Christ Our Redeemer
September 24th, 1972 @ 10:50 AM
CHRIST OUR REDEEMER
W. A. CRISWELL
Galatians 3:10, 13-14
9-24-72 10:50 a.m.
And again, thank you young men. Part of your song, "Christ is Coming Soon," reminds me of the message next Sunday morning. The title of the sermon next Sunday morning is The Coming King, Christ is coming soon. On the radio and on television, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Redeeming Christ. In our preaching through the Book of Galatians, we are in the third chapter, and the message is an exposition of verses 10, 13 and 14:
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written – and he quotes from the twenty-seventh chapter of Deuteronomy – Cursed is everyone that can continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Now, verse 13,
But Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us . . .
That the blessings of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Would you not think that this is an astonishing observation? "As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." When a man tries to save himself by doing good, by keeping laws and commandments, he is cursed in his attempt. That is such an opposite thing to the judgments of the entire world and of all other systems of religion.
Would you not think that religion would address itself to the soul of a man and say, "You ought to do good. Do this and thou shalt live. Obey these commandments, and you will have eternal life." But the revelation here in the Word of God says just the opposite: "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 things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
The giving of the law was in itself an awesome and a terrible thing. Mt. Sinai burned with fire. It was an upheaval of thunder and lightning. The giving of the law was accompanied by the blast of a terrible trumpet. It sounded like the day of doom and the day of damnation and destruction. The Scriptures say that the people feared more that blasting of the trumpet than they did the fury of flame, and fire, and thunder, and smoke, and lightning. So awesome and terrible was the sight that even Moses said, "I do exceedingly fear and quake" [Hebrews 12:21].
It was such that if a beast or a man touched the Mount of Sinai, he should die immediately, thrust through with a dart. The awesomeness of that sight was accompanied by the laws written on tables of stone. And those laws are impersonal and universally applicable. They are written on rocks, heavy, heavy rocks that crush us, pulverize us, crush us into the ground, into the dust, "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" [Galatians 3:10].
For a man to seek to be saved by the works of the law is to find himself damned, cursed, judged before he begins. The law is impersonal. It has no favorites. And when we do not continue in the law to keep it, the moment that we break it, that moment we fall into judgment and damnation. A man might keep ninety-nine laws and then fail in the last one. He might keep nine hundred ninety-nine percent of the law, but if he fails in that one percent, he falls into condemnation and judgment, "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." And there is no exception. It is impersonal and universally applicable.
That woman who came off of the street when Jesus was a guest at dinner with Simon the Pharisee, and she bathed His feet with her tears, and anointed Him with spikenard of ointment, and dried His feet with the hairs of her head [Luke 7:36-38]; the law says she is to be stoned. Mercy and grace are something else, but the law says she is to be taken outside of the city and stoned until she dies. But not only is that law applicable to a malefactor, to a felon, to a murderer, to a vile sinner, but it is applicable to all of us, for there is no exception. The trail of the serpent is everywhere in the earth. There is poison that is entered into the fountain of our hearts. There is a black drop that courses through every vein.
Without rank, without station, without anything to commend us to God, we are naked, and fallen, and lost, and sinful before him. And for us to try to cover ourselves by our self-righteousness is to clothe ourselves in garments of fifth and dirt! For one to protect himself and to shield himself from the judgment of God is as though one wove a web of spider material, thin and fragile and frail, and cut through with the sword of the law. "Cursed is everyone that can continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
If I try to commend myself to God by works of righteousness, I immediately fall into judgment because my works are not all righteous. Our lives are not all pure. Our hearts are not all clean. There is sin and dereliction and mistake in all of us. And in that moment that we do wrong, that moment we are cursed, "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the law to do them."
And the working out of that judgment is as awesome and as terrible as the giving of the law itself; for the working out of that judgment is death in this physical frame. I live in a world of death. We buried one of the members of our church yesterday. Death is universal. It comes to you someday, somewhere, sometime. When I came to church this morning, the first thing that was said to me was this, "Did you know that Joe Sam Brown, that sweet wonderful boy who has helped us here with our PA system for all of these years, did you know the young man was found dead this morning?"
The working out of the wages of sin in our lives is always awesome and terrible. "The soul that sins shall die," Ezekiel 18:4. "The wages of sin is death," Romans 6:23. "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." And that curse reaches in an awesome way in all of our lives. We die physically. This body, this house, is judged. I would not die if I had not sinned. A sign of the weakness and lostness of our human nature is found in the universal sight of our dying.
And not only this physical frame, but we die spiritually. We die a second death. We die in an eternal separation from God. "Cursed, damned, judged is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." That no man is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident. Bring us all up here one at a time; it is evident; there would not be one of us in divine presence today or in the congregation that worshiped in this place before us, nor in the generation that shall follow us who could stand in the divine presence of God and say, "I am above the judgment of those iron commandments. I am pure. I am holy. I shall not die." His very words would mock him. And his own experience would condemn him, "Cursed, cursed is everyone that can continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
Then how is it that we could ever be saved? Sinners as we are, cursed as we are, judged as we are, damned as we are, dying as we are; how could we ever be saved? This is the gospel of the grace of the Son of God. For the law came through Moses, that’s one thing, judgment is one thing – the law came through Moses. But grace and truth and forgiveness and salvation, that is another thing. Mercy is another thing, for the law came through Moses, but mercy, and grace, and truth, and forgiveness came through Jesus Christ [John 1:17]. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: that we might receive the blessings of God through the promises in Him [Galatians 3:13-14].
That posits a problem that was difficult even for God. How does God honor the law, and at the same time forgive a sinner? "Well," you say, "He could over look it. Just forget it. Blind His eyes to it. He writes the law. And He writes them on tables of stone. And He reveals them by divine revelation, both in the human heart, all of us are sensitive to it; and He reveals it also in the divine Word. But having revealed it, and having written it, and having presented it, and having opened it by revelation where our eyes can see it and our hearts can feel it, why, then, God shuts His eyes to it. God overlooks it. God forgets it."
No. God does not dishonor His law. Well, if God does not overlook His law, dishonor His law, forget His law, then how can God save us, for we are sinners and damned and lost and judged, "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in the things of the law to do them?" How is God just, at the same time the justifier of the ungodly? God cannot overlook His laws. He doesn’t. He will not. His law will be honored. It is written in the thirty-forth chapter of the Book of Exodus [verse 7] and the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Numbers, "God will by no means clear the guilty, but will visit the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generations" [Numbers 14:18]. That’s God. God honors His law.
Then how can God save us? How can He be just, right, and at the same time justify the ungodly, justify us sinners? This is the gospel. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" [Galatians 3:13]. The gospel, huper hēmōn. Dr. Eddleman, after the service at the eight-fifteen, came to me and said, "That is the gospel, huper hēmōn, instead of us, for our behalf, in our behalf, for us."
God’s law is to be satisfied. It is to be honored. There will be blood for blood. There will be stroke for stroke. There will be judgment for judgment. There will be punishment for punishment. "There will be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" [Exodus 21:24]. The sword of the law will be satisfied. But this is the gospel of the grace of the Son of God, that Christ was made a curse. He was judged. He was damned, He was condemned, huper hēmōn , in our stead, took our place, for us.
All of the Old Testament sacrificial system typified that substitution, in our stead. Every lamb that was slain and His blood poured out, every offering on that great, brazen fire, every day of atonement, every Yom Kippur, every sprinkling of the blood between the cherubim, every priest whoever sacrificed before God typified that great revelation of substitution. He died in our stead.
When the worshiper came, he took the sacrificial animal, put his hands on the head of the sacrificial animal, confessed there his sins, and the animal was slain, and his blood poured out the base of the altar [Leviticus 2:5]. Why? By putting his hands on the head of the animal, he identified himself with the lamb or with the bullock. And when the animal was slain, it was as though he had been slain. It was a substitutionary sacrifice! That is the gospel. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." There is here an actual substitution!
This is not metaphor or simile. This is not poetry or fiction. This is not imagination. This is an actual substitution. God took Christ, His only begotten Son, and delivered Him to our judgment, and to our death, and to our damnation, to our cursing, "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
He became that. He received in His own body the stab and the curse and the judgment. He died in our stead. You have that marvelous gospel presented in the same language in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For God hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." God hath made Him to be sin, huper hēmōn, the identical words. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse, huper hēmōn. God made Him that. By nature, by divine life, He was not that. He was spotless, He was pure, He was sinless. He didn’t have to die. But God made Him to be sin huper hēmōn, in our stead. Here God made Him a curse, huper hēmōn, in our stead, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him; that is, He actually took our place.
When you look at the cross and the Lord dying on it, that’s you dying. That’s you cursed. That’s you judged. And if somebody were to ask how could One be so meritorious and virtuous that He could die for all of us, the answer lies in the dignity and the divinity, in the deity of His person. He is able because He is God manifest in the flesh, and so superlative is the merit of His life that His soul’s agony is efficacious to the saving of us all. It is an actual substitution: huper hēmōn , made a curse instead of us; huper hēmōn, made sin instead of us – the law fully satisfied, judgment for judgment, blood for blood, damnation for damnation. All of it did He take, bearing His own body our sins on the tree.
I want to show that if I can. There are several things that sin does, breaking of the law does, all of the them, now you look at it, you follow it; all of it you will see in the substitutionary death of Christ; dying for us, taking our place, that we might be forgiven, that we might escape, that we might be saved.
There are several things that sin does; here is one. Sin separates. It will separate between a man and God. There is a great iron wall in between. Sin separates between a man and God. It did so in the garden of Eden. When Adam, who had been in the fellowship of the Lord, talking with Him face to face, then he transgressed God’s commandment, and he hid himself. And when he heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, he couldn’t be found.
And God said, "Adam. Oh, Adam, Adam. Where art thou?"
And he said, "I have hid myself" [Genesis 3:8-9].
Sin separates between a man and God. He was separated. On the cross He cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" [Mark 15:34]. Sin separates. The gospel answers why. He was dying in our stead. Sin separates, and He was separated from God, forsaken.
A second thing: sin deprives, sin robs; always it does. It leaves naked and wretched and lost! Sin deprives, it robs. Look at Him. The artists are most kind. I’ve never seen a picture of Jesus dying on the cross but that the artist somehow managed with some piece of clothing to cover His nakedness. He didn’t die like that. He died stripped. He died naked! He had four pieces of clothing, and to the quaternion of soldiers, they gave one to one, and one to the other, and a third to the other, but the fourth, the seamless garment, they said, "Let us not divide. Let us not tear it or rend it. Let us cast lots for it" [John 19:23-24]. And at the foot of the cross, beneath the naked, dying body of our Lord, they cast lots as to which one of the quaternion would take it. Sin deprives. They took away everything that He had, even His clothing.
Sin causes suffering and pain. "God shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied" [Isaiah 53:11], "and His sweat was as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground [Luke 22:44]. He suffered. There is no execution ever devised by the cruel heart of man that equals in pain and agony the Roman system of execution; namely, nailing to a cross, sometimes lingering for three days in unspeakable agony. He died in pain and agony, in sobs and in cries and in tears.
And last: sin kills. And He died. He was numbered among the transgressors, and He bowed His head, and said, "Lord, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit": and bowed His head and died [Luke 23:46].
I am just illustrating that here; there is in Christ an actual substitution, not a figment, not an imaginary thing, not fictional. He died actually huper hēmōn, in our stead. It is an actual atonement. "All we like sheep that have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. And by His stripes, we are healed" [Isaiah 53:5-6]. There is an actual substitution. "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." We are cursed.
"But Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse huper hēmōn" [Galatians 3:13], in our stead, an actual substitution: that, that the blessings of faith might come on us, we who receive the Lord and the promises of the Spirit through faith, finding ourselves unable, lost, condemned, judged, cursed; for all of us have sinned, and all of us are under the curse. "Christ, in the fullness of time" – we shall preach on that later, in the Book of Galatians – "in the fullness of time did He come, born of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" [Galatians 4:4-5; Titus 2:14], that He might redeem us to God, that we might have the blessings of the Lord through faith in Jesus Christ [Galatians 3:14].
That is, when I accept the Lord, when I trust in the Lord, when I believe in the Lord, all that the Lord is, is mine, as all I am becomes His. You see, there are two sides to that substitutionary death. If our Lord took my place, if He died huper hēmōn , in my stead, if He took my place.; now the other side of the gospel is that I have His place. I take His house. I take His robes of righteousness. If He takes my filthy rags, then I have His beautiful garments, pure and white, washed in the blood of the Lamb. I lay down my bondage; He takes that. I take up His liberty; that is mine. He dies for me, then I live in Him. What of me I lay down, and Christ takes that. What of Christ I pick up, and that is mine. If He died for me in my stead, then what is of Christ is mine in His stead. We just exchange places. He died for me; I live because of Him. He took my sins, and my curse, and my damnation, and my judgment; I have His mercy and forgiveness and life now and forever. This is the wonderful gospel, the good news of the Son of God.
In the moment that remains, may I characterize that gift of God in Christ Jesus? One: always, it is instantaneous. The gift always is just like that, always. It is immediate. The gospel is, "Look and live, wash and be clean, believe and be saved." It is always that. There may be many things that lead up to that. There may be the hearing of the Word, and the preaching of the gospel, and prayer, and sometimes agony in spirit, and civil war in the soul, but when it comes, always, that glorious gift of redemption is instantaneous. The entire work of our Lord is like that.
When He saw the paralytic, He said, "Arise, take up your bed and walk, and the man did" [John 5:8]. He said to the man whose ears were dumb and closed and couldn’t hear, deaf, He said to him, ephphatha, and immediately, his ears were open [Mark 7:34]. He said to the raging storm, "Be still," and it was quiet [Matthew 4:39]. He said to Jairus’ daughter, "Talitha, cumi, damsel arise," and immediately she was raised from the dead [Mark 5:41-42]. That is the way it comes to us. It is immediate, it is instantaneous, it is always that.
There is a 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 is nailed to the tree.
["There is Life for a Look," Amelia M. Hull]
I have a message from the Lord, hallelujah!
It is only that you "look and live."
"Look and live," my brother, live,
Look to Jesus Christ, and live;
‘Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you "look and live."
["Look and Live," by William A Ogden, 1887]
Always, it is instantaneous!
Second: it is always absolutely complete. It is all-sufficient and all-adequate. It needs, it lacks nothing else. All of the waters in Neptune’s ocean could not wash the stain of sin out of our souls. All the sweet spices and perfumes of Arabia could not cover over the stain of our sin. "But the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin" [1 John 1:7]. It is complete. It is adequate. It is all-sufficient. Christ is not able to forgive some of our sins and others He is not able. God does not forgive us the sins of yesterday, but today He is unable. God does not forgive us of present sin, but those that we should commit tomorrow He is not able to forgive. No! It is complete, all-sufficient, all-adequate. It covers the whole expanse of the wrong and ruin of our lives, in life and in death to raise us up.
And last: it is irrevocable. When God gives us Himself, He doesn’t take Himself back. And when God bestows upon us salvation, then He does not let us fall into the abyss and into hell. It is irrevocable. It is a forever! It is now and in the world that is to come! The old-timers used to sing that song with such fervor and zeal and faith,
"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes:
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never no never, no never forsake!"
["How Firm a Foundation," John Rippon’s Selection of Hymns, 1787]
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
[Romans 8:33, 38-39]
It is a forever gift. "As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: as it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" [Galatians 3:10].
"But Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse huper hēmōn in our stead, that we might be the righteousness of God in Him." And it is done; the great transaction is done when I accept Him. As he writes here in the verse, "The promise of the Spirit through faith" [Galatians 3:14], when I just accept it, when I take it, when I trust Him, when I believe in Him, when I open my heart to Him, the great transaction is done. God does it. It is a miracle of heaven, it is something He does.
In this moment, we stand to sing our invitation hymn, and in this balcony round, you, on this lower floor, you, giving your heart in faith and trust to Christ, would you come today? Make the decision now in your soul. Make it now. In the very fountain depths of your heart, make the decision now. And in a moment when we stand to sing, stand up coming. Down that aisle, down that stairway, as the Lord shall press the appeal to your heart, make the decision now. Do it now. A family you, putting your life in the fellowship of the church, a couple you, or just you, "Lord, this hast Thou done for me, and this, Lord, shall I do for Thee?" Hoe feci pro te; quid facis pro me? "This have I done for thee. What hast thou done for Me?" "This I do for Thee, Lord. I give Thee my heart and my life in faith, in trust, in belief, in acceptance, in love now and forever. And here I come, Lord. I make it now." Come. Come. Come, while we stand and while we sing.