Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Christ redeemed us from the curse

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"—

Galatians 3:13
The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was and continues to be God and man in two distinct natures and one person for ever.[1]
To all those for whom Christ has obtained eternal redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them, uniting them to Himself by His Spirit, revealing to them, in and by the Word, the mystery of salvation, persuading them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by His Word, and overcoming all their enemies by His Almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation, and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen n them to procure it[2]. He executes the redemption in three offices – as the prophet, as the priest and as the king, both in His states of humiliation and exaltation.
Christ in His office as a priest submitted to be hanged upon a tree and in so doing removed the curse from us. The law that we and all have broken spells out judgment and condemnation and death for all. This is the curse of the law – no one is able to obey it and so it is evident that no one is justified before God on the basis of obedience of the law for the Law is very clear – “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (v.10). Clearly, all are under this curse since, we know that no one is righteous no not one (Rom. 3:10).
However, thankfully Christ took our place when He was hung on the cross for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree" Christ took the curse from us and the evidence of this is that He was actually Himself hanged on a tree – the Roman cross. As He hung upon the cross on our place, He was made to be under the Law and its condemning power, having had all the sins of His people imputed on Him. And while in this place, the Father did not spare Him, but struck Him as many time and as much deeply, as His justice demanded.
The Father gave Him up into His hands, delivered him up to death, even the accursed death on the cross, whereby it appeared that he was made a curse; made, by the will, counsel, and determination of God, and not without his own will and free consent; for He freely laid down his life, and gave himself, and made his soul an offering for sin.[3]
This explains the centrality of the cross in the Christian faith. That which was meant to be a curse, and an object of shame brought eternal hope for sinners. And so we boast in nothing but in the cross of Christ. We preach nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2), even if the message of the cross is folly to those how are perishing, but to us  who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18). Lest any of you empty the cross its power (not that any can) you need to know the death of a cross was the worst mode of punishment both by the Jewish and Roman standards.
The cross and the death of Christ thereafter most clearly shows that Jesus was abandoned of God. The fellowship between the Heavenly Father and His Son was broken for He dealt with Him as a sinner having had the sins of men imputed on Him. So Christ did not only suffer the extensive punishment of the myriads upon myriads of the elect, He suffered it more intensely by the reality of being deserted of God, hence His agonizing cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).

The worst death was cast upon the Son of Man:
Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting His distress;
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.
                                                Thomas Kelly, (1769-1854)
What a terrible death it was – what the Lord was subjected to was far more than death of a mortal soul. Why? But this was;
a)      A painful death: As the Son of God was subjected to all these tortures, we must realize that the pains were great and acute. This sort of death made its assaults upon the vitals by the exterior parts, which are the most sensitive. In this He was to be both the priest and the sacrifice. For He was making his soul an offering for sin. Moreover He had to meet death, his and our enemy, in its greatest terror, and so conquer it.
b)      A bloody death: Christ was to lay down his life for His elect, and therefore had to shed His blood to atone for our sins. Blood made atonement for the soul (Lev. 17:11), and therefore in every sacrifice of propitiation special order was given for the pouring out of the blood, and the sprinkling of that before the Lord. This is what He did, for us.
c)       A shameful death: Christ died the death of the vilest of slaves and criminals. The cross and the shame were synonymous. God having been injured in his honour by the sin of man got Christ to know the worst shame in order to bring any and every man whom He had chosen to His honour and glory.  Praise the Lord that Christ perfectly satisfied this demand!
d)      A cursed death: The Jewish law (Deut. 21:23) branded it a curse. He that is hanged, is accursed of God and so is under a particular mark of God's displeasure. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— (Gal 3:13). Christ submitted to be hanged upon a tree and in so doing removed the curse from us.[4]
We must understand the understanding of the cross has a bearing on our understanding of sin:
Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See Who bears the awful load;
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of man and Son of God.
                                Thomas Kelly (1769-1854)
But our joy is that this death brought justification and life for us for we read;
… we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Gal 2:16).
As our Redeemer, He was appointed and called of God the Father, and which He agreed and submitted to, both by His being born as babe and the obedient life thereafter and the vicarious death upon the cross. In this way He obtained an eternal redemption for us for He was duly qualified being born as man and so having the right of redemption as our kinsman redeemer and able to perfectly and effectively do it, not for one but for all the elect being God.
From the passage, the Lord Jesus redeemed a people called, ‘us’ which includes Paul the Apostle, and all who were given into the hands of Christ by the Father. For all that the Father drew by His electing love had to be submitted into the hands of Christ and be redeemed as such. The us has a people described as the ‘sheep’ or ‘the church’ or the elect.
No one but only those who had known the electing hand of God in the eternity past, that is before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) are effectively able to come to Christ with a saving faith. But this number is a great number for it has been accumulating ever since the creation since the redeeming work of Christ spans all ages and so at the close of age, there shall be a people from every age, from every nation, every tribe, every language. For as many of us have were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:28-29).
Here is the significance of the death of Christ on the accursed tree:
v  Christ became so poor that the poor sinful children of men, believing on Him, might be delivered from the pit of destruction and the torment of prison of hell and receive freely the glorious riches of heaven. The cross is the very bottom of Jesus’ poverty on our behalf, but it is crest of the treasury of our salvation.
v  Christ was charged with rebellion and all manner of sins that we might be set free from every charge in the day of judgment, and be presented faultless before God the Father with exceeding joy.
v  Christ was ashamed in every way so that we, vile as we are, might have glory, honour, and eternal life through faith in Christ’s atonement. The cross seals this for His shame was our shame and since He bore it all, we are free from all shame.
v  Christ was rejected by men so that we might be received into God’s kingdom with triumph at the last day, and receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. The cross was the display of this rejection but it is our gate in which we enter the kingdom of God.
v  Christ was unclothed that we, who have no righteousness of our own, might be clothed in the perfect righteousness that Christ has wrought out for us, and not stand naked before God at the Last Day. He hung upon the cross naked, before men, so that we might be enthroned before God with great glory.
v  Christ was reviled and held in derision so that we, who are all defiled with sin, might have a wedding-garment, wherein we may sit down by the side of the angels and not be ashamed.
v  Christ, the only Son God, was made worst rebel by human standards of the Roman cross, so that we, who are born in sin and children of wrath, might be counted blessed for Christ’s sake.
v  Christ was hung on a tree, enduring the most grievous sorrows in His soul, and most painful sufferings in His body. He was crowned with thorns and thistles to remove the curse which we all deserve because of sin, by laying it on Christ. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.”… it was that we, who are miserable transgressors, both by nature and practice, may be reckoned innocent for Christ’s sake.
v  Yes Christ was spit on, smitten of men, so that we, who are worthy nothing but condemnation, may be counted worthy to escape God’s judgment, and be pronounced not guilty before the assembled world.
v  Christ died that we, in our last hours, through faith in Christ may have strong consolation. It all came to pass that we may enjoy strong assurance – we may know whom we have believed, and may go down the valley of the shadow of death fearing no evil.[5]
Wonder of the cross shall be our meditation… the cross of the humble King who never wore an earthly crown … the cross o wonderful cross, what glory, what victory we have found. So would you lay all your sins on Christ? Christ has fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance for us!

[1] The Baptist Confession & The Baptist Catechism, (Solid Ground Christian Books, Birmingham, Al, 2010), question 24, p.98
[2] Ibid, p. 21-22
[3] William Gill, Vol. 4, (Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, 1980), P.382
[4] This is four things are drawn from Matthew Henry’s commentary
[5] J.C. Ryle, Mark, (Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, UK, 1857), pp. 341-343

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