Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Death of Christ and What It Accomplished (Part Two)

Salvation was in the mind of God in eternity past and the method of that salvation is in the person and work of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus. I would like to focus on some of the things that were accomplished through the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

He was the substitution for sin. By this we mean that the Lord Jesus Christ died in the place of sinners. The actual word substitution is not in the Bible, yet the teaching is both in the Old Testament and the New. For example, when Abraham was told to offer up his son Issac as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, there was a last-minute substitution when his attention was drawn to a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. We read that he "offered it up as a burnt offering in stead of his son." The first question we might ask regarding the teaching of substitution is why do we need a substitute? The Bible makes it very clear that "all have sin and come short of the glory of God" and that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23, 6:23). We must be honest with ourselves and accept that these statements apply to every one of us. But the Bible does provide a way of escape for any who accept it. 

The Lord Jesus referred to this in the gospel when He declared that "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45).What He was teaching us was that His death was to be the payment in the place of many. In Hebrews 9:27-28 we read "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement, so Christ was offered to bear the sins of many." In the New Testament this idea of substitute carries with it the thought of "in the place of" and "for the benefit of." This is found in both 2 Corinthians 5:21 "For He made Him who knew no sin to be made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" and in 1 Peter 3:18 "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God, and being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit."

In order for Him to be our substitute, three things had to happen. He had to be available, qualified and willing. We see a beautiful picture of all three of these in Matthew 8:1-4, when a man with leprosy came to the Lord Jesus. The had come down from the mountain, He made Himself available. The man believe that Jesus was both qualified and able to heal him, but his question was, "Lord if you are willing, You can make me clean. Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying 'I am willing; be cleansed.' And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." 

When the question came "whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" The Lord Jesus would say I am available, "Here am I Send Me?" He was the spotless, sinless Son of God who was qualified to be the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Paul reminds us that He was willing because He was "the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me."

Oh that we might appreciate in a fresh way that the Lord Jesus was our substitute and that we might be able to say with the hymn writer:

O Christ what burdens bowed Thy head!
Our load was laid on Thee;
Thou stoodest in the sinners' stead,
Didst bear all ill for me.
A Victim led. Thy blood was shed!
Now there's no load for me.

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