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Sermon Notes

Please note that these are only notes, not transcripts, and as such are not identical to the recorded sermons. They also contain frequent abbreviations.

  1. Introduction:

    1. Consider these two statements:

      1. Jesus of Nazareth was crucified by Pontius Pilate c. 33 AD. That’s historical fact.

      2. Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. That’s the Gospel.

    2. To look at the cross of Christ from a merely human point of view, we must say that it was a terrible tragedy, an awful injustice, the sad end to a great man, but to look at it from the perspective of the Gospel we say with Paul, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14)

    3. What do we see when we look at the cross?

      1. Is it merely the death of innocent man, executed in the cruelest way imaginable?

        1. Crucifixion, the death of the cross, was so awful, so gruesome, that it makes us want to shudder. It was a method of execution employed by the Romans; it was reserved for the basest of criminals, the lowest of slaves; Roman citizens could not be crucified; it was death of the greatest shame.

        2. Crucifixion was designed to inflict the greatest amount of agony upon the victim, and was dreadfully slow. We derive our word excruciating from it.

      2. To the world the cross and crucifixion were awful subjects

        1. No one would mention such matters in polite conversation, and yet the preaching of Christ crucified is the Gospel.

        2. The Romans and Greeks considered the cross to be grossly offensive, and yet the message of the church was of a crucified Savior, the very idea of which was to a Gentile mind the grossest of contradictions and plain nonsense.

        3. To the Jews crucifixion was abhorrent because it was a curse. The law of God said that any man who hangs on a tree is cursed, rejected by God in heaven and by men on earth, and only fit to hang suspended between the two. The idea of Christ crucified was blasphemy.

  2. THE DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST

    1. The day Jesus Christ was crucified two thieves were put to death with Him, but their deaths were altogether different from His. Christ’s death is important b/c of who He is.

      1. Jesus Christ of Nazareth was no moral teacher, spectacular prophet or noble martyr dying for a righteous cause. His death is no unforeseen calamity or tragedy, but His death had purpose, and value.

        1. Christ knew all along that He was going to die; and He knew how He was going to die; He told Him disciples in advance about His arrest, the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, the beating, the spitting, the scourging and the crucifixion as well as the resurrection which would follow.

        2. The Old Testament, which Christ had come to fulfill, prophesied of His sufferings, esp. Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 and 69.

        3. And God in heaven had eternally purposed the death of Jesus Christ (I Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8).

      2. Because Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the Eternal Son of God His death has eternal significance.

        1. The dignity of His Person means that His sufferings are infinite in value, and what His sufferings have accomplished for the good of men will be the song of heaven forever. Jesus will be praised, worshipped and glorified with these words, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain …” (Rev. 5:12).

        2. The Son of God was eternally in the bosom of His Father, equal in power and glory with Him; and in eternity the Triune God decreed within Himself that the Son would become a man, suffer and die for sinners, and that the man Jesus Christ would be exalted in His human nature to the highest position in Heaven at God’s right hand.

        3. The miracle by which God became man is the Incarnation, “the word was made flesh and dwelled among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14)

      3. As a result of the Incarnation, Jesus Christ is the Mediator, one perfectly suited to stand between sinners and the Holy God and bring sinners back into God’s favor and fellowship.

        1. As Almighty God, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, He has perfect knowledge of the Father’s will, and is able to reveal that will to sinners, and the dignity of His Person makes His work infinitely valuable in God’s sight

        2. As true, complete and sinless man, with a human body, soul, mind and will, He is able to suffer and die, and able to be subject to the Law of God, and to obey it, “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that there under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5).

        3. And He is both God and man, with two distinct natures, human and divine, in one divine Person. Therefore, His divine nature can support His human nature, so that He is able to endure the wrath of God, and deliver sinners from it without Himself being destroyed.

    2. The death of this Jesus Christ, the Son of God in our flesh, was necessary

      1. It was necessary because it was the will of God to save sinners

        1. It was not therefore absolutely necessary; had God decreed, He could have decreed to send everyone without exception to hell, and He would be perfectly just in so doing. He could have decreed not to send Christ.

        2. But given man’s sin, and given God’s desire to save sinners, the death of the Son of God on the cross was the only possible way of salvation which could answer the need of sinners, and be in harmony with God’s perfect character.

        3. That God made a plan of salvation is His perfect and infinite mercy, to His eternal glory.

      2. It was necessary because of man’s sinful condition

        1. Man has sinned, and because of sin he has become guilty before God. This means that the status of sinners before God is legally that of criminals.

        2. God created man under the Law with the obligation to keep God’s commandments. This obligation stands regardless of man’s ability. The demand of God is perfect, lifelong obedience to all of God’s commandments out of a heart of love to God and with the motive of glorifying God. God’s law is the revelation of God’s perfect character and every violation is an example of man’s hatred of and contempt for the Lawgiver who gave him being. Here is the Law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:37-39). And given that we are not able to keep the law, the law pronounces a curse upon us, “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10).

        3. Standing before God as wicked criminals all men owe God the debt of perfect obedience (which they have not paid and cannot pay) and the satisfaction of the justice of God against the sins which they have already committed and continue to commit. Because they are not able to satisfy the justice of God, they are legally liable to suffer punishment. This punishment is determined by the Judge according to the severity of the crime committed. Because sin is committed against God, the Highest Majesty and the Almighty Creator, it deserves infinite punishment, which a finite creature can only suffer eternally, that is, eternal punishment body and soul in hell. God warned man already in the beginning that the penalty for sin is death. And as soon as Adam sinned, he died spiritually. He became totally depraved, he became an enemy of God, and his whole nature was corrupted. “The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8). In due time, man dies physically, and then he dies eternally, as he suffers the second death in hell.

        4. This punishment of death is inescapable for the sinner unless two things happen. The criminal debt which the sinner owes must be paid in full to the justice of God, and the sinner must pay the full obedience to God’s Law which he has not performed. But for the sinner this is impossible because while the sinner lives in the world he sins, and thus his debt grows, and so he can never even begin to pay what he owes. No sinner can pay off infinite punishment and so what Jesus says in Matt. 5:26 remains solemnly true. “Verily, I saw unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”

      3. It was necessary because of God’s justice and the immutability of God’s Law

        1. God is just. He is committed to Himself as the perfect standard and God’s Law reflects that standard. God’s law cannot be broken without punishment being the consequence. God cannot and will not ignore it. To do so would deny Himself as the Judge of all the earth.

        2. But in the case of a financial and criminal debt, the creditor will accept payment from a substitute. Certainly, if you owe someone 1,000 EUR, a generous friend could go to your creditor and give him the money on your behalf. The creditor is not so much concerned about the debtor, but the amount of money owed. If a judge fined you 1000 EUR for a crime a generous friend could pay your fine and again justice would be served. However, that does not quite work with other penalties. Let’s say, you are sentenced to 5 years in prison. Could a friend offer to serve your sentence for you? Let’s say you are sentenced to death. Could a friend be put to death in your place? Paul alludes to the possibility in Romans 5:6-8, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

    3. The death of Christ was necessary because of man’s guilt and depravity, because of what man owes God in obedience and in the liability of punishment, because of God’s justice, and man’s inability to pay. But, salvation is only possible if a substitute can be found, and the Bible says that Christ is the substitute for sinners.

      1. A substitute must meet certain requirements.

        1. First, the Judge must permit and be willing to accept a suitable substitute. Let’s say you are sentenced to 5 years in prison. You cannot simply volunteer someone to act as substitute. You cannot say. I’d like so-and-so to be my substitute. The Judge, in this case, the sovereign God, must determine whether He will allow a substitute, and the very act of allowing a substitute is an act of mercy.

        2. Second, the substitute must be willing to act in that capacity. It would be grossly unjust if a man was forced to take the punishment due to another. The substitute must have the authority, ability and will to give up His own life for the life of others. Jesus Christ said, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18).

        3. The substitute must be of the same nature as the sinner. The ones who sinned are humans; therefore, the substitute must be human, because the human nature which sinned must be punished. An angel cannot suffer for sin. “Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also likewise took part of the same … Verily he took not on him the nature of angels” (Heb. 2:14, 16). An animal cannot suffer for sin; all the animal sacrifices of the OT were pictures pointing to, foreshadowing and promising a perfect substitution. “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin” (Heb. 10:4).

        4. The substitute must also have the power of bearing the punishment the sinner deserves and of freeing Himself from death. Death must not have any claim on Him. If He is defiled by His own sin, death has a legal claim, but if He carries the sins of someone else, death only has a legal claim on Him until He has made satisfaction. Then, He frees Himself and those He represents from death. “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him” (Rom. 6:9).

      2. A substitute, then, is the only conceivable way of salvation, given our inability to satisfy God. But, we cannot produce a substitute. God has provided a substitute, His Son Jesus Christ.

        1. God did not have to give a substitute. That He did so, is an act of grace, mercy and love.

        2. God purposed and desired to give a substitute so that He could reveal both His justice and His mercy in the salvation of sinners.

        3. Rather than see us perish, God punished His own Son as a substitute; rather than see His Law broken with impunity, He caused that punishment to fall upon another.

      3. But we need to be clear what a substitute is, and what Scripture means by it.

        1. A substitute does something instead of or in the place of another with the result that the one for whom he is substitute does not have to do it. Think of football: When a man is a substitute, he plays for or in the place of another team member, so that the team member does not play. It would be absurd to say that David Beckham substitutes for Leo Ferdinand and then for Leo Ferdinand to keep playing.

        2. If Christ is truly substitute for a sinner, He keeps and fulfills the Law’s demands for him and instead of him, so that the sinner is freed from all obligations to pay. If Christ is punished for a sinner in his place as a substitute, the sinner does not and never will have to be punished for his sins. If the death of Christ is truly substitutionary, that means that according to the strict justice of God the penalty of the Law does not and cannot fall on the sinner because it has already fallen on Christ.

        3. It cannot be, then, that Christ suffers the penalty of the sin of a sinner, and that sinner still perishes in hell. If that was the case, in no sense could it be said that Christ was a true substitute. Such would be absurd.

      4. The truth that Christ’s death was substitutionary is seen in the important prepositions used to describe it. The main word we have in English is “FOR.” Christ died for sinners.

        1. In English the word FOR can mean “ON BEHALF OF,” “FOR THE GOOD OF,” “FOR THE ADVANTAGE OF” and therefore, “IN THE PLACE OF.” Here’s a sentence. “The visiting pastor preached for the absent pastor and for the congregation.” In that sentence, we mean, “The visiting pastor preached in the place of the absent pastor and for the benefit of the congregation.”

        2. The same is true of the Greek language. The word ???? means in the place of. Matthew 2:22, “But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of (???? ) his father Herod …;” Matt. 5:38, “An eye for (???? ) an eye, a tooth for (???? ) a tooth,” Luke 11:11, “If he ask for a fish, will he for (???? ) a fish give him a serpent?” So, Jesus uses this word to describe his death, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and give His life a ransom for (???? ) many.” The second main preposition is ???? which means on behalf of, for the benefit of, and therefore, by extension, instead of. Christ’s death is only advantage to sinners if it is in their place. Here are a few verses with ???? : John 10:11, “The good shepherd gives his life for (???? ) the sheep,” Romans 5:8, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for (???? ) us,” Galatians 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for (???? ) us,” Titus 2:14, “Who gave Himself for (???? ) us, that He might redeem us …” How, for example, does the fact that Christ became a curse for (???? ) us, benefit us, unless by so doing He took the curse in our place so that we do not have to bear it.

      5. The truth of substitution is also seen when we consider what Scripture says about Christ bearing the sins of others.

        1. What happened to Christ on the cross was not a calamity or disaster; such is the suffering of an accident. Nor was it chastisement in the sense in which God chastises His people to purify them, to teach them patience or even to correct them from a sinful walk. The suffering on the cross was inflicted by God as Judge and it was punishment.

        2. But Christ is sinless, and had no need to be punished for His own sins. He therefore was punished because of the guilt of others. This could only be just, however, if Christ somehow became legally responsible for the sins of others. He did so when He became the surety of sinners. That word surety is an important concept. A surety takes upon himself the legal responsibility and obligations of another so that if he cannot meet his obligations the surety answers for him. There is a beautiful example of this in Genesis. Jacob was reluctant to allow his sons to take Benjamin to Egypt but Judah said that if anything happened to Benjamin he would forever bear the blame. When Joseph threatened to sell Benjamin into slavery Judah begged to be allowed to be the surety for Benjamin. Read Genesis 44:32-34.

        3. Christ stands in the presence of God as the surety of His people. He became legally responsible for their sins. God then inflicted upon Him the punishment they should have borne. God reckons to the surety the sins the people have committed. He does that by imputation, by reckoning or putting them on the account of Christ. That is the meaning of Isaiah 53:6, “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all,” Isaiah 53:11, “for he shall bear their iniquities,” and I Peter 2:24, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree …”

  3. The Accomplishments of Christ’s Death.

    1. Scripture indicates that God had a purpose in sending Christ to die and that He was successful in that purpose. We see that in the various words used in Scripture to describe what Christ accomplished by His death.

      1. First, Christ’s death is atonement.

        1. Atonement is the covering up of the guilt of sin by means of a sacrifice. The root idea is to cover, that is, to cover over in the sight of God so that God no longer holds such sin against the sinner. This is what the Psalmist sings about in Ps. 32:1, “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” But, such a covering is no brushing of sin under the carpet. The sin must be covered by means of a sacrifice. This was the basis of the Old Testament sacrificial system. The book of Leviticus speaks of the priest making atonement for the Israelite who had sinned. This means that an animal was killed and his blood was sprinkled in the sight of God to cover up the sin which the Israelite had committed. Either he brings an acceptable atonement or he dies. So serious was God about atonement that even the altar itself and the priests and all the instruments and the very tabernacle itself had to be cleansed with blood.

        2. The result of atonement is that God is “at one” with the sinner, because the ground of condemnation is removed. Since Christ, who IS the atonement, has covered our sins by His blood, there is for us no condemnation. That is Paul’s argument in Rom. 8:33, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Notice, the very fact of Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension and intercession is our salvation. Nothing can be added to that. In other words, Christ’s death atoned for sin. It did not merely make atonement possible if the sinner does something.

      2. Second, Christ’s death is redemption.

        1. Redemption is deliverance from slavery, bondage or imprisonment through the payment of a price. The price which is paid is called a ransom. The words redeem, redeemer and ransom are common in Scripture. The three main verbs mean “to buy or to purchase,” “to buy or purchase out of,” and “to liberate or set free.” Here are a few examples: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Gal. 3:13); “For ye are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:20); “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold … but with the precious blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18-19). “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Eph. 1:7).

        2. From what did Christ redeem sinners? The answer is from sin, from the law and from the devil. The Law is bondage because it demands of us that which we cannot perform and pronounces a curses upon us. The Law stands before us as a guard with a whip in hand, threatening us with death and the curse. Sin is bondage; it takes control of a man, demands his service, but instead of giving freedom, it enslaves a man, so that he cannot do anything but sin. Eventually, sin destroys a man forever. All men by nature are enslaved to their sinful lusts, whether the debased drunkard, the sexually immoral man or the self righteous, proud materialist. And the devil is bondage. He controls men. They are “taken captive by him at his will.”

        3. This, then, is our condition. We are guilty before God. He has therefore in His justice sold us into the power of a broken law, into the power of sin, and into the power of the devil. And the most perverse thing about our bondage is that we are willingly bound. We love to serve sin and the devil, even though it gives us no satisfaction and even though we have no peace. Indeed, we are so blind that we do not even realize that we are in bondage. We think we are free. Unbelievers think they are free and they think that Christians are in bondage.

        4. In order to secure the freedom of sinners from the bondage of sin, law and devil, Christ paid the ransom price. Some in the early church believed He paid the price to the devil. But, no, He paid the price to God, to satisfy God’s justice. The price was paid; God approved; God accepted the price and by virtue of the redemption paid God sets the captives free. Since redemption is to free from captivity upon payment of a price, it is unthinkable that a ransom be paid and the captive still remain in captivity. That would be a redemption which does not redeem.

        5. And, listen, this is very important, since Christ paid the ransom to God, it is God’s choice whether He will accept the ransom or not. The question is not, “Will you accept the ransom price?” The price was not paid to you. The question is, has God accepted the ransom price? The answer is yes. And because He is accepted the price the deliverance of the captive sinner for whom He paid it is a matter of justice. God would be unjust if He did not release all those for whom Christ paid the ransom. In other words, Christ death redeemed sinners, it did not make sinners redeemable; it did not make redemption possible, if the sinner does something.

      3. Third, Christ’s death is reconciliation

        1. Reconciliation is the restoration of a broken friendship. When two friends have fallen out, so that they are no longer on speaking terms, reconciliation must take place. Reconciliation will take place when the cause for enmity has been removed. God is angry with sinners and sinners are filled with hatred against Him. The cause of enmity is man’s sin. God remained true and righteous while man was perverse and sinned against God. Sin acts as a barrier between God and sinners, making friendship between them impossible. God reconciled sinners to Himself by the death of His Son. Here are a few examples: “When we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son …” (Rom. 5:10); “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them …” (II Cor. 5:19); “And you that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works yet now hath he reconciled” (Col. 1:21)

        2. The result of Christ’s work on the cross is that the sin which was a barrier between God and His people has been removed, and we have been restored to the favor of God, and enjoy His friendship. Now, if someone lives and dies an enemy of God, we cannot say that he has been reconciled. In other words, Christ’s death reconciled sinners to God; it did not make sinners reconcilable; it did not make reconciliation possible, if the sinner does something.

      4. Fourth, Christ’s death is propitiation

        1. Propitiation is to appease or placate someone by the turning away of wrath. For example, Jacob says of his brother in Gen. 32:20, “I will appease him with the present which goes before me.” Christ turned away God’s wrath from sinners by being the propitiation for their sins. I John 4:10, “He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

        2. God was propitiated, appeased or placated by the work of the cross, because the price was paid in full, and now God is perfectly satisfied. In other words, Christ’s death propitiated God; it did not make propitiation possible, if the sinner does something.

    2. The Bible says that the purpose of God in sending Christ to die was actually to atone for sin, actually to redeem sinners, actually to reconcile sinners to Himself, and actually to propitiate His own justice.

      1. But many, those who believes that Christ died for all men without exception, deny this.

        1. But if you believe that Christ died for all, but not all are saved, then you deny that Christ accomplished anything by His death on the cross. Then, Christ’s atonement did not atone, Christ’s redemption did not redeem, Christ’s reconciliation did not reconcile and Christ’s propitiation did not propitiate. You might not want to express it that way but that is what such a belief means.

        2. I am sure you have all heard the Gospel presentation: “Christ died for the sins of all men. He paid the price for everybody. He has done everything He can to deliver all men from sin, but you must make Christ your own and personal Savior by accepting what He done for everybody and making it your own.”

        3. What is wrong with that presentation? It denies that Christ is Savior and makes you your own Savior.

      2. The answer of many is that Christ wants to save all men by His death; He wants to pay your price, He wants to redeem you, He wants to pay the ransom, but He has left it up to you.

        1. But the Bible NEVER speaks in such terms. The Bible always uses the past tense, or a purpose clause. After all, what Christ did happened in the past. It is a finished work. Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30) which means “It has been brought to completion; it is accomplished; it has been paid in full!” Search the Bible and you will find expressions like these, “By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12).

        2. Indeed, it would be a gross injustice to Christ for the Father not to save one for whom He shed His blood. Imagine, Christ satisfies God’s justice, and pours out His soul unto death, and that person still perishes. Imagine, Christ buys with the exceedingly precious price of His own blood a multitude of sinners, and Christ does not receive what He paid for. Will Christ be satisfied that He paid for the sins of sinners who then perish? Imagine, Christ pays the ransom price for some sinners and those sinners are never freed? Such a result is unthinkable unless Christ’s sacrifice has no power and God is unjust.

        3. The Gospel does not proclaim, “Christ died for you if you accept it. But Christ died for sinners and all sinners who believe in Christ will be saved. Believe in the crucified Jesus Christ.” And all those who do not believe and perish forever show that Christ never died for them, Christ was never a substitute for them and Christ never paid for their sins. Their sins will rest of them and God’s wrath will abide on them for all eternity.

      3. The Bible, then, teaches Limited Atonement

        1. The term Limited Atonement is unfortunate because it gives the wrong impression. By it we simply mean that Christ died only for the elect, not for everybody. Christ did not die for those who perished in the Flood, He did not die for the Egyptians who perished in the Red Sea, He did not die for Goliath, He did not die for Judas Iscariot, for the Emperor Nero; in fact, in hell, there is nobody, not one single person, for whom Christ died.

        2. By Limited Atonement we do not mean that there is a limit in God’s power to save by the Atonement. Of course not! We mean that it was not God’s purpose to save all men and therefore He did not send His Son to die for all men. Indeed, the sins of those who perish were not laid on Christ; He did not represent them in His saving work.

        3. In fact, Arminianism, with its mantra “Christ died for all men” limits and actually destroys the atonement. There is no atonement in Arminianism.

        4. We glory in the cross of Christ because the Christ of the cross actually saves. He saves all those for whom He died. He delivers all His redeemed people. He saves His whole bride. He preserves every member of His body and He gathers all His sheep. That is salvation. Believe it. Amen!