The Atonement in the Messages of Peter and Paul

Acts

The Atonement in the Messages of Peter and Paul

March 19th, 1975 @ 7:30 PM

Acts 2:23

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
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THE ATONEMENT IN THE MESSAGES

OF PETER AND PAUL

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 2:23

3-19-75     7:30 p.m.

 

We are, as you know, through these present days lecturing on “The Theology of the Atonement,” and tonight we are lecturing on The Atonement in the Messages of Peter and Paul.  We have spoken of Atonement in the Primeval Sacrifice, Atonement in the Levitical System, Atonement in the Prophetic Revelation, Atonement in the Inter-biblical Period and In the Life of Christ, and now, Atonement in the Early Church, and especially as it is presented in the preaching and in the writing of the two great exponents of the Christian religion; Peter, first, and then Paul.

First:  we discuss atonement as Simon Peter presented it to the people.  He speaks of the actual death of Christ as a crime at the hands of the Jews.  In Acts 2:23, for example, he will say, “Him, Christ, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” And in Acts 5:30, he repeats that same allegation; he says, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.”  There is no mincing of words and no hesitancy of allegation as Simon Peter preaches the first gospel of the crucified and risen Savior.

You will notice that same spirit in Acts 7:52 in the sermon of the deacon, Stephen; addressing the Jews, he says:

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?  and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One , referring to Christ, the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.

[Acts 7:51-52]

It is a fearful accusation that Simon Peter and these first ministers before the Lord say to the Jewish nation and the Jewish people, in crucifying and slaying the Prince of glory.  Then at the same time and in the same breath, Simon Peter will say, that what the Jewish people have done, it was done by the predetermined counsel of Almighty God.

Do you remember just now, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and crucified and slain”? [Acts 2:23].  In Galatians 3:13 we have a diametrically opposite idea of what the Jewish people thought about someone who was hanged on a tree.  In Galatians 3:13, for example, Paul quotes Deuteronomy, “Cursed is every one that is hanged on a tree” [Deuteronomy 21:23].  But God is doing an exactly contrary thing in presenting Jesus as the Savior of our sins; instead of being a rejection of God, He is the instrument of God in bringing salvation to the people [Matthew 1:21].  It was in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, Simon Peter says, that Jesus was crucified, cursed, slain.  In Acts 3:18 he says, “But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled.”

In Acts 4:11 Peter quotes Psalm 118:22, “The stone which the builders rejected has been made the head of the corner.”  What was the amazing turn of thought to the Jewish people; anyone crucified, hanged on a tree, was a demonstration in itself of the rejection of God, and the thought that such an one could be the instrument of salvation was unimaginable and unthinkable [Deuteronomy 21:23].

To us, we have so glamorized the cross, so dramatized it, that it has lost its opprobrium, its horror, to us.  If you were to use the word, “electric chair,” or “a hangman’s gallows,” you would have the beginning of the horror of the Jewish people about one who is crucified.  And to present one who was crucified as being the Savior of the world was unimaginable and unthinkable to the Jewish people.

And it is to us today, I think.  If a man’s heart is not open to the truth of God, he could never, ever receive it or accept it.  But when they first preached the crucifixion and death of our Lord, they did it in the same breath with the announcement that what had happened was in the predeterminate counsel of God [Acts 2:23], and what the Lord had suffered was in keeping with the prophetic announcement of what the Savior would do when He came into the world to die for our sins [Acts 10:43].  That is why, in the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts, Philip will begin at the same Scripture, Isaiah 53 [Isaiah 53:1-12], and preach to that Ethiopian treasurer, Jesus [Acts 8:35].

Now, having announced the death of our Lord as being in the counsels of God from the foundation of the world [Acts 2:23], and having presented it as being a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy [Isaiah 53:1-12], they now preached the gospel that the death of Christ is the basis of universal forgiveness.  In Acts 4:10-12:

 

Be it known unto you… that in the name of Jesus Christ has this marvelous power been demonstrated—

then he concludes—

Neither is there salvation in any other:  for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

[Acts 4:10, 12]

 

Now when they presented that message, “This is the Lord who was crucified, according to the counsel and prophecy of God [Acts 10:43], and He is the instrument of salvation for the whole world” [John 3:16-17], they place a condition with it.  In Acts 2:38; “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ because of the remission of sins,” and always, that condition is there.  In Acts 3:19; “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”  In Acts 5:31; “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”

The condition upon which what God has done for us becomes effective for us lies in our repentance and in our acceptance by faith of the blessed Lord Jesus.  And in that preaching of the apostle Paul there is never any suggestion that any previous condition is required for the application of the efficacy of Christ’s death to save us, except our repentance and our acceptance of Him.

In Acts the tenth chapter God prepared Simon Peter for the announcement of the gospel message to the Gentiles, to the household of Cornelius in Caesarea.  And Peter’s hesitancy about entering the house is done away with when the Lord reveals to him that what God hath cleansed, he is not to call unclean [Acts 10:9-15], which brought to Simon Peter the wonderful Christian revelation that there are no previous conditions ever to acceptance of the gospel message of Christ, male, female, freedman or slave, black or white, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, Jew or Gentile.  And then he avows, all who call upon the name of the Lord may be saved: in Acts 10:43 he says, “To Him, to Christ, give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.”

So when Simon Peter is done, his whole gospel of atonement is this: Christ was crucified [Acts 10:38-39], a horrible death, at the hands of the nation that rejected Him.  But what happened was according to the prophetic announcement and determinate counsel of God [Acts 2:23], and He is now the minister to us for salvation, we who repent of our sins and accept, in faith and in love, what Christ has done for us [Acts 10:34-35, 43].  And that is universal [Acts 10:34-35].  There are no differences anywhere in the earth; anywhere that a man will turn and accept the Lord as his Savior, to that man God grants eternal life [Acts 10:34-35, 43].  Now this is atonement in Simon Peter.

We come now to atonement in the apostle Paul.  I have an introduction here first to present concerning Paul: first, his conception of God.  In the mind and heart of the apostle Paul, God is merciful toward all men [Acts 17:30-31], and the need for reconciliation is not on God’s part, but the need of reconciliation is on our part [2 Corinthians 5:20].  God, in Christ, has already been reconciled to mankind, to sinful men [2 Corinthians 5:19].  There is not anything that separates between a man and God now, except the man’s own willingness to be reconciled.  I suppose there is no greater, finer passage in the Bible than the one I now read in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, beginning at verse 18:

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation:

Namely, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; not holding them chargeable in judgment for their sins, and God hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

We then are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us:  we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

For God made Him to be sin, Huper—

for us, in our behalf—

Him who knew no sin; that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.

[2 Corinthians 5:18-21]

Now we are looking at the basic assumptions of the apostle Paul when he presents the atoning message in Christ.  And that is the first one: God, in Christ, is reconciled to the world [2 Corinthians 5:18-21].  God is our friend, not our enemy.  God is for us, not against us.  And all that God’s wrath spelled out in judgment against sin has been assuaged; it has been fulfilled; it has been accomplished, the whole penalty and payment of it.  We are going to sometime use the word, “ransom,” and “redemption,” “price of it.”  All of it has been paid.  The debt has been paid.  And God is merciful toward us now.  There is not anything that separates us from God; Christ having paid the penalty of our sin [2 Corinthians 5:21], except that the man himself must be reconciled, not God, but the man [2 Corinthians 5:18-20].

All right, in this introduction to the apostle Paul, his conception of sin: in the idea of Paul, sin is self-alienation from God.  In 1 Thessalonians 1:9, he will speak of them who “turn from idols to serve the living God.”  Sin is self-alienation; the man may persuade himself or think for himself that this is a fine, or pleasant, or happy, or profitable thing to do; but if it is wrong it will alienate him from God.  That is sin.

In the definition of Paul, sin is the self-alienation of our lives and our souls from God.  God doesn’t push us out.  God doesn’t separate us from Him.  But our sins separate between us and God [Isaiah 59:2].  And, in Romans 1:18, Paul further says that sin profanes the righteousness of God.  “For the wrath of God is revealed,” he writes, “from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men….”

All right, a third thing in the background of Paul’s attitude that that sin that alienates from God is universally present in all men.  It isn’t that just some have sinned and found themselves separate from God, but all have sinned, and found themselves separated from God.  In Romans 3:23 the famous passage, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  And Romans 5:12, “Death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.”

I don’t ever need to be talked to, or convinced, or discussed with, about a man being a sinner or no; he is a dying man.  I know he is a sinner because he is a dying man.  If you never sinned, you would never die [Romans 5:12].  If you never sinned, you would never be sick.  If you never sinned, you would never grow old.  If you never sinned, you would have perfection in your body, as well as in your heart and in your spirit.  But sin is demonstrably universal because all of us are dying.

Paul would say that the fruit of sin is death, “As sin reigned unto death. . . ” he speaks in Romans 5:21.  In Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.”  In Romans 7:9 “When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died,” speaking there of the law.  Instead of saving us, the law condemns us, and whereas sin might have been black, it becomes exceedingly sinful; it is blacker than black.

Then we come to his conception of the death of Christ, the death of Christ in the apostle Paul is according to the Scriptures.  In 1 Corinthians 15:3, he defines the gospel, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”  And in the conception of the apostle Paul, the death of Christ met all the requirements of the Old Testament sacrificial system for us and for our sins.  In Ephesians 5:2 he says, “Christ hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice unto God.”  Whatever all of those sacrificial systems meant, typified in the Old Testament, all of it in its meaning, in its typology, in its prophetic pointing toward whatever it was God was going to do, all of it found its fruition and its fulfillment in Christ; He is the sacrifice for our sins [Ephesians 5:2].  All of the sacrifices of the Old Testament, all of the typology contained in it, pointed toward Him; and He fulfilled it all [Matthew 5:17; Colossians 2:17].

And according to the apostle Paul, in the death of Christ we have the new covenant established [2 Corinthians 3:6], which was spoken of in [Jeremiah 31:31] and following [Jeremiah 31:31-34], when God says, “The old covenant I gave you, the covenant of the law, written on tables of stone [Exodus 31:18]. ‘Do this and you will live’” [Deuteronomy 6:24; Ezekiel 20:11].  The people broke that covenant Jeremiah 31:32; we still do.  If a man hopes to be saved by his obedience to the law, by his righteous life, he is going to find himself in utter and abysmal despair.  The old covenant, God said, we broke [Jeremiah 31:32], just as Moses broke the tables of stone in anger [Exodus 32:19].  The old covenant we have broken.

Jeremiah 31 prophesies of a new covenant [Jeremiah 31:31].  And that new covenant is found in the death of Jesus Christ [1 Corinthians 11:25].  The covenant is this, this is the body offered for us; this is the blood shed for us, represented in broken bread, represented in the crushed fruit of the vine [Matthew 26:26-28, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26], and all who will accept that atoning, merciful, sacrifice of Christ will be saved [John 3:16, Romans 6:23].  That is the new covenant [2 Corinthians 3:6].

Man may be black in his heart as coal.  A man may be stained with sin all of his life, may have dipped his hands in human blood.  But if that man will turn in repentance and in faith and accept Christ, he will be white as snow [1 John 1:9; Isaiah 1:18].  That is why, you remember, in these days and days gone by, I went down to Ecuador out of Limoncocha to look at those Auca Indians who had killed five white missionaries.  And those five white missionaries they had slain in cold blood were but a few of the ones they had murdered in their own tribes, all their lives.

And I wanted to see men who had known no other thing than to shed human blood.  I just wanted to see how they could come out of such savagery and out of such low culture and be humble, beautiful, precious, disciples of Jesus Christ.  And two of those Aucas who had helped to murder those five white missionaries, you saw here in this pulpit about two or three years ago.  It is a marvelous thing that God has brought to pass in the new covenant.

Now a last conception of the death of Christ in the apostle Paul:  He redeemed us in that death from the curse of the law.  “Cursed be everyone,” wrote the lawgiver, “Cursed be everyone that continues not in the law to do it” [Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10].  A man may start out being wonderful in his life, but if he doesn’t continue in it . . . in his perfection he may just, ah! just be so fine.  But if he does not continue in every link of it and every step of it, the law becomes condemnatory; it points him out as being a fallen, lost sinner.  And from that curse Christ redeemed us [Galatians 3:13]; He saved us and delivered us.

Now with that introduction to the conception of the apostle Paul of God and of sin, let us now look as Paul presents the doctrine of atonement.  Number one: atonement is accomplished—according to the apostle Paul—through the revelation of God in Christ Jesus.  The cross, the death of Christ is two things: one, it is a demonstration of God’s righteous hostility toward sin.  The cross is a demonstration of God’s aversion to iniquity, and to wickedness, and to sin.

In Romans 3:25, and in 2 Corinthians 5:21, Christ was made sin for us.  And when that happened to the Lord, God turned His face away from Him.  And in isolation, the Lord on the cross cried, “My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” [Matthew 27:45-46]. The cross is a demonstration, a revelation of God’s righteous aversion to and hostility toward sin.  And at the same time, the cross is a demonstration of God’s love for us.  In the fifth chapter of the Book of Romans is that beautiful passage, “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” [Romans 5:8]. In Ephesians 1:4, “God hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.”  In Ephesians 3:11, “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus.”

The Lord, in judgment, could have destroyed us all, and it is a marvel that He does not.  But in pity and mercy God did this thing of offering Christ as atonement for our sins because He loved us:

 For a righteous man, one would hardly die.  For a good man, maybe some would offer to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

[Romans 5:7-8]

So, in the theology of the apostle Paul, atonement is accomplished through the revelation of God in Christ.  This is what God is like.  Look at Jesus, dying for us, providing for our salvation; that is God’s attitude toward us sinners [Romans 5:8].

Number two: the death of Christ, according to the apostle Paul, provides a substitutionary atonement.  “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” [1 Corinthians 15:3]; He died for us.  In Romans 5, verses 6 and 8, that offering of Christ is a sin offering that the Lord offers to God for us sinners. Romans 5:6-8:

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Scarcely for a righteous man will one die:  yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

[Romans 5:6-8]

 

What the offering of our Lord was unto God was because we are sinners, and the sacrifice of Christ is a sin offering [Hebrews 9:26].  And in that sin offering, what belonged to man is imputed to Christ, and what belongs to Christ is imputed to man [2 Corinthians 5:21].  He took our place, the sinner condemned, and we took His place, the Son loved of the Father; and the cross is the exchange between us and God [Romans 5:6-8].

I have often thought the man who had the clearest idea of substitution was named Barabbas [Matthew 27:16-26, Luke 23:18-25].  The thief here, the thief there, and the middle cross was for him.  And, as he stood there and saw Christ die, I think he had the best idea of substitution of any man who ever lived.  We exchanged places with Christ; He dies for me, and His life is mine [2 Corinthians 5:15].

Not only does the death of Christ provide a substitutionary atonement [2 Corinthians 5:21], but the death of Christ provides a redemption for us: Ephesians 1: 6-7, “We have redemption through His blood.”  Galatians 4:4-5, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.” He redeems us by His death.  That is the purchase price of our redemption [Galatians 3:13].  In 1 Corinthians 6:20, Paul writes, “We are not our own, we are bought with a price” [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].  What is that price?  The price is the death of our Lord.  In Romans 5:18 Paul writes, “By the offense of one, death entered into the world and came upon all of us; but by the righteousness of One, justification has come to all of us.”   And that was bought for us, purchased for us.  We are redeemed by the blood of the Crucified One [1 Peter 1:18-19].

And as though that were not enough, as though the death of Christ did not suffice to save us, we are given added assurance in His life.  In Romans 5:10, is a word that is sometimes misunderstood, “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.”

This week, for example, I read a theologian who referred that we shall be saved by His life, referred that to the holy, pure, and righteous life of Jesus.  I think that is a gross mistake.  To me, this is what Paul is saying:

 If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, if we have substitution, and propitiation, and redemption, and expiation, forgiveness of sins, and salvation, atonement, all in the death of Christ, if we have reconciliation to God in the death of His Christ, much more, being saved, being forgiven, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

[Romans 5:10]

I think that life refers to the life of our Lord in heaven: He is our Mediator [1 Timothy 2:5], He is our Intercessor, and He is there to see to it that we, who have come for forgiveness, and strength, and help, and refuge in Him that we do not fail of that final promise.  We will be in heaven, someday.  God will see to it that we make it [Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25].  The devil will not get us; we will not finally fail and fall.  And I think that is what it means: we, being reconciled to God by His death, shall be certainly saved because He lives to make intercession for us [Romans 5:10].

Isn’t that the idea in the author of the Hebrews?  “He is able to save to the uttermost them who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” [Hebrews 7:25].  I think that is what it means; when we have been reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved—assuredly saved, certainly saved, forever saved—by His life [Romans 5:10].

Now I don’t like to appear to be critical of my brethren, but I had a strange feeling this week.  One of the cardinal tenets of the denominational group with whom I was meeting this week, one of their cardinal, doctrinal tenets is this; there is no such thing as a man being saved forever.  There is no such a thing as the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer.  And as I would listen to them, and as they would talk to me personally, I did not realize that the years of preaching and the years of persuasion of the word and promise of God had entered so deeply into the foundations of the thinking of my soul.  And to hear those men speak of that a man could be saved and then the next day not be saved, just lose his salvation altogether, that a man had to trust Jesus and live a beautiful and sanctified life, and if he did not, he lost his salvation in that falling and in that sin.

Well, if that is true, I don’t see how anybody is going to be saved.  How does a man have the ableness to live above sin?  It seems to me, as I look at us, we are all sinners alike; except some of us are saved by grace.  Why, I tell you truly, there are fine, upstanding, moral people who are not Christians.  You can walk up and down the streets of the city of Dallas and find a fine, upstanding man who is not a Christian.  I have found, to my amazement, some of the finest people in the world who are Muslims, and some of them are Buddhists, and some of them are Hindus, and then, of course, some of them are not anything.  Japan is full of fine, upstanding people, and they are all Shintoists.

 Well, what is this thing that makes the difference in men?  Now this is what I think it is, I think that some of us plead the grace, and the pity, and the mercy, and the forgiveness of Christ [Ephesians 3:9].  And others say, “I will just stand on my own merit, I will just take my own chances.  I am just as good as anybody else.”  But to a man who knows Christ, the closer he gets to the Lord, the more conscious he is of failure, and fault, and sin.

And that is why the Christian bows; that’s why he confesses his sin; that’s why he asks God for Jesus’ sake to forgive him, and we ought to do that every day.  “He that is washed needeth not save but to wash his feet” [John 13:10].  That is, walking through the day, he needs to ask God at the end of the day to forgive him of the sins and the shortcomings and the mistakes of that day.  We never get beyond it.

So the whole foundation, as I have come to understand it in the Bible and to believe it in the Word of God, the whole foundation of our hope lies not in us, but in Him [Matthew 12:21].  Last Sunday, I closed the sermon:

On Christ the solid Rock I stand;

all other ground is sinking sand.

Do you remember the verse?

My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

[“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less,” Edward Mote, 1834]

Not I, but Him.

Now the death of Christ, in the theology of the apostle Paul, provides a propitiation before God for our sin.  The word, “propitiate,” means, “to render favorable.”  Someone is angry, and you “propitiate” him; make him favorable.

In a strange way, in Romans 3:24-26, the word, “hilastērion, which is the Greek Septuagint word for “the mercy seat,” God sent Him to be a propitiation, a hilastērion, for our sins.  That is, I think, everything that the Day of Atonement typified—all of it—everything that the Day of Atonement typified [Leviticus 16:1-34], you find its actual meaning and fulfillment in Christ.  The whole ritual of the Day of Atonement points to Him [Leviticus 16].  He is the One that renders God favorable toward us [Ephesians 1:6].  The death of Christ renders God’s judgment toward man, not one of burning enmity, and castigation, and destruction, and damnation, but the death of Christ turns God’s face toward us in forgiveness, and pity, and grace [Ephesians 1:6].

If I can, I want to illustrate that.  When David sinned, Nathan said to him, “Thou shalt not die; for God hath put away thy sin” [2 Samuel 12:13].  How do you think God did that?  Do you think God did that by fiat?  God just put away his sin; fiat, let it be.  It is, that is the Latin word, fiat; He said that’s it and it was, just let it be.

Now I want to ask you: if that is true, if God put away David’s sin by fiat, just He said it and it is true, then why doesn’t God put away sin always by that?  Why just pick out David?  God put away David’s sin by fiat.  He just said it, and there is no judgment.  There is no damnation with it.  He just said it; it’s all over, put it away.  Why didn’t He do that for all of us?

I don’t think that’s true.  When God said to David, “God has put away your sin; you will not die” [2 Samuel 12:13]. I think the reason God could say that to David was on account of the Lord God placed it to the charge of the One who was coming to redeem the world from its sin.

“Now why do you think that, pastor?”  I will give you the reason for it: Luke says—and this is an unusual turn because the other Synoptics do not write it like this— Luke says that on the Mount of Transfiguration there spoke to Jesus Moses and Elijah about His exodus.  That is a Greek word, “about His decease, that He should”—and he uses the word “accomplish”—“achieve in Jerusalem” [Luke 9:30-31].  What was that?  Well, let me tell you what I think it was; and with Moses and Elijah, I would like to put David in the same theological category.  So let me say it my words. What was it that Moses said to Jesus when he talked to Him about His exodus that He should accomplish, His death, His decease that He should accomplish, achieve, in Jerusalem?  Let me tell you what I think he said to Him. Moses said to Jesus, “Jesus, I am in heaven on the basis of Your promise to die for my sins [Job 19:25-27], and You must die for my sins or else I have no place in glory.”  And I think Elijah said to Him the same thing.  “Master, I am in heaven, was taken up to heaven [2 Kings 2:11], on the basis of Your promise to die for my sins [Job 19:25-27], ‘For without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins’ [Hebrews 9:22], and Master, I am here in heaven because of Your promise to die” [Job 19:25-27].

And I think that is exactly what Nathan meant when he said to David, “Thou shalt not die.  God hath put away your sin” [2 Samuel 12:13]; that is, the Lord placed it; God placed it upon Jesus.  He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world [1 John 2:2].  They all were charged to His account.  If you want to use the word, “debt,” the whole debt of the human family was paid in Jesus Christ.  And that is how we are saved [1 John 2:2].

Now one other thing, the death of Christ, in the theology of Paul, is the basis for the reconciliation between man and God.  You know, it is a strange thing; the term “reconciliation” is distinctive to Paul.  He is the one that uses it.  In [Romans 5:10], and 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, and Ephesians 2:16, and Colossians 1:20-22, that is the word Paul uses.  The blood of Christ is the means of making peace.  In His death there is a unifying, harmonizing of all things.  The whole creation is at peace and at harmony with God in the blood of Jesus Christ.  That’s what Paul writes in Colossians 1:20-22.

Now let me sum up the theology of Paul’s message on atonement.  One: God revealed His judgment against sin in the cross [Colossians 2:13-14].  Number two: Christ, for us, assumed the burden and consequences of our sin and died under it for us [1 Peter 2:24].  Number three: God revealed in the death of Christ His love for the sinner, for us [John 3:16]. You want to know what God really thinks about you?  Look at the cross of Jesus, and just say the words, “He died for me” [1 Corinthians 15:3]. And four: in the sinner’s acceptance of the love, pardon, reconciliation, atonement, and propitiation, when the sinner accepts that by faith, he is reconciled to God, God being already reconciled to him [Romans 5:10].

What God says to the whole sinful world today is “Turn, turn, turn, and be ye reconciled to God” [2 Corinthians 5:20; James 4:8-10].  “Come, come, come, everything is prepared and ready” [Luke 14:15-17].  There is no appointment, no embellishment, no accouterment that is lacking.  All is complete, full, finale, perfect, forever so; just come and sit yourself at the banquet of the Lord [Luke 14:15-17].  Be a learner at His dear feet [Matthew 11:28-30]; follow Him in love, and confession, and in forgiveness, and mercy, and pity, and sympathy, and understanding, and encouragement [Matthew 16:24-26].  Live the life of the triumphant One; both now and as a fellow heir in heaven [Romans 8:17].  That is the theology of Paul, God’s great servant.

Now could we bow our heads for just this moment?  In the quietness of this hour, speaking of the things that pertain to the death of Christ and to us, is there someone here tonight to give himself in faith to the Lord? [Ephesians 2:8]. Or, is there someone here tonight to put his life in the fellowship of our dear church?  Would you hold up your hand?  Anywhere, is there one?  Is there one somebody you?

Gracious Redeemer, precious Redeemer, by whose blood we are reconciled to God [2 Corinthians 5:19], in whose blood we have forgiveness of sins [Colossians 1:14], in whose sacrifice we have perfect access to the Holy of Holies [Hebrews 10:19-20], in whose love, tears, sobs, cries, suffering, we are made children of the great King [Ephesians 1:5], adopted into the family of heaven [Philippians 3:20], made joint-heirs with the Son of glory [Romans 8:17], O Lord, that our lives might flow toward the praise and the glory of Christ our Redeemer [Ephesians 1:6, 12].

And with those in heaven who sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain [Revelation 5:11], and hath redeemed us by His blood, out of every tribe and nation and people and tongue under the sun. . .” [Revelation 5:9], Lord, with them may our hearts rise in paeans of praise to the glory of Prince Immanuel [Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23], the Captain of the hosts of heaven, our coming Lord and King [Revelation 17:14].  Remember us in the work of the week.  Meet with us in saving grace and power on Sunday.  And again, Lord, crown every Lord’s Day service with a harvest of souls.  We shall love Thee and thank Thee for the heavenly answer; in Thy saving name, amen.

Now do you want—all right, we are dismissed.