< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: God's Plan for Evangelism Part 8

Monday, January 07, 2013

God's Plan for Evangelism Part 8

Besides preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand, Jesus also would bring sinners into it  by dying in their place and for their sin: taking their punishment on Himself and securing forgiveness for them, making them righteous in God’s sight and qualifying them to share in the inheritance of the kingdom.

Colossians 1:12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

In John 1:29 John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

The lamb of God goes back to the Passover when the Angel of Death would sweep across Egypt killing the first born unless they had blood from a lamb without defect or blemish on the door frame of their house. If they did, God promised, the angel would see the blood and “pass over” the house sparing them the judgment of death.

The Passover feast, and especially the Passover lamb, became a powerful symbol of the idea that the penalty of death for one’s sins could be paid by the death of another. This idea of “penal substitution” in fact, grounded the entire system of Old Testament sacrifices. Every year on the Day of Atonement the High Priest would go into the center of the Holy of Holies and kill an unblemished animal as payment for the peoples’ sins.

Jesus came not only to preach God’s kingdom, but to die as a substitutionary sacrifice for His people. The “once and for all” sacrifice.

Jesus knew it from the beginning. And He foretold His death many times:

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

John 10:15, 18 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.

He did it willingly and out of love for His people.

The early Christians knew what He accomplished on the cross.

Paul said in Galatians 3:13-14 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

And also in 2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

And Peter said in 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

And in 1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Jesus did not die for punishment of His own sins. He didn’t have any! It was punishment for His people’s sins! All their (and our) rebellion, disobedience and sin were on His shoulders when He hung on the cross. And the curse that God had pronounced in Eden – the sentence of death – struck.

Matthew 27:46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

At that moment, God, His Father, who is Holy and righteous, whose eyes are too pure even to look on evil, looked at His Son and saw the sins of His Son’s people resting on His shoulders and looked away while His wrath poured down on Jesus.  Darkness covered the earth for 3 hours. The darkness of judgment.

Isaiah prophesized about this 7 centuries earlier.

Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Our sins! His punishment! His death! My Life!

And of course all this is true and good news only because King Jesus rose from the dead and lives!

Luke 24:5-6 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen!

Romans 8:33-34 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Jesus sits at God’s right hand right now interceding for His people while He awaits His glorious return.

Who are His People? Christians. The definition of a Christian is one who turns away from his sin and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ – and nothing else – to save him from sin and the coming judgment.

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