Image by Timeo Buehrer

CHRIST

What is the solution to our problem? What has God done to save us?

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

BUT GOD...

being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christby grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ephesians 2:1-9

"BUT GOD..."​ - The two sweetest words in the Bible

To those who understand the Bad News, the two words—“but God”—are some of the sweetest words we could ever hear!

Once we have a big view of who God is in all of His holiness, and an accurate view of ourselves, knowing how sinful we truly are, those two words are the sweetest sound. These words are a glorious hope in the midst of a sea of despair—that God knew we could not save ourselves, so He sent Jesus Christ to save us! This is the Gospel – this is truly Good News!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 3:16-17

This is why those two words "BUT GOD" are the sweetest words we can hear. They are where the story turns and we are surprised by the amazing and lavish grace shown to us when we should have been expecting to hear about God's justice and judgment.

 

We were lost in our sins, weak and without hope, even as enemies of God. But God did not leave us there. Instead, God showed us His love, mercy and grace by sending His Son - Jesus Christ - in the flesh to live, die and be raised again for the sake of those who would believe on Him for salvation!

Let's unpack this a little more...

Image by Neal E. Johnson

Jesus Christ solves the three problems our sin created...

SIN'S PENALTY

In the place of sinners, Jesus Christ obeyed God’s Law perfectly and also satisfied the PENALTY due to us for breaking the Law. Out of His great love towards sinners, God sent Jesus Christ to live a perfect life and die to save sinners.

Jesus’s death on the cross is “for” us. His suffering and dying is in the place of rebels like us. He is our substitute. When we see the Cross we realize, it should have been us on that cross! We should have borne the full wrath of God against our sin poured out on the Cross. It was our sins that Jesus Christ bore on the Cross in our place. We should have been forsaken by God, but instead, Christ was forsaken (Matthew 27:46). On the Cross, all of the sin of those who would believe the Gospel was placed on Christ. Jesus never sinned (so he didn’t have to pay for any of his own sins) but he was treated like he sinned because he was suffering in the place of sinners like us. Jesus pays our debt.

Jesus’s perfect life is also “for” us. Jesus lived a perfect life so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. In other words, in order that sinners might receive the blessings earned by Christ’s obedience to God, Jesus perfectly kept all of God’s law – perfectly loving God and loving others. Through Jesus’s perfect life, God’s perfect standard of righteousness was fulfilled and he earned the merit of God’s perfect righteousness for us. If all Christ did was pay our debt, that would mean our 'account' (so to speak) would just be brought back to zero. However, he also gives us the positive credit of His perfect righteousness so that our 'account' overflows! Jesus gives us His righteousness!

This is the Good News of the great exchange! Our sins were laid on Christ, and His righteousness was credited to those who, by faith, trust in him alone for their salvation. We don’t just get our debt paid, but we also get the positive righteousness of Christ credited to our account!

SIN'S POWER

The Bible says that those who put their faith in Jesus for salvation are “in Christ”—united with Him in a profound way (Ephesians 1:3-4; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17). They are united in His death to sin, and also united with Him in His resurrection to new life!

Romans 6:4 says, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” And verse 6 continues that, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

Therefore, the Gospel also frees us from the POWER of sin! In Christ, those who believe the Gospel are no longer slaves to sin but have power, through His Spirit in us, to put to death the deeds and desires of our sinful nature.

SIN'S PRESENCE

Those who are united with Christ through faith will rise again on the Last Day—just as Christ rose from the dead. So now, death no longer has the final say, the grave has lost its power and death has lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). 

Because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, nothing can condemn or separate those who trust in him from the love of God (Romans 8:31-39).

Since we who believe in him are united in his death to sin (Galatians 2:20), we are freed from the POWER of sin and progressively being freed from sin’s PRESENCE in our lives (Colossians 3:1-5). This is called sanctification or growth in holiness.

Because Jesus's resurrection is ours, we will one day be raised to resurrection life – freed forever from the PRESENCE of sin to be together with him for eternity when Jesus brings the final and complete restoration of all the brokenness in this world (Romans 8:19-21Revelation 21:3-5). What a glorious hope!

 “O death, where is your victory? 
O death, where is your sting?” 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
1 Timothy 1:15

Holding Hands

1. RECONCILIATION

We were separated, BUT...

Jesus brought us near and restored to us a right relationship with God!

Our sin brought spiritual alienation or separation from God. We have a broken relationship with God because of our sin. Similarly to when we hurt other people, it separates us from them and breaks down the relationship.

However, God, being rich in mercy absorbed in Himself the hurt of our sin and reconciled us to Himself by sending Christ!

See Romans 5:8-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 2:14-16 and Colossians 1:21-23

What does Jesus's death on the Cross accomplish?

Here are four different ways the Bible talks about what Christ's death accomplishes for us...

We've seen from our three points so far that God is holy, we are sinful and unable to save ourselves but God has given us the gracious gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

So what do we do with all of this Good News?

GOD | SIN | CHRIST | RESPONSE

 

Let's now look at the last point: