Friday, 25 September 2009

so what does a disciple need to do?

This brings us to the second element of the way in which we are to 'disciple the nations'. A disciple is technically 'a learner' who learns at the feet of a master, but what does he learn? There is a kind of instinct in evangelical circles that there is an irreducible minimum of doctrine that a person must learn before they can be considered a Christian. In the Second century there were definite things which must be learned and those who were learning were called 'catechumens'; people who were under instruction and ultimately people had to 'know their catechism' before their full initiation into the new covenant community. But is this what Christ is referring to in the Great Commission? Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, [even] to the end of the age. Amen. Matt 28:19-20

We need to recall to mind that a 'disciple' is one half of a relationship. Primarily he is following a 'teacher' rather than a 'teaching'. Christianity is not, primarily, a doctrinal system. It is not, primarily, a code of ethics. It is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This is why Christ made the bold assertion; I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6. It is not possible to be 'right with God' other than through the the sole agency of Jesus Christ. If we desire to come to God we must come to Jesus Christ; there is no exception to this.

The Great Commission is fulfilled as men and women become disciples of Jesus Christ. Nothing short of this can be allowed. Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ involves a full hearted surrender to him in water baptism and an undertaking to 'observe' what he is teaching. 'Observe' here does not mean taking on the role of an interested spectator. The word means to actively guard what has been entrusted; it is the picture of an armed guard or watchman. Those who would be disciples are not those who subscribe to a doctrinal statement but those who actively guard what has been entrusted to them. Let me illustrate...

Christ had been preaching and some of the Jews who listened believed him. To those who had 'believed' Christ spoke these words; Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31-32 Those words, 'the truth shall make you free'. have become a slogan used by many but they are not true... not in isolation from the rest of the sentence. If we work our way backwards perhaps you will see my point. The truth only frees those who know it and the only ones who know it are true disciples of Jesus Christ, and true disciples of Jesus Christ are those who 'abide' ie 'continue' in the truth that he has revealed to them. So reading it forward again... those who hear the word that Christ is speaking and who continue in obedience to that word are genuine disciples. (the word 'indeed' is the word 'true' and the word 'true' often means 'the genuine article' in the New Testament) So in order to be a genuine disciple I must continue in my obedience to what Christ has said to me. Such genuine disciples will know the truth and knowing that truth, as genuine disciples, will set them free. Freedom depends upon discipleship and discipleship depends on 'holding onto' and 'working out' the things which Christ says to us.

This Great Commission is a wonderful repeating cycle. We 'disciple' the nations by bringing individuals to the place where they surrender to the person of Jesus Christ and set their course to obey what he has said to them. How does he speak to us? In many ways, but particularly through the testimony of those men to whom he originally committed this Great Commission. All newly 'discipled' men and women are to 'guard the things that I have commanded you'. They are to guard the things that I have committed to you. This includes the command to 'go and disciple the nations'. In other words this Great Commission passes on in its entirety to each new generation.

The life truth committed to the disciples is now committed to the new 'disciples', and part of that commission is that they also embrace the Great Commission. The result of that is that each new generation of disciples also receives this Great Commission. It means that every genuine disciple of Jesus Christ is automatically invested with the same responsibility... to go into all the nations and to 'disciple' them. There are no exceptions; if I am a disciple I have a commission.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

so how much does it cost to be a disciple?

I had a hunch about the Great Commission for a long time. Is this one command or three? Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. Matt 28:19-20. The punctuation of the NKJV suggests that it is three commands. (By the way, there is no punctuation at all in the original Greek text so all punctuation in the New Testament is interpretation rather than inspiration.) My hunch was that this was not...
  1. Go and make disciples
  2. baptising them in the name...
  3. teaching them to observe all things...
but rather... Go and make disciples; baptising them in the name... and teaching them to observe...

In other words the Great Commission is simply 'Go and disciple the nations' and the process by which this will be achieved is 'baptising them in the name... and teaching them to observe... ' So 'baptism' and 'teaching to observe' is the method by which the Great Commission is to be fulfilled. I was encouraged recently to discover that I am not the only one to have this hunch; Youngs Literal Translation has it too... having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptizing them -- to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days -- till the full end of the age.' Did you notice that Youngs puts the 'baptising' and 'teaching them to observe' into a parenthesis, showing that this is the way they were to 'disciple the nations'.

Let's think through the implications of that. Water baptism is a simple symbol of surrender to the will of another; a surrender of such scope that the person being baptised is effectively taking an active part in their own funeral. This is a 'no-turning back' surrender, the kind that burns all the bridges. I have conducted quite a few water baptisms, I always give the candidate the same advice "Let me do this. Don't try to help me, just trust me." It is such a simple but profound way of sealing the choice. I yield myself utterly to another's will. Of course it symbolises too the point of departure and entrance; from death to life, but at its heart it is a foolish act of total obedience and abandonment.

To be 'baptised in the name of...' signifies that the baptised will be forever owned by the one in whose name he is baptised. This is a symbolic transfer of ownership. From this moment I am no longer a free man, able to make my own choices. From this moment my life belongs to another.

How much does it cost to be a disciple? Only everything. It is easy to miss this truth in the presentation of the gospel; regeneration is free, becoming a disciple will cost me everything.
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. Phil 3:8.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

am I a disciple?

In the moments before his ascension Christ gave a unique commission. It is usually known as the Great Commission and has been the source of thousands of stirring sermons. Its most familiar form is in the language of the King James Version; And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. Matt 28:18-20 KJV. The King James version has the word 'teach' used twice but there are two quite different Greek words behind the passage. The New King James Version will illustrate this point; Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… Matt 28:19.

We are familiar with the word 'disciple'; as a noun it is used often in the New Testament. But the word 'disciple' has a twin sister, a verb which really ought to be translated 'to disciple'. This word is only used four times in our New Testament; it is the Greek word mathEteuO. One of these references is to Joseph of Arimathaea who is described as being 'discipled to Jesus'; And evening having come, there came a rich man, from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was discipled to Jesus… Matt 27:57 YNG. This is telling us that Joseph became a personal disciple of Jesus Christ. It was not that he subscribed to a particular set of truths, or that he had joined a community. It simply means that a relationship came into existence in which Jesus was the Master and Joseph was the Disciple. The 'becoming a disciple' was not a long drawn-out process but a point of decision in which Joseph recognised Jesus as his sole source of truth and guidance. Joseph did not join a Discipleship Training School, or commit himself to a course of study, he simply made a choice; Jesus Christ was to be his single channel of instruction and life.

The first eleven 'disciples' received a commission to go into all the nations and to bring men and women into this same unique relationship with Jesus Christ. John the gospel writer, contrary to some historical opinion, never had any disciples of his own, nor did Peter or Paul. Their life's work was to bring others to Christ himself. A disciple, after all, is one half of a matched pair; the other half is a master/guide. Those eleven men knew that Christ had forbidden them to be masters. They would have not misunderstood the great commission.

This poses an important question; am I a disciple? or am I the disciple of a disciple? Am I dependent upon Christ or am I dependent upon someone who has introduced me to Christ? It poses other vital questions too; am I fulfilling this great commission? I may travel the world preaching, I may be a great Bible teacher… but if I am not bringing men and women to the place of personal dependence upon Jesus Christ, I am not 'discipling the nations'. I may be able to boast of thousands of decisions for Christ and have seen miracles performed but if I am not bringing men and women to sit at the feet of Jesus Christ I am not fulfilling the Great Commission.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Hebrews: Now look who's talking!

The first chapter is a comprehensive statement about the identity of the speaker. I don't mean the author of the letter but the person he will constantly draw attention to throughout it. He has identified the risen and ascended Christ as Son, heir, firstborn, and King-Priest. The one who Himself purged our sins... Heb 1:3 and who now reigns as King-Priest on the throne of the universe. It has been by this 'Son' that God has spoken in these last days (Heb 1:2) How are we to respond to the Word that God has spoken?

It is recorded in the Romans epistle that originally the human race knew the truth but rejected it. ...they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Rom 1:20-21. The original revelation was rejected. The revelation that came through Moses was, in terms of personal obedience, mostly rejected. Now that God has spoken 'by a Son' surely they will listen to him, won't they? Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. Luke 20:13-15 KJV

The rejected heir has been crucified but has risen and taken his throne. Will God now move in retribution against those who rejected him? This was what the crowd feared on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:37) But 'no' he 'sits as a priest upon his throne' and still holds out the offer of salvation. (Acts 2:38-39)

Those to whom our epistle to the Hebrews was addressed stood on the threshold of the ultimate disaster. They had responded to the gospel, received the Holy Spirit and experienced the 'powers of the coming age' (Heb 6:4-5) and now stood in danger of 'turning back' to Judaism and the obsolete covenant of Moses. The ESV states the danger in the clearest terms; Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Heb 2:1 ESV. It is the metaphor of a small boat which has broken its moorings and is now drifting away on the currents. Perhaps 'slowly drifting' but fatally drifting.

The books of Proverbs gives us a little pen-sketch of the 'sluggard'; I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man. Prov 24:30-34. D L Moody, apparently used to say that he 'had more hope of a murdered than of a lazy man'.

This is the last word and the last chance to such men and women; See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, Heb 12:25.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Hebrews and Psalm 110

This may be the most quoted Old Testament passage in the Bible. Matt 22:44. Mark 12:36. Luke 20:42. Acts 2:34. 1 Cor 15:25. Heb 1:13; 7:17, 21. Its first 4 verses must have perplexed readers for a millennium. Christ used it to show that the Messiah was greater than David. Peter used it explain the Resurrection of Christ. Paul used it to point to the Consummation of all things and the author of Hebrews used it as one of the great proof texts for the New Covenant.

Part of its mystery lies in the mention of Melchizedek. Melchizedek appears in the story of Abraham, very briefly. Gen 14:18-20. He then disappears for 1000 years before reappearing in Psalm 110:4. He then disappears for another 1000 years before taking centre stage in the epistle to the Hebrews.

There is much that we could say about Melchizedek but the main point is that he is a Priest-King. Israel was not allowed to have Priest-Kings. Their priests came from the tribe of Levi, and the intention was that their kings would come from the tribe of Judah. Priesthood and monarchy were mutually exclusive. There are no Old Testament pictures of a Priest-King other than the mysterious Melchizedek. So after 3-400 years of Levitical priests why would David begin to speak of a different kind of priesthood? and who is this that David refers to as 'my lord'?

The author of Hebrews sees this as a comprehensive promise that the Old Covenant would be replaced by another, better Covenant based on better promises and with a better Mediator. As the Law and the Priesthood were an inseparable unit, to change the Priesthood meant an inevitable change in the Law; For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. Heb 7:12. This could not be a slow fade into the new but must mean a complete break between the old and the new.

The reign of Christ as Son, heir and firstborn is established clearly but now the author adds a wonderful nuance, this reign will be different; Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Zech 6:13 By his ascension he has been declared Son and heir and firstborn and a priest forever, after the model of Melchizedek. He has all authority in heaven and earth but at this point in time he exercises that authority as a 'priest' and not as a judge.

Another time must come when he must judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31) but for the time being... Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb 4:14-16.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Hebrews and Psalm 45

The second of the 'throne' psalms in Hebrews is Psalm 45. The historical setting seems to have been the coronation or marriage of Solomon and its sub-title is a 'Song of Loves'. It is an appropriate title, verses 1-12 being focussed on the King and verses 13-17 on the bride. It is only after the Son had been 'anointed' that the bride comes into view. There could be no church before Christ's coronation.

Again the psalm seems to outstrip its original purpose as it declares; Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions. Psa 45:6-7. It is true that rulers were sometimes referred to as 'gods' but what are we to make of the refrain "thy throne... is forever and ever"? Youngs Literal Translation has Thy throne, O God, [is] age-during, and for ever...Psa 45:6 YNG Where the Greek version (LXX) has 'into the age of the ages'. This is a glimpse of an eternal reign!

The author of Hebrews has no doubt that ultimately this is a reference to the Messiah on his eternal throne. He is persisting in his theme of Son and heir but it is the sequence of events that is key too. Notice the order of those events;
1. you have loved righteousness and hated iniquity

2. Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
This is anointing which follows his triumph. Christ's ascension and accession, ie his coronation is an important truth of revelation. It is because of this that Peter declared; Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. Acts 2:33 It is because he is enthroned and has received this 'anointing' that he is able to 'pour out this which you now see and hear'. In fact, for Peter, the outpouring of the Spirit was the earthly proof of this heavenly reality.

But what kind of anointing is this? Is he anointed King or Priest? The answer to that question will open up the rest of Hebrews to us.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Hebrews and Psalm 2

The author of Hebrews bases his introductory chapter on a group of Psalms. In fact, the whole letter might be seen as a 'sermon' based on texts from the Psalms. These psalms provide a wonderful link to the Old Testament and a thrilling insight into the way that the early Christians 'read their Bibles'. Of course, they didn't have a Bible as we understand it but many would be familiar with much of the Old Testament.

Psalm 2 is a curious psalm. Unless we read it carefully it can be quite difficult to identify the speakers and the listeners. Of the 12 verses we might say that 9 represent God as speaking to the whole world; Psalm 2:1-6, 10-12. But we have three verses in the middle which seem to be out of place; Psalm 2:7-9. Who is the 'I' in Psalm 2:6, and who is the 'I/me' in Psalm 2:7 ? At first glance it seems that it is king David who is speaking and that this is a kind of coronation hymn but the author to the Hebrews sees another meaning in the psalm.

Part of the clue is in the phrase 'I have set my king' (Psalm 2:6) The word translated 'set' is usually translated 'poured out' in the Old Testament and if you 'pour out' oil on a designated person that would make it an 'anointing' and the person would become the Anointed One. This links it with the Anointed One in Psalm 2:2 but the word in verse 2 in Hebrew is 'mashiyach', the Hebrew word for 'Messiah' and the Greek equivalent of that word is 'Christ'.

Now we can see how the author of Hebrews is thinking. This is not simply a coronation hymn for David but a prophecy of 'David's greater son', Jesus Christ. The nine verses are indeed God speaking to the nations but those three verses Psalm 2:7-9 is a glimpse into a heavenly court and can be understood as the testimony of Christ himself. He has been raised from the dead and has ascended into heaven. It is the time of his coronation. The Father publicly acknowledges him as his Son (Psalm 2:7) and his heir (Psalm 2:8) This is the introductory theme of Hebrews 1:2-5 and the 'today I have begotten you' is not a statement of biology but rather the public acknowledgement of given authority.

The final scene of the psalm is a word of counsel to the leaders of the nations to submit to God's duly appointed king and includes the words 'Kiss the Son, lest he be angry'. (Psalm 2:12) This is not a kiss of passion or affection but the kissing of the hand in submission. This is the gospel proclamation. God has set his Son at his own right hand and ruler of heaven and earth and men must surrender to this rule or 'perish'. That is a necessary and sober warning but the psalm ends on a sweeter note; Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. (Psalm 2:12) Have you?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Son, heir and firstborn

These three titles from the first chapter of Hebrews have caused many to think that in some way Christ is inferior to the Father. In fact, all three titles are ancient ways of speaking about publicly acknowledged authority.

In 44 BC Julius Caesar 'adopted' Octavius. This was not the kind of adoption that we are familiar with today. Octavius wasn't a bouncing baby but a battle hardened soldier. In ancient times 'adoption' was a sign of favour and acceptance. Men adopted ‘sons’ to ensure the continuance of their empires and fortunes. Octavius became Julius Caesar's 'son', his heir and effectively his 'firstborn'; he is better known as Caesar Augustus. Many Roman Emperors were ‘adopted sons’.

So what point is being made by the author of this letter? In this passage the words son, heir and firstborn have nothing to do with biology but everything to do with a public acknowledgment of the relationship between Christ and the Father. He is publicly acknowledged, by resurrection and ascension, to be the rightful ‘son and heir’. He emptied himself to fulfil the Father’s will and thereby to gain our salvation and now the Father has given him ‘an inheritance’, the reward of his faithful service.

The title of 'firstborn' was used in a similar way in the Old Testament; Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. Ex 4:22-23. That is a good example of the nature of ancient adoption. The prophecy of Jeremiah has a similar comment about the northern kingdom of Israel; For I am a Father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn. Jer 31:9. We could illustrate the theme from many an Old Testament passage. The ‘firstborn’ was the chief son who was commissioned to carry on the Father’s will into the next generation. Sometimes a first son who failed his father was dispossessed and another son was given the role of ‘firstborn’. The ‘firstborn’ had a double portion of his father’s estate AND his mother and other dependants to care for.

This does not diminish the person of Christ nor does it take away from his divinity. He is co-equal, co-eternal, co-substantial with the Father. Everything we mean when we say God the Father, is equally true of the ‘Son’. The author of Hebrews is consciously putting Christ ‘in his right setting’ so that there are no misunderstandings. He is greater than the angels, greater than Moses, greater than the Aaronic high priests. He has been entrusted with all authority in heaven and on earth. He is the unique expression of God in humanity and to be worshipped as God for ever.

There is an interesting post-script to this idea of ‘son, heir and firstborn’ Our author describes the true church... to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, Heb 12:23. That phrase ‘are registered’ is a verb in its plural form and gives us the clue to something easily missed in our English versions; the word ‘firstborn’ in this verse is plural, the firstborn-ones. What we have here is a whole company comprised of sons, heirs and firstborn ones. This is the constitution of the true church; each member (whether male or female) is acknowledged as one who has the Father’s favour and is entrusted with authority to act on his behalf… not to grow fat on double portions but to provide for the ‘dependants’.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

God's last word

The letter to the Hebrews begins with a contrast which sets the scene for the remainder of the letter. It puts a clear line of division between 'the old days' and 'now'. Or as the text has it... God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; Heb 1:1-2.

It is contrasting the way that God speaks to us. In 'the old days' he spoke at various times and in various ways and the revelation of truth built slowly so that men could begin to get their clear conception of what God was like. Those revelations were true but not the whole truth; they were partial and some older translations use the language of 'parts' and things 'partial'. We then 'fast-forward' from 'time past' to 'these last days'. The writer speaks from the position of the 'last days' which began with the coming of Christ. He says that 'in times past' God spoke by means of prophets; uniquely commissioned spokesmen for God, but in 'these last days' God has spoken, not through spokesmen, but through his own Son.

This is why John's account of the life of Christ describes him as the Word. Not 'a word', that's what the prophets delivered. But Christ is 'the Word', he is the non-partial revelation of God. God has nothing to say that he has not said in the person of Christ; Christ is God's 'last word'. John's gospel account tells us that 'the Word became flesh and lived among us'. John 1:14. John never recovered from this discovery. In Christ he saw God in all his fulness. John 1:16-18. There may well be fragments of truth in other religious traditions, but everything that God wanted us to know about God is 'visible' in Jesus Christ. This is what Christ himself was pointing to when he answered Philip's request to 'see the Father' with such direct clarity; Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9.

And this is why anyone who rejects Christ stands in such great jeopardy. Christ is God's full and final witness, to reject him as 'the Word made flesh' is to turn away from God's last word to the human race. It is also the reason that to think wrongly of Christ is such a foundational folly. We cannot think wrongly of Christ and think right in any other part of our thinking. He is the foundational corner-stone. If that corner-stone is skewed it is impossible to build true in any other part of life. The answer to the question 'what do you think of Christ?' is not religious trivia, it is the difference between light and darkness, life and death.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

the sole agent

It is part of a beautiful little verse in Peter's first letter; For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God 1 Pet 3:18. This verse could provide us with the perfect material for one of those old-fashioned 'three point sermons'.

The Purpose of His death bring us to God... He did not die as a martyr nor as the result of a miscarriage of justice. Nor was this some divine oversight or cosmic accident, it was part of a definite plan. This does not remove the responsibility of those who did the deed but points to the fact that God was at work in history fulfilling eternal purposes. This simple phrase carries a large implication, it implies that in some way we were separated from God. Why else would it be necessary to do something to 'bring us to God'.

So in what sense are ordinary human beings 'separated from God'?

Christ... suffered... for our sins...

We cannot take the Bible seriously and at the same time ignore this statement. It is a frequent testimony of scripture that Christ's death had to do with 'our sins'; not his sins, he had none. In his death he suffered the due penalty for the breaking of God's known laws; The soul who sins shall die. Ezek 18:20. If you click on the reference you can read the rest of that verse. It says very plainly that every member of our race will receive the due penalty for doing what we knew to be wrong and for not doing what we knew to be right. We are culpable and our sins have separated us from God.

If this is true, and Christ had no sins, how are we to understand his death? He died as the representative and substitute for everyone who had ever broken God's law. He received the punishment that was rightfully ours. An Old Testament prophet had seen this dimension to his death hundreds of years earlier; Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes 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. Is 53:4-6 That is what Bible students call 'substitutionary atonement', Peter simply refers to it as...

the just for the unjust

He took my place, my sin and my punishment. That is what Bible students call 'penal substitutionary atonement'. But in all the wonder of what he achieved we must be careful not to forget that clearly stated purpose. He died in our place, for our sins, as the sin-bearer upon whom God's righteous judgment came, but he did it all, without reluctance... to bring us to God.

What a tragedy it would be if having perfectly accomplished all that was necessary we should fall at the last hurdle... and not come to God. There is forgiveness for sins, peace with God, acceptance, bubbling joy and a million other blessings available... but only for those who will do business with God's sole agent in this enterprise.

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Heb 7:25