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

...to 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

1 comment:

Theodore A. Jones said...

I have been reading some of your thoughts and I think that there is an aspect of your perspective that is misleading you and others that may follow your teaching. "In his death he suffered the due penalty for the breaking God's known laws." Take a look at Heb. 7:12b "there is made of necessity a change also of the law." "For the law was added so that the trespass might increase." There is one law you do not know about which by Jesus crucifixion has been added to the law of God. Therefore your idea that the Lord's death is in place of yours is a total error.

"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
For God by two immutable things, his oath and an addition to the law, by the fact of the crucifixion of his only begotten son Jesus, has made each man accountable to God in regard to a sin. The life of Jesus has become a sin each man must give a satisfactory account to God of or that man perishes forever.
"And for Your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from EACH man too I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man, Emanuel."
Therefore understand this. The only Way the Lord's command given through the apostles can be obeyed is by the faith of confessing with your mouth directly to God that you are sorry Jesus' life was taken by bloodshed when he was crucified. And be baptized into this Way, the righteousness of God, for the forgiveness of all sins. But if you refuse to obey God this Way, "The soul who sins shall die."