June 2019   
SMTWTFS
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30    
This Week's Events
Bible Search
March 24, 2019, The Wonderful Accomplishments of the Lord Jesus for Us

 

 

Scripture reading: Romans 3:21-25.

 

In this blessed passage we see three marvelous things that have happened to us if we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 24 we see that we have been justified. That is one. We have been justified through the redemption that is in Christ. Redemption is two. Verse 25 tells us that Christ was put forward as a propitiation by his blood. Propitiation is three.

 

What do these words mean? To be justified means to be declared righteous, to be free from sin. Because of God’s undeserved favor toward us we have been justified! This is marvelous! Sometimes we forget how needful we are to receive forgiveness. We may not fully realize that, if it were not for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, there would be absolutely no hope for any of us. Each one of us would go to the lake of fire. Why? Because God must punish sin.  J.I. Packer has said it succinctly and so very well:

 

Scripture describes God as holy and just. God, therefore, must judge sin because it is his nature. He must reject sin, show his displeasure at sin, punish sin, and inflict on sin the retribution it deserves.[1]

 

This is what God has revealed about Himself. Packer further observes:

 

Apart from what the Bible tells us, we really don’t know anything of the awful nature of sin and the awful holiness of God. If we forget that we really don’t know anything, we are kidding ourselves.[2]

 

Indeed, God has revealed the nature of what is real in the Bible. Sin is awful and its consequences are terrible. We need to be forgiven and forgiveness is only received through Christ. No other way. Justification includes forgiveness but it is more than just forgiveness. Forgiveness just means that our sins will not be brought up at the tribunal of God.  If a person only has forgiveness they still do not have righteousness. Not being bad is not the same as being good. When we are justified we are both forgiven and declared to be good…by God! Praise Him!

 

The second matter we see in this passage is that we have redemption. The word “redemption” is not often used in modern parlance. The word is a commercial term and has to do with buying. It literally means “buying again.” In everyday language one of the few times that we use the word is in reference to pawnshops.  A person needs money so they take an object to the pawnshop and receive money for it.  When they want the object that they pawned back they pay the pawnshop the money they received (the loan) plus interest and they get their object back. It has been redeemed.

 

In ancient times redemption was a word of the marketplace. It had to do with buying something from the marketplace so that it would not have to be returned to the marketplace. Often, it had to do with buying people, slaves, from the market. Once bought they would not have to go back. They were redeemed. They were delivered from the marketplace of slavery.

 

Thus, we can understand the biblical meaning of the word. Let me give you a good definition of redemption. Redemption is the deliverance from the bondage of sin by Christ, at the cost of his life, because he loved us.[3]

 

The biblical, and real, picture that we have of ourselves is this: we were slaves in the slave market of sin. Our master was sin. Sin commanded us and we always had to obey. We belonged to sin. But then, Christ came and bought us out of the slave market and took us into his household. He redeemed us and the price that he had to pay was his shed blood on the cross.

 

This is why there is salvation in no other. There is no other faith in no one else that will avail. There is no other religious scheme that will get us out of the slave market of sin. This is because no one else can pay the price. Only Christ paid the price. Therefore, if a person trusts in anyone else or anything else besides Christ he is not redeemed.

 

Redemption is the deliverance from the bondage of sin by Christ, at the cost of his life, because he loved us.

 

This definition tells us that we were in bondage to sin. Those who are genuine Christians already know this from experience. Unless a person has some understanding of sin and feels the weight of their own sin they will not see their great need of a Savior. This is why it is important to talk about God’s law with unbelievers. They must be made to see that they have rebelled against a good and holy God.

 

Christ delivers us from the power of sin! He did this at the cost of his life because he loved us! The account of Hosea is a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for us. Hosea was a preacher. God came and spoke directly to him. He told him to marry a woman that would be unfaithful to him. Hosea is told that he will remain faithful to her even though she repudiates his love.  Hosea plays the part of God and his wife, Gomer, plays the part of God’s people, Israel. She is going to run away from Hosea just like Israel runs away from the Lord. Hosea will still be faithful to her because God remained faithful to Israel even though she ran after other gods.

 

So, Hosea does as the Lord says. He marries a loose woman. Apparently, they live together happily for quite some time because they have three children together. The names of the children, though, represent what will happen to God’s people because of their unfaithfulness.

 

The first child is named Jezreel, which means “scattered.” This is because Israel will be scattered among the nations and will not have a homeland. There is a price to be paid for sin! Even if you belong to the Lord, there is a price to be paid for sin in this life. The Lord disciplines those he loves. Discipline is the price.[4]

 

The second child is named Lo-ruhamah. This means “Not to be pitied.” God’s patience runs out. Eventually, even the Lord will not have pity on his people if they continue in sin.

 

There is a price to be paid for sin! Israel ran away from God. But they never got where they were going. They wanted to have the freedom to sin. That was their “destination.” But they only found misery. James Montgomery Boice has well said,

 

When you run away from God, you never get where you are going. And you always pay your own bills. But, when you go God’s way, you always arrive at your destination free of charge.[5]

 

The third child is named Lo-ammi, which means “Not my people.” God will even reject his own people! What about God’s faithfulness and love? No pity. Rejection. Sent away! The wonder of the book of Hosea is that these things are temporary. For God changes the names of the children.

 

  • Jezreel is changed from scattered to “planted.”
  • Lo-ruhamah is changed from “not pitied” to Ruhamah – “pitied.”
  • Lo-ammi is changed from ‘not my people” to “my people.”

 

Gomer commits adultery with a man and even moves in with him. What often happened to adulteresses in ancient times was that the first man that they sin with gets tired of them and they are forced to leave. They find another man, less prosperous, and they move in with him. Then he gets weary of her and she has to leave again. After going from man to man, eventually, she ends up with a man who is poverty-stricken himself and cannot support her. But it isn’t just ancient times, is it? This same scenario continues to work itself out in modern times as well as ancient. This is because human nature does not change. Women are the same and men are the same. Men are not too interested in well-used women. Young ladies! Keep yourself pure until marriage and then remain faithful! Young men, do not use a woman. You too, must keep yourself from sexual sin and wait for marriage.

 

So, this is what Gomer did. She went from man to man until she was with a man who could not support her or even feed her. What will Hosea do with Gomer? I think his natural reaction would be to either completely forsake his wife or to say, “You ran away from me and look what has happened to you.” Indeed, according to the law, his reaction should be more severe than simply those words. She should be stoned to death (Leviticus 20:10). But God reveals his heart towards his people through his command to Hosea on how to treat his whoring wife.[6] Hosea buys food and clothing for her so that she will not lack necessities. This must have been very difficult for Hosea. He had to have gone to the area of the city where Gomer was living with her fellow adulterer. We don’t know exactly what happened, but when he knocked on the door he may have asked, “Are you the man who is living with Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim?” “Yes, what business is that of yours?” “Well, I am Hosea, her husband.” If that is the way the conversation went the adulterer would have been alarmed. Hosea may have said something like, “I do not want any trouble. Here is some food and clothing so that she will not be in need.”[7] Gomer thinks it is her lover that provides these things. But it is Hosea.

 

Gomer is eventually sold as a slave and Hosea buys her back (3:1-2). This is redemption. Not only redemption, but a redemption that shows the love that God has for his people – a love that redeems them in spite of how low they have fallen.

 

Redemption is the deliverance from the bondage of sin by Christ, at the cost of his life, because he loved us.

 

The Lord Jesus loves you if you belong to him! He loves you no matter how low you have fallen!

 

Now, we come to the third wonderful accomplishment of Christ in our passage. This is propitiation. Here is a word that we never use. However, we need to know this word. And, there is no other word that will do. Once we understand this word, we will come to appreciate even more what the Lord Jesus has done for us.

 

The Atonement that Christ accomplished, that is, making us one with God, cannot be rightly understood without also understanding propitiation. Hence, we need to know this word.

 

Propitiation has to do with turning away the wrath of God. It is a fact that God is angry with sin. He is also angry with those who practice sin. This is simply a well-attested biblical fact. This, of course, means that he is angry with everybody until they come to Christ, because everyone has sinned.

 

Because propitiation – the taking away of God’s anger – is only possible by a sacrifice, some translations translate the word as “sacrifice of atonement” (NIV) or “mercy seat” (NET). These expressions are not wrong but they do not get to the heart of the word.[8]

 

The wrath of God is real and is inescapable for man. Therefore, it must be dealt with. Jesus is the only one who provides propitiation. His sacrifice appeases God’s wrath and it is the only thing that can. Thank you, Lord Jesus!!

 

To appreciate these three wonderful accomplishments of our Lord Jesus a diagram in the shape of a triangle is helpful. At the top of the triangle we write, “God the Father.” At the lower left side we write, “The Lord Jesus Christ.” And, at the lower right side we can write, “Us.” So no one thinks we are talking about the United States, you can just as easily write, “Me,” because this message is about you if you belong to Christ.

 

Each line segment of the triangle represents one of the three wonderful accomplishments. The line at the bottom stands for redemption. So, we can write “redemption” at the bottom. Redemption is something the Lord Jesus does for you. He redeems you and sets you free! You provide nothing for your redemption and Jesus provides everything. So, we can make this line an arrow from Jesus to you.

 

The line on the right stands for justification. We can write “justification” on that line. God the Father is the one who justifies us. We do not justify God. Thus, we should make this line an arrow also.

 

The remaining line that connects God the Father and the Lord Jesus represents propitiation. Because propitiation is something the Lord Jesus accomplishes towards God the Father, this line needs to be an arrow also from the Lord Jesus to God the Father.

 

What do you notice about this diagram? It is this: we do not contribute anything to these accomplishments. It is God the Father who justifies. It is the Lord Jesus who redeems and turns away the wrath of God. We only receive these blessings!

 

One may wonder where the Holy Spirit is in this diagram. The Spirit is present and operative in each of these aspects. It was through the eternal Spirit that Christ offered himself (Hebrews 9:14). Hence, the Spirit is present in both redemption and propitiation. We are justified by faith, but faith comes from God through the Spirit (Eph 2:8; 2 Peter 1:1; I Cor 12:9). Without the Spirit granting faith and repentance, no one would ever have faith or repentance.

 

What should we do? Let us understand these matters that the apostle Paul has revealed. When we understand justification, redemption, and propitiation we will love the Lord Jesus even more. We can thank him for what he has done.

 

“Lord Jesus, I thank you that you made it possible for me to be justified! Thank you for redeeming me! Thank you for turning away the wrath of God from me!”

 

I encourage you to thank him for these blessings this coming week and afterwards. As these realities are impressed upon our minds we will discover our love for the Lord growing and flourishing.

 

You can share this diagram with another Christian to encourage them. It is really just an illustration from the pages of the Bible. Let’s not keep divine knowledge to ourselves but let us build one another up in our most holy faith! This “one another” means Christians anywhere we meet them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Gabriel N E Fluhrer, ed., Atonement (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2010), 10.

[2] Ibid

[3] From the great theologian, James Montgomery Boice, in Atonement, p. 84.

[4] Discipline does not take away sin. Only the blood of Christ can do that. Discipline is from the Lord in order to teach us not to sin.

[5] Atonement, p. 93.

[6] In chapter 2 of Hosea, it is God who gives his people their necessities (grain, wine, and oil) while they are with their “lovers” (vs. 5). His people are represented as a woman, a mother, and she thinks that it is her lovers that are giving her these things. But, it is actually God. Since Hosea is playing the part of God and Gomer is playing the part of his people, it is very likely that these things were enacted by Hosea. (Although this is not stated in the text.)

[7] This imaginary conversation is borrowed from J.M. Boice in Atonement.

[8] The KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASV, HCSB, Recovery Version, Orthodox Jewish Bible, Moffatt, the Literal Translation (Sovereign Grace/ J.P. Green), the Word of Yahweh Translation, among others, has propitiation.