Kittredge Community Bible Church
- Were You There?
- Were You There?
- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
- John 10:11-18As we mentioned last Sunday, theology has a very practical purpose. The Bible wasn't written just so we could know things but to motivate us to do things.Of course, we aren't aren't saved by our works, but neither are we meant to just sit around and wait for Christ to return.So, when it comes to our understanding of the atonement it’s not enough to just know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Knowledge is meant to have to have a positive effect how we act and think.Look at how this works in John 10.“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.That’s a fact that we should believe. Jesus died for his sheep. But then Jesus goes on to say that his sheep listen to his voice and they follow him.That’s an action based upon a belief. But there’s more. There’s confidence and assurance that comes as a result of having a right understanding.My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.See, the atonement isn't just a doctrinal subject only meant for theologians. Understanding what it is about is immensely practical for you and for me.If our lives are lacking confidence and assurance the problem may be with our beliefs. What we believe is inseparably tied to how we think and act.So, in order to have the kind of assurance God desires it is absolutely critical to rightly understand what is meant by the atonement.Let’s look at what is meant by the atonement and then we’ll look at it’s connection with assurance.1. AtonementSimply put, atonement means reconciliation with God. Our sin is what separates us from God and so the Good Shepherd pays for our sin, or makes reconciliation, by laying down his life for his sheep.In John 10, the sheep represent you and me. The wolves represent our sin. Being consistent with scripture, then, Christ doesn’t just battle off the wolves, he lets himself be taken by the wolves and killed in our place. He trades his life for the life of the sheep.The atonement is a substitutional sacrifice that the good shepherd makes so that the sheep can live. But the sheep aren’t innocent and they don’t deserve to be saved. They have a deficiency.When we "atone" for something we make up for a deficiency. We make a wrong right. If we have a debt to pay, we must atone for the debt in order to "make it right."Our deficiency, as sheep, is sin and rebellion against God. And because our sins are ultimately against an eternal, infinitely holy God, there is no possible way for us to make atonement for ourselves.In the Old Testament, the Israelites sacrificed animals in order to "atone" for their sins but this was never good enough which is why Hebrews 10:4 says, "...it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."While bulls and goats are innocent, they aren’t holy enough to be a full substitute for the magnitude of our sin. Killing a goat doesn’t even come close to fully paying for even one of our sins let alone the tens of thousands we commit in our lifetime.What's needed is an atonement by God, himself, Jesus the Good Shepherd.Now some might say, why doesn’t God just choose to ignore sin as if it never happened without requiring a consequence? Well, that would make God unjust.For example, suppose someone commits a rape or a murder of a family member, and then the judge just forgives him and let’s him go without any punishment.We would think that's not very just. See, a just judge must give a consequence that fits the crime. We may think mercy is when God just chooses to look the other way, but that’s not just. God is both merciful and just.And that’s the meaning of atonement. Justice and mercy. John 3:16 shows the meaning this way:For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.See, there must be love and justice in the atonement.Now, there are two ways that Christ made atonement for us. 1) Christ's dying on the cross and 2) His obedience.Remember, atonement is simply a word used to describe being reconciled with God. Literally, it means at-one-ment. And in order for us to be at-one with God our sins must be paid for, but that's only half the problem. We must also be perfectly obedient to be allowed into God's presence.The Atonement: Christ’s ObedienceSo we see the problem. Since no one is perfectly obedient no one can be reconciled. Thankfully, Christ perfectly obeyed all the requirements of the law in our place. His obedience became a substitute for our lack of obedience.This is important to understand because if the atonement is only about forgiveness of sin then, at best, we are in a neutral relationship with God. Our guilt won’t be held against us when our sins are forgiven, but we still haven’t done anything deserving of eternal life, nor are we able to.Romans 5:19 tells us that salvation isn’t just about forgiveness of sin...For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.It’s like this: After being forgiven, our bank account balance is zero, which is better than a negative number, but it’s still not good enough to receive salvation.So God’s solution is for Christ to actively add his perfect obedience to our account through substituionary atonement.Christ, through his perfect obedience, atones for our inability, and earns salvation for us. That’s the first aspect of the atonement. Christ’s obedience becomes a substitute for our lack of obedience.Now, understanding the second aspect of the atonement is also essential.The Atonement: Christ’s Suffering and DeathIn some ways it can be said Jesus suffered his whole life for us. He suffered while he was tempted in the wilderness by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). He suffered when the Pharisees verbally attacked him (Hebrews 12:3-4).But Jesus’ suffering culminated on the cross when he received the penalty of our sin and died in our place.On the cross, He bore both the physical and psychological aspects of sin. He physically suffered when the whip ripped the flesh off his back, when the nails were driven into his hands and feet, and as He fought for each breath.But he also bore the weight of our psychological guilt. He bore the anguish people feel when they’ve done wrong. He bore the mental pain of abandonment from his friends and also from being separated from his Heavenly Father. Matthew 27:46 says...About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”These are the words of someone in great mental agony., of someone who knows first hand what it’s like to be discarded by the ones he loves.On the cross, Jesus bore the wrath of God. God the Father hurled his wrath at His Son even though he didn’t deserve it.A common answer I hear to the question "Who are we saved from?" is "Ourselves!" and that may be true to some extent but it's even more true that we are saved from the wrath of God.We may be our own worst enemy but if we’re not reconciled with God then we're going to find out that his wrath is worse than ours.Romans 3:25 says of Jesus...God presented him as the mercy seat by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.The word for "the mercy seat by his blood" is translated "propitiation" in other translations, and is a word that means "a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to the end."In other words, God had been holding his wrath until Jesus went to the cross. Then he let it all loose.Now, it's difficult for us to comprehend the wrath of God but perhaps we've gotten a glimpse of it with a parent, a teacher, or of an employer.I can remember my mom getting really angry at me for disrespecting her. I totally deserved the spanking I got. It’s a little like that but much worse. Hebrews 10:31…It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.Yet, Jesus willingly volunteered to fall into the hands of the living God. God’s hands can be gentle and loving but in this case they were used to give punishment.Imagine intentionally punishing a son or daughter for something you know they didn't do. It sounds unimaginable, child abuse even, yet Jesus accepted His Father's wrath willingly. Jesus chose to bear this punishment for you.John 10:18, which we read earlier says,No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”Jesus willingly suffered and died, laying his life down for his sheep, God's wrath was appeased and our sins were atoned for.2. AssuranceAnd so we should have assurance, confidence regarding salvation. With Christ's suffering and obedience for us, there is nothing left for us to do except trust in what he’s already done. Christ has objectively secured salvation for those who believe in his atonement.That is the point of John 10:28-29. To those who follow Jesus, trusting in him, persevering...I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.A right view of the Atonement, then leads to assurance. It’s a confidence that we can have even when things don’t go our way (See Romans 5:1-8).Will we have afflictions? Yes, but we can know God’s not punishing us. Christ has already done all that is necessary. Instead, he’s teaching us through trials and tribulations.Christ took upon himself all the punishment we deserve. If we believe in what Christ did, then we are declared righteous, our sins are atoned for and Christ’s righteousness is credited to our account. Then we can stand in assurance, in full confidence, of eternal salvation.So rightly understanding the atonement we can have an unshakable, enduring hope, a hope that will never disappoint no matter what we go through.Final Blessing:As you prepare to leave, gratefully hear now God’s word of blessing.May the LORD bless you and keep you; May the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; May the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.See you Easter Sunday at 10 am!
- Grace Greater Than Our Sin
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