Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Which Verse Says It All!

Note: This article appeared in The Justin Texan on May 19, 2009.

A few weeks ago I was privileged to be able to speak to a class at the University of Oklahoma. This isn’t a common occurrence for our ministry; after all, we are open-air preachers. It’s pretty rare to be invited to anything. People would usually rather that we just go away! A professor saw us on the quad and asked if I would come address his classes.

I began each class with my own testimony to God’s saving grace in my life and a brief introduction of our ministry. Afterwards, the professor opened up the floor for questions. It was a wonderful time. Questions like, “Why is Jesus coming back?”, “Is Gandhi in Hell?”, and, “What is the Christian message?” were asked. This resulted in a half an hour of explaining the gospel to each class. What a privilege!

My favorite question of the day was, “What verse do you think sums up the whole Bible?” This is a tough question. To pick one verse out of the 31,102 verses in the Old and New Testaments is a Herculean task. After thinking for a few moments, I answered, “2 Corinthians 5:21”. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (NKJV).

This verse is the gospel in a nutshell. God the Father made Jesus, the eternal Son, to be a sin offering on the behalf of sinners. All of the sins of the children of God were placed on the Son, much like the sins of Israel were placed symbolically on the head of the scapegoat during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. As the Lord Jesus hung on the cross, He was treated as we deserved to be treated. The whole wrath of God was poured out upon the Son. Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

When we respond to this amazing act of grace with repentance and faith (Acts 20:21), a great exchange takes place. Our sins have been placed on Christ. In return, we are credited with His righteousness. He obeyed the Law of God perfectly and that perfect obedience is credited to us, sinful lawbreakers! God the Father now treats us as He would treat His own Son! He looked upon His Son on the cross as if He were looking at our sins and treated His Son accordingly. He now can treat us as if we were the ones who were tempted in all points and never sinned!

This is the amazing grace that John Newton wrote (and we sing) about; sinners who deserve only Hell getting the perfect righteousness of Christ. We can be found “not guilty” when we stand before God in judgment! There are two conditions to receive this pardon: we must repent (turn from all known sin) and believe (completely abandon ourselves to the work of Christ on the cross). And that’s the kicker. Jesus died for sinners. If you don’t think you are a sinner, then you can be assured that Christ didn’t die for you. The gospel is for those who have been humbled by their own sin and the amazing grace of God expressed at the cross.

Some might say I should have responded with John 3:16. Others might suggest 1 Corinthians 15:3. For my part, I stand amazed by the grace of God in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

1 comment:

My Emails to: said...

Sometimes when I read things, God gives me light and clarity about a verse like the one you included, 2 Corinthians 5:21. But your point after it "All of the sins of the children of God were placed on the Son, much like the sins of Israel were placed symbolically on the head of the scapegoat during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement." This is a perfect example of God choosing only the elect.
The scapegoat was not for the sins of the Philistines, Amorites, Midianites or anyone else. The blood on the goat was for a chosen people and those who lived among them who followed God's commandments. The sin offering was useless for anybody else on the earth. No benefit, no atonement, no salvation, no everlasting life.
Christ's poured out blood has no effect toward those who reject Him except for the effect of condemnation.
The effect, the justifying is only good for those who bow the knee, confess, repent, bear fruit, praise Him, worship Him, PROCLAIM HIM even to those that reject Him.
Yes, Christian test yourself to see if your are in the faith. God's chosen people are few in number when compared to the billions in the world. Christ's atonement might not include you. Please be sure about your calling.