Family Christmas Hour
December 19th, 1976 @ 7:30 PM
1 Peter 1:12
OUR SIN BEARER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Peter 2:19-25
7-24-60 10:50 a.m.
You who share with us this service on the radio are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled Our Sin Bearer. In our preaching through the Bible, last Sunday evening we closed with the first part of the second chapter of 1 Peter. And the sermon this morning is from the second part of the second chapter of 1 Peter:
If a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully, this is thankworthy.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps:
He who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth:
Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously:
Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Bishop and Shepherd of your souls.
This letter was written to the Christian people scattered abroad, at a time when the heavy hand of the Roman Caesar was beginning to waste and to destroy the churches of God. And Simon Peter writes his epistle to encourage God’s children in the face of their burning and fiery trial. And he speaks of the sheep of the Lord, who are being wasted by the ravages of bitter and terrible persecution. It was as though our Lord had said, to an antagonistic and gainsaying world, "Here are My sheep, come, waste, and slay, and destroy, and torture, and burn, and persecute." And the world responded in kind. They took His invitation, and they slaughtered and they burned and they destroyed. In the great coliseums and amphitheaters over the Roman world, tier upon tier upon tier of men and women with savage hearts and eyes that rejoiced in blood and suffering, cried, "Bring out the saints, the Christians, to the lions!" And God’s little flock was brought into the arena, and the lions were loosed. And then, what did the Christians do? Did they recant, and did they deny their Lord? Some of God’s flock were placed on the rack, and others were cruelly tortured, and others were cast in dungeons, and others were burned with fire. What became of it? What did God’s children do? What did these little ones say, who had trusted in Jesus? Read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and there will you find what God’s little ones did. He describes Blandina, who was a sainted girl, and in an arena she was thrown to the angry, mad bulls to be tossed upon their horns. Did her womanly nature flinch? "More than conquerors through Him that loves us" [Romans 8:37]. The testimony says that without hate or without fear, this virtuous Christian girl was tossed on the horns of the angry bulls, and made no gesture except as long as consciousness lasted, sought to cover her person from the immodest gaze of those bloodthirsty men who looked upon her martyrdom. Then the book will describe the death of a Christian named Marcus of Arethusa. I know nothing about him, but just his name and how he died. Burned at the stake, God’s saints clapped their burning hands, crying, "None but Christ, none but Christ." This is what they did. And these are the Christians to whom Simon Peter addresses his letter and speaks of their enduring grief and suffering for conscience toward God.
And in his word of encouragement, he enforces his appeal with an example, and that in the life of our Lord:
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should do as He did: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Yet when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.
[1 Peter 2:21-23]
Simon Peter takes a day and a night as an example out of the life of our Lord that was burned like fire in his mind and memory forever. It was that night when our Lord was betrayed, and arrested, and taken to the high priests for trial, and then to the Roman procurator. And it was the night that Simon Peter denied his Lord. And there as he looked upon the innocent Lamb of God, mocked, and spit upon, and reviled, and rejected, and crucified, and never returning bitterness, or hatred, or anger, or threatening, or reviling, but as a lamb led to the slaughter, Simon Peter looked upon it; many, and many a time, I would think, did he brush the tears from his eyes as he remembered that night and that day of the cross.
But, lest one might think that he mentions the Lord only by way of example, he hastily adds this marvelously incomparable text here of the expiatory, atoning nature of the suffering and death of our Lord: for if Simon Peter has spoken of Jesus as an example only, he has said nothing. But immediately after he has spoken of the example of our Lord, "Who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not; but committed Himself to God" [1 Peter 2:23], lest we might think of Jesus as an example only, he speaks of His expiatory death; "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes we are healed" [1 Peter 2:24].
When I come now to speak of the death of our Lord, may the Holy Spirit help us behold that wondrous sight, and beholding, lead us to take the shoes from off our feet, standing in such a holy, holy place. And may the Spirit lead us to bow in the presence of our suffering Lord, with repenting grief and with contrition and tears.
"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree"; He took our punishment and bore the wrath and judgment of God that should have fallen upon us. For the cup that He drank of the wrath of God, had we sought to drink it, we could never have emptied it, though we had drunk of that cup forever and forever. And the suffering that He bore for our sins, had we borne it, did we bear it we would bear it forever and ever and ever, and never yet make full atonement for our sins against God. He bore our punishment. It was transferred from us to Him, and our damnation, and our perdition, and our judgment, and our suffering all were placed upon Him. But there is more. "Who His own self bare our sins" [1 Peter 2:24], in some wondrous sense into which I cannot enter, and of which I cannot explain, and in which I cannot understand, in some inexplicable divine and holy sense, Christ not only bore the punishment for our sins, but He bore our actual sins. As the great evangelist Isaiah said, "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" [Isaiah 53:6]; and again, "And He bare the sin of many" [Isaiah 53:12]. There is a way, there is a purpose, there is an elective providence of God that placed upon Christ our sins: He bore our sins. As Paul says in the second Corinthian letter, the fifth chapter and the twenty-first verse, "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." I cannot understand. But in a deeply infinite spiritual sense, all of our sins were placed upon Christ; "He His own self bare our sins."
He was the second Adam, the representative of our race, and as such God dealt with Him as He would deal with the sins of the whole humanity. They were all placed upon Christ, all of them. God dealt with our Lord as though He were our great Shepherd, and He was accountable for His flock, and all of our wanderings and our transgressions and our iniquities were judged at His hand, as though He were responsible for His sheep, and as though He were accountable for His flock. All of the waywardness and unrighteousness of all of His sheep were laid at the account of the great and the Good Shepherd. He bore our sins, and carried our iniquities. And when the Scriptures say, in,that "God hid His face, and the Lord turned His back" [Psalms 88:14]. had our Savior just been doing good, had He just been bearing our punishment, the Father could have looked upon our Savior and commended Him, and with increasing delight He could have beheld His suffering for us even unto the cross; but in a way into which I cannot enter and in a way that I do not understand, our actual sins and our actual iniquities were laid upon the Lord. And when the Lord looked upon Christ made sin for us, it was more than even the holiness of heaven could bear; and God hid His face, and the light of the world was blotted out. "Who His own self bare our sins" [1 Peter 2:24].
That Greek word for "bare," anaphero, has in it a far stronger connotation and suggestion than you have here in this English word. For that word that Simon Peter used has in it a meaning of a great and awful overbearing burden and weight. As you would see a picture with Atlas with the whole world on his shoulders, so the Lord bare the weight and the burden, oppressive and infinite, of all of the sins of the whole world. Even this stolid, solid earth cannot bear the sins of the curse of mankind. As Paul describes, "This earth travails and groans in pain until now, waiting for the redemption, the adoption of the children of God; for all creation was made subject to curse and vanity by reason of God’s curse upon us" [Romans 8:22-23]. And when you see this world scarred and seared by the storm and the lightning and the fury of nature, and when you see the great searing wastes of the burning blazing deserts, all because this earth can hardly bear the awful curse of the weight of man’s sin; but all of it He bore; "Who His own self bare our sins."
Look of whom he speaks, he emphasizes it: "His own self" [1 Peter 2:24]. Who is this marvelous One who is able to bear up our sins, and to blot them out, and to wash them away? Who is this One? Ah, He is God over all, blessed forever, "Of whom, to whom, for whom, all things were made; and without him was not anything made that was made" [John 1:3]. We are not saved by a doctrine, or by a creed, or by an argument; we are saved by a somebody, a person. As Paul avowed, "I know what I have believed"? No! "I know whom I have believed!" [2 Timothy 1:12]. And that Somebody is God infinite and eternal over all, blessed forever. No one but God could bear away the weight of the sin of the world. But at the same time that that Somebody is God, that Somebody is man. Man broke the law, man must keep the law. The law must be vindicated in the life of the man. And He was made bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, that He might die our death, that He might bear our affliction, that He might pay the penalty for our iniquities and our transgressions. Eternally omnipotent, He is able; but being eternally human, He is compassionate. Both one in our Lord, in our Savior, the God-Man Christ Jesus. And as the great pastor in this pulpit frequently said, "And did ever hyphen mean so much," the God-Man Christ Jesus. "Who His own self, the God-Man, bare our sins in His own body." Do you not see how this apostle, who looked upon that cross, who stood there that day, who saw that expiation, and the ground turned crimson and red at the foot of the cross, how he speaks? "Who His own self, the God-Man, bore our sins in His own body on the tree." For heretofore always sin was atoned for by a proxy, by an offering, by a sacrifice; never by the sinner. Always it was a substitution, always.
When Abraham was called to slay his boy and raised the knife to plunge it into the heart of his son, the angel stayed his hand, and there caught in the thicket by his horns was a ram. And on the altar where Isaac was to be slain, there was a substitute, the ram in his stead [Genesis 22:13]. And on that awful night of the judgment of God on the whole world of Egypt and of Israel, if one would take a lamb and slay it, pour blood in the form of a cross on the lintel, on the doorposts; the angel of death would pass over in the substitute [Exodus 12:13, 23]. And when the Lord, because of the sin of Israel, was destroying His people, David went to Mt. Moriah, there bought the threshing floor of Araunah and there made expiation and atonement for the sins of the people, slaying the oxen of Araunah [2 Samuel 24:25]. Always the knife sank in some other throat, and the blood that was poured out was some other blood, and the life that was sacrificed was some other life. But the Lamb of God had no proxy and no substitute; for He Himself was the sacrifice. And when the knife was plunged into the victim, it was plunged into His heart. And when blood flowed out, it was His blood. Looking down, when the ground turned crimson, it was His life that flowed out. "His own self, in His own body, bare our sins on the tree." He was the Lamb that Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself a lamb" [Genesis 22:8]. And in speaking of it the Book says, "Abraham saw Christ’s day, and he saw it and was glad" [John 8:56].
This is our atonement. This is our expiation. This is our sacrifice. This is our life and our forgiveness, our title deed to heaven; by blood is our name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body." May I speak, before I leave it, of one other little Greek word there, the meaning of which you’d never see in this translation? You have a little word epi here translated in two different ways. Now look how it’s translated here: "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree." Now look how he’s translated it here: "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd of your souls" [1 Peter 2:25]. So in verse twenty-four these translators made epi say "on, on the tree"; and then the next verse, verse twenty-five they translated that little word epi, "unto." Now what the little word means is, "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body unto the tree," and the little word epi means "to the extent of, as far as, to." And what Simon Peter is saying, that He not only bore our sins, at that moment, at that day, in that hour, when He was nailed to the cross, but what Simon Peter is saying in that little word, that all of His life our Savior bore our sins and He bore them even unto the tree, and there they were nailed to the cross, there they were condemned, there they were crucified, there they died, and there are they forever slain and destroyed. He bore our sins in His life, even unto the tree; and there, slain and destroyed and crucified and nailed up, He left them.
Now I see instances of that all through the life of our Lord, that He bore our sins, carrying them in His life, even unto the tree; that all of His life, from the time He was born as a babe in Bethlehem until He bowed His head and gave up the ghost on the cross, all through His life He bore our sins, He was our sin bearer, He was our sacrificial victim. Now I say, once in a while in the story of our Lord I see things like that. For example, in the eighth chapter of Matthew, Matthew says as he has watched our Lord healing the sick, Matthew writes, "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses" [verse 17]. That is, Jesus didn’t heal the sick like you snap your finger, nor did He heal the sick as though it were nothing, as though it were trippingly and lightsomely and blithely done. But our Lord took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses. When He healed the sick, He took the illness, and He took the disease, and He took the illness, and He bore the infirmity. It took out of Him strength and life; it was a burden to Him.
Another instance: as He was going along, thronged on every side, there were those who pressing Him and anxious to see Him and just to touch Him, He was touched by a poor woman who couldn’t be healed of any physician, just on the hem of His garment; for she’d said, "If I can just touch the hem of His garment I will be well" [Matthew 9:20-21]. And when she touched the hem of His garment, the little border with the tassels around, when she touched the hem of His garment, immediately she was healed of her womanly sickness. And Jesus turned and said, "Who touched Me?" Simon Peter said, "Why Master, they throng Thee on every side, they press Thee in every way. And yet Thou sayest, Who touched Me?" And Jesus replied, "But somebody touched Me; for," He said, "I perceive that" – and you have it translated, "virtue is gone out of Me" [Luke 8:45-46]. I don’t know how you’d translate that word; "strength is gone out of Me, life is gone out of Me," whatever life is, "it is gone out of Me." That is, when He heals us, and when He cures us, and when He makes us whole, He does it at a price and at a sacrifice: He is bearing our sins and our infirmities, and it weighs upon Him, and He forgives at a cost.
Then Simon Peter turns to us. "He, our Lord, who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree," then to us, "that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye are healed" [1 Peter 2:24]. Now that’s a sermon in itself; but may I say a few words about it before we make our invitation and sing our song of appeal? We now are dead to sins. It’s just like a man who might have bills and bills and bills stacked up before him, and he’s in debt and he can’t pay and he could never pay the bills and the bills and the bills. And you look at him and you say, "Aren’t you worried? Isn’t it a matter to you?"
"No," says the man, "I’m not worried at all. My bills, my debts have all been paid. Look!" And every one of those pieces of indebtedness, every one of them have been stamped in red "PAID", "PAID," all of them paid. They don’t exist anymore; the bills are dead, they are paid.
Or it’s like a man invited to a marvelous banquet, and he’s naked. Did you ever dream that you were going down the streets in Dallas in your underwear? Did you ever dream that you weren’t clothed and you were out there in a public place? That’s one of the commonest dreams in the world. And that is a subconscious reflection of what the Book says when it says we are born in sin and conceived in iniquity" [Isaiah 51:5]; and the sense of transgression and shame and lack is congenital with all of us. Any man is honest before God he has a sense of lack and of need, of weakness. He can’t escape it. And subconsciously that comes out in those dreams that we dream. That’s why so many times our blessed Lord will liken the kingdom of heaven to a banquet, and to appear we must be clothed. The garment must be given us, lest our shame appear, as the Bible says. My brother, my sister, the garment that Jesus gives us is woven complete throughout; it lacks nothing. The fountain in which we are washed and cleansed is filled completely; it lacks nothing, it lacks nothing. All of these things that condemn and destroy and hurt, they’re all passed away. Jesus bore them even unto the cross, and there He nailed them to the tree. They’re against us no more. And that has become the sign of our healing and our salvation. As a man that was bitten by the serpent in the wilderness, "Look up, look up!" And there on a pole, high and lifted up, a brazen serpent; any man that looked would live [Numbers 21:9]. That’s the way God hath done with our sins: He made our Lord to be sin for us, and raised our sin on a pole, high above the earth; and there it hangs, limp and dead, and its fangs extracted! Not just another dead snake to remind us how many more are still alive, and how we are afflicted and tormented by the venomous bite; but the representative man made our representative sin, and there sin hangs limp, and lifeless, and harmless, and dead. That hath our Lord become for us; and this hath our Lord done for us.
Oh, if a man had half a soul in him, wouldn’t he bow down in the presence of God our Savior and say, "O blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, that such grace and mercy and love should reach down even unto me, unto me, unto me."
Could my tears forever flow,
Could my zeal no languor know
These for sin could not atone,
Thou must save, and Thou alone
In my hand no price I bring,
Simply, humbly, contritely, to Thy cross I cling
["Rock of Ages," Augustus Toplady]
"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body unto the tree" [1 Peter 2:24]. That is the gracious invitation of God to us: come and kneel at the foot of the cross, look up and live. Look, my brother, look and live. "It is recorded in His Word, hallelujah! "It is only that you look and live."
While we sing this appeal, this hymn of invitation this morning, would you look unto Him and live? In the throng in this balcony round, would you come, somebody, you? Down this stairway at the front, down that stairway at the back, "Today, I take Jesus as Savior, and here I come." Is there somebody you on this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, "Here I am, pastor, humbly, the best I know how, I look in faith to Jesus, and here I come." Is there a family you to respond this morning? Coming by letter, by baptism, however the Lord in His Holy Spirit shall open the door and lead the way, would you make it now? On the first note of the first stanza, "Here I come, pastor, and here I am." Will you make it now, while we stand and while we sing?
THE WONDER OF GOD’S ANGELS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Peter 1:12
A. We always speak of Christmas from our viewpoint here in earth
B. How did the angels see it from their point of view in heaven?
C. The angels desired to look into the marvel of the Christ Messiah coming into the world(1 Peter 1:12, Isaiah 9:6-7, 53:3-5)
II. How were the angels when they saw the gracious love of God extended to us lost sinners?
A. Their amazement(1 Peter 1:12)
1. Before creation Prince Emmanuel gave Himself an atoning sacrifice(Revelation 13:8)
B. When God created the world, the angels rejoiced (Job 38:7)
C. After creation, there was war in heaven – the angels had a choice
1. One-third chose to follow Lucifer
D. Watching the fall
1. Satan tempting Eve (Genesis 3:1)
2. Cherubim, angels, sent to guard the tree of life (Genesis 3:24)
E. Ministering spirits, watching over God’s people(Genesis 19, 22:11, 28:11-13, Judges 13, Daniel 6, Luke 16:22)
F. The birth in Bethlehem(Luke 2)
G. Strengthening and comforting their Prince Emmanuel(Matthew 4:1-12, 28:2-6, Luke 22:43, Acts 1:10-11)
H. Welcoming Him back to heaven (Ephesians 4, Revelation 5)
I. Awaiting His coming again – they will accompany Him(Matthew 25:31)