Calvary Road Baptist Church

“WHAT THE CROSS OF CHRIST ACHIEVED”

 

The entire history of God’s dealings with mankind has somehow always to do with the Lord Jesus Christ. Though there are sinful men who want nothing to do with Him, it is not possible to exist without one’s existence from beginning to eternity future being most intimately involved with the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider that He created the heavens, the earth, and our first parents, Adam and Eve, John 1.3:

 

“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

 

And if that verse is not clear enough, consider also Colossians 1.16:

 

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.”

 

Then, of course, there is Hebrews 1.1-2:

 

1      God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2      Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.

 

Consider, also, what we call the incarnation, that stupendous miracle whereby the One Who created this universe and all that herein is then stepped into, not only the universe He created and sustains, but He also stepped into humanity. God became a man. He was born a baby, grew to manhood, got tired, ate when hungry, slept when fatigued, wept when brokenhearted, angered when He saw unrighteousness and hypocrisy, mourned over loss, and died on the cross. He was in every way a man, yet without sin.[1] First, He created us. Second, He became one of us. Third, He died for us. Long story short, Jesus Christ became our sinless sacrifice in fulfillment of scriptural prophecy, Isaiah 53, by dying on the cross, being buried in a rich man’s tomb[2], rising from the dead after three days and nights[3], and then ascending to the Father’s right hand on high.[4] He created the universe and us, became one of us, and then stepped outside the universe He created whilst remaining forever one of us. However, that is not the end of it by any means. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming again, at which time He will retake this old world, seizing what is rightfully His and establishing His millennial kingdom over the whole earth.[5] Then, after reigning for one thousand years, will come the Great White Throne Judgment, with Jesus Christ being the judge of all those who rejected Him because the Father has committed all judgment to Him, and then time shall be no more and the eternal state begins.[6]

Thus, it is clear that every soul will have dealings with this One who created and sustains all things, the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, Hebrews 4.13 describes Him as “him with whom we have to do.” Understand, therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ is everything, especially with respect to Christianity. If Christianity is Christ, then His cross is the greatest key to understanding Him. Reflect with me for a moment about the space given in the gospel accounts to the last week before the crucifixion as evidence of how important the gospel writers considered His crucifixion to be. It occupies about 30 percent of Matthew, 37 percent of Mark, 25 percent of Luke, and 41 percent of John’s gospel account. The English theologian P. T. Forsyth said, “Christ is to us just what His cross is. All that Christ was in heaven or on earth was put into what He did there . . . . You do not understand Christ till you understand His cross.”[7] When the Lord Jesus Christ said in John 14.6 that He is the way, He meant in one respect that He will become the way to reconciliation to God and restoration to a right relation with God through His death. What the cross of Christ achieved is so vast and so deep that it has been a topic of great interest to many throughout Christian history, and should be a topic of interest to everyone who calls himself a Christian.

Therefore, this morning I will describe what our Lord Jesus Christ achieved on the cross, when God who created man and then became man suffered and died on behalf of man before rising from the dead, by looking at six concepts found in the New Testament resulting from Christ’s saving work on the cross:

 

First, SUBSTITUTION

 

Perhaps the most basic feature about Christ’s death is that He took my place and bore the punishment for my sins. He was my substitute. The Apostle Peter, who first revolted against the idea of the Lord Jesus being crucified, later wrote two significant statements about it:

 

First Peter 2.24:

 

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

 

First Peter 3.18:

 

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

 

Recognize, however, that the concept of substitutionary sacrifice did not originate with Simon Peter, but was conceived as God’s chosen means for dealing with man’s sins from early on: When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and were expelled, remember that their nakedness was covered by God from skins that came from animals that died to provide their covering.[8] That was substitution. When Abram was commanded by the LORD to offer up his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, his hand was stayed and a ram caught in a thicket was provided as a substitute for Isaac.[9] The Day of Atonement was instituted under the Law of Moses, the scapegoat being the sacrificial substitute for the entire nation’s sins. Then, of course, there were the prophetical predictions of a coming Substitute, such as Isaiah 53 (“But he was wounded for our transgressions”), and Daniel 9 (“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself.”). The Lord Jesus Christ took the place of sinners on the cross of Calvary, that He might as the sinner’s innocent stand-in suffer the punishment from God that was due the sinner. Thank you, Lord.

 

Next, PROPITIATION

 

This word propitiation is related to the rituals of the Temple where sacrifices were given to turn away God’s wrath against sin. Found three times in the New Testament[10], the meaning is well expressed in First John 2.2:

 

“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

 

Propitiation focuses on the seriousness of sin and God’s wrath against it, which was borne by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Perhaps the reason so many find this a difficult concept to accept is because the doctrine of God’s wrath has been terribly neglected in Christendom for a long time.

Today many are surprised to read such descriptions of God as are found in the following verses:

 

Psalm 5.5: “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.”

 

Habakkuk 1.13:  “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?”

 

Most people have lost all appreciation for God’s abhorrence for sin that is shown in the Bible. Yet in both the Old and New Testaments, wrath is considered part of the essential nature of God. Consider a single representative New Testament passage that shows this to be true, Second Thessalonians 1.7-9:

 

7      And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

8      In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

9      Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.

 

Propitiation refers to God’s satisfaction with the sacrifice of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ the righteous fulfilling every holy and righteous requirement of God on behalf of sinners.

 

Third, FORGIVENESS

 

An immediate result of our appropriation of the benefits of the death of Christ is the forgiveness of all our sins. The Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross as our Substitute was necessary for the forgiveness of sins to be granted, as Hebrews 9.22 explains:

 

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

 

The message of forgiveness is one of the most revolutionary aspects of the Christian gospel and is missing in most counterfeit religious systems.

Forgiveness is a frequently misunderstood concept, as is evidenced by the contemporary nonsensical notion held by pop psychologists that the secret to real happiness is forgiving yourself. That is utter poppycock! One does not forgive himself. Rather, one seeks the forgiveness of someone he has sinned against. The idiotic notion of forgiving yourself utterly discounts the real harm of sins committed against others, especially sins committed against God.

Forgiveness is first mentioned in scripture in Genesis 50.17, when after their father died Joseph’s brothers sought his forgiveness for selling him into slavery. Centuries later we learn of Moses pleading for God to forgive the children of Israel for their sin of making the golden calf to worship, Exodus 32.32. Thankfully, real Christians, those who have really trusted Jesus Christ, are blessed by the forgiveness of sins, First John 1.9:

 

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

What the Bible progressively reveals is that forgiveness is not pretending an offense has not been committed or that no spiritual harm has been done when sinning. Forgiveness is only really possible on the basis of real justice executed for real crimes. In other words, someone has to pay for an offense so that justice can be satisfied and forgiveness can be granted. Giving someone a pass without punishment for a real sin is unjust.

What makes it possible for God to forgive sins is punishment for those sins committed against Him being paid by our Substitute, Jesus Christ. Apart from His sacrificial death on the cross as the satisfaction for my sins (propitiation), God cannot righteously forgive my sins. However, because of Christ’s saving work on the cross, not only does God forgive the sinner who trusts Christ, but that same sinner now himself saved can also forgive others on the basis of Christ’s provision.

Consider but two passages that speak to this matter of the forgiven being able to forgive others:

 

Matthew 18.21-22:  21  Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

22    Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

 

Ephesians 4.31-32: 31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32    And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

 

Indeed, forgiveness is so interwoven into the Christian faith that one who professes to be a Christian, who therefore claims to be forgiven by God for Christ’s sake, can hardly be thought to be a real Christian who is not willing to forgive those who have sinned against him, even those who have sinned grievously and repeatedly.

 

Fourth, REDEMPTION

 

This facet of salvation comes from the marketplace where, in those days, slaves were purchased for a price. Redemption speaks of the purchase of our salvation through the payment of a price for our sins. Ephesians 1.7 says,

 

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

 

This verse clearly shows how bound together the forgiveness of sins is to our redemption through Christ’s blood shed on the cross. The focus of redemption is on the liberty we come to enjoy after being released from the captivity of sin through the price paid by Jesus Christ.

And what is liberty in Christ, but the freedom to do right and not the lawless tendency to do wrong? In Galatians 5.1, Paul writes,

 

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

 

Fifth, JUSTIFICATION

 

The word translated justified comes from the law courts and means “to pronounce, accept, and treat as just.” Thus, the entire transaction also comes from the law courts, and it denotes “a judicial act of administering the law— this case by declaring a verdict of acquittal, and so excluding all possibility of condemnation,” explaining why Paul wrote in Romans 8.1,

 

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. . . .”

 

A very serious doctrinal error was introduced into Christendom by Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, when without facility in Greek he mistranslated the Greek word for justified as meaning “to make righteous.”[11] Thankfully, God worked in Martin Luther’s life, study, and experiences, to reintroduce the truth that justify in the New Testament means to declare righteous, not to make righteous.

 

Romans 4.25-5.1 reads,

 

25    Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

1      Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Romans 5.16-18 describes what happened in our justification:

 

16    And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

17    For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

18    Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

 

Justification is the major focus of Paul’s letter to the Romans because justification is a concept that is profoundly important, yet one that is subject to great distortion. God actually declares the sinner who comes to Jesus Christ by faith to be righteous, though that sinner with faith has never actually experienced righteousness.

How is this possible? Substitution, propitiation, forgiveness, and redemption because of Jesus Christ’s saving sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, God therefore declares to be just that one who trusts Jesus Christ. What a Savior!

 

Sixth, And Finally, RECONCILIATION

 

This concept comes from the realms of family life and friendship. Paul wrote,

 

“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation,”

 

Second Corinthians 5.19.

Reconciliation is necessary because sin is rebellion against God and results in enmity between God and man, separation if you will that reconciliation resolves and removes. Romans 5.10 reads,

 

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

 

Notice, if you will, that God is not reconciled to us, because He has done nothing wrong that needs remedy. However, we are sinful by nature and we sin willfully. Therefore, it is we who are estranged from God and in need of reconciliation with God. This can only be accomplished when the sin that separates the sinner from God is removed, forgiven, and washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ. The result, of course, is “peace with God” (Romans 5.1) and adoption into His family (John 1.12).

 

The cross of Jesus Christ is where the eternal Son of the living God, Who left the throne room of heaven to take up residence in a virgin’s womb that He might be born a man, accomplished His saving work. He had accomplished many stupendous miracles before, and will accomplish yet more in the future, but it was His saving work on the cross that provided for the salvation of undeserving sinners like you and me.

Why did He do what He did? There are a number of reasons, I suppose. His primary motive was to glorify His heavenly Father, Who is worthy of all glory and honor, and Who He loves and adores in ways and to depths we shall never comprehend. But He also loves you and me, and demonstrates His great love for us by demonstrating God’s great love for us, on the cross of Calvary. In the end, more important than why the Savior did what He did is that He did what He did.

Now it comes to you. It matters not so much why you do what you do, but what you do. Did the Savior urge the lost to examine their motives prior to responding to His command, or did He simply urge compliance? He directed those who would hear Him to comply. In like manner, when sinners were dealt with by apostles of Jesus Christ, did they urge sinners to examine their motives prior to responding to the gospel call, or did they simply urge compliance? Paul and Silas to the Philippian jailer: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Therefore, based on the authority of God’s Word, the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the example of the Apostles, I urge you to comply so that you might become a beneficiary of Christ’s saving work on the cross. The Savior did not die on the cross to accomplish the salvation of others, only, but to save you as well if you will but trust Him. Do you want to be saved from your sins? Do you want Jesus Christ to be your Substitute? Do you want Him to satisfy God’s demands for the punishment of your sins? Do you want His forgiveness? Do you want to be redeemed? Do you want to be justified? Would you be reconciled to God? I urge you then to simply and in uncomplicated fashion come to Christ.



[1] Hebrews 4.15; 9.28

[2] Matthew 27.57-60

[3] Luke 24.46; Acts 26.23

[4] Psalm 16.11; 110.1; Matthew 26.64; Mark 12.36; 14.62; 16.19; Luke 20.42; 22.69; John 3.13; 14.2-4; Acts 2.33, 34-35; 7.56; Romans 8.34; Ephesians 1.20; Colossians 3.1; Second Thessalonians 1.7; Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 9.24; 10.12-13; 12.2; 1 Peter 3.22; Revelation 19.11

[5] Revelation 19.11ff

[6] John 5.22; Revelation 20.11-15

[7] I am greatly beholding for much of this sermon’s material to Perspectives On The World Christian Movement: Reader, Third Edition, edited by Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, (William Carey Library: Pasadena, CA, 1999), and in particular the chapter written by Ajith Fernando, The Supremacy of Christ, pages 169-178.

[8] Genesis 3.21

[9] Genesis 22.1-14

[10] See also Romans 3.25 and 1 John 4.10

[11] David R. Anderson, Free Grace Soteriology, (Grace Theology Press, Revised Edition edited by James S. Reitman, 2012), page 96.


Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org