Wednesday, September 18, 2013

...where God saved His people from Himself

by steve camp
written - 1/3/01

Glory in the cross, our faithful High Priest
Went beyond the veil as our Prince of Peace
Clothed with our sin, its guilt and shame
Our sinless Substitute, Jesus His name

Glory in the cross, the law now fulfilled
Righteousness displayed on Calvary’s Hill
He, Son of Man and God the Son
The Lord and the Lamb, our victory won

Glory in the cross, where grace doth abound
Where the Man of Sorrows wore transgressions crown
Wounded and chastened for our iniquities
Our faithful Redeemer, God the Father pleased

Glory in the cross, marked by sin’s crimson stain
Grace and forgiveness flows from His precious veins
Perfect redemption once for all sacrifice
Salvation made secure by the Lord Jesus Christ

Glory in the cross, Satan’s power of death destroyed
Rendered impotent by The Incarnate Word
He crushed the Serpents head upon Golgotha’s tree
Our great and dreadful Sovereign, Champion is He

Glory in the cross, the elect have been redeemed
O covenant of grace from eternity decreed
Worthy is the Lamb slain from all ages past
Sinners reconciled, true worshippers at last

Glory in the cross, “It is finished”, the Victor, cried
God propitiated, forever satisfied
Once enemies now brethren, estranged but brought near
His judgment assuaged no bondage nor fear

Glory in the cross, God forsaken of God
Smitten and afflicted, bruised with Heaven’s rod
Resurrected triumphant, our Lord, God and King
Grave where is thy vict’ry, O death where is thy sting?

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 3:24-26

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.
-1 John 4:10

The real suffering that Christ endured was not at the hand of Pilate's cat-of-nine-tails with the scorpion hook he brutally inflicted upon our Lord's body. No. But the greatest affliction occurred when on the cross our Lord became our divine substitute for us (2 Cor. 5:21) and took our sin, the penalty and guilt of our sin, and all of the Father's wrath that burns against us and our sin that we deserved. He took it for us! As Isaiah 53 says, "It pleased God to crush Him for our iniquities."

O what majesty in the midst of such suffering; what glory in the midst of such agony; and what grace,love and mercy in the midst of such sinful man's rebellion. Hallelujah to the King of Righteousness this blessed day of our salvation.

And wherever you are today, remember this beloved: that at precisely 3:00pm our Lord cried out from Calvary's tree these eternal words: "IT IS FINISHED!" Never forgot what a wonderful, merciful Savior we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. And He is worthy of our reverence, respect, worship and adoration.

The Cross Displays the Satisfaction of God
-Solus Christus (Christ alone)

One of the key words the N.T. writers use to speak of vicarious penal substitutionary atonement is propitiation (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2, 4:10, Heb. 2:17).

This word carries with it two ideas:
1. to satisfy;
2. to quench, to assuage.
Taken in context, Jesus Christ on the cross took not only the guilt and penalty of our sin, but the full wrath of God for His elect. That is what the Apostles Creed means when it says, "…He [Jesus] descended into hell." Jesus literally didn’t go to hell after He died (the false teachings of the Word/Faith movement), but He endured the full weight of God’s eternal wrath for us as our Federal Head on the cross. And in that manner He “descended into hell…” for all those He came to save.

As a brief side note: the cross was not the triumph of darkness over light; Satan over Jesus - thinking that they had victory over the Son of Man in incarnation by His dying on the cross. As one theologian wrongly asserts:
"On Golgotha the day gave way to night as Christ sank deeper and deeper into the abyss of damnation. At Bethlehem there were countless angels praising God; on Golgotha legions of darkness filled the impenetrable gloom, hoping that darkness would finally triumph over light."
While I appreciate his passion and his ability at story-telling, that is just not true beloved. Jesus laid down His life for His sheep on the cross and no man (nor Satan himself) took it from Him - not even the legions of darkness. The cross was the death blow to Satan and his minions (Heb. 2:14-15). Jesus crushed the head of that wicked serpent on Calvary and destroyed his works. Amen? It was the death of death in the death of Christ.  

To God be the glory!

God's Wrathful Presence
Hell is not simply the absence of God beloved as some would suggest; hell is His wrathful presence being poured out upon all the ungodly, Satan and his demons forever. Listen, hell would be “Club Med” if it were not for the presence of God’s wrath.

This wrath of God that you and I deserve to be poured out upon us in unmitigated gall and ferocity without reprieve was fully poured out upon Jesus on the cross. This is truly miraculous. The sinless Son of Man; the perfect Son of God; the spotless Lamb; and the holy High Priest drank the cup of wrath on our behalf so that we may have peace with God forever. That was the punishment that Christ endured for us; that is penal substitution. This is not “cosmic child abuse” as one (who shall remain unnamed) author refers to it. This is a profound truth and mystery. Whatever eternal wrath comprises, the miracle was that it was compressed into time and poured out on the Son for us as the Father faced the Son and the Son faced the Father and the fullness of His anger was consumed, quenched, and satisfied by the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is what propitiation is:
wrath assuaged and God satisfied.

The sins of the elect (every sin, that would ever be committed, by everyone, who would ever believe) was thrust on Jesus.

The prophet Isaiah in his fourth song of the Suffering Servant, gives us the most graphic picture of this once for all propitiatory sacrifice for our sins:
“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:4-6).
The fullness of the guilt and penalty of ours sins were thrust on Him. And the greatness of my wretched sin and yours would have beeen enough to bear... But it was the burden of the cross, the eternal wrath of a holy God that was poured out upon Jesus Christ. THAT was the cup that only Jesus could drink; that was the cup that He wrestled with in the garden. It was not the cup of death or dying. He wasn’t fearful to walk the way of the cross. Wicked men had gone Golgotha’s way before and were rightly punished for their crimes. Many went laughing, mocking, unafraid, scornful of their insurrections and offenses. They were the worst of criminals deserving to die and punished justly for their crimes.

But not so with the Lord Jesus Christ. He was sinless, holy God incarnate; guilty of no crime that humanly deserved this kind of death sentence. As the Apostle Paul has said, “He who knew no sin, became the sin offering for us; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Only God incarnate, Jesus Christ the Lord, could drink the cup of God's wrath. And He drained it beloved; He drained it to the very dregs and fully redeemed us at Calvary. Christ suffered in our place so that we may have peace with God forever (Rom. 5:1-2). He became, what Paul says in Galatians 3, “a curse for us.”

Substitutionary death is not equal to the 
damnation unbelievers suffer, 
it is far superior because it is not due. 
His cry was not the cry of the damned 
but the perfectly obedient and 
sinless cry of the Son to His Father.

Christ Died for God
What were we saved from? Our sins? Yes. Hell? Yes. The sting of death? Yes. But those pale in comparison with this profound reality: on the cross, God through Christ saved us from Himself. That’s right – God through Christ saved us from Himself. From His wrath, His holiness, His justice. And Because Jesus Christ fully satisfied God (propitiation) on the cross as our Divine Substitute, we need to never fear of eternal judgment, condemnation, wrath or punishment for our sins. The penalty of our sins have been fully quenched in the once for all vicarious penal substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the Good News of the gospel beloved.

God treated Christ on the cross as if He lived our life, so that we by grace through faith in Him, can be treated as if we lived His life (2 Cor. 5:21). He was clothed with our sin (thought sinless and holy); so that we might be clothed with His righteousness (though are sinners and sinful). That is the great doctrine of imputation.

When the fullness of that wrath was embraced by Jesus on the cross He cried out, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken Me?" Some commentators think that at this point on the cross that God simply turned His back on His Son in shame for He could not look on sin. That that was the forsaking. That represents a very shallow, sentimental view of what our Lord endured on the cross - but I submit to you, is thoroughly unbiblical.

Where does this view come from? This belief stems from inaccurate rendering of a verse in Habakkuk 1:13 where the prophet says,
“Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, And Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor. Why dost Thou look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why art Thou silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?” (NASB) (Emphasis mine).
Notice, it isn’t that God cannot look on sin; but He cannot look on sin with favor. Consider these verses:
Jer. 16:17 "For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes."

Prov. 15:3 "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good."
The Lord “sees” all things continually – including our sin. Nothing is hidden from His sight (Heb. 4:12-16). So the forsaking of Jesus on the cross by the Father couldn’t have been a simple turning away of the eyes of God from His Son because He cannot look on sin.

His holiness demanded a sacrifice; His justice demanded satisfaction; His righteousness required perfection. God had to be satisfied before we as sinners could be justified!

Therefore, Jesus was, as Hebrews 2:17 says,
"that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" (emphasis mine).
That phrase "in things pertaining to God" in the Greek is: pros ton theon. It means "face to face with God"; and this occured on the cross. Don't miss this amazing picture of redemption: the Son faced the Father from the cross; and the Father faced His Son on the cross; and He poured out upon Him the eternal wrath that we deserve in hell forever. "Amazing love how can it be..." Amen?

Christ was absolutely forsaken; He bore our sin, its guilt, penalty, and shame. And He bore the wrath of God that burns against us. He drank the cup of wrath; He became the curse for us; he endured the shame of the cross for the joy set before Him; He was bruised, crushed, chastined for our iniquities. Once again beloved... hear this today: the Father faced the Son on the cross; and the Son faced the Father from the cross; and He “bore God’s wrath—all of it” as our divine Substitute in His once for all propitiatory sacrifice on the cross for His own.

When Jesus finally cried, "IT IS FINISHED" what had happened?
To what extent have all of our sins been dealt with on the cross--even those we have not even committed or have had committed against us yet? When the Lord Jesus Christ declared from the cross,"It is finished!", He had:
• fulfilled the Law;
• went beyond the veil;
• satisfied God's justice;
• propitiated the Father's wrath;
• satisfied His holiness;
• fulfilled all righteousness;
• exalted grace;
• confirmed the gospel;
• redeemed the elect;
• justified His own from the penalty of sin;
• quenched the guilt of our sin;
• crushed the head of Satan and destroyed his hold of death;
• abolished death and its sting;
• fulfilled all redemptive Messianic prophecies;
• secured for us eternal life;
• brought us into intimacy with God;
• imputed to us His perfect righteousness;
• instituted a new covenant;
• and brought us into peace with God forever!
Now THAT is a cross we can glory in!

The death of Christ was both a propitiation AND an expiation of sin. Propitiation refers to the turning away of wrath by an offering. God's wrath was satisfied and His justice meted out by Jesus’ once for all sacrifice on the cross. Expiation refers to covering sins and in specific, the guilt of sin. By the vicarious penal substitutionary atonement of Christ Jesus on the cross, our sins and their penalty are removed from us. The atonement satisfies both the demands of the Father and the needs of Christ's people (1 Pet. 1:2).

As brother Spurgeon can only say:
"When Jesus gave himself for us, he gave us all the rights and privileges which went with himself; so that now, although as eternal God, he has essential rights to which no creature may venture to pretend, yet as Jesus, the Mediator, the federal head of the covenant of grace, he has no heritage apart from us. All the glorious consequences of his obedience unto death are the joint riches of all who are in him, and on whose behalf he accomplished the divine will. See, he enters into glory, but not for himself alone, for it is written, "Whither the Forerunner is for us entered." Heb. 6:20. Does he stand in the presence of God?-"He appears in the presence of God for us." Heb. 9:24.
Can we now say with confidence this day with Paul himself: "If God be for us... who can be against us?"

Aren't we grateful to the Lord this day that He has not "rewarded us according to our sin, nor dealt with us according to our iniquity?" (Psalm 103:10). In Christ all our "sins are forgiven for His name's sake" (1 John 2:12); He has "forgiven us all our transgressions" (Col. 2:13, emphasis added). And if all our sins are forgiven by Him, can we not forgive the purposed wrongs that others do against us?

Beloved, God for Christ's sake forgave us; we for Christ's sake must forgive each other. Remember, the measure of our love is the extent of our ability to forgive! (1 Jn. 2:12; Col. 2:12ff)


AbrahamKonda said...

A question, you said "He bore our sin, its guilt, penalty, and shame". i was of the opinion he paid the penalty of our sins. Being sinless Christ could never have known the guilt and shame associated with sin. So is it accurate to say that he also bore sins guilt and shame?

Anonymous said...

"Glory in the cross, righteousness upheld
For sinners of venomous tongue rebelled
Clad now in blessed pardon’s peace
To find sin not counted, indeed, no deceit."
(Romans 3-4 & Psalm 32)

Anonymous said...

When Jesus finally cried, "IT IS FINISHED" what had happened?

dude, your list is amazing. Jesus = Hero, Savior, Awesome God.

SJ Camp said...

He knew our sin, guilt and shame through imputation; He was clothed with it. In fact the writer of Hebrews says, "He scorned the shame..."

You are correct that He paid the penalty of our sin fully. All of it; and all of its minions.

The greatest pain He endured was God's wrath against our sin and us. What a Savior and Lord to rejoice in this day.

I hope this helps a bit more to clarify for you...

SJ Camp said...

Isn't it amazing to see what our Lord actually accomplished for us on the cross? He just didn't die and waits for us to respond to Him; He actually redeemed us there!


Theodore A. Jones said...

"It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." Rom. 2:13
You need to find out which law he's talking about.

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