring to the soul. Simply put, the one thing we would least expect to hear about God is that he sent his own Son to die for our sins. Thus it is Christ’s precious blood that puts the amazing into grace, puts the wonderful into the gospel, and puts the marvelous into God’s plan of salvation. There can be no greater truth to be faced than the gospel message of the cross, not greater mystery to be considered, and no greater comfort to be received. The cross is a theme that Christians will meditate on forever without exhausting its wonder, and of the cross God’s redeemed will sing glorious praise to unending ages.”  

The book is structured by two major divisions: Part 1: The Atonement in Biblical Revelation features a series of chapters addressing where the atonement of Jesus Christ is taught in the Scriptures. The chapter titles, and their respective authors, are as follows: 1. Necessary Blood, by Joel R. Beeke; 2. Redeeming Blood, by W. Robert Godfrey; 3. Atoning Blood, by Philip Graham Ryken; 4. Cleansing Blood, by Richard D. Phillips; 5. Offensive Blood, by W. Robert Godfrey; and 6. Precious Blood, by R. C. Sproul.

Part 2 examines The Atonement in Christian Thought. The chapter titles, and their respective authors, are also as follows. 7. Early Church Reflections on the Atonement, Derek W. H. Thomas; 8. The Medieval Achievement: Anselm on the Atonement, Philip Graham Ryken; 9. The Reformation Consensus on the Atonement, W. Robert Godfrey; 10. The Blood of Christ in Puritan Piety, Joel R. Beeke; 11. Post-Reformation Developments in the Doctrine of the Atonement, Carl R. Trueman and 12. Penal Substitutionary Atonement and its “Non-Violent” Critics, Richard D. Phillips.

Having attended several Philadelphia Conferences on Reformed Theology, I appreciate the various pastors and theologians who provide valuable and biblical insight to any given topic at this annual gathering. Reading this book gives the reader the sense of being at the 2008 conference. It will refresh the souls and minds of veteran believers and instruct and inspire those who come to grips with the cross of Christ for the very first time.

Whether you are familiar with all the contributing authors, or only some of them, you will be inspired, encouraged, enlightened and blessed. This is not only because of the ability of the men presenting the information, but also because of the subject which consumes the men presenting the information: the Lord Jesus Christ and His substitutionary atonement on the cross for His people.

Precious Blood:  The Atoning Work of Christ is published by Crossway Books and is available in various formats at Amazon.com.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

    

The Atonement: The Humiliation of the Servant of Yahweh, Part 2.

“Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” (Isaiah 52:13-15)

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, today’s verse is Isaiah 52:14: “As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—“ (Isaiah 52:14).

“As many were astonished at you.” The personal pronoun “you” continues to refer to the subject of Isaiah’s prophecy and God the Father’s revelation: the Servant of Yahweh.  The adjective “many” means a great number, numerous and abundant. Who are the many? They are most likely the people in “many nations” and their “kings” (v. 15).

The many will be “astonished” meaning appalled, horrified, and devastated. Why? This is because the execution of the Servant of Yahweh will be beyond human cruelty. Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “The Servant must undergo inhuman cruelty to the point that he no longer looks like a human being. His appearance is so awful that people look at him in astonishment (53:2–3Ps. 22:6Matt. 26:67; 27:30John 19:3).”

“His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,” This statement provides further explanation for the preceding verb “astonished.” What the many will see will be a human figure so deformed and mutilated as to become repugnant and ugly to those who see Him. In fact, the Servant is so disfigured that He no longer looks like a human being.

Psalm 22:14-17 says, regarding the brutal crucifixion of the Christ, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me;”

“And his form beyond that of the children of mankind—“The prophet invokes Hebrews poetic parallelism in order to further express Yahweh’s thoughts. The mutilated human appearance of the Servant who suffers such cruelty goes beyond that of anyone else who has ever lived. Perhaps this is an exaggeration, but given the full weight of what Jesus Christ experienced on the cross in bearing the sins of His people, it is most accurate.

John Calvin explains that, “The cause of their astonishment was this: that He (the Servant) dwelt among men without any outward show. The Jews did not think that the Redeemer would come in that condition or attire. When He came to be crucified, their horror was greatly increased.”

Isaiah 52:14 provides us with valuable background and insight to what the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2:6-11. “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Why did the Christ experience such pain and suffering? Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

In commenting on Hebrews 12:2 and Jesus’ enduring the cruelty of crucifixion, Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Jesus persevered so that he might receive the joy of accomplishment of the Father’s will and exaltation (cf. Heb. 1:9Ps. 16:9–11Luke 10:21–24). 

We must always remember that the atonement for our sins not only took place on a blood stained cross but also was experienced in the fresh spring air of an empty tomb.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Atonement: The Humiliation of the Servant of Yahweh.

“Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” (Isaiah 52:13-15)

As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, it is imperative that we not just gloss over the text, but rather examine each word closely. We will do so by studying the text one verse at a time. Today’s verse is Isaiah 52:13: Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted” (Isaiah 52:13).

The LORD God speaks through the Prophet Isaiah in the first person. He begins by saying, “Behold.” God is saying “Look,” “There,” “Now.” He is calling attention to an idea and emphasizing an idea. What the LORD means is “Do not miss what I am about to say.”

“My Servant shall act wisely.”  The LORD addresses the Servant as “my servant.” Whoever this servant is, He belongs to Yahweh. The noun “servant” is in the masculine gender so we may conclude that this servant is a man. He is also a bond-servant or slave. The meaning also conveys a worshipper of the One who is being served by the One who is doing the serving. Yahweh’s servant also will act wisely. He will behave with understanding and comprehension. He will have insight and prudence in serving Yahweh.

“He shall be high.” The Servant of Yahweh will be exalted in worship. He will be an object of worship. Whoever the servant is, He will not be an idol or a false God.

He will also be “lifted up.” This means to be in a lofty position. Lofty may refer to One who is noble, majestic and sublime.

He will also “be exalted.” This servant, in His personhood, will occupy a high and elevated position.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “Two important points are made in this verse: the Servant will act wisely, doing what the Lord wants Him to do, and He will be … highly exalted. His being lifted up refers not to the kind of death He died on the cross, but to His being exalted at God’s right hand (Phil. 2:9; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22).”

John Calvin writes, “He calls Christ ‘His Servant’ on account of the office committed to Him. Christ ought not to be regarded as a private individual, but as holding the office to which the Father has appointed Him; to be leader of the people and restorer of all things so that whatever He affirms concerning Himself we ought to understand as belonging also to us. Christ has been given to us, and therefore to us also belongs His ministry, for the Prophet (Isaiah) might have said, in a single word, that Christ will be exalted and will be highly honored; but, by giving Him the title of ‘Servant’ he means that He will be exalted for our sake.”

Mark 10:42-45 says, “And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Take time today to thank the Lord Jesus Christ for serving sinners by dying and rising from the dead on His people’s behalf. Thank Him that you belong to Him.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Atonement: The Servant Song of Atonement.

“Friend, live near to the cross.” Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon wrote those words nearly a century and a half ago. He wanted Christians to never lose sight of the significance of the cross: not only as a historical fact but also as a  personal redemptive truth within their own lives. He encouraged believers to “take care that the theme of your conversation is the Lord Jesus.” In other words, to speak of the substitutionary atonement by Jesus Christ on the cross for sinners.

One way to always live near the cross is by singing songs about the cross of Christ. We addressed that subject yesterday and will offer other examples of wonderful music focused on the atonement in the days to come. 

One of the most important songs of the cross is contained in the Book of Isaiah, the prophet. It is found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is the final of four Messianic Servant songs from Isaiah (42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11). As one commentator has written, “This section contains unarguable, incontrovertible proof that God is the author of Scripture and Jesus is the fulfillment of Messianic Prophecy. The details are so minute that no human could have predicted them by accident and no imposter fulfilled them by cunning.”

The song clearly refers to Jesus Christ as the Messiah, which is attested to in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 8:17Mark 15:28Luke 22:37John 12:38Acts 8:28–35Romans 10:161 Peter 2:21–25). This prophetical song is often alluded to in other biblical passages without being quoted (cf. Mark 9:12Romans 4:251 Corinthians 15:32 Corinthians 5:211 Peter 1:191 John 3:5).

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes that, “The book of Isaiah is one of the most frequently quoted books in the New Testament. Jesus was born of a virgin in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:23), and He declared that Isaiah 61:1 was fulfilled in His coming (Luke 4:18-21). Jesus is the promised Son of David and the triumphant King who ushers in a new kingdom of peace and justice (9:6-7; 11:1-2). His body is the new temple whose exaltation brings the nations to glorify God (John 2:19-21). Jesus is the Servant who is a light to the Gentiles (49:6). Isaiah 52:13-53:12, or course, is well known for its detailed description of the work of the Suffering Servant, the One who offers a perfect atonement for the sins of His people and provides for them the righteousness by which they are declared righteous in the sight of God. Phillip preached the gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch from this passage (Acts 8:28-35).”

The song, beginning in Isaiah 52:13 and concluding in Isaiah 53:12, contains five sections (52:13-15; 53:1-3; 53:4-6; 53:7-9; 53:10-12) with three verses in each section. Each section contains a specific theme pertaining to the Messianic and Suffering Servant of Yahweh. The third section, Isaiah 53:4-6, is arguably the most significant and climatic of the entire discourse for it clearly portrays the doctrine of substitutionary atonement by the One who is holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:1-7; John 12:41).

Beginning tomorrow, we will examine one section a day over the course of five days. We will not only examine the overall theme of each section, but also its particular content. As we do so, may each of us commit anew and afresh to live near to the cross.

Thank you for your faithful encouragement as we covenant together each day to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

  

 

The Atonement: Songs of Atonement.

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,” (Ephesians 5:18-19)

The Scriptures describe three distinct types of musical forms for which we can praise the Lord. They are referred, in Ephesians 5:19, as being psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

Psalms are those praises which are taken directly from the Hebrew Psalter, otherwise known as the Old Testament Book of Psalms. Hymns are songs which focus almost exclusively on the person, character and work of God. Philippians 2:5-11 and Colossians 1:15-18 are two New Testament examples of hymns which the early church used to praise the person and work of Jesus Christ. Spiritual songs express a believer’s personal testimony and love for the Lord. The personal pronoun “I” predominates.

There is a rich wealth of music which speaks of the substitutionary atonement, or blood, of Jesus Christ. I’m sure you are familiar with many of them. These songs include such classics as And Can It Be That I Should Gain, Are You Washed in the Blood, Before the Throne of God Above, Jesus Paid it All, Man of Sorrows What a Name, Nothing but the Blood, O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, Redeemed: How I Love to Proclaim It, There is a Fountain Filled with Blood and Worthy is the Lamb (Thank You for the Cross Lord).

At the church where Diana and serve and are members, the minister of music has recently chosen a number of recent and excellent songs addressing the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ for the congregation to sing in the worship services. One such song is entitled Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery by Matt Boswell, Michael Bleecker, and Matt Papa (2013).

VERSE 1                                                                                                                                           Come behold the wondrous mystery
In the dawning of the King
He the theme of heaven’s praises
Robed in frail humanity

In our longing, in our darkness
Now the light of life has come
Look to Christ, who condescended
Took on flesh to ransom us

VERSE 2
Come behold the wondrous mystery
He the perfect Son of Man
In His living, in His suffering
Never trace nor stain of sin

See the true and better Adam
Come to save the hell-bound man
Christ the great and sure fulfillment
Of the law; in Him we stand

VERSE 3
Come behold the wondrous mystery
Christ the Lord upon the tree
In the stead of ruined sinners
Hangs the Lamb in victory

See the price of our redemption
See the Father’s plan unfold
Bringing many sons to glory
Grace unmeasured, love untold

VERSE 4
Come behold the wondrous mystery
Slain by death the God of life
But no grave could e’er restrain Him
Praise the Lord; He is alive!

What a foretaste of deliverance
How unwavering our hope
Christ in power resurrected
As we will be when he comes

What a foretaste of deliverance
How unwavering our hope
Christ in power resurrected
As we will be when he comes

I may have unintentionally left out one of your favorite hymns concerning the shed blood of Jesus Christ on behalf of His people.  If you are so led, let me know what hymn of Jesus’ atonement you regard as a favorite.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Atonement: The Day of Atonement.

And this shall be a statute forever for you that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.” And Aaron did as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Leviticus 16:34)

Without dispute, the most important festival and celebration throughout Israel’s calendar year is Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. Observed on the tenth day of Israel’s seventh month, it involves atonement for the sins of the nation. In 2019, Yom Kippur will be observed on October 8-9. Although there is no directive for fasting, the Jews have continuously interpreted it as a time for fasting and prayer (cf. Psalm 35:13; Isaiah 58:3–5, 10). In the New Testament, the Day of Atonement was simply referred to as the “fast” (Acts 27:9). To the rabbis, it was known as the “Day” or the “Great Day.”

Leviticus 23:26-32 says, “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD. And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”

What exactly was observed and accomplished on Yom Kippur? The definitive chapter regarding the Day of Atonement is found in Leviticus 16?

Dr. R. C. Sproul states that, Besides the sacrifice of a bull on behalf of the priesthood, two goats were brought to the tabernacle/temple to deal with the sin of the entire nation (Lev. 16:6–10). One goat was killed and its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat (vv. 15–19). This sacrifice on the Day of Atonement resulted in propitiation — the satisfaction of God’s wrath on a substitute in place of the people. The other goat, after hands were laid on it, was sent to Azazel in the wilderness and freed, probably meaning it was taken to a desolate mountain and killed (vv. 20–22). Here it is clear that expiation was accomplished. The sins of the people were taken away from Israel and away from the holy camp.

Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “Leviticus 16;1-34 covers the Day of Atonement (cf. Ex. 30:10Lev. 23:26–32Num. 29:7–11Heb. 9:1–28), which was commanded to be observed annually (Lev. 16:34) to cover the sins of the nation, both corporately and individually (v. 17). Even with the most scrupulous observance of the required sacrifices, many sins and defilements still remained unacknowledged and, therefore, without specific expiation.  This special inclusive sacrifice was designed to cover all that (v. 33). The atonement was provided, but only those who were genuine in faith and repentance received its benefit, the forgiveness of God. That forgiveness was not based on any animal sacrifice, but on the One all sacrifices pictured—the Lord Jesus Christ and his perfect sacrifice on the cross (cf. Heb. 10:1–10). This holiest of all Israel’s festivals occurred in September/October on the tenth day of the seventh month (Lev.  16:29). It anticipated the ultimate high priest and the perfect sacrificial Lamb.

Hebrews 10:1-10 says, For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

The Day of Atonement was not just the observance of sacrifices offered to the LORD, but it was also to include the repentant hearts and broken spirits of the people due to their sin (Psalm 51:15-17). Our Day of Atonement occurred when Jesus was crucified (John 19:16-30). May each of us who call Jesus our Savior and Lord live a life of faith and repentance because of His substitutionary atonement on our behalf.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

LORD’S DAY 14, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 14 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. The theme for the next several weeks concerns the subject of God the Son.

Q. What does it mean that he “was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary”?

A. That the eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God,1 took to himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit,2 from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary,3 a truly human nature so that he might also become David’s true descendant,4 like his brothers and sisters in every way5 except for sin.6

1 John 1:110:30-36Acts 13:33 (Ps. 2:7); Col. 1:15-171 John 5:20.
2 Luke 1:35.
3 Matt. 1:18-23John 1:14Gal. 4:4Heb. 2:14.
4 2 Sam. 7:12-16Ps. 132:11Matt. 1:1Rom. 1:3.
5 Phil. 2:7Heb. 2:17.
6 Heb. 4:157:26-27.

Q. How does the holy conception and birth of Christ
benefit you?

A. He is our mediator1 and, in God’s sight, he covers with his innocence and perfect holiness my sinfulness in which I was conceived.2

1 1 Tim. 2:5-6Heb. 9:13-15.
2 Rom. 8:3-42 Cor. 5:21Gal. 4:4-51 Pet. 1:18-19.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Atonement: Books on the Atonement.

Each Saturday, during this series on the atonement of Jesus Christ, I will submit some books for you to consider reading which concern the substitutionary atonement of and by Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners. Some of these books are by authors you may readily recognize. Others you may not. Some of the books are by contemporary authors and pastors. Others are by pastors and theologians from church history. All are beneficial.

Today’s book concerning the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ is by Anthony Carter and is entitled Bloodwork: How the Blood of Christ Accomplishes our Salvation. Anthony J. Carter serves as the lead pastor of East Point Church in Atlanta, GA. He is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.

Rev. Carter’s book is one of many that I have on my I-Pad. It is also one of many that I have concerning the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. Following a heartfelt introduction, Rev. Carter examines the significance of the atonement Jesus provides through His shed blood on the cross. In fact, the first chapter of the book is entitled Our Bloody Religion. Carter explains that, “It (Christianity) is a bloody religion not because of the blood shed by people in wars and inquisitions, but because of the blood shed by Jesus Christ.”

The book’s subsequent chapters contain various aspects which concern the atonement of Christ. These various chapter titles contain specific verbs with each followed by the phrase “by the Blood.” These titles respectively include the verbs purchased, justified redeemed, brought near, pace, cleansed, sanctified, elect, ransomed and freed. Carter also includes a chapter on the doctrine of propitiation.

There are two appendices. The second contains classic hymns containing the theme of the blood of Christ and His substitutionary atonement for His people. The first appendix contains a recent hymn entitled O Precious Blood (East Point Music 2009). The lyrics are as follows:

O precious blood, which makes us clean                                                                                        we trust in it only this hour,                                                                                                            And since our Savior’s sacrifice                                                                                                     now o’er me sin has lost its power.

It’s not on us our God does look                                                                                                        for nothing in us pleasing be,                                                                                                      Instead He sees my Savior’s blood                                                                                                 and sees it even covers me.  

So pleasing is my Savior’s blood                                                                                                       no longer need I to depend,                                                                                                              on who I am and what I do                                                                                                               For by His blood I am let in.

Unto the blood of sprinkling come                                                                                              where better things of Him are said,                                                                                              the Lamb of God was crucified                                                                                                        My sins are placed upon His head.

It’s by His blood, His sacrifice                                                                                                          His love and his mercy given,                                                                                                        That we have hope in paradise,                                                                                                     Ever with our Lord in heaven.

Chorus

His blood does make the world appear,                                                                                        less delightful to all my eye,                                                                                                              He sacrificed to draw us near,                                                                                                           to worship Him with all my life.

Bloodwork: How the Blood of Christ Accomplishes our Salvation is published by Reformation Trust, 2013. Purchasing information is accessible at Ligonier.org and ReformationTrust.com.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Atonement: Jesus Christ in the Levitical Offerings.

“…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:15-16)

With the arrival of each New Year, many believers in Christ resolve to read the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. There are many plans and procedures offered which seek to help people accomplish this noble task. For example, I read a portion from the Old Testament and the New Testament each day. My church suggests the reading of five chapters over a weekly five day period, beginning the plan with Genesis. Having two days off allows for the occasional lapse of scheduled reading because of busy calendars and unplanned interruptions such as illness.

However, what begins as an enthusiastic endeavor often tends to lose steam, so to speak, when one reaches the Book of Leviticus. Where Genesis and Exodus are filled with interesting stories and characters, Leviticus seems to bog down and become boring with the endless instructional litany of sacrifices and offerings. That type of response is most unfortunate.

The entire setting for the book is Israel’s encampment at Mount Sinai, where God gives His chosen people instructions on how to become a holy nation. Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Much of Leviticus underlines the moral standards that God expects of His people in for them to be holy as He is holy. While the coming of Jesus Christ and the creation of the church as a new dwelling-place for god impacts some of God’s instructions in Leviticus, the underlying moral expectations do no change. God still demands that His people should be holy as He is holy.”

The Book of Leviticus contains many rich, biblical themes. These themes include God’s divine presence in the lives of His people (26:12), His holiness and the aim of God’s people to “therefore, be holy, for I am holy” (11:45), and atonement through sacrifice (chs.1-7).

In fact, the theme of atonement through sacrifice begins the Book of Leviticus. Dr. Sproul says, “Caught between divine holiness and human sinfulness, the people’s paramount need is for atonement and cleansing. It is here that Leviticus has the most to teach Christians, since its ideas help explain the New Testament description of the atoning work of Christ, which is based primarily on the Passover sacrifice.”

 The following chart helps explain the relationship between the five Old Testament sacrificial offerings. These five offerings include (1) the Burnt offering; (2) the Grain Offering; (3) the Peace Offering; (4) the Sin Offering; and (5) the Guilt Offering.

 

Christ in the Levitical Offerings

Leviticus 1-7. 
Offering Christ’s Provision Christ’s Character
1. Burnt Offering Atonement Christ’s sinless nature.  
(Lev. 1:3–17; 6:8–13) (John 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
2. Grain Offering Dedication/Consecration Christ was wholly devoted to the Father’s purposes.
(Lev. 2:1–16; 6:14–23) (John 4:34; 8:28-29)
3. Peace Offering Reconciliation/Fellowship Christ was at peace with God.
(Lev. 3:1–17; 7:11–36) (John 17:1-5; Romans 3:21-26; 5:1-5; 12-21; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20)
4. Sin Offering Propitiation Christ’s substitutionary death.
(Lev. 4:1–5:13; 6:24–30; 16:15) (Romans 3:21-26; I John 2:1-2; 4:7-11)
5. Guilt Offering Repentance Christ paid it all for redemption
(Lev. 5:14–6:7; 7:1–10) (Romans 3:21-26; I Corinthians 1:30-31; Galatians 3:13-14; 4:1-5; Ephesians 1:7-10; Colossians 1:13-14; Titus 2:11-14)
© 1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

 Let me encourage you to reread Leviticus with a renewed sense of appreciation for the pictures of Christ in every sacrifice and offering.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Atonement: The Passover Lamb.

“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (I Corinthians 5:7)

The Passover was one of three mandatory, historical annual festivals of the Jews (Exodus 23:14-19: Leviticus). It was kept in remembrance of the Lord’s passing over the houses of the Israelites (Exodus 12:1-51) when the first born of all the Egyptians were destroyed. It is also called the “feast of unleavened bread” (Exodus 13:3-10; 23:15; Mark 14:1; Acts 12:1-3), because during the seven day feast no leavened bread was to be eaten or even kept in the household (Exodus 12:15).

Passover is celebrated on the 14th day of the first Jewish Month known as Abib (later called Nisan). The observance is incorporated within the narrative of the Exodus story when the LORD (Yahweh) brought plagues of increasing severity against Egypt. This was to demonstrate Yahweh’s power and to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 1–12).

The tenth and final plague was the death of all the firstborn—human and animal—in Egypt (Exodus 11:4–6). God punished all of Egypt, but spared the firstborn of Israel, only because the Hebrews properly followed Moses’ instructions which God gave him. On the night of the tenth plague, the Israelites were instructed to stay in their homes after slaughtering a lamb and placing its blood on the lintel and doorposts of their houses (Exodus 12:7, 21–22). The blood would be a sign that distinguished the Israelites and separated them from the victims of the plague (Exodus 12:13, 23). Since the people were to be ready to depart Egypt at a moment’s notice. They were to quickly eat the lamb while being dressed to travel and with their staffs in hand (Exodus 12:11).

The Israelites followed Moses’ instructions. At midnight, Yahweh struck down the firstborn of Egypt. “At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.” (Exodus 12:29).

Pharaoh then summoned Moses, and his older brother Aaron in the middle of the night and ordered them to take all the Israelites and depart Egypt (Exodus 12:31–32). The Israelites left quickly, taking their bread dough before it was leavened (Exodus 12:34). The LORD instructed the Jews to annually observe the Passover on the 14th of the first month to commemorate that night when God delivered them from Egypt (Exodus 12:14, 24–27).

However, the formal ritual observance of the Passover is mentioned only a few times in the Old Testament (Numbers 9; Joshua 5:10–12; 2 Kings 23:21–23; 2 Chronicles 30:1–27; 35:1–19; Ezra 6:19–22). In spite of the significance to observe the Passover “as a lasting statute” for all future generations (Exodus 12:14; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:1–5; 28:16), the Scriptures emphasize how unusual the observance of the Passover actually was in Israel’s history.

By the time of the New Testament, the Passover became a time of commerce, rather than a solemn opportunity to remember God and His deliverance of His people. As one commentator explains, “The city itself and the neighborhood became more and more crowded as the feast approached, the narrow streets and dark arched bazaars showing the same throng of men of all nations as when Jesus had first visited Jerusalem as a boy. Even the temple offered a strange sight at this season, for in parts of the outer courts a wide space was covered with pens for sheep, goats, and cattle to be used for offerings. Sellers shouted the merits of their beasts, sheep bleated, and oxen lowed. Sellers of doves also had a place set apart for them. Potters offered a choice from huge stacks of clay dishes and ovens for roasting and eating the Passover lamb. Booths for wine, oil, salt, and all else needed for sacrifices invited customers. Persons going to and from the city shortened their journey by crossing the temple grounds, often carrying burdens … Stalls to change foreign money into the shekel of the temple, which alone could be paid to the priests, were numerous, the whole confusion making the sanctuary like a noisy market”

 The slain lamb of the Passover came to be so closely associated with the feast that at various times in the Scriptures, the mention of the Passover refers to the lamb.

  • Exodus 12:21 – “Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb.”
  • 2 Chronicles 30:17 – “For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the LORD.”
  • Matthew 26:17 – “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
  • Mark 14:12 – “And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
  • Mark 14:13-14 – “And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’
  • Luke 22:1 – “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover.”
  • Luke 22:8 – “So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”
  • Luke 22:15 – “And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”

As today’s text from I Corinthians 5:7 illustrates, the Passover served as a type, or prefiguring, of the deliverance Jesus Christ provides for all His people. The deliverance is not from political enslavement, but rather from the penalty, power and presence of sin. Bondage to sin is far greater than Israel’s bondage to Egypt. It is therefore appropriate for students of Scripture to think of the Passover Lamb when they consider the following Scriptures.

John 1:29 – “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

John 19:32-36 – “So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”

Galatians 4:4-5 – “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

I Peter 1:19 – “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

May each of us who God has justified by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone take the opportunity to remember the sacrifice of our Passover Lamb. You may consider reading about the Passover as you prepare your heart and mind for this year’s Easter celebration.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Atonement: Agnus Dei.

“Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (I Peter 1:18-19)

I am certain you have heard the Latin title Agnus Dei. It may refer to one of Michael W. Smith’s most familiar and beloved worship songs. It is also the title of Francisco De Zurbaran’s animal oil painting (1635-1640) depicting a bound lamb ready to be sacrificed.

Agnus Dei is also a symbolic reference to Jesus Christ. It means Lamb of God. It is referenced in the Scriptures from John the Baptist’s declaration in John 1:29 when he saw Jesus approaching him in order to be baptized. The text says, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Revelation 5:6 says, “And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”

The Scriptures make numerous references to the word lamb. It is illustrative of patience (Isaiah 53:7) and playfulness (Psalm 114:4-6). It also depicts vulnerability to danger (I Samuel 17:34) in which the care by a shepherd is required (Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:11).

A lamb was a source of food (Deuteronomy 32:14; 2 Samuel 12:4; Amos 6:4), clothing (Proverbs 27:26) and worship (I Chronicles 29:21; 2 Chronicles 29:32). When offered in sacrifice to God, the lambs could either be a year old male (Exodus 12:5) or female (Numbers 6:14). God’s people sacrificed lambs to Him from the earliest times (Genesis 4:4; 22:1-8). Sacrificial lambs were offered every morning and evening (Exodus 29:38-39; Numbers 28:1-4) and also at special feasts during the year (Exodus 12:1-7).

Lambs were also not only offered on the Sabbath day (Num. 28:9), at the feast of the New Moon (28:11), of Trumpets (29:2), of Tabernacles (13–40), of Pentecost (Lev. 23:18–20), but also on many other occasions (1 Chr. 29:21; 2 Chr. 29:21; Lev. 9:3; 14:10–25).

Lambs provided an extensive commerce (Ezra 7:17; Ezekiel 27:21), and were often used in paying tribute (2 Kings 3:1-4; Isaiah 16:1). Additionally, covenants were confirmed by the gift of a lamb (Genesis 21:28-30) and the image of a lamb was the first impression on money (Genesis 33:19; Josiah 24:32).

Spiritually speaking, lambs depict the purity of Christ (I Peter 1:19), a cherished item (2 Samuel 12:1-9) and the Lord’s people (Isaiah 5:17; 1:6). Lambs also illustrate the weakness of believers (Isaiah 40:11; John 21:15), the patience of Christ (Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:32), and those who minister among the ungodly (Luke 10:1-3). They also represent Israel when deprived of God’s protection (Hosea 4:16), the wicked under judgment (Jeremiah 51:40), and the complete destruction of the wicked (Psalm 37:20).

Most importantly, the lamb was a symbol of Christ (Genesis 4:4; Exodus 12:3; 29:38; Isaiah 16:1; 53:7; John 1:36; Rev. 13:8). Christ is called the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36), as the great sacrifice of which the former sacrifices were only types (Numbers 6:12; Leviticus. 14:12–17; Isaiah 53:7; 1 Corinthians 5:7). Next time, we will examine the Levitical sacrifices and see how they symbolize and represent the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 5:11-14 says, “Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

 Take time today to praise the Agnus Dei who took your sin away by His sacrifice on the cross.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Atonement: The Definition of Sin.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).

What is sin? It is wrongdoing. It is acting against the will and the law of God. Sin, as todays text explains, is failing to fulfill one’s duty to God. The Hebrew word hata’ and the Greek word hamartia meant originally to missing the mark of God’s glory and holiness. Other words for sin include pesha’ (Hebrew), meaning “rebellion,” or “transgression”; ’asham (Hebrew) means “trespassing God’s kingly prerogative,” and thereby “incurring guilt”; paraptoma (Greek) meaning “a false step out of the appointed way,” and to “trespass on forbidden ground.”

In light of these extensive definitions for sin, there are also three distinct ways in which sin is biblically categorized. In other words, there are three immediate results of sin which affect our relationship with God.

First, when we sin we incur debt. Sin is described as a debt. Probably, the most familiar biblical text which renders sin as a debt is found in Matthew 6:12 which says, “…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” The word “debt” and “debtors” comes from the Greek word ὀφειλήματα (opheilemata). It means to commit an offense, a transgression which results in a moral debt or guilt.

Jesus taught, in Matthew 18:21-35, that we are to forgive other’s their sin, or moral debts, to us as God has forgiven our sin and moral debts to Him. God, in His mercy and grace, has forgiven believers of their sin because of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ paid my debt on the cross. It was a debt paid only by One who demonstrated perfect obedience and sinless perfection to God the Father and the Word of God.

Second, when we sin we incur broken relationships. Sin has created an enmity between us and God. We become God’s enemies. Romans 5:8-10 says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now 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.”

Third, when we sin we commit a crime. Sometimes, our sin may be a crime against another human being. If the crime is serious enough, we may have to pay a fine or even go to jail or prison. Those convicted of the most severe crime, pre-meditated murder, may even be executed. At all times, our sin is a crime against God. We are lawbreakers. I John 3:4-5 says, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”

When our sin is called a debt, Jesus Christ is called our surety. Hebrews 7:22 says, “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.” A guarantor (ἔγγυος; engyos) is a person who guarantees the reality of something. Jesus Christ is the One who guarantees our salvation because He is our guarantor.

When our sin is called enmity, Jesus Christ is called our mediator. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 says, “that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

The word, “reconciling,” “reconciliation,” and “reconciled” comes from the root word καταλλάσσω (katallasso) meaning to make things right. This is what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross. He restored a right relationship between us and God the Father.

When our sin is called a crime, Jesus Christ is called our substitute. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus satisfied the justice of God the Father.

Before God, I am a debtor, an enemy and a criminal. Jesus Christ was the One who assumed my debt, became God the Father’s enemy, and was tried and convicted as a criminal of crimes I had committed. Therefore, by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, I am no longer a debtor, no longer an enemy and no longer a criminal.

What about you?

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!