The Wonderful Gospel of Grace
The story never grows old. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and second person of the Trinity, becoming a man – without ceasing to be God – in order to rescue guilty sinners from the bondage of sin and its gruesome wages (Rom. 6:23). God the Father “delivered over” His only Son into the hands of sinful men to be crucified, to be a penal substitute and propitiation for sinners. Motivated by love for His Father and for those whom the Father gave Him (John 6:37-39), Christ willingly gave His life. This giving of His life, however, entailed much more than a quick execution. I am starkly reminded that Christ’s suffering involved no less than the following: betrayed by a friend (Mt. 26:14-16); great temptation (Mt. 26:39); abandoned by His disciples (Mt. 26:56); spat upon, slapped, and mocked (Mt. 26:67-68); a close friend’s three-fold denial of Him (Mt. 26:69-75); hateful rejection by the public (Mt. 27:22-25); whipping (Mt. 27:26); a sharp crown of thorns pressed into His brow (Mt. 27:29); long metal stakes driven into his wrists and ankles (Mt. 27:35). All of this was for you. But there’s more.
While suffering on the cross, Christ bore not only our sin and shame, but also the judgment and wrath of God which our sins deserve (the wages of sin). In other words, in an act of indescribable love, Jesus turned God’s almighty wrath away from us and onto Himself. This is precisely why Christ cried out those unforgettable words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” For the first time in all eternity the Father turned His face away from His Son and poured out His dreadful wrath upon Him.
Martyn Lloyd Jones, in a sermon on Philippians 3:9, helpfully explains the gospel to us:
"… the law’s demands had to be fulfilled. He was innocent, pure and absolutely righteous, the law could not point a finger against him, it could not find a single blemish in him, but he deliberately took our sins upon himself, and God punished our sins there in his body on the tree. God made him responsible for our penalty; God was there inflicting his penalty upon the Son, so that in Christ we see the demand and the penalty of the law satisfied, and we see the positive demand of the law in the matter of righteousness satisfied. Thus Christ is righteous in the full sense in that he yielded obedience to the law both in its penalty and in its requirements, and the amazing, astounding message of the gospel is that God now takes that righteousness and gives it to us – ‘Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is of God by faith.’ We can put it like this. God turns to the sinner and says,‘There is perfect righteousness and I will give you that righteousness exactly as you are.’ That is the offer of the gospel; that is what Paul came to see, and without doing anything at all, exactly as he was, he received and accepted it. He saw that it was his only hope, he submitted to it, and he was saved; God pardoned him and regarded him as justified – it is the righteousness of God by faith” (D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, The Life of Peace, 65).
Beloved Christ Church, God has done this for you. Salvation has been secured by the person and work of Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb who was slain. It is with the knowledge of and faith in this gospel that we live and serve our LORD. All of Scripture points to this great salvation which was planned by God, accomplished by Christ, and applied by the Holy Spirit through the gift of faith. Therefore, let us as a congregation labor to keep the Gospel central in our worship, our ministries, our families, and our individual lives.
Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to thee
Can rid me of this dark unrest, and set my spirit free
- Horatius Bonar, 1861
- Pastor Jon