Christ Our Redeemer
September 9th, 1956 @ 7:30 PM
CHRIST OUR REDEEMER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-9-56 7:30 p.m.
Now we pick up tonight with our preaching through the Bible, so we turn to the third chapter of the Book of Galatians. If a man couldn’t preach a sermon here, he just couldn’t preach. The Book of Galatians is how God saves us; how we are saved. And the message of the pastor tonight is how to be saved; not titled that. So in this passage we are going to read, but that is what it is about, preaching this book here: how to be saved.
Now the message tonight is in the tenth verse, in the thirteenth verse, and in the fourteenth verse [Galatians 3:10, 13, 14]. And each one of them comprises a section of the message. The first section is in the tenth verse: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written”—and this is in Deuteronomy, the twenty-seventh chapter [Deuteronomy 27:26]—”Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them” [Galatians 3:10].
His first avowal is this: that the works of the law bring a curse; never salvation, never mercy, never forgiveness, never, never! But the works of the law bring a curse [Galatians 3:10]. Now he means by “the works of the law,” what a man can do for himself to be saved: by being good, by being righteous, by being honest, by being fair, by doing all of those things by which a man thinks by his own merit to enter into the presence of God.
Paul says—this is his first avowal—that the works of a man, obedience to moral law, brings not righteousness, not salvation, but it brings a curse [Galatians 3:10]. Mt. Sinai, Paul says, is a terrible sight [Galatians 4:24-25]. The mountain was filled with smoke, and with fire, and with thunder, and with lightning, and with flame! [Hebrews 12:18-19]. It was so that if a man or a beast touched the mountain, the man or the beast died [Exodus 19:12-13]. Mt. Sinai was like the blast of a terrible trumpet announcing doomsday and the final judgment of the Lord! Mt. Sinai had no mercy, knew no salvation, for the commandments were written on tables of stone [2 Corinthians 3:7], cold and impersonal and falling upon us, they crush us to pieces [2 Corinthians 3:6]. There is no exception to the curse in Sinai. The works of the law produce a curse [Galatians 3:10] and there’s no exception; it is a universal condemnation.
While Jesus was in the house of Simon the Pharisee, eating as they did in that day, reclining at the table on a couch with His feet outside, away from the table. While He was there, a guest in the house of Simon the Pharisee—a street woman, a prostitute, a harlot, the dregs of life—a street woman came in and kneeling down at the feet of Jesus, she bathed His feet with her tears and dried them with the hairs of her head [Luke 7:36-38]. The law says she must be stoned to death! [John 8:3-5]. For the law knows no mercy, nor forgiveness. Mercy and grace and forgiveness is some other thing; it’s something else. The law says she must die!
Not only does the law apply to a harlot, to a pick-up, to a street woman, to a felon, to a malefactor, but the law applies to all of us. In God’s sight, men are sinners; not great sinners, nor just sinners, we’re all condemned alike! There’s a poisonous fountain in every man’s heart; there’s a black drop in every man’s veins. The trail of the serpent is in every home, and in every heart, and in every life.
Reputation, degree, character—they’re a thin spider web against the piercing sword of the law. It’s a universal condemnation. All have sinned, and come short of the great expectations of God [Romans 3:23], and the penalty of that wrong, of that falling short, of that sin, is a fearful and awful thing! “The soul that sins shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4, 20]. “The wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23]. We die in our bodies. They decay; they go back to the dust out of which we were made because we have sinned.
How do I know a man is a sinner? Because he’s getting older and he’s dying; if you don’t sin, you don’t die. You can live forever, perfect, joy, beautiful, strong; but if you sin, you die! And as I see you dying, I know you have sinned. The penalty is a fearful and a frightful thing. The works of the law bring a curse [Galatians 3:10], “The man that sins shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4, 20], die in his body, he shall die in his soul—that inner life; his spirit dies. He’s shut out from God. He’s separate from heaven.
The works of the law bring a curse. “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse. For it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all the things that are written in the book of the law to do them’” [Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10].
Thank God, O gracious Lord, Thy people, Thy people—but the Book has another great avowal, “but, but, Christ”—but, Christ. “But Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” [Galatians 3:13].
I don’t believe there’s a more beautiful verse or more meaningful in the Bible than John 1:17: “The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The works of the law are a curse [Galatians 3:10]; but the works of Christ are a blessing [Galatians 3:13]. That’s the blessing of faithful Abraham—right up here it described Abraham, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness . . . [Galatians 3:6]. That the blessing of Abraham might come on us through Jesus Christ our Lord” [Galatians 3:14]. But the works of Jesus are a blessing [Galatians 3:13-14]; for the works of Jesus are mercy and forgiveness by redemption! [1 Peter 1:18-19].
Now how do you mean, preacher, God overlooks our sin? God lets our sins go unpunished? No, for one of the great precepts of the law is this, that God shall in no wise clear the guilty, but He “visits the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generations” [Exodus 20: 5, 34:7; Numbers 14:18]. You’ll find that repeated in the law. By no wise, by no means does He clear the guilty [Numbers 14:18]. Then how can God be just and justify the ungodly? [Romans 3:26].
The answer is found in a little preposition that Paul uses here. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse,” huper, “instead of us” [Galatians 3:13]. God doesn’t remit the penalty of sin, God never lets a sin go unpunished. The sword of the law is unsheathed, and it must be satisfied; blood for blood, stroke for stroke, death for death, punishment for punishment. But the gospel message is this: that Christ, in our stead, received the stroke and the blood and the death that was due unto us [2 Corinthians 5:21]. That thing was typ-i-fied, sign-i-fied, all through the days of the old dispensation.
When Abel brought a lamb and slew it and sacrificed it unto God, there it was [Genesis 4:4]. When Abraham lifted up the knife to slay Isaac his son and the voice from heaven said, “Stay thy hand, Abraham,” and there in the thicket was a ram caught by its horns [Genesis 22:10-13], it was the Day of Atonement; it was the Passover lamb [Leviticus 16]. All of the sacrifices of the Old Testament typified this great gospel message that Christ in our stead [2 Corinthians 5:21], punishment for punishment, by sin and by sin, everyone paid for—atoned for, by the substitute, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God [Romans 5:11].
Now may I pause here to express my humble persuasion of the theology of the Bible? I think there is in Christ a literal, real, and absolute substitute for a man in the penalty of his sins, in Jesus. Litterally so. He is our substitute. The Bible says things like this: “Jesus suffered, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us unto God” [1 Peter 3:18]. Here in my text it says, “He was made a curse for us” [Galatians 3:13]. Not a curse in Himself; He was pure and spotless and harmless and holy [1 Corinthians 5:7]. But He was made a curse in my stead, in our stead [Galatians 3:13].
When I turn over here to that famous and blessed verse that closes the fifth chapter of 2 Corinthians: “For God made Him to be sin for us” [2 Corinthians 5:21], there’s that huper again, “instead of us.” For God made Him to be sin in our stead. Not that He was a sinner—He was holy and above reproach [1 Peter 1:19]. But God made Him our sin! In the sixth verse of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, the great prophet says, “And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” [Isaiah 53:6].
“The soul that sins shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4, 20], “The wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23], but Christ in our stead and in substitute [2 Corinthians 5:21], took into His own heart the stroke to the hilt [John 5:34]; and He died that death in my place, in my stead [1 Corinthians 15:3].
Sin isolates [Isaiah 59:2]. And the Lord Jesus Cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” [Matthew 27:45-46], sin deprives. And they took Him and stripped Him of His garments, and He was crucified [Matthew 27:33-35]. Not like you see drawn in a picture—he was crucified absolutely naked and forlorn [John 19:23-24]; sin suffers. And in Gethsemane, His sweat was as it were, great drops of blood falling to the ground [Luke 22:44]. And on the cross, He cried saying, “I thirst” [John 19:20], fever, fever, “I thirst.”
And in the Book it says, “And [God] made His soul an offering for sin, and [God] shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied” [Isaiah 53:10-11].
And sin kills. He was not only numbered with the transgressors [Isaiah 53:12], but He was numbered with the dead [Isaiah 53:12]. That atonement is individual and personal; it’s for you, and it’s for you, and it’s for you [Romans 5:11]. He took my place; He died in my stead [2 Corinthians 5:21]. He suffered for my sins [Matthew 27:32-50]. God never remits sins without punishment. He never forgives them without atonement [Hebrews 9:22]. Every sin that a man commits is punished by the law of God [Romans 2:12].
The only thing—I don’t bear it if He does. I don’t spend an eternity damned in hell if I let Jesus, my substitute, pay my debt. I’m saved. I’m redeemed [1 Peter 1:18-19]. I’m born again [John 3:3, 7]. I’m a child of the King. And that’s the third thing that Paul avows here in the text [Romans 8:15-17]. “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles,” on us [Galatians 3:14]. “That we might receive the promise through faith” [Galatians 15:4-6].
The blessing of Abraham [Galatians 3:14], “And Abraham believed God,” he trusted God, “and it was accounted for him for righteousness” [Genesis 15:4-6]. Abraham wasn’t righteous, read his life. One of the reasons I know God’s Book is inspired [2 Timothy 3:16]—the greatest saints in the Bible are held up before you and you look at them. And there are black, black places in their lives. But Abraham believed God; he trusted God. And God said, “Abraham, your faith, your trust, your committal of life, I place on My ledger for righteousness” [Genesis 15:4-6].
And that’s what it is for us to trust in the grace [Ephesians 2:8], and in the mercy [Titus 3:5], and in the forgiveness of our Lord [1 John 1:7, 9]. You look at it, you look at it. To trust Jesus, to accept Jesus in that faith [Ephesians 2:8], is to trade places, to exchange places with the Lord Jesus. We change houses; He takes and lives in my house, and I go along and live in His. We change garments; He takes my old filthy rags [Isaiah 64:6], and I have His spotless robe [Isaiah 61:10].
I lay down what is mine, and I pick up what is Christ’s. I lay down my unrighteousnesses. My sins become His merit; we trade places. He dies in my stead [2 Corinthians 5:21], He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world [Revelation 13:8]. He is my substitute, and I change places with Him. My debt is paid; I’m free. He has redeemed me by a ransom [1 Timothy 2:6], and I’m at liberty. I was dead in trespasses and in sins [Ephesians 2:1], and now I am risen to a new life in Christ [Ephesians 2:2-6].
“That the blessing might come by faith” [Galatians 3:14]; how does it come? Instantaneously, immediately [Genesis 15:6]—every miracle that was wrought by our Lord was wrought instantaneously, immediately!
He said to the paralytic man, “I say unto you, take up thy bed. Arise, and walk.” And the paralytic stood up, and he walked, immediately, instantaneously [Mark 2:11-12]. He said to the storm, “Be still!” And the wind and the waves ceased their howling and their raging [Mark 4:39]. He said to the girl—twelve years old, Jairus’ daughter—talitha cumi, “Damsel, arise,” and she arose alive again [Mark 5:22, 41-42]. He said to the dumb man, ephphatha, “Be opened,” and he could hear [Mark 7:32-35].
That’s the way a man is saved, that’s the way he’s redeemed [1 Peter 1:18-19]: may be a long time in preparation, but that act of justification, of saving and redemption [Romans 4:25], is immediate, it’s instantaneous [Matthew 8:13, 17:18]. It is by a look. It’s by a look, it’s by a look.
Look and live, my brother, live.
Look to Jesus now and live.
‘Tis recorded in His Word, Hallelujah,
It is only that you look, look and live.
There is life for a look at the Crucified One.
There is life at this moment for thee.
Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved.
Unto Him who was slain on the tree.
[“There is life for a look at the crucified One,” Amelia M Hull, 1860]
It is instantaneous. It’s now, it’s now. It’s complete. It’s full. It’s forever and ever. It’s done, and it’s done.
All of the waters of Neptune’s ocean could not wash the stain out of my soul. All of the perfumes of Arabia could not cover the sins of my life. But there’s power in the blood. Have you been washed in the blood of the Lamb? [Revelation 1:5]. Have you? Have you traded places with Jesus? By faith have you looked to Him? [Ephesians 2:8].
And it’s irrevocable. It’s forever and ever. Satan can never rob us of our justified position, our acceptance before God. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth . . . [Romans 8:33]. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life . . nor things present, nor things to come, nor any other created thing in heaven above, in the air above, or in hell beneath, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” [Romans 8:38-39].
That’s the gospel. “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse” [Galatians 3:10], trying by my goodness to be saved; I’m lost. For the lost is everyone that continueth not in everything [Galatians 3:10]. Just one sin and I’m damned. He that continueth not in all things that are written in the book to do them. He’s cursed. The works of the law bring a curse [Galatians 3:10]. But Christ hath redeemed us, because He was made a curse [Galatians 3:13], huper, in our place, in our stead [2 Corinthians 5:21]. He suffered our penalty. He died for us [Galatians 3:13], that we might receive the blessing of Abraham through faith [Galatians 3:14], which is: Abraham believed God, he trusted God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness [Genesis 15:6].
That’s the gospel, that’s the message; that’s the Book.
Somebody you, “I lay down my own; I pick up for Christ. I quit looking to myself, I cease probing my own righteousness; I’m now looking to Jesus [Hebrews 12:2]. By faith I accept His atoning mercy to cover all of the sins of my life [Titus 3:5]. And I now am walking in the light of the King [John 1:4]. Dead to the world, alive unto God; my eye fixed upon Jesus” [Hebrews 12:2].
Look, look, look and live! [John 3:14-15; Numbers 21:8-9] Would you? You? Would you? Somebody you? “Preacher, tonight, humble, best I know how, I take the Lord Jesus as my Savior [Romans 10:13]. I’ll do it now. I’ll trust Him now.”
By your side, somebody you, putting your life with us in the fellowship of the church, would you? “Preacher, I’ve looked to Jesus in faith [Ephesians 2:8]. I’ve taken Him as my Savior. Tonight, I’m putting my life in the circumference and the communion and the fellowship of this blessed church.” “I’m coming on a promise of letter,” or “I’m coming by baptism or by statement.” As God shall say the word and lead the way.
Would you come? Would you come? One of you, or a family of you, your friend, somebody, anybody, as God makes the call to your heart, while we sing the song, would you make it now? While we stand and while we sing.
I. The works of the law – a curse(Galatians 3:10)
A. The giving of the
law was in itself an awesome, terrible thing
1. Mt. Sinai
burned with fire(Hebrews 12:21)
2. No mercy – written
on stone; impersonal
B. No exception(Ezekiel 18:4, Romans 6:23)
1. Sinful woman
who bathed Jesus’ feet with tears(Luke 7:36-38)
C. Fearful to fall into
1. Death in this
2. Death spiritually
– eternal separation from God
II. The works of Christ – a blessing(Galatians 3:13-14)
A. Mercy and
forgiveness came through Jesus Christ (John
does God honor the law and at the same time forgive a sinner?(Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18)
– “instead of us, for our behalf, in our behalf, for us”
2. God’s law is
to be satisfied(Exodus 21:24)
3. Christ was
damned, condemned, judged in our place
C. Old Testament
sacrificial system typified His substitution(Leviticus
D. Christ is an actual
substitution(2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 53:6)
E. There are several
things sin does, seen in substitutionary death of Christ
1. Sin separates(Genesis 3:8-9, Mark 14:34)
2. Sin deprives(John 19:23-24)
3. Sin causes
suffering and pain (Isaiah 53:11, Luke 22:44)
4. Sin kills(Luke 23:46)
III. The blessing that comes (Galatians 3:14, 4:4-5, Titus 2:14)
A. Two sides – He took
my place, now I have His place
B. The gift of Christ
1. Instantaneous(John 5:8, Mark 5:41-42, 7:34, Matthew 4:39)
complete(1 John 1:7)
3. Irrevocable(Romans 8:33, 38-39)