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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:Jesus Christ Laid It On The Line!
Text:BC 21 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Christ's Suffering
 
Preached:2008-05-04
Added:2009-05-26
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


BELGIC CONFESSION OF FAITH XXI

(Reading: Hebrews 6:13-7:28)

 

Jesus Christ Laid It On The Line!

 

 

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ...

 

     A story comes to us from many years ago about a poor girl in Sligo, a town in Ireland.

          She had been educated in the Hibernian Female School in that town and was apprenticed to a dressmaker.

 

     A lady, who had once cared for her, met her one Sabbath in church before the service.

          She found that girl sitting by herself, reading her Bible.

 

     The lady asked where she was reading from.

          The girl replied, “In the fifth chapter of the letter to the Romans.”

 

     “Why do you choose that chapter?” the lady asked further.

          “Oh,” said the girl, “I delight in it much.”

    

     “For what reason?”

          “It’s all about me – look at this,” she said pointing to the sixth verse, “it says, ‘at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.’”

              And then that girl said, “I am indeed a sinner, and without strength; but here is the blessed remedy, ‘Christ died for the ungodly.’”

 

     Congregation, what that girl confessed on that Lord’s Day so long ago is what you will hear about this Lord’s Day.

          You will see that it’s Christ’s priestly work of sacrificing Himself for our sin that makes us right with God.

              Article XXI of the Belgic Confession declares the scriptural teaching about how Jesus offered Himself for us as the ultimate High Priest of all.

         

     The first way this is brought out in this Article is by describing how JESUS CHRIST IS THE PRIEST ABOVE ALL PRIESTS.

          So it is vital we understand what a priest is.

              And those who know the Scriptures would know.

     For the special work of a priest was to offer sacrifices, intercession and blessing in the name of God.

          Leviticus 9 verse 22 describes this through what the first High Priest, Aaron, did.

              As we read there, “Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them.

                   “And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down.”

 

     The book of Leviticus, in particular, makes it clear that the offering of sacrifice is the major function in this office.

          Because sin is offensive to God it needs atonement.

              And as that sin is atoned for through the right sacrifice according to the command of God, sin is forgiven.

     The New Testament confirms this.

          In Romans 3 verse 25, the apostle says, “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”

 

     So we have a basic definition of the calling of a priest.

          But we must note that the Confession of Faith doesn’t tie in Christ’s priesthood to the priesthood we’re most familiar with in Scripture.

              Then Jesus would have been described as being a High Priest after the order of Aaron.

     But He’s not.

          Instead we declare here that He is “after the order of Melchizedek.”

 

     We heard of this from our reading in Hebrews.

          Hebrews 6 verse 20 said this.

             

     So why Melchizedek and not Aaron?

          Well, the Levitical priesthood, of which Aaron was the first High Priest, was hereditary.

              No one could serve in this priesthood unless he was from the tribe of Levi.

     The task of this priesthood was the reconciliation for sin, though he could not remove sin by his sacrifices.

          Since the priesthood of Aaron couldn’t fulfil that work of reconciliation, Christ fulfilled it and so abolished the priesthood of Aaron.

              We also read of that in our reading in Hebrews 7.

 

     This is further confirmed in Hebrews 10.

          In verse 11 there it notes that while those priests of old every day performed their religious duties it could never take away sins.

              But of Jesus it says in verse 12 that he offered for all time one sacrifice for sins and then sat down at the right hand of God.

 

     You see, apart from this temporal order of Aaron, established at Sinai and abolished by Christ, there is the everlasting priesthood in which man was placed as soon as he was created.

          It’s purpose was not reconciliation but rather, praise, thanks, and total devotion.

              It’s this original priesthood which we find represented in Melchizedek, king of Salem, in the days of Abram.

                   For this reason Genesis 14 verse 18 calls him “priest of God Most High.”

 

     So there is nothing hereditary here.

          Neither is it something which is transferable.

              That’s why Melchizedek’s example is used.

     We sang that in Psalm 110.

          Verse 4 there sings out about the coming Messiah, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’”

 

     You see, Christ’s unique priesthood does not come through a family line or through someone else.

          He is Priest forever.

              And so in His human nature, He fulfilled the work of reconciliation Aaron’s priesthood could only point towards.

     That’s what we read in verse 24 and 25 of Hebrews 7.

          It says, “because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.

              “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

 

     So, JESUS CHRIST IS THE PRIEST ABOVE ALL PRIESTS.

          And then we note, secondly, that JESUS CHRIST IS THE PRIEST SACRIFICING HIMSELF.

 

     This is what Article XXI goes on to confess from the fourth line on.

          There we read about Jesus, “He has presented Himself in our behalf before the Father, to appease His wrath by His full satisfaction, by offering Himself on the tree of the cross, and pouring out His precious blood to purge away our sins, as the prophets had foretold.”

             

     So what exactly is a sacrifice?

          Well, a sacrifice must be voluntary.

              Otherwise it cannot be a true sacrifice.

     Psalm 40 expresses Jesus’ desire to be the sacrifice.

          In verse 7 and 8 there we read the Messiah saying, “Here I am, I have come – it is written about me in the scroll.

              “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

 

     Christ laid Himself down for us so that we would be in the very highest place – in God’s presence itself.

          He bore God’s wrath and thus made us right with Him.

              Because He bore all of the sin that God so totally rejects and will so severely punish!

                   Jesus suffered God’s rod of punishment.

         

     Congregation, this is not just that God accepted what Jesus did and excused the rest.

          He endured God’s righteous anger right throughout His earthly life but especially at the end.

 

     Peter says in his first letter that Jesus poured out His precious blood.

          Luke quotes Him saying, “Father, your will be done (Luke 22:42).”

              And John bears witness to Him saying, “I lay down my life.” (John 10:17)

                   Truly His was what a sacrifice is all about!

 

     And then there is here the ultimate sacrifice.

          All the Old Testament priesthood and sacrifices lead up to Him.

              At the beginning of His ministry John the Baptist pointed Him out, by saying, in John 1 verse 29, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”

     And about the end of His ministry the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5 verse 2, He “gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

          For, as Mark 10 verse 45 says, He came “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

              JESUS CHRIST IS THE PRIEST SACRIFICING HIMSELF.

 

     Article XXI next follows with a quote from Isaiah 53.

          This passage is often called “the golden psalm of suffering” of the Old Testament.

              It uses many different words to describe Christ’s suffering – despised, rejected, stricken, smitten, afflicted, pierced, crushed, oppressed.

     We must be clear that what the Lord went through is a mystery.

          There’s no way we can begin to understand what He went through for us.

              But let’s confess that it was very much for us.

                   In fact, it was all for us!

 

     You see, also in that list in verse 5 of Isaiah 53 it is said that he was punished.

          As verse 8 further details there, it was by judgment He was taken away.

              And this was certainly something no other priest was asked to do.

                   They simply presented the offering – they never were the offering themselves.

 

     This is where that unusual word fits in from Article XXI.

          That’s the word ‘malefactor.’

              It means Jesus was convicted as a criminal for us.

                   He became the wrongdoer.

 

     The extent of the judgment Christ bore is shown by quoting that moment when God the Father turned His back on His Son.

          Who could ever forget those words the Saviour uttered on the cross at that time?

              As Matthew 27 verse 46 records, He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 

     JESUS CHRIST IS THE PRIEST SACRIFICING HIMSELF.

          This is what the apostle Peter declares in the third chapter of his first letter.

              In verse 18 there we read, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

 

     Dear friend, is that what He’s done for you?

          Are they all your sins piled up in His body on the cursed cross?

             

     In this way we come to the third part of the sermon this afternoon.

          For now, with Article XXI, we must declare that JESUS CHRIST IS THUS RIGHTLY CALLED SAVIOUR.

 

     Here the Confession turns to the apostle Paul.

          It’s in 1st Corinthians 2 verse 2 that he lays it on the line what the gospel is all about.

              And it’s very simple.

                   As he says there, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

 

     This is a most knowledgeable man speaking.

          This is a man who has experienced so much.

              And yet this man can only glory in the cross.

     It’s only in Christ’s sacrifice that there’s satisfaction.

          Only through Him offering up Himself is there peace with God.

 

     The name ‘Jesus’ means “Saviour”.

          It is singular.

              There can be no one and nothing else.

                   As the apostle confirmed before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4 verse 12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

 

     Congregation, Article XXI ends the way it does because in Jesus a name takes on its fullest meaning.

          With the ordinary Hebrew name of ‘Joshua’, which means “the Lord saves,” this One named by the angel would save His people from their sins.

              Everyone named Joshua since then has had a depth of meaning added to their name which wasn’t there before!

    

     In fact, so much did Jesus become the Saviour that we must totally reject anything that would in any way take away from that.

          Having the same spirit as the apostles before the Sanhedrin, we must refute the teachings of Rome about the merit of the saints.

              Who of any of them has died for our sins?

     All that Rome has done is to bring back the error of the Judaizers.

          For they said there was credit in what man do.

              They whom Paul so vehemently opposed said you could be right with God by what you did.

 

     Here is a suitable moment to deal with one of those difficult words we come across.

          It is the word “propitiation.”

    

     Simply defined, this means the removal of wrath by the offering of a gift.

          This is what the Confession teaches here.

              But it is not what many nowadays, or in times past, wanted to hear.

     They say Scripture is about God’s love.

          The Lord doesn’t hate us, they say.

              He hasn’t got it in for us.

 

     Well, they need to read their Bibles a lot more.

          Psalm 7 verse 11, for example, says, “God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his anger every day.”

              And it’s found in many other passages also.

                   But just as those in the Old Testament were sure of the wrath of God so they were also sure that this wrath could be put away, usually through the offering of the appropriate sacrifice.

 

     This is confirmed in the New Testament.

          Romans 3 verse 24 and 25 tell us that while we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God we “are justified freely by his grace that came by Christ Jesus.

              “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”

 

     It’s this sacrifice of atonement which is the propitiation.

          For Christ by offering Himself removed God’s wrath from His people.

 

     And let’s note that this is about His people.

          While Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient for the salvation of all people it only benefits those who belong to Him.

              Jesus is clear about that.

                   In John 10 He says to the unbelieving Jews that they won’t believe because they are not His sheep.

 

     But don’t think now of those who aren’t saved.

          Be ever so thankful that you are one who is saved!

 

     We hear of this in the story of a saved Jew.

          He was converted through a particular missionary organisation.

              And as he was promoting that Society he was opposed by a learned gentleman.

     That man denigrated the society.

          He said to the Christian, “I don’t suppose they’ll convert more than a hundred altogether.”

 

     “Okay,” said the Jew.

          “You’re a clever man.

              “You take your pen now and calculate the worth of one hundred immortal souls!”

 

     There’s just no comparison, is there?

          As Jesus says in Luke 15 verse 7, “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine persons who don’t need to repent.”

         

     Dear friend, have you repented?

          Do you see it’s because Jesus Christ laid it on the line that you’re right with God?

              You know you’ve no credit at all.

     It’s all His merit.

          Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray…

     O Loving Heavenly Father, how much don’t we thank and praise You for the Son of Your love?

          What You gave us in Him is the greatest gift of all – the precious gift that has made us right forever with You.

     May we ever be truly grateful for this gift.

          And help us to so live our lives that all those around us will know that we are alive because He has died.

              In Jesus’ saving Name we pray, Amen.

 

 

 

             

         

             

    

 

 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2008, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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