Thursday, October 08, 2009

Loved as a Son, condemned as a sin-bearer

At the cross we see ourselves at our worst and God at his best.

We are powerless, sinners, ungodly, and God's enemies. God demonstrates his great love toward us by giving his Son, and by the Son assuming responsibility for our sins, and bearing their punishment. If Christ were not God then the cross would not be the demonstration of his love but a great act of compassion by a third party. The reality is that the cross is the self-giving of God; of the Father not sparing his own Son, of the Son giving himself for our sins, laying down his life for his sheep. We measure his love for us not by looking at our present experience, not by looking inwardly, not by looking at our circumstances, but by taking our eyes off of ourselves and gazing upon Christ crucified. As I said, at the cross we see ourselves at our worst and God at his best.

Here are words to meditate upon again and again from George Smeaton (1814-1889):
Jesus was visited with penal suffering because he appeared before God only in the guise of our accumulated sin; not therefore as a private individual, but as a representative; sinless in himself, but sin covered; loved as a Son, but condemned as a sin-bearer, in virtue of that federal union between him and his people, which lay at the foundation of the whole. Thus God condemned sin in the flesh, and in consequence of this there is no condemnation to us.


Bill Hornbeck said...

“Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;
but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9: 23-24.

God demonstrated His lovingkindness by saving His Elect. God demonstrated His justice both by punishing the reprobates by sending them to hell but by also sending His precious only begotten Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die on the cross, because Christ took on Himself the sins of the Elect. If ever there was a time for God to refrain from justice, it was when Christ was on the cross. But, God perfectly demonstrated His justice by even punishing Christ who took on the sins of the Elect. God demonstrated His righteousness by imputing the righteousness of Christ to the Elect and by sanctifying the Elect, causing them to be slaves of righteousness.

Martin Downes said...

Amen. It is the elect in view in the Romans 5 passage, to which I was alluding, and in Smeaton's remarks. Were you not sure of my commitment to limited atonement?

Bill Hornbeck said...

Dear Rev. Downes:

No, I did not think that thought at all. I knew you were commited to limited atonement.

I think what triggered my comment was the words "God demonstrates his great love for us", and I was trying to expand what the cross represented in demonstrations by God using Jeremiah 9:23-24. Namely, through the cross, God demonstrated or exercised lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness.

In conclusion, your web site is one of my very favorite blogs. I like the substantive content, the dedication "Against Heresies", the quotes by famous Reformed theologians, the history of the Church, the pictures (always poignant and sometimes funny), and so much more. Thank you so much.

Martin Downes said...

Thanks Bill

I wondered if I had been a little ambiguous.

Blessings to you