Christ Our Redeemer
September 24th, 1972 @ 8:15 AM
CHRIST OUR REDEEMER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-24-72 8:15 a.m.
On the radio we are sharing together the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Christ Our Redeemer, the Redeeming Christ. Preaching through the Book of Galatians, we are in the third chapter, and the message is from the tenth, the thirteenth, and the fourteenth verses. “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 every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” [Galatians 3:10]. Verse 13:
But Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us . . .
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ;
that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
We speak first of the curse of the law. “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: as it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” [Galatians 3:10]. Isn’t that a strange turn to life, that our good works, when they are looked upon as a medium, or a means, or an instrument of salvation, that our good works work for our damnation, our condemnation, our cursing?
The law was presented in an awesome form, a terrible form. Mt. Sinai was filled with thunder, and storm, and lightning, and sound, and furor when the law was given to Moses [Exodus 19:16-18]. So terrible was the sight that even Moses himself said, “I do exceedingly fear and quake” [Hebrews 12:21]. It was accompanied by the sound of a trumpet, and so exceeding terrible was the sound of the trumpet that the Scriptures say that the people feared the sound of the trumpet more than they did the thunder, and the storm, and the lightning [Exodus 19:16]. The sound of that trumpet was like a day of doom and destruction and damnation.
The mount was a terrible thing in itself, so much so that even a man or a beast that might touch it, immediately was to die, thrust through with a dart [Exodus 19:13:, Hebrews 12:20]. And the law was written on tables of stone [Exodus 31:18]. The law is heavy. It is impersonal. It is stone-like, rock-like, and it crushes us to death. Nor is there any exception in the law about condemnation for one who breaks it. Love, and mercy, and grace, and forgiveness are something else, but the law is of all things, first and primary, impersonal and condemnatory.
Quoting from the book of cursing, Paul writes here, “As it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” [Galatians 3:10]. You might keep ninety-nine of those laws, but when you break one of them, immediately you come under the curse. There’s no exception in the law. It is impersonal. It applies to all of us and all of the parts of our lives. It is as Ezekiel said in chapter 18, verse 4, “The soul that sins shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4].
“Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the law to do them” [Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10].
That woman from the street who, seeing Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee, came and bathed His feet with her tears, and anointed them with ointment of spikenard, and dried them with the hairs of her head [Luke 7:37-38]. That woman, weeping at the feet of Jesus; what does the law say? The law says she must be stoned! She must be taken outside of the city wall and there executed [Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22]. That’s the law.
But the law not only applies to felons, and to malefactors, and to murderers, the law applies to all of us, “for all have sinned” [Romans 3:23]. Therefore, all come under the curse of the law. “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the law to do them” [Galatians 3:10]. And all of us are under that curse.
The serpent and his path is found throughout the earth. There’s poison in all of our hearts. There’s a black drop that courses through all of our veins. And our self-righteousness to commend ourselves to God—our self-righteousness is, as Isaiah said, is like filthy rags [Isaiah 64:6]. Our self-righteousness is like a spider’s web, thin, and frail, and fragile, cut through with the sharp sword of the law.
“Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things of the law to do them” [Galatians 3:10].
And the repercussion and the judgment of that curse is awesome and terrible to behold, as awesome as Mt. Sinai itself. For when we sin, we come under judgment, and that means death, death of the body. We die in this body [Romans 6:23].
Funerals; there’s no week but that we bury the dead from this church. We had a funeral service of one of our dear members yesterday. The dissolution of the body, that is a part of this curse; and the death of the inward soul, that is a part of the curse, our separation from God [Genesis 3:19].
As many as are of the works of the law, the man who seeks to save himself by his own righteousness and his own goodnesses, the works of the law, he’s under the curse for it is written, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the law to do them” [Galatians 3:10]. For us to be saved by the works of the law, we would have to be perfect in all of our lives, breaking none, continuing in every one.
Now, Paul says that no man is justified by the works of the law in the sight of God is evident [Galatians 3:11]. That’s most evident. I need not argue that, nor need Paul argue it. All we need is just to bring us up here one at a time, and let each one of us testify to the experience in his own life. I also have broken the law. I also am imperfect. I also am a sinful man, and I also am under the curse. Then how can we be saved? This is the gospel. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us that the blessings of faith might be ours in Him” [Galatians 3:13-14].
Now second, we look at the redemptive work of Christ. The curse of the law, the judgment of the law, posits a real problem, even for God. How can God be just and justify the ungodly? If all of us are damned and condemned by the law, then how can God save us? For the law is implied impersonally and universally. We are all under it.
How does God forgive our sins and at the same time apply the judgments of the law against us? How can He save us and at the same time honor His Word and His law? “The soul that sins shall die” [Exodus 18:4]. “The wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23]. “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all of the things of the law to do them” [Galatians 3:10].
Then how can God save us, sinners as we are? This is the gospel. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, huper egō, “instead of us” [Galatians 3:13]. That is, all of the law’s requirements, all of them, every curse, every judgment, every damnation, every condemnation, every judgment of the law was fully satisfied in Christ who became a curse instead of us, who died instead of us, who laid down His life instead of us [Hebrews 10:5-14]. That sharp sword of judgment that should have plunged into our hearts was plunged into His. He became a curse in our stead, huper egō for us [Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21].
When the law says blood for blood, death for death, judgment for judgment, eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth [Deuteronomy 19:21], when the law says that, every one of those judgments was fully satisfied in Jesus Christ who took our curse in our stead and who died for us [Galatians 3:13]. All of those prophecies of the Old Testament, all of those types of the sacrificial system, all of them were pictures of the redemptive work of our Lord. May I point out to you that according to the word of the Bible, there is an actual, an actual, a real and actual substitution made for us in Christ [Isaiah 53:5]. We’re not talking about symbol. We’re not talking about some kind metaphor or simile. We’re talking about an actual reality. There is an actual substitution made in Christ. He died in my stead! [2 Corinthians 5:21]. All of the judgments and all of the curses in the law that should have fallen upon me fell upon Him!
A typical sentence like this is in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For God hath made Him to be sin”—and there’s that phrase again––huper ō in our stead, “that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” God hath made Him to be sin huper egō, in our stead! Took our place; sin, all of it, was in Him. The judgment, the curse, all of it; there is an actual substitution made. He took my place. He took our place. He died for us!
You know, look at that just for a moment: that He actually died in our place, that He took the judgment of the law, that He received it in Himself—look at one or two of these things about sin, about breaking the commandments.
One, sin separates [Isaiah 59:1-2]. It separates between our souls and God. There’s a great, dark, black veil that drops in between. When we sin, sin separates us from God. Christ became that sin and received that judgment [2 Corinthians 5:21]. Look! as He died for our sins, He cried saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” [Matthew 27:46] Because He took our sins [2 Corinthians 5:21], and sin separates [Isaiah 59:1-2].
Look again. Sin deprives, sin robs, and they took away from our Lord even the garments that clothed Him, and He was crucified [Matthew 27:35; John 19:23-24]. The artists are gracious. When they paint a picture of Jesus on the cross, always they’ll have some kind of a garment covering His nakedness. But the Bible says He died nude. They took away His clothes and even cast lots at the foot of the cross as to who would receive the fifith garment among the quaternion of soldiers [John 19:23-24]. Sin deprives. Sin robs, and they took away even the clothes that He wore.
Again, sin causes suffering and pain. The curse of the law, the judgment of the law, sin causes suffering and pain [Romans 1:28-31; Titus 3:3]. And our Lord was scourged [Matthew 27:26]. Crucifixion was the most horrible instrument of execution that the ingenious inhumanity of man has ever devised. There is no execution as painful as the Roman idea—they conceived it—as the Roman idea of the cross. A criminal died as much by the horrible scourging as he did by being nailed to the tree, where he usually hung for maybe three days in indescribable agony. He suffered.
And last, sin kills. Sin destroys. Sin damns. Sin kills, and Jesus died! He bowed His head and gave up His spirit [Matthew 27:50]. There is an actual substitution [2 Corinthians 5:21].
Now the glory of the gospel; Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, that the blessings of faith through Jesus Christ might come upon us [Galatians 3:13-14]. This is the gospel. It is as far from the law as east is from the west. You remember how John begins his Gospel in the first chapter: “For the law came by Moses”—damnation and cursing and judgment came by Moses—“but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ [John 1:17].
Now I want to show you if I can the other side of that huper egō, that He died in our stead [2 Corinthians 5:21]. He took our suffering. He took our judgment; tooth for tooth, eye for eye, blood for blood, judgment for judgment. He died; He suffered in our stead, in our behalf—that is, He changed places with us.
Now I want you to look at the other side of it. If He changed places with us, and He took our death, and our suffering, and our sin, and our shame, and our judgment, if He took our place, then we have His place. That is, we live in His house, and we wear His garments. These old filthy rags of unrighteousness He took, and we have His garments of white purity, robes washed; pure like the driven snow. He took our bondage that we might have His liberty. He took our sin that we might have His forgiveness. He took our judgment that we might have His mercy and grace. He took our death that we might have His life.
There is an actual substitution made. And what was Christ’s is now ours. We laid down the things of ourselves that we might pick up the things of Christ. This is done instantaneously. That’s the miracle of the new birth [John 3:3, 7]. That’s the miracle of regeneration [Titus 3:5]. There may be many things that lead up to it—hearing the Word, conviction, sometimes prayer and agony of soul––but when the great transaction is done, it is done instantaneously, just like that! [2 Corinthians 5:17].
All the work of our Lord is done instantaneously, all of it; all of it. When He took to His heart the case of the paralytic man, He said, “Rise, take up your bed and walk,” and he did, just like that [Mark 2:11-12]. When He said to the man whose ears were closed, the man was deaf, He said, “Ephphatha” and they were opened [Mark 7:34-35]. When the wind was raging, He said, “Be calm,” and just like that, it was calm [Mark 4:39; Luke 8:24]. He looked at the damsel, the girl of Jairus, the twelve year old girl. He said, “Talitha cumi,” “Damsel, arise,” and she arose, raised from the dead [Mark 5:41-42]. When Christ does it, it is done instantaneously. That’s God.
Another thing: it is done absolutely, it is done completely. All of the waters of Neptune’s ocean could not wash the stain of sin out of my soul, nor could all of the spices and perfumes of Arabia cover it, but . . . “the blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanses us from all sin” [1 John 1:7].
It is absolutely adequate, and sufficient, and all-inclusive. It is complete. He doesn’t forgive just some of our sins but He is not able to forgive others. He doesn’t forgive just the sins of the past, but these that I commit in the future He doesn’t forgive them. He is not able just to forgive some of the sins of any day and other sins; no, no, they’re all covered in the blood of the Lamb, completely. “He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” [Galatians 3:13].
And the last thing: and that atoning grace of Christ is irrevocable. Oh, glory! It’s never withdrawn, never.
The soul that hath leaned on Jesus for repose,
I’ll never, no, never desert to its foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.
[adapted from “How Firm a Foundation,”John Rippon, 1787]
The gift, the redemption, is irrevocable. It is forever. It is never taken away or drawn back; never [Galatians 3:13].
Paul’s triumphant conclusion to the eighth chapter of Romans, one of the greatest chapters in the Bible, is known to us all. “Who shall lay anything, who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect” [Romans 8:33]; Satan? Demons? Weakness? Sin?
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is the Lord God who justifieth” [Romans 8:33]. “For I am persuaded, I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other of God’s creations shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” [Romans 8:38-39].
The nail-pierced hands that opened for us the gates of grace shall someday open for us the gates of glory [John 14:3]. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; that the blessings and the promises of faith might be ours in Him forever” [Galatians 3:13-14]. Aren’t you glad?
O blessed Jesus! If we have any hope, not in us but in Thee; any songs to sing, not about us but about Thee; any praises by which we can glorify God, let them be of Thee, O precious Savior; Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.
Now we stand to sing our hymn of appeal, and as we sing it, in the balcony round, the press of people in this auditorium, all of those who are listening to this service across the street in Embree Hall, and wherever our people are congregated in this vast complex of buildings; while we sing this song of invitation, there is time and to spare for you to come, wherever you are. If you’re on the back row of this topmost balcony, down one of these stairways, here to the front; if you’re in Embree Hall, across the street and here to the pastor; on this lower floor and into the aisle and down here, “Pastor, here’s my hand. I give it to you as a sign that I have given my heart to God. I’m coming. I accept the grace, the goodness, the forgiveness, the love, the mercy of Christ, and I’m coming.” Or “I’m putting my life in the fellowship of this precious church. This is my family, all of us are coming.” Or just one somebody you, make the decision now, and in a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up coming down that stairway, coming down that aisle: “Here I am, pastor. I make it this morning. I’m doing it now,” while we stand and while we sing.