For God so Loved 2. He died in our place

March 29, 2013

I have heard some people say that the idea of God sending His son is ridiculous; and one person said it is the picture of divine child abuse.

So why did God send Jesus to die? I thought this was a good question for Easter Friday.

The reality is that one of the greatest transactions that ever happened was on that Cross two thousand years ago.

The sin (and consequences of that sin) of man was traded for the righteousness (and consequences of that righteousness) of Christ.

And that is why we will continue our series of “For God so loved” looking at this morning at “He died in our place”.

The profound divine transaction that happened on the Cross is one of those theological ideas that we could spend weeks unpacking – we have 35mins – because in it is crammed all the hope of man and all the implications of salvation!

So why did God have to send His son?

Well, we have to go back way back and look at our problem

Our Problem

When we look at the question of why God sent His son we have to look at our problem; the great problem of sin and guilt. We all have it and we all struggle with it.

There is not a human born that has not had the prevalent and chronic struggle with sin, and the subsequent issue of sin.

When we look at it there are two evidences that we have a problem with sin; firstly the…

Physical evidence

The inclination towards evil –

One thing that every human being on this planet has in common is the inclination to break the rules; from the smallest child to the oldest adult, we all have the capacity and inclination to do that which is forbidden and wrong.

It would be bliss bringing up children if we had to teach them to be bad or naughty, the problem is that they we have to teach them to be good, their natural inclination is towards selfishness and breaking the rules that you set for them.

We as humans have a bent towards evil, it is ingrained into our very nature.

We also can see the physical evidence of our problem with sin in

The evil in society –

We need not look far to see the reality of the problem of sin within our society, corruption, greed, murder, rape, burglary etc.

Now people call this the breakdown of society, however; we see it in every society in the world. So is it really the breakdown of society or the reality of society?

The nature of man is sinful. What causes people to steal, rape, defraud? Their own inclination towards sinfulness!

I heard recently how they are having a growing problem with people entering the wrong account details when paying an EFT over the internet. The problem comes in when people try and get their money back. More often than not the people who have received the money wrongly, refuse to return the money.

Some have given the excuse for keeping the money that it is their problem they must live with it ….. I need this money so they can’t have it back. The reality is that they have effectively defrauded someone and the majority of people who receive this money are okay to keep it. Why? Because our natural tendency is towards sin.

A study done in the 1960’s called the Milgram Experiment showed that 65% of people are willing to inflict lethal pain to another if instructed to by an authority figure.

The Rwandan Genocide is a living example of that reality. The Hutu’s were told by their leaders to exterminate the Tutsi “cockroaches” because they were the root of their problems and as a result up to a million people were killed by their neighbours because the authorise said they could.

We also see the reality of the problem of our sin with

The struggle with guilt –

Guilt is one of those universal feelings that destroy people, it eats away at their psyche and destroys their self image, and is prevalent throughout societies throughout the world

The Bible echoes the physical realties telling us of the reality of the problem of our sin

Biblical evidence

The Bible does not mince words when it comes to the condition of man;

“For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23

Scripture says that we are born sinners and that we are by nature sinners

Psalm 51:5 states that we all come into the world as sinners: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me."

Ephesians 2:2 says that all people who are not in Christ are "sons of disobedience."

To add to this our sinfulness is so entrenched within us we lie to ourselves

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Whether we want to accept it or not we have a problem with sinfulness, and in fact are bound to it.

The consequence of the problem is separation from God and eternal death. Hell.

God does not send people to hell because He doesn’t like them, He sends them to hell because He and sin cannot co-exist. It is light and dark. Sinfulness is utterly destroyed in the glorious holiness of God’s light.

God’s nature is the complete opposite of us, just as dark is the complete opposite of light.

And like dark and light; darkness is completely consumed by light. So we too are utterly unable to be with God because of our sinfulness. God by His nature needs to judge sin for Him to remain a just God and the only fitting punishment is death.

This is why God sent His son so that He could be;

Our Propitiation

So what does that even mean? We get it from Romans 3:21-26.

It is often translated as atonement in the Bible. The Greek word used in this passage has the idea of the mercy seat, or the lid of the ark of the covenant on which the priest would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifices on the great day of Atonement in the Old Testament.

This word has at its core understanding the place of conciliation or appeasement or reunion.

With that in mind read Romans 3:21-26

God presented Jesus Christ as a sacrifice so that He could become our place of appeasement. That in Christ all the wrath of God is poured out so that the righteous indignation against sin might be met.

God could not let your sin be left unpunished or He would not be just!

If God simply said its okay what you did was fine I forgive you without dealing with the fact that we have rebelled against Him He in Himself would no longer be just.

His justice would be set aside for mercy, and in this He would deny His very nature which is justice.

God is just; it is who He is, He cannot deny that as much as you cannot deny being human made up of matter.

You in your nature are human, therefore because of your nature you cannot run through that wall. Believe as much as you like that you are not, and try as much as you like to deny that I promise you the wall will prove your nature! If you run full speed into it, you will quickly learn that your nature is to be solid and human.

This is the same for God to be just is who He is and He cannot deny it. Therefore to be merciful He still has to appease His just nature.

And that is why Jesus becomes our propitiation.

Christ the propitiator, the author of peace and reconciliation between us and God. Jesus did not need to win us back from Satan, He died to appease the wrath of God against us, and in turn became the very author of our peace and reconciliation between us and God.

So because of Christ’s death the wrath of God is taken away completely because all the wrath of God was poured out upon Christ upon the cross.

One of my lecturers uses this often to convert Muslims to Christ, because without Christ God cannot be both merciful and Just. He has to be one or the other.

It is only in Christ that the great justice of God and the great mercy of God come together. That in all the justice of God is met; our rebellion against God is dealt with so that through Christ we can receive all the mercy of God and all the love of God!

The cross is central to the Christian faith because of the profound power it had to bring us back to God!

This is why I believe Easter is one of the most important celebrations that we can have as Christians. For in it is the very power of our faith. And in fact we should be celebrating the Cross of Christ every day!

Why do you think Jesus commanded us to have communion: in it we remember the cross of Christ and corporately we are brought together humbled by the great power and sacrifice of Christ. That is humiliation is our reconciliation!

Finally God sent His son so that He could be our…

Our Present

What do I mean by this? God sent His son so that we could receive all the goodness of God in Christ Jesus. And by all our sins being taken away we are given all the righteousness of Christ.

Turn to 2 Corinthians 5:21.

This is another one of those great theologically rich passages of Scripture. In it is such profound truth!

Christ on the cross took on all our sinfulness, so that we could take on all His righteousness. Some have called this the divine exchange.

To make it clearer imagine you have R10 and really want a pack of donuts. No matter how much you wish and long you cannot turn that R10 into donuts!

You need an exchange, so you go to the shop and you give them your R10 and they give you their donuts. Now you are R10 less but you have donuts.

It’s the same way with Christ, we have sin, it is all we have and there is no way that we can change that sin into righteousness. no matter how much we pray or fast or try and prove it not to be sin all we are left with is sin (just like the R10) we need someone who is righteous to give us their righteousness in exchange for our sinfulness. And this is what Christ has done on the Cross.

So that in Christ we have all the righteousness of Christ! You are no longer a sinner you are a Child of God, set free by His grace, righteous and pure because of the power of Christ and His sacrifice upon the Cross!

This is the good news!

It’s why I have a slight issue when I hear Christian’s calling themselves sinners saved by grace; the Bible tells me that you have all the righteousness of Christ you are saints!

When we come to Christ by faith we are made right with God! so we need to live like it!

God sent His son so that we could be given righteousness through Christ Jesus!

So what do we do with this information about why God sent His Son?

As we go into our Easter weekends, I believe that we respond to this information with Humility and gratefulness.

We come to the cross to be healed, to be forgiven and to be given the righteousness of Christ.

Let me ask you what is keeping you from the Cross? God has done all to heal you of your problem with sin, He stands ready to impart His goodness to you if you would come humbly to Him and receive!

I pray that as we enjoy this weekend of rest and family that we remember that we have being given by God His son so that we might be made Children of the most High!

Receive this news and share that God has made a way for all who come humbly to Him he will not turn away but He will give them His righteousness! 

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