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Author:Rev. George van Popta
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Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
Text:LD 15 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Forgiveness of Sins

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Romans 3:21-31

Text: LD 15

Songs: Ps. 122:1,2; Ps. 122:3; Ps. 40:3,4; Hy. 24:5,7; Hy. 62

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

Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

The scripture proclaims the Lord Jesus Christ as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Rom. 3:25 says that God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood. LD 15 repeats this when it says that Christ is the only atoning sacrifice.

I would speak to you about that this afternoon.

I proclaim:


1. The Necessity; 2. The Perfection; 3. The benefits of His atoning sacrifice.

1. Before we speak about the necessity of Christ's atonement, we need to make sure we understand what atonement means. Atonement means to make amends. To blot out an offense. To give satisfaction for wrong done. And so to reconcile yourself one you had alienated through your offensive behaviour. To restore a relationship that had fallen apart.

We disrupted the relationship between God and us. The relationship had started off good, but we by our offensive behaviour, our sin, alienated ourselves by our sin. We needed to atone for our sins. We disturbed the relationship so, really, it was up to us to repair it. Our problem was that we could not. We lacked the power and the resources.

We offended the holy God. It is his very nature to hate sin. It is his nature to punish sin. We could not expect to be accepted by the holy God, to have fellowship with him, unless atonement was made. But our problem was that sin clings even to our best works. Anything we would hope to do to make amends with God would only increase our guilt. Would only worsen our situation. We were not able to establish our own righteousness before God.

Think of the rather negative assessment of man given in Job 15:14-16:

What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman, that he could be righteous? ... man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water!

Do you understand the plight of the children of man? As Paul wrote in Rom. 3:22,23: There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All are in danger of perishing. By nature we are objects of God's wrath.

Do not even try to establish righteousness before God by your own efforts! The exercise of free will will only lead you away from God. Actually we have no free will. By nature our will is bound to disobey. The only freedom we have by nature is to do the will of the enemy, Satan.

Our situation was hopeless, desperate. Together with all of mankind the wrath of God pressed down upon us too.

It is against this background of human hopelessness, that the Word of God sets forth the love, the grace, the mercy, the pity, kindness and compassion of God. God was the offended Creator. Understand what he did! He, the One we offended by our sin; the One who demanded we make atonement for our sins; the one who had every right to punish us in His just wrath because of our inability to make atonement-He himself provided the necessary atonement.

We are at the very centre of the gospel here. From Gen. 3:15, when God first promised a Saviour to our first parents right after they sinned, to the last verses of Revelation where our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that He is coming again, this good news shines forth with breathtaking glory. The good news of God's atoning work on our behalf is centred upon the cross of Jesus Christ.

Atonement was necessary because of our sin. Our inability to make atonement made the cross of Christ necessary. The only one who could reconcile us to God was the Son of God dying on a cross.

Do not think that in the middle of time God wondered what He was going to do to save us from the mess into which we got ourselves. And that He then hit upon the idea of sending His only Son. The death of the Son of God on the cross was not a late idea of God the Father. As Peter said in Acts 2:23, Jesus Christ was handed over to be crucified by God's set purpose and foreknowledge. In 1 Peter 1:20 Peter teaches that Jesus Christ who redeemed us by his blood was designated to be our Saviour before the creation of the world.

The old covenant prepared the world for the great event of the cross. All the sacrifices of the OT looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for sinners. Especially was the Passover Lamb a picture of the Lord Jesus.

It was God the Father who sent His Son to be His Lamb to take away our sins. * God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son (Jn. 3:16). * Isa. 53-It was God's will to crush Him, to and cause Him to suffer. * Rom. 3:25-God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement.

However, that God the Father sent the Son does not mean the Son came unwillingly. He willingly died upon the cross. He committed himself to suffering and dying for our sins before the creation of the world. He laid down his life for the sheep. He poured out his life unto death. As Paul said in Eph. 5, Christ gave himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

The atoning sacrifice of the death of Christ Jesus on the cross was necessary because of our sins. Before the creation of the world God the Father had designated His Son to die for us who would, in time, sin. The OT looked forward to the sacrifice. In the fullness of time the Lord Jesus come. As QA 37 says it: He bore in body and soul the wrath of God against man's sin. By his sacrifice he has redeemed us from everlasting damnation, and he obtained for us the grace of God, righteousness, and eternal life.

Not only was the atoning sacrifice Christ brought necessary. It, he, was also perfect.

2. We speak about the perfection of the only atoning sacrifice.

In the time of the old covenant, Israel was to bring unflawed animals to make atonement for themselves. Some 50 times the OT law said things like: The animals (sheep or goats) you offer must be without defect. Possible defects would be lameness, blindness, of some other serious flaw. The priest had to check the animal over first, and if it had a blemish-a lame leg or a missing eye-then the priest would tell the one who tried to pawn a sick animal off as an atoning sacrifice for sin that God would not accept it. That he would have to take it home and come back with another one-one without defect.

Why was that? Because the animal sacrifices of the OT were only types of the real one. They only foreshadowed the real one. In themselves, they were even ineffective. As Romans 3:25 says, in the time of the OT God left the sins committed during that time unpunished. The lambs and goats, the bulls and oxen-all the sacrifices of the OT-did not themselves atone for the sins of God's people.

And yet, when the sacrifices were faithfully offered, God's people did live under grace. Their sins were remitted with a view to the sacrifice that Christ was going to bring much later. The offense against God was covered, but only because of Christ's sacrifice. What actually blotted out the sins was not the animal's blood. Heb 10:11-Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. What actually blotted out the sins of God's people, also in the OT time, was the blood of the sinless Christ Jesus. Sins committed both before and after the cross were punished in Christ Jesus on the cross.

That's why the sacrificial animals in the OT had to be without flaw. That had to be without defect because they foreshadowed the perfect Jesus Christ. As Peter wrote: ...we are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

We have seen in previous QA's of the HC that our Mediator had to be perfect, sinless. A sinner cannot pay for sinners. He had to be innocent.

The physical flawlessness of the sacrificial animal in the OT foreshadowed the moral perfection of our Lord Jesus Christ. His perfect innocence and sinlessness.

QA 36 already spoke of his innocence. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and thus kept from the taint of sin.

Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who condemned Christ Jesus to death, attested to the innocence of Christ. QA 38 speaks about that. If you read the accounts of the trial of Christ before the Roman governor, you will read that Pilate repeatedly declared Christ innocent. As the crowds cried to crucify Jesus Christ, repeatedly Pilate asked: Why, what crime has he committed? Pilate knew the man before him was innocent. Pressured by the crowds, seeing that he was getting nowhere protesting the innocence of Jesus of Nazareth, he finally took some water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"

As QA 38 says, Christ was innocent. He was declared innocent by a judge. And yet he was condemned. He was condemned for us. He was sacrificed under the burden of God's wrath against our sins. And so he freed us. He made atonement for us. He set us free from the judgment of God.

3. The benefits of the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus.

LD 15 mentions a number of benefits. He redeemed us body and soul from everlasting damnation. He freed us from the severe judgment of God that was to fall on us. He took upon himself the curse that lay on us. And so he obtained for us the grace of God, righteousness and eternal life. Do you understand what happened at the cross. At the cross God reconciled us to himself. He overcame his own hostility to us that our sins provoked. The cross quenched God's wrath against us by removing our sins from his sight.

On the cross Christ assumed our identity and endured the curse that we deserved by our sin. He suffered and died as our substitute, in our place, with the damning record of our sins nailed to his cross. My sins nailed to his cross. He dying for me.

By his atoning sacrifice, Christ has redeemed us from the powers of sin, death and hell. He has defeated those powers that once held us captive.

Mercy and glory are promised and assured to all who believe in Him. Having given us His only Son Jesus Christ, He will give us everything we need. He will and does lavish upon us his love for the sake of His Son who died for us. In this life he blesses us with every spiritual benefit (faith, assurance, comfort, joy, peace). For the sake of his Son he promises us eternal life with him in heaven, on the new earth.

All these benefits may be summed up by the word "reconciliation." God has reconciled himself to us through the atoning sacrifice of His Son. Through faith in Jesus Christ, our sins and misdeeds no longer count against us. United to Jesus Christ by faith, we receive a new life, and are declared righteous by God.

As Paul wrote in Rom. 3, being right with God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

And message that we are left with is plain. The message of the gospel, the call of the gospel is clear: Be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ. AMEN

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2003, Rev. George van Popta

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