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Author:Rev. Klaas Jonker
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Congregation:Grace Canadian Reformed Church
 Winnipeg, Manitoba
Title:The only atoning sacrifice
Text:LD 15 (View)
Topic:God The Son

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 31:1
Read: 1 John 1 - 2:2
Ps 31:9,10
Text: LD 15
Ps 31:13 after the Baptism of Logan John Veldman
Hy 27:1,4
Ps 90:1,2,4
Ps 90:8
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Klaas Jonker, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

With LD 15 we come to the key-matter of God's revelation in Christ. That's why this LD refers to one of the key-texts of the Bible.

The echo of these words is heard in this statement of the HCat.: "by His suffering as the only atoning
sacrifice He has redeemed us body and soul."

Since LD 15 focusses on this key-truth, it's no wonder that here the HCat. refers to the key-terms of our confession:

On the one hand: - God's wrath, God's judgment, God's curse are referred to. On the other hand: - being redeemed from God's wrath; being freed from everlasting damnation and from God's curse are mentioned.

Indeed, with LD 15 we are concerned with the heart of the gospel of our salvation.

This afternoon, this gospel is proclaimed and confessed with this theme:
1. We are redeemed from God's wrath - Q/A 37
2. We are acquitted from God's judgment - Q/A 38
3. We are blessed and not cursed - Q/A 39

1. Brs.& srs, With the previous LD 14, we confessed that the eternal Son of God partook of the very same nature as we have. He fully became like one of us.

His coming into our weak flesh meant for God's Son, that He had to cope with the same infirmities as we do in the flesh. The world He came to live in was a world under the burden of sin.

Our Lord did not come on earth as a man like the first Adam came to live in Paradise. God made Adam good to enjoy God's unbroken world.

Before the fall, Adam had great human strength and vitality. However, the Son of God did not come to have an enjoyable and rich time here on earth. God's Son, Jesus Christ came to suffer from the beginning to the end of his life.

Especially at the end He suffered the bitter eruption of sin when all people shouted at Him: get lost! For Jesus, life on earth was trouble and terror everywhere.

For us there are days of joy and sunshine, laughter and merry-making. For Christ this was totally different. By Him even the best days were experienced against the backdrop of sins and death b/c God's wrath.

That's why Jesus' sufferings were of a completely different nature than all other human suffering.

Now, human suffering can also be severe! We shiver when we hear the horror stories of concentration camps, and when we are told about other terrible violence against people: - a shooting rampage at a school, blowing-up of airliners, beheading of hostages, ... etc/.

All that causes indescribable suffering and trauma. Yet, all those deeply suffering people didn't have to carry what Christ had to take upon Himself.

The Heidelberg Catechism points this out when it says, that He "bore the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race."

Those words make clear that the anger and hatred of men didn't cause Jesus' ultimate suffering. The most bitter thing for the Lord was His being cut off from His Father.

Christ had to carry His heavy wrath. He became our atoning sacrifice so that He would quench the wrath of God. This is a truth that is totally foreign to people outside the church.

Sadly to say, many people in the church also like (conveniently) to forget this truth. They like to hear about God's love not about od's wrath.

However, the key message of Scripture precisely is that God's love must be closely connected to God's wrath!

Because of man's evil God's wrath is kindled but it is quenched by God's divine love in His Son.

All our evils were poured out over Him. All our crooked schemes and deeds came over Him, body and soul. The wrath of God afflicted Him totally and utterly.

At his birth in Bethlehem Jesus entered, so to speak, the fiery furnace of God against sin. God looked at the righteous One as the unrighteous One, making Him to be sin Who did not know sin.

That's why His whole life was a life of suffering. At Catechism Class when dealing with this LD, we usually make a timeline, writing down the life of Christ on earth.

We start with His sufferings at His birth. In Bethlehem there was no room for Him.

The enemy in the person of Herod tried to kill Him. Later on He was despised as the man from Nazareth. Even in his own native town He wasn't accepted.

In Jerusalem, the spiritual rulers, the priests, and the secular rulers (the Pharisees and Sadducees) tried to get rid of Him; even his own disciples caused Him great trouble and trauma.

As I have done in other sermons so I again refer to a text that we never should forget: Hebrews5:7 which should have a deep impression upon us because of its saving truth.

These words: "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death ..."

Because of God's wrath against our sins, Jesus was a man of ... sorrows. His whole life was truly one heavy load of ... suffering.

There are dimensions in Jesus' sufferings we will never know. With the poet of Ps.90 we say: Who knows the power of [the LORD's] anger? ...

Please, brothers & sisters, let us not gloss over the expression "the wrath of God." This is one of the terms we often hear in Church, especially in our confessions and Forms.

That truth is the sorrowful base tone of the gospel of our salvation. The reality of our world with all its glitter and glamour, with all its trouble and terror is, that we live under the dark cloud of God's wrath.

Here, then there, God makes His hot anger felt; it is discharged in the judgments He brings on this earth in the form of death-causing calamities and catastrophies and other sufferings for mankind.

From His Word we even know that the full wrath of God has not come on this earth yet. Once more the almighty God will shake everything to lift all things from its foundations, to fold his creation as a dirty and worn out garment.

Yes, as the all-consuming and purifying fire, the full eruption of God's ire will come on the last day. Then it will touch the whole earth and destroy all evil and wickedness.

This forecast of the gospel is earth-shaking! Here we live on a big volcano, so to speak. An ominous fire-storm is approaching ...

We too would be completely singed unless Christ will take us to Himself and save us.

That's precisely what will happen: as a brand out of the fire Christ will pluck us out of the fire. He is able to do so for the ire of God had hotly burned against Him.

Christ bent his neck under the heavy burden of God's wrath. He died the eternal death for us.

The Catechism says: By [Christ's] suffering, as the only atoning sacrifice, He has redeemed our body and soul from everlasting damnation and obtained for us the grace of God, righteousness and eternal life.

That's why John says in his letter: through Christ "life appeared"; for the blood of Jesus, God's Son, purifies us from all sin. As the Righteous One, He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

That's here the clear preaching: through God's abundant love in Christ we have eternal life. We are redeemed from God's heavy wrath.

Now, - I have to speak about this too - we won't be plucked out of God's fire if we live and continue to live a life that dishonours God, when we do not fight the unbelief in our lives, when we are bitter against God and His people, when we live our own life and walk on our own ways, walking in ... darkness, then we will be consumed by God's hot anger and be destroyed.

But when we live in God's light and sincerely confess that Christ suffered for our sins, for my sins as the atoning sacrifice, then we rejoice in being redeemed from God's wrath.

For John wrote about this Word of life in order to make our joy complete. That's precisely what happens here in the communion of the church.

We listen, we speak, we preach, we encourage one another with this gospel precisely for this reason: that our joy be complete.

For we believe and are confident that we are not children of wrath but children of light through the love of God in Christ His Son.

2. This also means that we are acquitted from God's judgment - Q/A 38 - our 2nd point.

Congregation, Jesus' death alone was not sufficient unto our redemption; if that had been the case, He would not have had to flee to Egypt. His sacrifice could have been brought in the murdering of Bethlehem's babies.

We could say; that was too early: he had first to work amongst his people; He could then have died in another way. However, Christ had to die as a convicted one.

That's what happened under Pontius Pilate. By him as the earthly judge Christ was officially condemned.

Pilate would have liked that the Jews condemned Him according to their law; then they could have stoned Him like they did with Stephen.

Yet, they did not dare to do this out of fear for the people; that's why they called: Pilate, you must do it.

Pilate tried all sorts of other ways to wriggle himself out of this ugly trial.

He sent Jesus to Herod - to no avail. He put Him on nomination with Barabbas for bail - it was not successful. He scourged Jesus; it didn't cause pity with the Jews.

Pilate's wife sent the message: don't waste your time with this righteous one; and Pilate agreed with that assessment: for he repeatedly declared: there is no fault in this man.

However, Pilate gave in to the pressure of the Jews to save his own skin. Although the Lord Jesus was innocent, Pilate condemned Jesus.
The judge Pilate was pushed into this judgment. He was pushed by the Jews, but He also was governed and directed by God.

Indeed, God stood behind Pilate. Surely, the verdict was unjust. No judge may condemn an innocent person.

Yet, God announced His judgment in that of Pilate.

For God did not see Him as an innocent man. Remember, our sins were on Him! So, by Pilate's unjust verdict God spoke His just verdict over Jesus.

Through Pilate's voice we must hear God's voice, Who in His justice condemned our Surety to death.

And so the gospel comes to us with the message: you are acquitted before the judgment seat of God.

Christ - the Righteous One - was made the only atoning sacrifice for our sins.

That's why He freed us from the severe judgment of God that was to fall on us.

Now, we are called to walk in the light. For take note, beloved, Pilate's judgment seat is not the only seat from which God speaks his judgments!

God still judges - even now!

He does so through His Word. Yes, what did we read? In vs. 6 we read: If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. ...

Vs. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us and we are not acquitted.

Vs. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

There is and there will be an end! - The Day of Christ. At that day the books will be opened. It will be proven from all our words and deeds that we are in a bind because of our evil and uncleanness, our pride and hypocrisy.

So, what do we do with all our sins? ... We confess them and we rejoice in the gospel, for we know that our judge at the same time is also our defense lawyer - in our defense He says to the Father; I have covered them with my atoning sacrifice.

This does not mean that we now already live without sorrows and sufferings. In our life in a sinful world we constantly need God's disciplining hand so that we persevere as His children of light.

Also other sufferings come our way: the sufferings with Christ. When we speak up for Christ; when we want to sanctify life in His Name, then we will receive opposition in this world, - then we will get the same treatment as He got.

People will say to us: get lost!

In such a dark world we believe and are confident that we are acquitted from God's judgment through the love of God in Christ His Son.

We listen, we speak, we preach, we encourage one another with this gospel so that our joy be complete.

3. We do so the more since Christ was cursed unto our blessing. We have come to our 3rd point.

Congregation, Christ did not die by a sword, nor by stones or poison, but by crucifixion. The way of His sacrificing death is of crucial importance.

Since ancient times crucifixion was viewed as the most terrible and the most humiliating death for man.

Such a death not only bore the punishment of men but also the curse of God. The man who suffered crucifixion as his penalty was said to be cut off from everything and everybody.

His only future was hell. For a crucified one was cursed by God. In Israel the hanging of someone was an expression of: we can do no more than putting this evil person to death, we hand him over to God; let God go on to punish him.

With the Romans, the custom was to hang someone on the cross while he was still alive.

Well, God directed history in such a way that the Romans were governing at the time when Christ brought His atoning sacrifice.

He was put on the pole while alive. He would undergo the curse in full consciousness. This means: that upon Him was the curse which lay on me ... (personally!).

The unspeakable anguish, pain, terror and agony which I should endure after my death - which is still the perspective for those who die without Christ - our Lord suffered them all before His death.

In our cursed world, He must proclaim: It is finished. In those words God's great love is again revealed. Because of Christ's sacrifice God's curse is now proclaimed to be the greatest blessing for us, God's people!

Christ was accursed by God in stead of me. At Golgotha, so to speak, the world perished on Him, while idolaters, murderers, adulterers, prostitutes, thiefs and coveters, ... while I stayed alive.

Christ was thrown in the place where God is not present: where God's voice is not heard; where the sun does not shine, and no birds sing; .. there all is dry and barren - that is the curse!

Why? - by bringing this atoning sacrifice for us He fills us with His blessing.

Indeed, beloved it is very true what we read in Scripture that in Christ "The Life Appeared". It is the good news, the gospel for a world covered under the curse because of sin.

Now, that darkness and barreness of life disappears through Christ's blessed work. Here in His Church we don't leave with the curse pronounced upon us but the blessing.

Oh congregation, young people, let no one confuse you, and don't be confused by all the trouble and sorrows of life in this world. Never say: how can this be since the Bible reveals that God is love?!

Be amazed and rejoice in the fact that the troublesome as yet didn't totally explode. Be surprised that Christ's church is gathered, where people listen, speak, preach, and encourage one another with the blessed gospel of Christ's atoning sacrifice

Rejoice in the truth that He sends you away from here with the blessing of His grace, love and fellowship.

In this we rejoice with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and with one another that the blood of Jesus Christ purifies us from all sin.

That's why God's wrath, God's judgment, God's curse have changed for us into God's everlasting love, light and life!


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Klaas Jonker, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2004, Rev. Klaas Jonker

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