Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds' Jesus words to James and John concerning the sacrifice he must make.
[Message] We are turning to Mark chapter 10 verse 35 through verse 45 for our Scripture reading, but I confess that we are going to spend most of our time on that last verse. But Mark writes in verse 35 of chapter 10,
“Then James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.’ And He said to them, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ And they said to Him, Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.’ (Now he has just been talking about their glory, so it’s not surprising to hear them say this.) And Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ So Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink the cup that I drink; and with the baptism I am baptized with, you will be baptized. But to sit on My right hand or on My left, is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it is prepared.’”
Incidentally the scene is the scene of an Oriental court. We have one sitting upon the throne that is our Lord. The apostles ask to sit on His right hand and on His left, but about the court are two things that are important. Quite frequently people brought in glasses of wine for those who were there, that is the ruler did, and there was usually a pool, a pool for lustration, for washing of feet, and so the idea of a cup and the idea of drinking and baptizing is out of that oriental scene. Our Lord responds to it in that way. Verse 41,
“And when the ten heard it they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. And Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great ones exercise authority over them.’”
Yes, we know about that, we know about our rulers in Washington. We know about the IRS. We know about all of those other things by which we have people lorded over us too. So, we enter into this existentially don’t we? Some of you are looking like you wonder if it’s really true of us. Well it is. Verse 43,
“Yet it is not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. (What a doctrine to be a servant.) For, (our Lord says) even the Son of Man (Notice that expression ‘Son of Man because we’re going to say something about it later) For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Let’s bow together in a moment of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for the word of God that is given to us and we thank Thee furthermore most definitely from our hearts that Thou hast not only given us the word of God, but Thou hast given us an interpreter. We thank Thee for the Holy Spirit who interprets the word of God to and for us, and we are indeed grateful. We thank Thee for the fact that our great triune God in heaven is the ultimate interpreter of reality and the ultimate interpreter of just who God is and what he has done in our behalf and what he shall do in the future as well. So often, Lord, we attempt to define God. We thank Thee that He has defined Himself, and we pray that Thou will make us submissive to the definitions of Himself that He gives.
We thank Thee for this day that Thou hast given to us for the privilege of gathering, opening the Scriptures, hearing the word of God. We pray for each individual here and for all of the families represented, for their children. We ask for each of them, we ask for the blessing of God upon them, and above all, Lord, we thank Thee for those of us whom Thou hast brought to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and we pray that those other members of our families who are outside of Christ, we pray that they may come to know him and to know him in his marvelous grace and to know him in such a personal way that it makes their lives different.
We thank Thee for this country, for its leadership. We pray Thy blessing upon it. For this state in which we live, for our local government, we pray for each of those who exercise lordship over us and ask that it may be harmonious with Thy will.
We pray for those who’ve requested our prayers, for those who are suffering or have friends and loved ones who are. And we ask Lord for them. We pray that Thou will give healing in accordance with Thy will and that Thou will encourage and comfort and console those who are suffering and those who love those who are suffering. We pray for them.
We ask, Lord, for this church, for its leadership, for the elders, for the deacons, for the members, and the friends who are here today, we ask that there may be responsiveness to this great revelation given to us, the word of God. May our hearts be open to it. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Message] The subject for today is “The One Defining Act,” and we are looking at Mark 10:35 through 45, but primarily at verse 45. The world is fatally mistaken about themselves and about the defining act of Christianity, the cross of Jesus Christ. J. Gresham Machen, many years ago, founder, I guess one could say, of Westminster Theological Seminary, pointed out that, “On a human level the greatest cause of the rejection of Christianity was sheer indifference. The source of the indifference was the intellectual atmosphere in which men are living. The modern world is dominated by ideas which ignore the gospel. It prevents Christianity even from getting a hearing.” Those are the words of Machen.
Ken Myers, living present student of culture and Christianity goes on to say that while there is a flood of books promising radical transformation of our tired lives, the promised programs are not working. Myers goes on to say this, “The assumption that there is nothing wrong with the human spirit that a little tinkering can’t fix is still polluting the atmosphere.” How true it is. The world has come in in the way in which we don’t want the world to come in, that is, they’ve come in to take over. When the Scripture tells us very plainly that, “The man who loves the world does not love God.” Strange statement isn’t it? But nevertheless it’s found in the word of God.
Now, the world doesn’t understand themselves. They don’t understand the cross of Christ Jesus, and they do not listen to the interpretation that heaven gives of the Son of God. Myers goes on to say in this little article, it was just a few pages, and he went on the say that it seems to the world to be profoundly unfair that the history of the world should be affected by the act of one man, that men should be undone by what one man has done. Well that of course was an objection to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden because that‘s precisely what has happened. The world has been unmade by the act of one man. But we know, if we’ve read the Bible much, we know that at the same time it may seem profoundly unfair to a nation that reveres the self made man that man is responsible for the overthrow, the unmaking of itself by that act of one man. The Scriptures, we know, go on to say that by the act of one may everything may be made right again and not only made like it was, but made better than ever. Man ultimately glorified by the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I contend that if we want to interpret Christianity that the best interpretation of Christianity is the interpretation that Jesus Christ himself makes. In other words, he is the one who ought to be allowed to define his life’s ministry because of who he is and, of course we know as Christians, what he had done. He defines his life by the work of the cross, a cross of gory self sacrifice and assumes responsibility for sin himself. He says in our text here, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.”
A number of you know that a few months back, I don’t remember exactly how many it was, The Dallas Morning News had an article written by an individual in which statements were made to the effect that people in high places in the professing Christian church were anxious to reinterpret Christianity. The symbol of the cross was said to be too violent. That it was a kind of death worship. Not surprising that it came from Drew University because it has its roots in Arminian theology and so we might expect the flowing of that institution away from the truth, and they’ve had other times they’ve come back, but they’ve not been noted through the years for the stability of some of the other places.
In the article it was suggested by some theologians that we shouldn’t talk about the gospel of the cross. We should talk about the gospel of loaves and fishes, or if you don’t like the gospel of loaves and fishes, the gospel of mustard seeds and lighted candles. That’s very interesting because here is our Lord interpreting Christianity and he says, “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many.” That is the cross of a sovereign, slain Son of God, but who also rose from the dead. He assumes responsibility for human sin, assumes responsibility for anyone who comes to him, believes in him, receives not only free forgiveness of sins but is also instated in a position of righteousness being given a gift of a righteousness that complete satisfies God. What could be more marvelous than that? To know that I by virtue of what someone else has done has made it possible for me to say, “I have the righteousness of God.” Not because of me, but because of what he has done. That’s an important aspect of the gospel, maybe the most important. The one defining act then, the act of human life, the Son of Man gave his life a ransom for many.
This text is in the context of our Lord’s promises of glory and the cross. If I took the passage in Matthew and then the one in Mark and put them together, essentially what our Lord says is that he promises that the apostles are going to sit on His right hand and on His left, and they are going to rejoice in the glory of what Jesus Christ has done. Let me turn over for a moment to Matthew chapter 19 and verse 27 and following. This is what our Lord said in the preceding context.
“Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, (in the new birth, that’s the new birth of the creation) when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. And many who are first shall be last, and the last first.’”
And that was such a marvelous promise that they immediately, James and John, came to Him and ask for the privilege of sitting on the right hand and on the left. The things that Matthew says, the mother of these two young men came with them, suggests that maybe it was mom who made the suggestion, that mom said, “Go ask him if you can sit on the right hand or on the left.” And so they came and they asked if they might sit on the right hand or on the left. In other words, hearing this great promise, and with mom right by, James and John believed the prospects are pretty good for them, and so they want to know the facts.
Now I must say that’s an act of faith on their part because even though they are asking for something that obviously reflects spiritual immaturity, they’re asking. They at least believe there will be such a time, and they just want to be right there in preeminent positions. I don’t know of anyone who would want to ask to be on the right hand and on the left of someone who is going to the gallows. As a matter of fact if you’ll follow out history you’ll know this is exactly what they did do because James lost his life in Jerusalem later on after the resurrection, and John was sentenced to Patmos where he lost his life too, and those two brothers got something of what they expected in a slightly different way, but we revere them for the faith that they manifested even though the immaturity is evident in their asking what they asked, to sit on the right and on the left. And the others, the ten were greatly displeased with James and John. Well they had faith at least.
But this last statement is the thing I want to stress, as I say. “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many.” They heard one of those promises. They didn’t hear the other promise because just above he had said he was going to Jerusalem. He was going to be crucified, and then after three days he would rise from the dead, but that just slipped by them completely because they were thinking about the glory, sitting on the right hand and on the left. You know I feel that. I think every preacher does. We feel often when we stand up and we talk about the cross of Christ that that just slips by people. It slipped by them. They thought of glory. They were happy to reflect upon that, but the cross, that just went right by them. So our Lord has to define really what his life is about. It’s not so much about the glory as it is about the cross because that’s the means of the glory.
Now let’s look at a few of these words in this particular verse. “The Son of Man came,” did not come to be served, but to serve. He came. Came is the habitual word that our Lord uses of his coming, except when he uses the term “was sent.” Think about those words for a moment. Suppose I stood up and said to you, “I came September 13, 1915.” I know you know I’m eighty years of age. “I came September 13, 1915.” Wouldn’t that be odd? “I came then.” No, you would expect me to say, “I was born.” Our Lord says, “I came.” The implication, of course, is he existed before he came. If I say to you, “I came to Believers Chapel this morning,” you knew I was somewhere else before I got here. So, that’s one of his favorite words is just the same, “Was sent.” “I was sent.”
Do you know that our Lord only once says he was born? Isn’t that interesting? Only once, to whom did he say it? Well to someone you might not expect to understand. He said it to Pilot. Pilot’s the only one to whom he said he was born. But the rest of his language is, “I came.” “I was sent.” In other words, he existed before hand. He loved. He chose. He elected to come, and he came. You can just see the line. He was living, chose to come, and he came. He chose and came. So the Son of Man did not come to be served. He lived before he was born. His selflessness is reflected. This is part of his self definition, remember? We’re giving his definition of Christianity and his mission. “The Son of Man did not come to be served or to be ministered to, but to minister.” So, no Lordly pace board kinglet is the Son of God. No he’s someone who comes to serve others, to minister.
Well there are many words in the New Testament that speak of his ministry. There’s one in the Epistle to the Romans that I’ve always liked. It’s in chapter 15 and verse 8, I believe, where Paul says, “Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant (a minister) of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” Jesus Christ became “a servant, a minister, of the circumcision for the truth of God to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” In other words, he came because of God’s truth, the word of God, and he came to confirm those promises that there would come a Messiah, and our Lord has come. He was a minister of the circumcision to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.
So, the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, a kingly servant. He served with spontaneity. He served with delight. No trace of reluctance. He never said I’m sorry that I came. This had been tough. This has been hard, but all of it is the expression of delight. “I delight to do they will, Oh God,” is the Messianic term that is used with reference to him. If he had stopped without going on, you might say he was only one in a long line of inept prophets who show men the better way and leave them struggling in the mire, but he doesn’t stop with the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.
There is a theory over the atonement called the Moral Influence Theory of the Atonement, which is essentially this that we should not think about death. We should not think about propitiation. We should not think about bloodshed and sins paid for. God being propitiated and through God’s propitiation, the propitiation of his holiness and his justice, righteousness being, in grace, given to us. This theory is to the effect that the Lord Jesus came and showed us essentially the way to live. He came, gave himself, and that’s supposed to be an incentive for us to live a life of service too, the Moral Influence of the Atonement stated by a number of different men, stated in slightly different ways, but that’s essentially the theory of it. It’s something, of course, that’s not found in the word of God at all.
Many years ago I read a story about the man for whom one of the buildings at Dallas Seminary’s named, D.M. Stearns. Stearns Hall there was named after this pastor, a Philadelphia pastor as I remember. He was really a great gospel preacher of his day, and he tells a story in one of his writings of a person who came up to him and said, “I don’t like your preaching. I don’t care for the cross. I think that instead of preaching the death of the cross it would be far better to preach Jesus, the teacher and example.” And Mr. Stearns said to him, “Well if I preached that would you be willing to follow him?” And the man said, “Yes I would then be willing to follow him.” Mr. Stearns said, “Would you follow in his steps?” And he said, “I will follow in his steps.” He said, “You know it’s very interesting that what you’ve said is essentially found in the Scriptures because the Scriptures say, ‘For to this you were called because Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example that you should follow in his steps.’ And so there is the exemplar purpose of the atoning work of Christ. So you would be willing to follow in his steps?” And the man said, “Yes I would be willing to follow in his steps. I don’t like the preaching of the cross.” Mr. Stearns said, “Well did you know what the first step is? Who, when he was reviled, did not revile. When he was suffered, he did not threaten, but committed himself to him who judges righteously, in other words,” well I skipped the one verse that really puts the finger on it, “Who committed no sin. Do you think that you could follow in his steps?” And the man was reported to have said, “Well I see I could not follow in Jesus Christ’s steps for I am a sinner. I do acknowledge that.” Well what he was essentially trying to say was something like the Moral Influence Theory of the Atonement.
Now, coming to that last clause because this is the important clause, “To give his life as a ransom for many,” this is a rather startling text. I would imagine that some of you, as I, at one time in your life at least, have not really realized what this text says. Now notice it carefully. “For even Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.” But you would say to me, “Wait a minute. It’s not Jesus. It’s the Son of Man.” Well what was the Son of Man? Did you know that this term was Jesus Christ’s favorite term for himself? Son of Man? It doesn’t mean simply that he’s just a man. Frequently people think that that’s what it means. It’ includes that.
But the Son of Man is a term that goes back to the Book of Daniel, and in the 7th chapter of the Book of Daniel, you may remember, Daniel is being told something about the future. He’s already been told something about it in chapter 2, but in chapter 7 also, he again is being told something about the future. He sees a vision, and he says in his vision, that was by night that, “Behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.” We don’t have time to go into the details. You remember of course that he was talking about the lion. All of these beasts incidentally are voracious, rabid, destroying beasts, the lion, the bear, the leopard, and then a beast that cannot be described, the last of the beasts. Four great beasts, they stand for four kingdoms. They stand for Babylonia. They stand for Medo-Persia. They stand for Greece, and then they stand for Rome, the last of the four great empires upon the face of the earth from Nebuchadnezzar’s day on. In Daniel’s vision he sees these beasts and then he sees the Son of Man. He sees the Son of Man, notice, “Son of Man” not Jesus, not the Messiah, sees the Son of Man. That’s his name, Son of Man, coming in the clouds of heaven. You remember when he was before the authorities near the end of his life cites that text in order to give testimony to who he is and what he is going to do. The Son of Man they saw coming in the clouds of heaven. This divine being, we know the second person of the Trinity. Jesus takes that name to himself.
Now you can understand, I’m sure, that when we have something like this, the Son of Man and this individual is going to be the one who is going to come from heaven and God sitting upon the throne as the ancient of days, in Daniel chapter 7, gives to him the kingdom, and he exercises the kingdom for time and for eternity. In other words, the Son of Man is the one who possess the eternal kingdom, the kingdom on earth and also as it continues in the future as the eternal kingdom, the head and king is the Son of Man. Now can you not imagine Jewish individuals taught in the word of God to look forward to the coming of the Son of Man, our Lord has been trying to let them know just who he is, eighty times he’s used it of himself, eighty times, Son of Man, Son of Man, Son of Man. Pay attention to Daniel 7, he’s been saying. Read Daniel 7. This is who I am, Son of Man, eighty times. Eighty-two times in the whole New Testament, eighty-one in the gospels, eighty our Lord uses of himself. Once again in the Book of revelation it’s found too.
Now what this means is that the Lord Jesus is claiming to be the one who is going to come to overthrow the beasts and their kingdoms, the rabid, hungry, vicious, voracious beasts and the kingdom is going to ultimately be his kingdom. Now think of a Jewish man, he’s read this chapter, the Son of Man. We are looking for the Son of Man. We are, if he’s reading it with any kind of acceptance, we are looking for the Son of Man, this great conqueror who is going to restore us to authority and power. He’s going to rule over the face of the earth, and Jesus says, “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life for many.” To the Jew the Son of Man was a symbol of triumph, but our Lord speaks as if he’s a symbol of someone who is going to be destroyed and defeated. To them, as someone has put it, he was the conqueror, the equalizer, the score settler, the big brother, the intimidator, the star ship enterprise. This is our Lord, the right hand of the high and holy God in heaven. “The Son of Man did not come to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Now I think if I had been a Jewish man there i would have been absolutely silent. I could not have understood. I could not have understood. They were never taught, it appears, that the Son of Man was going to be that kind of person. Now that is why we read that they did not understand. Over and over again we read they did not understand. In chapter 9 and verse 32 I believe it, “But they did not understand this saying and were afraid to ask him.” In fact Luke says they not only did not understand, but these things just didn’t mean anything to them. They didn’t understand. He wears a sovereign crown, but he possesses a father’s heart. My friend has said, “He came not this great sovereign to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many.”
I don’t want to belabor the points, but I must mention this, when we talk about him as the one who gave his soul, or his life, a ransom for many, we must point out that it’s obvious that our Lord’s death was voluntary. He didn’t have to come. He was in control of his life all along. The Father gave him to death. The Jews gave him to death, but our Lord also gave himself to death as well. All had a hand in it, but it was the voluntary act of the Son of God. The Son of Man came, sovereign act, and he came to give his life a ransom for many. Came, his entry, give his exit, two things about which we are least consulted. You remember about the man who said if I knew where I was going to die I’d never go near the place.” [Laughter] Well in our Lord’s case he knew where he was going to die, and he went right there. That was his goal.
We are not ask about our birth. I don’t know whether I would have chosen September the 13th 1915. I may have chosen 1975. I didn’t have a choice. I was born that day. And I’m not given choice about where I shall die because I don’t think I’m going to commit suicide. I think that’s an act of rebellion generally. So I don’t have any choice, but this individual had choice. “Who is this,” one of the old fathers said, “That thus falls asleep when he wills. To die is weakness, but thus to die is strength.” Our Lord’s death was voluntary.
Second, his death was propitiatory. It was a satisfaction of justice. It was a satisfaction of holiness. The claims that God had against us, his redeemed, are met in our Lord’s blood shed on Calvary’s cross, and when he cried out “My God. My God. Why hast Thou forsaken me?” he bore eternal death for me. Hallelujah. And he died, gave his life, gave his soul for many. Now there are a few of you who are students of the Greek language and you know that the preposition here is the one that perhaps without argument signifies substitution, “anti.” So he gave his life instead of the many. He was the substitute. It was a vicarious death that our Lord dies.
What does “the many” mean? A lot of discussion about this, of course, “many.” It has been said that “many” may be used exclusively. That is, some as over against all, he gave his life for the many. In my opinion, that’s the way it’s used here, or it may be used inclusively, for all. I don’t have time to go into discussion over it. I just merely want to say that when I read here, “He gave his life for many,” that’s a text that goes right back to Isaiah chapter 53 verse 10, verse 11, verse 12, and there let me just say it. We don’t have time to prove it. That chapter, that great chapter, is the confession of the believing remnant of the future as they look back over the past history of the nation, and they confess their sin. They confess for the nation. They didn’t understand. They confess that when the Messiah came, they were elsewhere. “All we like sheep have gone astray. We’ve turned everyone to his own way and the Lord hath laid on him the inequity of us all.” Us all, us all, us who? That covenant community of Jewish people set forth in the word of God who are to come to faith in Jesus Christ in the future. So, the “many” is a reference to the covenantal community. He gave his live a ransom for many. The “many,” the all, the all of the elect group, if you belong to the elect of the Lord, you may speak about he died for all, that is, all the elect.
Now look, I know what you’re saying, “Wait he died for everybody.” No it’s not true. The Bible does not say that. The Bible says that he died for many. The Bible says he died for his elect people because our God is a God who accomplishes his purposes. He is non-frustratable. He does not try and fail in any of his atoning work. He accomplished precisely what he intends to accomplish. This is the Son of Man my friend. This is the great Son of Man. And so he accomplishes all of his purposes.
I know where there are places in the Bible that speak of all, but if you’ll carefully look at the context, you should, of course, recognize that this term all is used in different ways, for example, elementary logic courses teach us that adjectives of quantity, all, every, some, any are ambiguous. Let me give you an illustration. All the angles of a triangle equal two right angles. Isn’t that right? All the angles of a triangle equal two right angles. All the angles of a triangle are less than two right angles. Both of those statements are true. Both are true. If you take the word collectively in the first instance, and take the first all distributively in the second, they are both true. All the angles of a triangle are less than two right angles, collectively. All the angles of a triangle are less than two right angles if you take them distributively. You see you must learn to carefully interpret the word of God, “all.”
The other day I was coming out of Tom Thumb. I wasn’t coming out of the classic Tom Thumb up this way or even down that way, but that way. I was coming out of it with Martha. She was sitting in the car, and I was driving. I came up to Coit, looked across the way, and there was a big sign, “Cash all checks.” Ahh, I said, “Martha, there it is. That’s what I’ve been looking for for a long time. ‘Cash all checks.’” I said to her, “Why don’t I just write two or three $50,000 checks and go over there? We’ll be rich.” We laughed about it because we knew the sign didn’t mean what it seemed to mean. “Cash all checks.” Let’s suppose I had gone in there with the $50,000 checks. I can imagine, first of all, after they were shocked and surprised and said, “Get out of here,” or something like that, they would say, “All means ‘all’ of certain kinds. We cash all checks that is, personal checks, office checks, business checks, government checks. We cash all checks, all kinds of checks.” But not “all” in the sense in which I would like. “All” kinds, yes, but not all without exception. The Bible uses language like that and when “all” is used frequently, it’s all kinds, not all without exception, “all” without distinction, not “all” without exception. So, he is the person who gave himself a ransom for many. I wish I had another half an hour to talk about these things, but I cannot do it.
There are only three alternatives when we read that Christ died as a ransom for many. Universal Salvation, we could seek to show. Scripture uses “all.” He died for “all.” Does that mean Universal Salvation? No, it doesn’t mean that. We know that. It doesn’t mean that, but yet it says he died for “all.” So we explain that. That’s one possibility we reject. The other is Universal Redemption. In that case, make salvation possible, but if salvation is only possible, who makes it certain? It’s I who make it because God makes it possible, but I must make it certain.
Now the Scriptures say, “Salvation is of the Lord.” If I make it possible, I’m the one who really counts. I’m the one who turns everything into that which is good, by my act. No, you know even those of you who say, “Yes, that’s the meaning,” you know deep down in your heart salvation is of the Lord. So you cannot accept that. There are some people who say that what Jesus Christ did was simply pay the price. That is he laid down the money on the counter, like he laid down the price, but he really doesn’t get what he’s working for, or paying for.
Now how would you like it if you went in this store and you saw something you really liked and you put your money on the counter, and the man said, “Thank you. You’ve paid the price.” And you say, “But I paid it for a certain thing. You have to give it to me. The price is for something specifically.” There are people in our evangelical circles who say Jesus Christ paid the price; he purchased, but with that purchase does not come possession. I do not believe that. When he paid the price, possession must follow. He paid the price for his people. They will get the benefits of what he’s done. Oh, I wish I had time to argue this out. [Laughter] I can’t do that.
One of the greatest of the students about the time of the beginning of our country was William Ames. He was a Puritan from England, but he labored for a long time in the Netherlands and was very prominent in the Counsels of the Synod of Dort. He wrote a book called The Marrow of Theology, and that book; “Medulla theological,” The Marrow of Theology was a book that students in Cambridge and students in Cambridge in the United States and Yale study. Increase Mather, the sixth President of Harvard, preached an ordination sermon for Nathaniel Appleton in which he said, “The only book of theology he recommended was Ames’ Marrow.” If you read Ames’ Marrow you’ll understand why. It’s one book, but it’s pithy, and it’s accurate. He was behind the scenes of the Counsel of Dort giving advice to the people there when they met over the Arminian question. He was a Calvinist. He came up with a little three line statement that indicates that the intent of the atonement is the determining thing. You want to hear it? This is it. I know you’ll love it when you hear it. “Quibus intendatur e es oplecatur, said non omnibus oplicatur, ergo nek omnibus intendatur. [ph 47:43]” I’m going to translate it for you. This is what it says, “For whom it is intended, to them it is applied.” “For whom it is intended to them it is applied, but not to all is it applied.” That’s evident. “Therefore not to all is it intended.” Isn’t that simple, right to point? “For whom it is intended to them it’s applied, but not to all is it applied. Therefore not to all is intended.”
Well, time’s up. Can we then say to anyone with certainty, “Christ died for you?” They think that everybody must be able to say that. If you cannot say that you’re not preaching the gospel. I want to say very frankly to you, I cannot say Christ died for you universally. I cannot say that. No man can say that. There are men who died without Christ. You cannot say, “Christ died for you.”
Well then what can I say in my preaching. Be careful and listen. I can say, “If you believe in him, Christ died for you.” If you believe in him, Christ died for you. That’s how you can know you belong to the elect. There is no other way. If you believe in him, Christ died for you. What better gospel should we want than that? If you don’t like this then of course you get what you want and so you have no complaints, but Christ died for those who believed in him. That’s John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Christ gave himself for believers. That’s it. If you’re a believer, you’re one of the elect. I call that a marvelous gospel. And it puts us right at the place we ought to be with a responsibility to believe.
I want to say this too, if you’re in this audience and you have yearnings to make your salvation and election sure, you’re not sure, of if you’re here and you don’t know anything about salvation, but if there are yearnings in your heart to believe in Christ and respond to him, then it’s likely that the Holy Spirit is working in your heart because it’s only the Holy Spirit who gives those feelings, those desires to the turn to Christ. In fact if you have recognized you’re lost and you feel the Holy Spirit is moving you to come to Christ, the chances are you’re one of the elect. And when you do come and receive him as your Savior that settles the question.
Well he died for believers. I love these marvelous things. You see our Lord defines what Christianity is all about and it has to do with him. I want to say, it won’t take me but a minute to say this, two weeks ago I went home in the afternoon and turned on the TV, no football, no football. Turned on the TV and said, “Well I’ll look at fifty-eight. I looked there and there he was, Mr. Shuler and with him was Colin Powell, so it was kind of interesting. Beautiful music of course, that’s mainly what the program is about, but Mr. Shuler said that he knows that his theology is known as Self-esteem theology then he got off a great line of theology. I’m not free until I believe in me. I’m not free until I believe in me. This is his theology.
I mentioned that to Lori Knox and she gave me a poem. I’m going to read it. This is the theology of the world, our world, the culture. It’s called Hero, by Mariah Carey. “There’s a hero if you look inside your heart. You don’t have to be afraid of what you are. There’s an answer if you reach into your soul and the sorrow that you know will melt away. And then a hero comes along with the strength to carry on and you cast your fears aside and you know you can survive. So when you feel like hope is gone look inside you and be strong and you’ll finally see the truth that a hero lies in you. It’s a long road when you face the world alone. No one reaches out a hand for you to hold. You can find love if you search within yourself and the emptiness you felt will disappear. And then a hero comes along with the strength to carry on and you cast your fears aside and you know you can survive. So when you feel like hope is gone look inside you and be strong and you’ll finally see the truth that a hero lies in you.”
No my friend, the hero has come. He has accomplished his saving work. He is at the right hand of the throne of God. He is one to whom we can come. You can come, young and old alike. You can come to him; bow your heart before him. Acknowledge him. Come to him asking for forgiveness of sins and a place in the family of God. He never turns anyone one away who comes. May God in his grace call you to him. Let’s stand for the benediction.
[Prayer] Father how marvelous it is to know that there is someone, the Son of Man, who saves sinners, who not only dies for them but also brings them to himself, who pays the price, but also gains the property. We praise Thee and thank Thee for him, and Lord, we pray that if there should be someone in this audience who has not yet believed, oh God, deep in their hearts give…
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