The Atonement: The Just and the Justifier.

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.” (Romans 3:25b-26)

 Arguably, the most familiar and popular attribute of God among people of many different backgrounds and theological persuasions would be the attribute of God’s love. There is no question that God is the God of love. Scripture certainly teaches this. The following is but a sampling of New Testament texts proving that God’s love is important with respect to the atonement of and by Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 – “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I John 4:7-11 – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

 However, equally important is the matter of God’s justice. God is not only love but He is also just. In fact, it is the satisfaction of God’s justice which is inherent in the definition of the doctrine of propitiation (Romans 3:25a; I John 2:2).

The word “just,” as it used in today’s text comes from the Greek word δίκαιον (dikaion) meaning to be righteous, to put right, and to be in unity and accord with God’s righteous standard. It is not only acting, but being, in unity with what God requires.

Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), a theologian and philosopher, wrote that the reason why Jesus Christ needed to become a man and to die on the cross was to satisfy the justice of God. He argued that God’s justice is His internal righteousness. God never violates any of the standards of His righteousness. It is part of His eternal and internal character. Therefore, God’s judgment of sinners is not because He is cruel but rather because He is just and righteous. God will never negotiate His justice. That is why the cross is so significant.

Jesus Christ satisfied God the Father’s demand for justice. In doing so, God would not only be just in punishing sin by punishing Jesus on behalf of the sinner, but also be the justifier of the individual sinner who has faith in Jesus Christ.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “God’s judicial righteousness is demonstrated in the gospel. Under the Mosaic sacrificial system, forgiveness was offered through, but not on the basis of, animal sacrifice. As the NT recognizes (Heb. 9:11-15; 10:1-4), such sacrifices cannot substitute for the sins of humans. The real significance of the OT sacrifices was found in the way they pointed forward to Christ, through whom God would deal with human sin in an appropriate and final way. In view of what He would later do, God could righteously pass over “former sins” (vs. 25) –for example Abraham (4:1-5) and David (4:6-8) when they believed His promise about the Redeemer to come. The work of Christ reveals both the justice of God (He does punish sin in the person of His own Son; 8:32), and the righteousness of God’s way of salvation by “faith in Jesus” (vs. 26).”

Dr. Sproul concludes his comments, and our series on the atonement, with this final thought. “In dealing with Christ as the sin-bearer and the human person as sinner, God does not compromise His own holiness, nor the necessity of sin’s being atoned for. Yet He graciously provides a salvation that mankind is incapable of obtaining. In this respect, Paul sees the cross as the manifestation of the glorious wisdom of God (I Corinthians 1:23-24).”

 May I never lose the wonder, oh the wonder of God’s justice, mercy and love.

May God’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

 

The Atonement: Propitiation, the Place of Mercy.

“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.” (Romans 3:21-26)

Whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:25).

Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950), better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, whose work was marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and strong support of democratic socialism. Blair was not only a prolific writer (1984; Animal Farm) but he also provided many proverbial quotes. These included the following:  “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength,” “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” And “Big Brother is watching you.”

Blair also provided stylistic advice to writers about the task of writing. These “Six Little Rules” included (1) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. (2) Never use a long word whereshort one will do. (3) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. (4) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

With respect to Writing Rule #2, Never use a long word where short one will do,” I’m sure Blair would take issue with the word “propitiation.” I suppose he would hate the word, not only because it is five syllables but also because of its biblical and doctrinal significance.

As one source explains, “Orwell was an atheist who identified himself with the humanist outlook on life. Despite this, and despite his criticisms of both religious doctrine and of religious organizations, he nevertheless regularly participated in the social and civic life of the church, including by attending Church of England Holy Communion. Acknowledging this contradiction, he once said: “It seems rather mean to go to HC [Holy Communion] when one doesn’t believe, but I have passed myself off for pious & there is nothing for it but to keep up with the deception.

What does “propitiation” mean? The New Testament Greek word for propitiation is ἱλαστήριον (hilasterion) and it literally means “mercy seat.” In other words, it is the place and means of forgiveness.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Christ died as a propitiatory sacrifice that satisfies the divine judgment against sinners and assuages the Father’s wrath against them, bringing about forgiveness and justification.”

Or, as another pastor explains, “God does not give US what we deserve, but He gives us instead what JESUS deserves. And God can give us what Jesus deserves, because on the cross God allowed JESUS to have what WE deserved for our sin. He took it all for us. That’s what the word propitiation means. He took it all! Christ is the sacrifice in our place, the sacrifice that takes away our sin. He is the place of mercy, the one who soaks up all the wrath of God for sin – in our place.

Romans 3:25 begins with the phrase, “Whom God put forward.” The pronoun “whom” refers to Jesus Christ.  The words “put forward” means not only to bring forth but also to plan beforehand (Romans 1:13). In other words, God the Father planned before hand to bring forth Jesus Christ as the mercy seat on behalf of sinners (Ephesians 1:3-11). Jesus would become the recipient of God the Father’s wrath. He became such in order for sinners, who deserve God’s wrath, to rather be recipients of God’s grace, mercy and love.

“By His blood” refers to Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross. The benefits of such a propitiation is only received by faith alone.

As always, Dr. John MacArthur has much to contribute to this biblical subject. He writes, Crucial to the significance of Christ’s sacrifice, this word (propitiation) carries the idea of appeasement or satisfaction—in this case Christ’s violent death satisfied the offended holiness and wrath of God against those for whom Christ died (Isa. 53:11Col. 2:11–14). The Hebrew equivalent of this word was used to describe the mercy seat—the cover to the ark of the covenant—where the high priest sprinkled the blood of the slaughtered animal on the Day of Atonement to make atonement for the sins of the people. In pagan religions, it is the worshiper not the god who is responsible to appease the wrath of the offended deity. But in reality, man is incapable of satisfying God’s justice apart from Christ, except by spending eternity in hell. Cf. 1 John 2:2; Rom. 1:16.”

Have you ever thanked God for sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the mercy seat on behalf of your immortal soul? Take time to do so today.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Atonement: Sin, Justification and Redemption.

“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.” (Romans 3:21-26)

“While the Father’s wrath is real, it should be noted that the atonement Christ made was not a case of the Son’s working against the Father’s will. It is not as if Christ were snatching His people out of the Father’s hand. The Son did not persuade the Father to save those whom the Father was loath to save. On the contrary, both Father and Son willed the salvation of the elect and worked together to bring it to pass. As the apostle Paul wrote, ‘in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself’.” Dr. R. C. Sproul

This morning we examine Romans 3:23-24 which says, “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.” There are three truths to observe in these two verses.

First, all people are sinners. ““For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The reason Scripture gives for the necessity of the atonement of Jesus Christ is because everyone who has ever lived, is living, and will live are sinners. Sin is an active engagement in wrongdoing. It is doing anything which is contrary to the will and law of God. Everyone, from the greatest to the least, from the weak to the strong, male and female, young or old are all sinners.

To fall short means to not attain. It is the inability to obtain God’s blessings by one’s own righteousness. What is it that sinners fall short of? The glory, honor and praiseworthiness of God. This is what the Apostle Paul has insisted is the truth of man’s condition beginning at the very outset of the Epistle to the Romans (1:18- 3:20).

Second, sinners need for God to declare them righteous. “And are justified by his grace as a gift.” If a sinner’s plight is that they continue to fall short of God’s righteousness, then it is necessary for God to intervene. This is exactly what God has chosen to do. He has chosen to declare the sinner righteous by His grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Even though the sinner is guilty of sin, God imputes the righteous of Christ on the sinner’s behalf because the unrighteousness of the sinner was imputed upon Christ while He suffered on the cross. God’s motivation to do this is solely by His grace. Justification is a gracious gift from God.

Third, the only way for God to declare sinners righteous is through the person and work of Jesus Christ. “Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” The redemption Christ alone provides is the basis by which sinners are justified. Redemption means to liberate, to deliver and to set free. This is freedom from the penalty, the power and eventually the presence of sin. The grammar indicates that the sinner’s deliverance is solely through Jesus Christ.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The imagery behind this Greek word comes from the ancient slave market. It meant paying the necessary ransom to obtain the prisoner or slave’s release. The only adequate payment to redeem sinners from sin’s slavery and its deserved punishment was “in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:61 Pet. 1:18–19), and was paid to God to satisfy his justice.”

 This payment for our justification because of our sin was when Jesus Christ died on the sinner’s behalf on the cross. That is the meaning of the cross. The cross’ specific meaning must not be diminished, discarded or demeaned.

I encourage you to meditate upon the lyrics of George Bennard’s (1873-1958) classic hymn, The Old Rugged Cross.  

  1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
    The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
    And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
    For a world of lost sinners was slain.

    • Refrain:
      So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
      Till my trophies at last I lay down;
      I will cling to the old rugged cross,
      And exchange it someday for a crown.
  2. Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
    Has a wondrous attraction for me;
    For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
    To bear it to dark Calvary.
  3. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
    A wondrous beauty I see,
    For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
    To pardon and sanctify me.
  4. To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
    Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
    Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
    Where His glory forever I’ll share.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 
   

 

The Atonement: Faith in Jesus Christ.

“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.” (Romans 3:21-26)

A key phrase in the Bible regarding the Atonement is the phase ‘on behalf of.’ Jesus did not die for Himself, but for us. His suffering was vicarious. He was our substitute. He took our place in fulfilling the role of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Dr. R. C. Sproul

“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:” (Romans 3:21-22)

The righteousness of God.” The Law and the Prophets bore witness to the imputed righteousness of God on behalf of sinners. The inherent nature of doing what God has declared is right and holy is possessed by and originates from God alone. How then does an inherently fallen and wicked sinner receive this righteousness from God?

“Through faith.” Through faith (διὰ πίστεως; dia pisteos) means on account of, or through the means of faith. The preposition “dia” refers to the instrumentality of faith. Sinners receive the righteousness of God by faith. Faith is a noun meaning trust in, dependence upon, commitment to and worship of an object. It is through the means of faith, and the grammar indicates faith alone, that the sinner receives the merit of the atonement God provides.

“In Jesus Christ.”  However, what is the object of one’s faith? Is it faith in good works? Romans 3:9-20 says absolutely not. The object of true, saving faith is in none other than Jesus Christ. Much like the nouns God and faith which preceded it, the grammar indicates that this righteousness of God alone, through faith alone is to be in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

For all who believe. For there is no distinction:” This imputed righteousness, based upon the person and work of Jesus Christ, is for all who are part of a particular class of individuals. Those who belong to this class are those who have trusted in, committed to, are dependent upon and worship and honor Jesus Christ alone as Savior and Lord.

This belief in the substitutionary work of Jesus Christ is a continuing belief or faith. It is a persevering belief or faith. Finally, within this context it specifically refers to the distinction between Jews and Gentiles. It is a belief or faith which carries no distinction regarding races, creeds, religious or cultural backgrounds, or gender.

Is your trust for deliverance from the penalty of sin, the power of sin and eventually the presence of sin in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone? If not, than you may have a faith but it is not saving faith. Saving faith is to be solely in Jesus Christ.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:10-12)

“The Old Testament covenant pronounced a curse upon any person who broke the law of God. On the cross, Jesus not only took that curse upon Himself, but He became ‘a curse for us’ (Galatians 3:13). He was forsaken by the Father and experienced the full measure of hell on the cross. “ Dr. R. C. Sproul 

 We now arrive at the climax of the Fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). These final three verses in the fifth stanza, 53:10-12, provide a crescendo of praise for the person and work of Jesus Christ in providing atonement for sinners.

Today, we examine Isaiah 53:12. “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong.” The word “therefore” is a common adverb indicating a conclusion. The Prophet Isaiah, and God Himself, come to a conclusion regarding the person and work of the Servant of Yahweh. The image conveyed in this portion of Isaiah 53:12 is one a conqueror dividing up the spoil among the enemy he has conquered. It pictures a general or leader dividing up the goods taken from an enemy. The enemy is Satan and the goods are those who become believers in Christ.

Dr. John Walvoord comments that, “Because He was numbered with the transgressors, that is, was considered a sinner (cf. Matt. 27:38) and bore the sin (cf. Isa. 53:6) of many, that is, everyone, He is exalted and allows believers to share in the benefits of that exaltation. And because He is alive (cf. v. 10), He now intercedes (prays; cf. Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25) for … transgressors (related to the word peša‘, “transgression[s],” in Isa. 53:5, 8). This great passage gives a tremendously complete picture of what the death of Jesus Christ accomplished on behalf of Israel (John 11:49–51) and the whole world (1 John 2:2). His death satisfied God’s righteous demands for judgment against sin, thus opening the way for everyone to come to God in faith for salvation from sin.”

 “Because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many.” The reason given for Jesus Christ to victoriously glean a harvest of souls from those dead in their trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-3) is because He willingly went to the cross on behalf of sinners like you and me. While Jesus endured the humiliation of a criminal’s death on the cross, He was actually dying for the true criminal: me. Therefore, God’s justice was satisfied allowing Him to justify sinners like me (Romans 3:21-26).

And makes intercession for the transgressors” Jesus’ intercession or help on behalf of sinners began at the cross (Luke 23:34) and continues to this day as He intercedes for believers from Heaven (Hebrews 7:25; 9:24). Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man (I Timothy 2:5). That is why salvation is solely by grace alone, through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Dr. John MacArthur concludes by saying, “With Yahweh’s own words in Isaiah 53:12, “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,” this magnificent passage ends where it began in verse 13 of chapter 52, with the exaltation of Jesus Christ. He will return in order to defeat the world’s rebellion against God, judge the ungodly, and establish His glorious kingdom on the earth (Rev. 19:11-20:6). He will receive the title deed to the earth (Rev. 5). The kingdoms of the world will become “the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). And at the name of Jesus every kneed [will] bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Phil.2:10).”

 I encourage you meditate upon the following hymn by Charles Wesley: And Can It Be?

 And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood
Died He for me, who caused His pain
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace
Emptied Himself of all but love
And bled for Adam’s helpless race
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free
For O my God, it found out me!
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shoudlst die for me?

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light
My chains fell off, my heart was free
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God shouldst die for me?

No condemnation now I dread
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine
Alive in Him, my living Head
And clothed in righteousness divine
Bold I approach the eternal throne
And claim the crown, through Christ my own
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou my God, shouldst die for me?

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

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

“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:10-12)

“In receiving the wrath of the Father on the cross, Christ was able to make atonement for His people. Christ carried, or bore, the punishment for the sins of human beings. He atoned for them by accepting the just punishment for those sins.” Dr. R. C. Sproul 

 We now arrive at the climax of the Fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). These final three verses in the fifth stanza, 53:10-12, provide a crescendo of praise for the person and work of Jesus Christ in providing atonement for sinners.

Today, we examine Isaiah 53:11. In this verse we not only witness the doctrine of substitutionary atonement but also the doctrine of justification by faith alone. “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

 “Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied.”  It is a futile gesture to try and differentiate between the Father and the Son in vs. 11. Most commentators take the perspective that the personal pronoun “he” in vs. 11 pertains to Jesus Christ. There is no violation to the meaning of the text by taking that point of view.

Jesus’ hard difficult experience within His internal being, which includes His will, intellect and emotions, due to His atonement on the cross will be superseded by His contentment in bringing the salvation of many souls to fruition. The plan of redemption will succeed.    

 “By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous and he shall bear their iniquities.” Jesus’ contentment in having experience all that He did will be because He understands that His work on the cross is the only means by which sinners will be counted righteous before God the Father. The Hebrew word Yas’dig means to be declared righteous. How can a sinner be justified before God? Only by faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Likewise, the ability to exercise saving faith is because of God’s sovereign grace enabling the helpless sinner to believe the Gospel.

The heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that sinners are justified by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Isaiah 53:11 declares and affirms justification by faith, imputed righteousness, substitutionary atonement and the Messiah’s death to provide propitiation before Yahweh.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Those doctrines were the very same principles that were recovered by the Protestant Reformers after nearly being smothered to death under centuries of accumulated error and stifling church tradition. The Reformers dusted them off, recognized their true importance and proclaimed them as essential gospel truths. They are the same truths that set the hearts of English and American Puritans aflame. They are the same doctrines proclaimed by the Puritans spiritual heirs—men like George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon and others. When taught clearly and fearlessly by preachers who truly believe in the authority of Scripture and proclaim it, ‘as it really is, the Word of God’ (I Thessalonians 2:13), those truths have always been used by God to draw people to Christ and transform whole communities—and sometimes to reform an entire culture.”

You know a church has become like the worldly culture when it no longer preaches the truths affirmed by Isaiah 53:11. The individual must question whether they are truly converted if they do not hold to and believe the truths affirmed by Isaiah 53:11.

Hymnist Edward Mote (1797-1874) wrote one of the most significant hymns regarding the theme of justification. It is entitled The Solid Rock.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my Hope and Stay

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne

 May God’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Atonement: The Exaltation of the Servant of Yahweh.

“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:10-12)

“Because sin touches even our best acts, we are incapable of making a sufficient sacrifice. Even our sacrifices are tainted and would require a further sacrifice to cover that blemish, ad infinitum. We have no gift valuable enough, no work righteous enough to atone for our own sins. We are debtors who cannot pay their debts.” Dr. R. C. Sproul

 We now arrive at the climax of the Fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). These final three verses in the fifth stanza, 53:10-12, provide a crescendo of praise for the person and work of Jesus Christ in providing atonement for sinners.

Today, we examine Isaiah 53:10. “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

 “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him.” The phrase “it was the will” means to take delight in, to take pleasure in and to desire. This act and behavior belonged to Yahweh regarding His Servant: Jesus Christ.

The Prophet Isaiah then informs us as to what Yahweh took delight and pleasure with respect to His Servant: it was “to crush Him.” The Hebrew word dak’keo means to beat, oppress and to bruise. This is what  the Father’s will was for His Son, the Servant of Yahweh: Jesus Christ.

John Calvin writes, “In Christ there is no fault; why, then, was the LORD pleased that He should suffer? Because He stood in our room, and in no other way then by His death could the justice of God be satisfied.”

 Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

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. 

 “He has put Him to grief.” The pronoun “He” refers to God the Father. The pronoun “Him” refers to the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the Servant of Yahweh: Jesus Christ. The Father has afflicted and physically wounded the Son for the sake of the sheep. This act of love and justice was for sinners like you and me.

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.”

 “When his soul makes an offering for guilt.” God the Father determined that the Son would be an atoning sacrifice. Dr. John Walvoord writes, The statement, the Lord made the Servant’s life a guilt offering, does not mean that Jesus’ life satisfied the wrath of God but that His life which culminated in His death was the sacrifice for sins. As indicated in Isaiah 53:7–8 He had to die to satisfy the righteous demands of God. The word for “guilt offering” is ’āšām, used in Leviticus 5:15; 6:5; 19:21 and elsewhere of an offering to atone for sin.”

 What follows in the text are three prophetic statements of promise by the God the Father due to the atonement by His Servant, Jesus Christ. “He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.”

“He shall see His offspring” God the Father will see the offspring of God the Son: those who are believers in Jesus Christ. This is because the Son will rise from the dead. Jesus will have a people for Himself.

“He shall prolong His day.” As the risen Son of God, the Servant of Yahweh will live eternally thereby guaranteeing that His seed or descendants by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone will also live eternally.

“The will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.” Those who belong and are the Servant’s possession will succeed or become many. The death, burial and resurrection of the Jesus Christ will not be useless or unprofitable but will yield an abundant fruit and a harvest of souls. It will be effective.

Meditate today upon the lyrics to the hymn Before the Throne of God Above.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the One,
Risen Son of God!

Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am,
The King of glory and of grace!

One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God
With Christ, my Savior and my God.

 May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Atonement: The Obedience of the Suffering Servant, Part 3.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7-9)

“Both the Old and New Testaments make it clear that all human beings are sinners. Al our sins are against an infinite, holy God who cannot even look upon sin. An atonement must be made in order for us to have fellowship with God.” Dr. R. C. Sproul

Isaiah 53:7-9 is the fourth section of five in Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). In these three verses we witness The Obedience of the Suffering Servant. Today, we examine Isaiah 53:9: “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”

 “And they made His grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death.” A place was set for the Servant of Yahweh, Jesus Christ, to be buried. We read of these efforts in all four of the New Testament Gospels (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:43-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42). The word “grave” means sepulcher, burial chamber, or burial site. It affirms that Jesus Christ would die on the cross and be buried. His grave was intended to be with the unrighteous, as was the situation with the other two criminals crucified with Jesus (John 19:31).

Roman executioners normally left the deceased bodies of crucified criminals on their crosses for days on end. The corpses would then become food for birds and wild animals. In the ancient world, to not bury a dead body was the ultimate act of dishonoring the deceased person (I Samuel 31:1-12) which God strictly forbid (Deuteronomy 21:22-23).

Why did the Romans do this? Since crucifixions normally occurred on high- traffic areas, the victim’s remains would be seen by many people. This proved to be a strong deterrent to those who thought and sought to oppose Roman law. Crucifixion was the fate which awaited those who disobeyed the Empire of Rome.

Eventually, the remains of the dead would be buried in a mass grave site. It was located south of Jerusalem. It was called the Valley of Hinnom. This was the place where babies were burned to death in sacrifice to Molech, the false god of the Ammonites (I Kings 11:1-7; 2 Kings 17:17; 21:6; Jeremiah 32:35). This detestable act was forbidden by God (Leviticus 18:21; 20:1-5; Jeremiah 7:31-32; 32:35).

The Valley of Hinnom became known in English as Gehenna. Other names used were Topheth, the Aramaic name for “fireplace.” Scholars believe Topheth could also refer to the word “drum” since drums were repeatedly beaten to drown out the cries of babies were who burned alive in the evil sacrifices.

During Jesus’ life on earth, the Valley of Hinnom was a garbage dump. The fires burned continuously (Isaiah 66:24; Matthew 3:12; Mark 9:48). The final remains of the crucified dead were thrown into that fire. The place became a fitting description of hell.

However, Jesus’ body would not be treated this way. Psalm 16:10 says of the Messiah, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” Due to the efforts by a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus was buried in the tomb of a rich man (Matthew 27:57-60; John 19:38-42).

“Although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” The sinlessness of the Servant of Yahweh, and His substitutionary death on the cross for sinners, is again affirmed by the Prophet Isaiah. Yahweh’s Servant was not a person who committed wrong or who was deceitful. He was righteous and truthful (I Peter 2:22). This was the Fathers’ testimony of the innocence of His Servant, the Son of God.

Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778) was an Anglican cleric and hymn writer. He was a contemporary of John and Charles Wesley. He was the author of the familiar hymn Rock of Ages. He also wrote O Fountain of Unceasing Grace. I encourage you to meditate today on the words of this hymn.

O fountain of unceasing grace,                                                                                                            Your saints exhaustless theme.                                                                                                            Great object of immortal praise,                                                                                                Essentially supreme.                                                                                                                            We bless You for the glorious fruits,                                                                                            Your incarnation gives.                                                                                                                          The righteousness which grace imputes,                                                                                            And faith alone receives.

In You we have a righteousness,                                                                                                        By God Himself approved;                                                                                                               Our rock, our sure foundation this,                                                                                            Which can never be moved.                                                                                                            Our ransom by Your death was paid,                                                                                             For all your people giv’n.                                                                                                                      The Law You perfectly obeyed,                                                                                                      That they might enter heav’n.

 As all, when Adam sinned alone,                                                                                                       In his transgression died,                                                                                                                  So by the righteousness of One                                                                                                     Are sinners justified.                                                                                                                             We to Your merit, gracious Lord,                                                                                                         With humblest joy submit,                                                                                                                     Again to paradise restored,                                                                                                                  In You alone complete.

May God’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7-9)

“Martin Luther called Christianity a theology of the cross. The figure of the cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. The concept of atonement reaches back to the Old Testament where God set up a system by which the people of Israel could make atonement for their sins. To atone is to make amends, to set things right.” Dr. R. C. Sproul

Isaiah 53:7-9 is the fourth section of five in Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). In these three verses we witness The Obedience of the Suffering Servant. Today, we examine Isaiah 53:8: “By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?”

 “By oppression and judgment he was taken away.” In the Hebrew, the phrase “By oppression (me’o’ser) means restraint and coercion. Within this text, it means a condition of hardship and trouble for someone. Judgement (mis’pat) means a legal action. Finally, “he was taken away” means to be seized.

Dr. John Walvoord says, After His oppression (being arrested and bound, John 18:12, 24) and judgment (sentenced to die, John 19:16) Jesus was led to His death. He died not because of any sins of His own (for He, the Son of God, was sinless, 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 John 3:5) but because of (for) the sins (transgression, peša‘; cf. Isa. 53:5) of others. To be taken away means to be taken to death.”

 “And for His generation.” The word generation (dor) means a class of persons. If refers in the immediate context to the Jews. It was Jesus’ human family line. This means that Jesus died and left no physical, human descendants. It could also mean that those who were related to Him (Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6) considered His death important.

 “Who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living.” This is an obvious description of Jesus’ death. However, “stricken for the transgression of my people” indicates that Jesus’ death was a substitutionary one on behalf of the people of God.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The Servant lost his life to be the substitute object of wrath in the place of the Jews, who by that substitution will receive salvation and the righteousness of God imputed to them. Similar terminology applies to the Messiah in Daniel 9:26.”

 Isaiah 53:7-8 was the portion of Scripture the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading when he encountered Phillip. This is the particular text Phillip explained was referring to Jesus Christ (Acts 8:32–33).

I encourage you to meditate upon the words from Matt Redman’s song Mercy.

I will kneel in the dust
At the foot of the cross,
Where mercy paid for me.
Where the wrath I deserve,
It is gone, it has passed.
Your blood has hidden me.

 Mercy, mercy,
As endless as the sea.
I’ll sing Your hallelujah
For all eternity.

 We will lift up the cup
And the bread we will break,
Remembering Your love.
We were fallen from grace,
But You took on our shame
And nailed it to a cross.

 Mercy, mercy,
As endless as the sea.
I’ll sing Your hallelujah
For all eternity.

 May I never lose the wonder,
Oh, the wonder of Your mercy.
May I sing Your hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Amen.

 I will kneel in the dust
At the foot of the cross,
Where mercy paid for me.

 May God’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Atonement: The Obedience of the Suffering Servant.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7-9)

“The Apostle Paul that he was determined to know nothing save Christ and Him crucified (I Corinthians 2:2). This was the apostle’s way of emphasizing the extreme importance of the cross to Christianity. The doctrine of the atonement is central to all Christian theology.” Dr. R. C. Sproul

Isaiah 53:7-9 is the fourth section of five in Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). In these next three verses we witness The Obedience of the Suffering Servant.

Scripture speaks not only of the active obedience of Christ, but also His passive obedience. The comments by Dr. Nicholas Needham, minister of Inverness Reformed Baptist Church in Inverness, Scotland, and lecturer in church history at Highland Theological College in Dingwall, Scotland, will prove most helpful.

Passive” is not a complimentary word to apply to someone these days. It suggests an inert, sluggish, withdrawn soul that is lost in daydreams. So perhaps it sounds like a contradiction to speak of “passive obedience.” How can obedience be passive? I suppose if someone in authority commands you to be inert, sluggish, withdrawn, and lost in daydreams, then your passivity will be an act of obedience — although we are now descending into wild paradox with our talk of a “passive act”!

 “The passive obedience of Christ, however, doesn’t involve these contradictions and paradoxes. The word “passive” here suggests the older meaning of “suffering.” There was an aspect to Christ’s obedience to the will of His Father that embraced suffering, a submission to affliction and infliction. Hence the term “the Passion” is used to describe the last hours of the Savior’s life, from Gethsemane onwards.”

Dr. Needham continues by saying, “The counterpart to Christ’s obedience-as-suffering is His “active obedience.” This refers to the way He positively embodied in His character and deeds His Father’s precepts for human life. Since Christ is the True Man, and since God’s will for humanity is expressed in the Moral Law, Christ’s active obedience is His fulfillment of that Law. If we want to see the meaning of the Ten Commandments fleshed out in a human life, we must look at Christ.”

Dr. Nedham concludes by stating, What theologians are trying to do when they distinguish between the active and passive obedience of Christ is point to a very real distinction between different aspects, or different dimensions, of the one life of Christ. Throughout His entire life, Christ fulfilled the Moral Law. But so would Adam have done if sin had not entered the world when he sinned. It’s the entrance of sin that brings in a new, darker dimension to the obedience required of Man: he must now submit to God’s holy judgment as a result of his transgression.”

Within these three verses, Isaiah 53:7-9, we witness what is referred to as the passive obedience of Christ while on the cross. Today, we examine Isaiah 53:7: ““He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”

 “He was oppressed.” This three word phrase is one word in the Hebrew: “Nig’gas.” It means to cause hardship and trouble. It additionally means to demand or to obtain a payment for an incurred debt. This harkens us back to the biblical truth that sin is not only a crime against God, and an estrangement between sinners and God, but also a debt incurred by the sinner unto God. Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross was the means by which our indebtedness to God was paid.

“And He was afflicted.” This phrase is also one word in the Hebrew: “Na’aneh.” It means to suffer, to be wretched, emaciated, and also oppressed. In other words, to be mistreated. It also means to bear patiently. One commentary defines the phrase to mean, “He was made answerable.”

“Yet He opened not His mouth.” Jesus did not respond to the taunts and mocking of the crowd who crucified Him. Matthew 26:63 says, “But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” I Peter 2:21-23 says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”  Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Seeing many sheep sheared for their wool or killed as sacrifices, Israelites were well aware of the submissive nature of sheep. Jesus, as the Lamb of God (John 1:29), quietly submitted to His death. He did not try to stop those who opposed Him; He remained silent rather than defend Himself (Matt. 26:63a; 27:14; 1 Peter 2:23). He was willingly led to death because He knew it would benefit those who would believe.”

 I encourage to meditate today upon the lyrics of this updated, classic hymn: Jesus Paid It All.

 I hear the savior say, thy strength indeed is small
Child of weakness, watch and pray, find in me thine all in all.

‘Cause Jesus paid it all
All to him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.

Lord, now indeed I find thy power and thine alone
Can change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone.

‘Cause Jesus paid it all
All to him I owe
My sin had left this crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.

It’s washed away, all my sin
And all my shame.

And when before the throne I stand in him complete
“Jesus died my soul to save” my lips shall still repeat.

Jesus paid it all
All to him I owe
(Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow)
(He washed it white as snow)

(O praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead)
(O praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead)
(O praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead)
(O praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead)
(O praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead)
Well praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead
Jesus.

You are the one
The son of god
Conqueror of death
King of kings
The sacrificial lamb.

(O praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead)
Well praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead
Jesus.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!