2010-05-02 (am) 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 50 Reasons Part 2
Today we continue our examination of reconciliation. It is the process by which God made humanity right with him. In order to do this, God sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross. Christ’s death paid the debt we owed. Christ’s death was a sacrifice, an atonement for sin. The scriptures teach that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. We see this is true when we are honest with ourselves, and we know that it is true when we look at others. Have you ever met a perfect person? You might have met someone who thought they were perfect, but no one is perfect except Jesus Christ.
Jesus came “to seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Jesus came, not to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).
Those are some of the many reasons why Jesus came to die. This morning, we’ll look at these five: Jesus came to die to show his love for us, to cancel the legal demands of the law, to become a ransom for many, for the forgiveness of our sins and to provide the basis for our justification.
To Show His Love for Us
“Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2). “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). “[He] loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
When we see Christ on the cross, we see in his sacrifice two things: God’s love for the world (John 3:16) and Jesus’ own love for those who believe in Him, who receive him as their greatest treasure.
Jesus demonstrated, in his death, the most amazing, most powerful expression of love for you! He demonstrated the most amazing, most powerful expression of love for me!
A while ago, I was reading about Eric Liddell, the Scottish runner portrayed in the movie “Chariots of Fire.” After his famous race, he went back to China, where he was born, to serve as a missionary to that country. During WWII, he was interned in a concentration camp. At one point, he was given a pardon. He was given the opportunity to return to Scotland, but instead, he gave his position to a pregnant woman. He was ill. He died in 1945, five months before liberation. He gave his life for another.
Jesus, out of love for you, for me, gave his life. He put himself in harm’s way, to save us. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13).
The question we must ask ourselves is this. Did Jesus give his life for me? Am I his friend? Am I one of his people whom he came to save? The answer is yes, if, you “believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (Jn. 1:12). “Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).
If you have believed in Jesus, if you have embraced his amazing loving gift for you, then you may know Christ’s love for you. Jesus loved you and gave himself for you. Hear Jesus’ prayer for you, the prayer he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory” (Jn. 17:24). Jesus died in order that we might receive this great gift. That’s Christ’s love for us!
To Cancel the Legal Demands of the law Against Us
In addition to his love, Christ came to cancel the law’s demands against us. Colossians 2:13 says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses... God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
If you were to interview the average person in town and ask them if they believe they are going to heaven when they die, most would probably say yes. If you asked them how they’d get there, they’d say that their good deeds would cancel out their bad ones. Provided they do more good deeds, they’ll get in. I think it’s kind of a Santa situation. God knows if you’ve been naughty or nice, but if you’ve been more nice than naughty, you won’t get a lump of coal at the end of your life.
But God’s economy doesn’t work that way. God doesn’t trade bad for good, at least not our good. For the simple reality is this, even our good, our very best attempts at being good is tainted by the bad. Apart from Christ exalting faith, our deeds still represent rebelling against God. We very quickly turn every situation to any supposed advantage we can get. It is a very rare person who truly acts altruistically.
God doesn’t save based on our good deeds. God saves by nailing our sins to Christ’s cross. Our bad deeds must be completely removed, not balanced out. Christ took on our bad deeds, Christ became as sin in order to nail our sin to the cross, in order to blot out our sins. Our faith, our hope, our salvation is in Christ alone.
This is vital. So many people are deluded. So many people will die, expecting to see a godly Santa someone, and instead they’ll come face to face with a just judge. Only those who have accepted Christ’s sacrifice will be saved. It is too great a risk!
To become a Ransom for Man
Our third point builds on the second one. Mark says that “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Another misconception people have regarding Christ’s death is who received the ransom. Many think that the ransom was paid to Satan. This is wrong. Christ paid the ransom to God. God demanded it. The Father, in order to cancel the debt of sinners, needed to receive a ransom, a just payment for sin. And only Christ was able to pay it.
What happened to Satan? At Christ’s death, he was defeated. Hebrews 2:14 says, Christ died so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.”
We don’t sin against the devil. We sin against God. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But in Christ, God declares “that there is no condemnation for those who believe” (Rom. 8:1).
Christ’s whole life, the life he lived from birth to death paid the ransom. Surprisingly, Christ’s payment was neither coerced nor negotiated. Christ willingly paid it. Christ makes this offer for everyone. Though we recognise that it is not a ransom for everyone, for not everyone will receive it. There will be people who reject it.
Have you received it?
For the Forgiveness of Our Sins
Lord willing, we will experience Jesus’ amazing sacrifice through the sacrament of Lord’s Supper next week. Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, after the meal, took the cup and said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28).
Forgiveness is peculiar. Have you ever noticed that the word forgive contains in it the word give? Forgiveness is given. Forgiveness is a gift. There’s no expectation of return. Forgiveness assumes grace.
Suppose, after leaving here today, there’s an accident. One of you runs a stop sign and slams into another person’s car, t-boning them. Whiplash galore! Grace, forgiveness, means not suing. Forgiveness gives something that the other person doesn’t deserve.
When we place our trust in Christ, God forgives, graciously. He doesn’t say, “Okay, now that you’ve trusted him for your salvation, in order to secure that salvation, you must do this that and the other thing.”
That wouldn’t be grace. That would be work. What God does instead is he wipes out our transgressions for his own sake. As far as east is from west, so far God removes our sins from us.
But is forgiveness enough? You steal my toy, and I get it back, and you say sorry, and, well, it’s over. No big deal, it’s just a little thing, a small sin. But what about big sins? But what about rape? What about murder? What kind of a society would it be if our courts said to a rapist or a murderer, “Are you sorry? Yes, you are? Then you’re forgiven, you may go.” Even if the victim were to forgive her rapist, the state still must punish him, for justice sake.
It is the same thing with God. Justice must be served. This is why Jesus died a horrible death, willingly mind, on the cross. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Eph. 1:7).
Having been so reconciled to God, that reconciliation empowers us to forgive others who sin against us. Where’s the justice? It is paid by Christ, every sin committed against us, is committed against God. And they are all paid for by Jesus. What does that mean for us?
It means that we have the freedom to be exceedingly gracious. It means that we can look to Christ and find, not just grace for ourselves, but also grace for others. Even if the sin is horrid, we can find grace. Peter asked how many times we ought to forgive. Jesus answered, seven times 70. That’s a lot of forgiving. And remember what it cost Jesus. It cost him his life. Forgiveness is not easy. It will cost you your life. But whoever loses his life for Jesus’ sake, will find it (Matt. 16:25).
To Provide the Basis for Our Justification.
Being justified and being forgiven is not the same thing. Forgiveness is being guilty, but not having to face the charges. Justification is being tried and found innocent of all charges.
Justification doesn’t make a person just; rather it identifies or declares that a person is just. Forgiveness is Christ paying for our sins. Justification declares that, on account of the forgiveness won for us by Christ, we are just.
Think of a court case. Through the work of the defence attorney, at the end of the trial, the jury declares the defendant, “Not guilty.” For most of us, keeping the law, obeying the law, means that the judge pronounces us “just”. We kept the law, we didn’t break it, we’re just. But in God’s courtroom, we have not kept the law. So on our own, God cannot simply declare us just, forgetting about our lawbreaking. That would be wicked. Proverbs 17:15 says he who justifies the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.
How then does God justify the ungodly, us, without becoming an abomination? Again, it comes down to Christ’s blood. Christ’s blood cancels the sin against us. If, in school, you received an “F” on one of your exams but the teacher decided to strike it from your record, that would be forgiveness. But if the teacher were to justify your “F” he or she would have to turn that fail into an “A”. That’s what Christ did by living a perfect life. But we’re getting a wee bit ahead of ourselves, we’ll save that for the next time we take up this series.
If you have not accepted Christ’s payment for sins, do so. Put your trust in him. Don’t put your hope in a false justice system, a supposed system of scales, good versus bad. We know that just isn’t the way it is. Put your hope in Christ.
If you’ve put your hope in Christ, in the reconciliation he’s won for you, set your heart on Christ. Pray that he will bless you with his very own grace. Pray that he will give you the strength to love as he does. Pray that he’ll enable you to be generous with everything you have. Christ gave up heaven to save you. Be generous with your giving, your forgiving! Amen.