Archive for the ‘John 8:42-59’ Category

On Christ’s Atonement

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

5th Sunday in Lent-HL, March 13th , 2016
Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church,
7210 Lisbon Street, San Diego, CA

Click here for audio of this message

“Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.  Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.” [John 8:42, 43]

Indeed, why are there still so many people today, who can not bear to hear Christ’s Word?  Even those who claim to be Christian reject large portions of His Word, which they claim are cultural and do not apply to today’s “progressive” society.  Why is this?  Could it be that they have rejected God’s demand that they allow the Word of God to have mastery over them?  Could it be that they do not wish to have complete dependency on Christ and His complete payment for our sins?  Or maybe they find the doctrine of Christ’s atonement for sin to be far too bloody and messy for their neat and ordered lives.  Or perhaps they resent the atonement because it completely negates their best efforts at living a successful life and instead insists that all of their self-worth must rest instead, entirely upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified?

In our world today we can draw a simple line of demarcation, which divides all of the worlds population into only two groups: Those who trust and live out Christ’s atonement for their sins, and those who reject it.

Looking at the large number of the religions in the world helps us understand this truth a little bit better.  There is of course Christ’s church and we who are called Christian, but right alongside of us we see and live with folks who are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and members of various other pagan religions.  What we must never forget as we are living our lives in this virtual sea of religions, is that there really are only two religions.  There are religions of the Law, that is, people who try to appease and angry God by doing and living the best they can, and the religion of the Gospel, that is the belief, that God’s anger and hatred over sin has been appeased by the vicarious atonement/sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Sadly, even in Christ’s church today, God’s solution to our sins, that is the message of the gospel, is not accepted as readily and easily as we would think.

Today, within the body of Christ we see divisions everywhere we look.  These divisions can be attributed to either a complete rejection of the atonement of Christ, or a surrender of any part of that doctrine, which only in it’s entirety can bring peace to sinners through God’s chosen means of grace.  So how did this happen in Christ’s church?  Well, it happened through false doctrine.

Through false prophets and apostles, our enemy the devil has been able to infiltrate the body of Christ and lead many astray with a false gospel of works righteousness.  You can identify this false gospel whenever you hear folks preach or teach anything that they claim to be essential, which consists of Jesus and this way of living or that way of worshiping.  They are the Jesus plus this or that crowd.  These false teachers have been unfaithful to the pure Word of God, and in the name of the Christian religion they have spread their false teachings, and they have grown like a cancer throughout the body of Christ.  Through the teachings of these children of the devil, the word of men has been elevated over the pure and simple Word of God, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now this truth defines both the challenge of the church today and the intent of our message this morning.  Through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, and through your faithful witnessing to this simple gospel, which is the complete dependency on the teaching of Christ’s atonement for all sins, we’ve been called to help people think theologically, or think as God speaks so that others can find freedom in the atonement of Christ too.

This morning, Jesus says to us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” [John 8:51]  Now, what is that Word that Jesus asks us to guard?  It is all that the doctrine of Atonement presents through out Holy Scripture.

Jesus Word teaches us to cling to His life giving, sin forgiving Word so that we will avoid eternal judgment and receive eternal life.  It is that Word, which teaches that sin must be paid for or atoned for, and it has—through the life and death of our Great High Priest, Jesus Himself.  It was Jesus alone who entered into the heavenly and Most Holy Place and with His own blood and bought for us everlasting redemption. [Hebrews 9:11-15]  Jesus is the One who was before Abraham was, and yet He was also Abraham’s true descendant.  Jesus alone is the promised Son who carries the wood up the mountain for the sacrifice, who is bound and laid upon the altar of the cross.  Jesus is the fulfillment for you of the true ram who is willingly caught within the thicket of your sins and slaughtered in your place.  He alone is the One who wears the crown of thorns upon His head. [Genesis 22:1-14]  Even though the sons of the devil dishonor Jesus, He is vindicated by the Father through the cross as being the only true remedy or atonement for your sins.

This is the message that we must continually read, mark, and inwardly digest as the saving message of the gospel.  It is this message alone that can be brought by Christ alone, which promises that He has already given to you a gift that you can rest all of your hopes and dreams upon; it is a gift that assures you by faith that you will receive the promised eternal inheritance, simply because His death has set you free from the bondage of sin, death, and the devil. [Hebrews 9:15]

The doctrine of Christ’s atonement then forces us to see that our good works, or our attempts to live a good life can never merit what Christ has completely provided for us, which is the forgiveness of sins, all of our sins.  He alone has been appointed as our mediator and willing atoning sacrifice.  This is the simple truth of God, which you are asked to receive and believe by faith.  In your baptism you were washed with this very Word and promise of God; you were sealed within God’s courts above to live a life below that reflects this “justifying faith.”

And this is the faith that saves you; faith, which makes you right with God.  First, you must receive God’s promise and believe that all of the sins of the world were forgiven upon Christ’s cross, and that this promise of forgiveness was given to you personally within the waters of your own baptism.  Second, you must admit that this is a free gift, which you play no part in.  And third, this gift is based solely on Christ’s merits, as the payment for your sins.  In other words, Christ alone is now and always shall be the atoning sacrifice for your sins.

Christ as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world has been made once and for all and it never needs to be repeated.  We who were once far away from God are now brought near to Him through the blood of Christ.  He has brought us atonement with God.  Sin has been covered for all who desire to be covered by this sacrifice; for all of us who trust in this sacrifice alone.  So this morning, I declare to you…

This work of Christ must not remain simply a historical fact within your mind. It must become your heart felt truth.  The one in whom God dwells bodily has made peace by the blood of the cross so that all hostility between God and mankind might cease. [Ephesians 2:11-18; Colossians 1:15:22]

This morning, through the Word of God and the faith giving work of the Holy Spirit, God is inviting each of you to embrace the truth that Jesus came to rescue you from your sins so that you might live out your life in peace, the same peace that was the possession of Adam and Eve within the first Paradise before the fall.

Your entire past, present, and future now rests solely by faith upon Christ’s death at Calvary; it rests upon the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world. [Revelation 13:8]  The Messiah who died is for you, an absolute necessity and sufficiency no matter what direction in your life you look.  Without Christ’s atonement for our sins, and without Him as our intercessor and provider of a new testament with God, all that was promised to Adam, Abraham, Moses, and the prophets within the Old Testament would be for nothing and a complete mockery.  Without Jesus and His atonement there would be no eternal inheritance, no people of faith called to receive that inheritance, and no hope for a Paradise restored for sinful mankind.  Absolutely everything hinges upon the doctrine of atonement and this Mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ.  It is on His bloody atonement that we must meditate day and night and hang all of our hopes on.

Our message this morning is one that reassures us that our Lord not only defeated our enemies outside of our bodies, but He has also defeated the enemies within us; He has defeated all of our doubts, guilt, and shame.  He has taken our guilt and shame into Himself and buried them in His own tomb, the one place that God the Father will not look, so that we can stand innocent and righteous before God’s throne of grace.  By taking our place, or by taking our sins into another place, His own body, Jesus has established Himself as Lord over our sins.  He alone has the ability to eliminate our past faults and sins.  By absorbing them into Himself, He has consumed them in the fire of His own passion.

You know, we sinners like to think that we can control our present and our future, but one thing we can never think to be able to change is our past.  Our past is set isn’t it?  It is done as we have lived it, good or bad.  But God… God can even change our past.  Jesus alone is Lord of our past.  I pray that you will continue to allow Him to be your Lord of your past, present, and future.  I ask this in Jesus name… AMEN!