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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:A Costly Salvation Purchased with Precious Blood
Text:LD 15 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Our Salvation
 
Preached:2020
Added:2020-06-21
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 99:1,2,3                                                                                        

Hy 1

Reading – Luke 4:16-30; Hebrews 9:11-10:10

Ps 40:2,3,7

Sermon – Lord’s Day 15

Hy 25:1,2,3

Hy 41:1,2,3

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


Beloved in the Lord, if you’ve got your eye on a new car, likely one of the first questions you’ll ask is: “How much does it cost? Am I getting good value for my money?” Or say the same car needs a repair sometime later. You ignore all the explanations from the mechanic, because you want to get to the bottom line: “What’s it going to cost me?” That’s often how we evaluate something, looking at how much it’s worth in dollars and cents.

So we also value those things which cost us a lot. If you’ve invested a lot of money into your mountain bike, for example, you’re definitely going to look after it. You’ll protect it from being damaged. You’ll keep it in good repair. You’ll do your best to prevent it from being stolen.

We try not to lay up treasures here on earth, for we know what happens to the new and shiny and expensive stuff of today. But when it comes to our salvation, we have to see its true value. It is right for us to count the cost of this most valuable treasure, this amazing gift we have received, as we ask: What did it really take to redeem us?

Our deliverance came at a great cost. Grace might be free, but it’s not cheap. This is what Peter says in his first letter, “You know that it was not with perishable things like silver or gold that you were redeemed… but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1:18-19). We were purchased for God at an incredibly high price—not with human currency, but the currency of blood, poured out on the cross.

That is what it took to save our lives. As Psalm 49 says, “The ransom for a life is costly” (v 8). So together, let’s count some of the price that was paid. We’ll see that our salvation is a joint effort, shared among Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They were all involved in making sure the cost of our sins was completely covered. This is our theme from Lord’s Day 15,

God grants us a costly salvation through the suffering of Christ:

  1. the Father’s engineering
  2. the Spirit’s equipping
  3. the Son’s enduring

 

1) the Father’s engineering: Behind great events lie great plans. They say that the planning of the D-Day invasion during the Second World War was in the works for two years. For two whole years the Allies strategized how one day they would land on a beach in France, and begin their assault on the Germans. In the same way, rescuing sinners from Satan’s kingdom wasn’t something done without preparation. It took engineering. It took careful consulting, even among the three persons of the Trinity.

Taking the lead in the work of salvation—just as He had done in the work of creation—was God the Father. Keep in mind that the Father had seen his image-bearers rebel so viciously in the Garden. The Father watched as man and woman tried to hide themselves in their sin and shame. Justly He could’ve watched as they lived out their days in despair, ‘til death took them.

But it was the Father who sought them out. Seeing all things, knowing all things, deciding all things even before the creation of the world, immediately the plan of salvation began to unfold in real time. And like every good engineer, He first made clear what He was going to accomplish. He presented that overall picture, like an artist’s impression of the final product. We see it in his word to Satan: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:15, NIV).

This deliverance was going to take a terrible war. But the end-result was clear: Satan would be crushed—and God’s people saved. And from that beginning moment onward, the Father saw to it that every single event of history was another step on the way to redemption!

The increase of Adam and Eve’s children. The rise of the wickedness on the earth, and then the judgment through the Great Flood. The scattering of the nations at the Tower of Babel. The calling of Abraham and his family. Through all these events, bit by bit, the Father kept working on his grand goal of salvation, reconciling sinners to himself.

For that was really the central problem: human sin. This was the obstacle that needed overcoming, the deep chasm that needed bridging. The LORD God—if He’d be true to himself, true to his holiness and his justice—He would have to make sure that this sin was completely dealt with, properly addressed. The Catechism hints at this in Q&A 37 when it says Jesus bore “the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.”

For the Father was righteously angry with human transgression. He was angry, yet provided a way for this sin to be addressed. “The way” was the elaborate Old Testament system, revealed by God through Moses, and practiced in Israel for many centuries. It was a complicated, expensive, and time-consuming system. It took a whole college of professionals, a battalion of religious experts to carry it out according to the letter.

It was carefully detailed, and yet at its heart it was actually very simple. As Hebrews reminds us, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission [or forgiveness]” (9:22). This is because the life of a thing was in the blood, and God wanted life for sin! So there had to be blood, lots of it: “According to the law, almost all things are purified with blood” (v 22).

If you ever read through Leviticus in your devotions, you might grimace at all the blood-letting. You might think it’s all a bit gross, the detailed instructions about what to do with the hide and the intestines of an animal, how to sprinkle blood here and there—and it’s startling, just how many animals had to be killed, day after day! Yet keep the right perspective. The Father gave this system out of the riches of his mercy. He designed it, so that in this interim period his people could find atonement for sin. 

For the whole system was meant to become obsolete. The sacrifices were like the lights beside an airport runway at night—good and useful lights, but always pointing away from themselves, and toward the goal. For there was only one reason why any of those offerings had value: it was because of who was yet to arrive. Hebrews 10 says, “The law [was] a shadow of the good things to come” (v 1). The blood of bulls and goats couldn’t take away human sin, but the Father would provide someone who could.

That person was our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father was slowly drawing back the curtain on the coming Saviour. Right from Genesis onward, He revealed what kind of Redeemer was approaching. He said the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Judah, and the house of David. He said He’d be born in Bethlehem, born to a virgin, born under a shining star. He said his way would be prepared by a new Elijah, a voice crying in the wilderness. He said that the Saviour would minister to Israel, speaking in parables, healing the sick, relieving the burdened.

Yet the Father said this same Messiah would be scorned by his own people, “despised and rejected by men.” Read the prophecy in Isaiah 53—that is just how the Father planned it. Especially the last days of Christ’s life were carefully engineered by the Father. We this in how during that last week, prophecy after prophecy was dramatically fulfilled: Jesus betrayed by a close friend, Jesus handed over for thirty silver pieces, Jesus accused by false witnesses, Jesus beaten and flogged—all of it according to the script, “just as it was written.”

Even the way Jesus was killed was planned by God. Christ was hung on a tree—and it had to be a tree, because “a crucified one was cursed by God” (Q&A 39). And according to the Psalm 22 model, the Saviour was pierced through his hands and feet, stripped naked, surrounded by mockers, then He experienced the darkness of being forsaken by God—all of it according to plan, “just as it was written.”

Prophesied in advance, engineered to the last detail, these events were God’s terrible but beautiful masterpiece! The Father made sure that everything was right, that everything was in place. And then when it was all over, He even gave his approval to the finished product. The temple curtain was torn, the earth shook, and the dead rose from their graves—and then Jesus himself rose from the dead.

In all this we see God’s great mercy. For this was never something we could hope to accomplish ourselves. It was beyond our doing in every way. But in love for sinners, the Father brought about our salvation. He made the bottom line very clear: there had to be the shedding of blood. But then God provided what He required! He sent someone to make full payment, who by his death could “[obtain] for us the grace of God” (Q&A 37).

Beloved, what is our response to these things? What reaction does it stir within you? It can only be praise and thanksgiving for the God of our salvation—an amazed wonder at his great works! Now, if his grace was cheap, we might be half-hearted in our love for God. If this was another empty offer, a false hope, like some click-bait that promises much but delivers little, we might give it a pass. But this is real! This is truer than anything else we know! So be amazed and give glory to God! Dedicate to God every moment that you have, so you might thank him.

 

2) the Spirit’s equipping: “Not by might or by power, but by my Spirit.” So the LORD says in Zechariah 4:6. The Bible makes clear in many places that we can only live as children of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. The life of Christ too, would’ve ended in failure without the Spirit. Jesus says this in the synagogue in Luke 4, where He read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 61.

And what did He say? “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

That was all He wanted to read. He rolled up the scroll, then sat. Then with everyone’s eyes fixed on him, He declared, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (v 21). Long ago, Isaiah had spoken these words. They referred in a limited way to his own ministry. But how much more did these words speak of the Christ! Jesus wanted everyone to know that the Messiah had finally arrived, that He was endowed with the Spirit of the Lord.

Notice how closely Christ connects the Spirit to his ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.” Moved by the Spirit, Christ will open his mouth. Compelled by the Spirit, Christ will spread the good news. This was his special, Spirit-equipped task on earth, “proclaiming freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind.”

And throughout his ministry, Jesus spoke many such words of grace. With his words, He drew pictures of the glories of God’s Kingdom. With his words, He pronounced blessing on the godly, and offered relief to the heavy-laden. Through the Spirit, Christ’s mouth was filled with words that released the oppressed and proclaimed God’s favour.

But his greatest message wasn’t anything that Jesus spoke. Rather, the good news would be seen in his own body, hung on the tree. His body would be an open channel, broadcasting God’s grace. When He was lifted up on the cross, it was finally clear what the gospel message really was. Precious blood poured out meant freedom for the prisoners! Three hours of darkness meant glorious light for the eyes of the blind!

And as Jesus himself said, the only way that this sacrifice was possible was through the Spirit of God. For the Spirit equipped him. This is also what the writer to the Hebrews says. In 9:14 he writes, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works.” If you’re not paying attention you might miss it: Christ, “through the eternal Spirit,” offered himself to God!

Without the Holy Spirit, his mission would have failed. Without the Spirit, there would have been no virgin birth. Without the Spirit, Jesus would not have grown in wisdom. Without the Spirit, He would’ve had no ability to resist the temptations of the devil, or to obey God’s commands. Without the Spirit, Jesus would’ve collapsed under the weight of what He had to do.

But the Spirit was there. The Spirit was a big part of this salvation effort. So through the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God. He was the final sacrifice that was needed, pure and holy. He was the acceptable offering to the Father, once and for all.

And Christ cleansed us, Hebrews 9:14 says, so that we may “serve the living God.” Think about that word “serve.” For once again, we need to consider our response to God’s abounding grace. What does the Holy Spirit move us to do, as individuals, as families, and as congregation?

The Spirit anointed Jesus to preach good news to the poor and to present his life as a sin-offering. We share in Christ’s anointing, and the Spirit anoints us to serve! Beloved, if you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you, then that is your assignment again this week, and every week, to serve the living God.

To serve him in your daily work, and in our Sunday worship. To serve him in the midst of your children, or when you’re with your friends. To serve him with the money He’s blessed you with. To serve him with the time He’s given you. To serve him with your private thoughts, and with your public words—and with all your deeds.

When you think about how much the Triune God has done for us, then you’ve got every reason to serve God. And if you have life, you’ve got the opportunity. And if you have the Holy Spirit, you’ve got the ability!

 

3) the Son’s enduring: Finally, we come to the Son. That’s who is in the spotlight in this Lord’s Day, after all: Jesus Christ, the “Suffering Servant.” Sent by the Father, equipped by the Holy Spirit, the Son gave himself fully to his task on earth.

Let’s see how willing a Saviour Jesus was. The writer to the Hebrews applies the words of Psalm 40 to the ministry of our Lord. He writes, “When [Christ] came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you have prepared for me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of me—to do your will, O God’” (Heb 10:5-7).

“In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure.” Jesus said this because He knew that no animal sacrifice would ever be enough. They were only temporary measures, not the real deal. Jesus knew the only way for sinners to be reconciled is through human blood. And so He presented himself to the LORD.

Taking David’s words as his own, the Son of God said to his Father, “Here I am, I have come. It is written about me in all the scrolls and all the books. You’ve got it all perfectly planned, and I am here to carry it out to the end. I desire to do your will, O God.” Think about that, beloved: Jesus stood up and said, “Here I am. I’m ready to suffer and die.”

He was a ready sacrifice, willing to endure all the torment He knew our sins deserved. And it’s not as if his anguish was quickly done with. As the Catechism says, “During all the time that He lived on earth, Christ bore in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race” (Q&A 37).

In Lord’s Day 14 we learned about how Christ was humbled simply by taking on human nature. His suffering continued from there, and intensified. Even in those times of happiness that Jesus enjoyed, when He could marvel at a person’s faith or commune with his God, Jesus remained a “man of sorrows,” as Isaiah had said. With good reason: Jesus knew—each day of his life—that He was on earth for one purpose, and that this purpose would take him all the way to the cross.

Yet He pressed on with his earthly calling. Soon He came to the last days of his life. This willing priest would now present himself as a sacrifice to God! Once and for all, this was the final act. No margin for error. The salvation that was planned from before the creation of the world came down to this—this road leading to the cross, and total anguish at the hand of his Father. It came down to this: a misery that no one could fathom, a cost that no one could count.

The Father called him to suffer, and the Son faithfully endured it. To redeem a people for himself, He handed over the most precious price of his blood. “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa 53:5). It cost us nothing. But it cost him everything. And so He saved us!

Now, Hebrews says that Christ isn’t quite done his work. “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb 9:28). After the battle of Good Friday, after the triumph of Easter Sunday, there’s going to be one last victory celebration, one more champions’ parade.

Jesus, God the Son, will appear a second time, and He will bring salvation to those who wait for him. We look for the last scene in God’s saving plan to be played out on this present earth. We look for the moment when salvation’s full glory will at last be perfectly clear—when we will have salvation in body, salvation in soul, salvation enjoyed without any stain of sin. Christ has come once, and He will come again, bringing salvation to those who eagerly wait for him.

So we begin a new week with this thought: Are we eagerly waiting for Christ to appear a second time? Is his coming our sure hope? Is Christ’s coming our great joy? Is his salvation what we treasure above every earthly thing? Do we consider ourselves rich, not in gold or silver or any other thing, but rich in the precious blood of Christ? In him we are rich, for the costly price has been paid in full!  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2020, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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