Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds the Hebrews passage which details the needful role Christ plays as the sacrifice for human sin.
[Message] We are engaged in a brief short series of messages on the necessity of Christ’s death. Today will be the third, actually the message that was given on Christmas, or the Christmas message given before Christmas, belongs in this series too, but this is the third with the title, “The Necessity of Christ’s Death.” We’re going to read for the Scripture reading Hebrews 2:10 through 18, but the message will gather around verse 10 alone. Let’s turn to Hebrews 10, we’ll read verse 10 through verse 18, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” Just one comment, if you have the Authorized Version you’ll have the, “captain of their salvation” and the word translated author by the version I’m readying is a word that could mean that. It could mean also leader, as it is sometimes translated. I will refer to the, “captain of their salvation” as well as the author, and I want you to know the source of that rendering too.
“For both He who sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I WILL PROCLAIM THY NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING THY PRAISE.’ And again, ‘I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.’ And again, ‘BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.’ (Now he is explaining in those verses the representative nature of our Lord’s mediatory work, beginning with verse 14 through the rest of the chapter he will talk about his sufferings as the mediatorial covenant head.) “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Remember that was the work of the priest, among other things, was to make the sacrifice. He calls it the “propitiation for the sins of the people.) “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
May God bless this reading of his word. Let’s bow together in prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we approach Thee through the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, the one who has stood for us with Thee. And we thank Thee, Lord, for the way in which he has accomplished the mediatorial sacrifice and has made it possible for us who are identified with him to be acceptable to Thee. We praise Thee and thank Thee for the assurance of eternal life that we have by virtue of what Christ has done for us, offering the satisfaction, the sacrifice that has expiated our sin, and has satisfied Thy holiness and righteousness and justice. We thank Thee for the acceptance that we have, that we stand in grace, that we have been declared by Thee righteous. What a blessing, what a marvelous position, and what a marvelous standing we have before the Triune God, all traceable to the love and grace of our Father who provided the sacrifice for us. So today, Lord, we worship Thee and praise Thy name.
We ask Thy blessing upon the whole church of Jesus Christ today, not simply upon the ministry of Believers Chapel, but upon other assemblies of believers all over the face of the globe who meet in the name of the Lord Jesus and lift up his name and preach the gospel. Bless them richly, give them fruit.
And we thank Thee too, Lord, for the country in which we live and for the benefits that we have being in the United States of America, and may these marvelous benefits be continued that the gospel may go forth freely. We think of the many over the face of this globe, believers in Christ, in which there is no freedom to proclaim the gospel. Give them courage and strength and supply their needs, and give them fruit as they, in their difficult way, seek to represent our Lord.
We pray for the sick, those especially who have requested our prayers. We pray for them for the doctors who ministry to them. Will Thou, Lord, give healing in accordance with Thy most precious will for us?
We thank Thee, and praise Thee, for all of the provisions of our spiritual life, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the assurance of the forgiveness of sins, the assurance of a hope, the assurance of the ages of eternity in the presence of God that lie before us.
And Father we pray Thy blessing upon the outreach of the chapel and it’s ministry through the radio and through the printed page, and especially through the tapes that have been sent out. And we pray for those who labor to send them out. We thank Thee for them. We pray for those who labor in our Sunday school, and ask Thy blessing upon them, upon the pupils. May, Oh God, the things that are said be fruitful in the building up of the young lives in the knowledge of the Lord.
Now may Thy presence be with us as we sing, as we listen to the word of God. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Message] As I mentioned in the Scripture reading, this is the third of a series of messages on the Necessity of Christ’s Death. We’re looking today, primarily, at Hebrews chapter 2 and verse 10. The story of Jesus Christ is not the story of a solitary, isolated individual. It’s the story of an agent, a divinely appointed representative mediator of others. As our author puts it, the Lord Jesus is the captain of their salvation, or the author of their salvation or the leader of their salvation. Now he has told us in the first chapter that God has spoken in such a person as his Son. The message that he has spoken is this message of his mediatorial representative death in behalf of the saints of God. The work of an agent, we are all acquainted with. When I was in the insurance business one of the things that scared me, I must say, as a young insurance man because my father was an insurance man as well, was what was called binding authority. That is that I, as an agent, had the authority to bind my company.
Amazing, in the light of my ignorance of insurance, that I could say to an individual you’re covered for thousands and thousands of dollars and my company not even know the commitment, but yet they were legally liable because I was their agent. That’s a fantastic thing, but it is true. The idea of an agent lies in back of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was an agent for others. We say a covenantal head, a representative of them. Augustan said many years ago that the entire moral and spiritual history of mankind revolves around two people, Adam and Christ. That’s why we refer to Adam the first as Adam and the Lord Jesus Christ as the last Adam. Not the second Adam, although in our hymnology, and occasionally in our theology, people will refer to our Lord as the second Adam. In one sense you could justify that providing you went on to say that there is no third Adam. But he is called in Scripture the last Adam because there is no other Adam after our Lord. If he had failed, no one else could stand for the people of God. These two people, they represent those who stand in him.
This is illustrated through the Bible, but it’s illustrated in a well known conflict between two well known characters, David of Israel, and Goliath, the hero of the Philistines. You know the story, a simple story told to all of us when we were in Sunday school of Goliath, the giant, and David, the stripling, the young shepherd boy, and how Goliath, day after day, taunted the children of Israel under Saul, saying to them, “Why don’t you send out your champion and fight me. Let’s settle the whole question by the battle between the two of us. If your champion defeats me, the Philistines will serve the Israelites. If I defeat your champion, then the Israelites will serve the Philistines.” Well David happened to come into the camp. He heard what the giant was saying and it embarrassed him tremendously because he had a faith in the Lord God of Israel.
And so he determined to take up the challenge when no one else would. He was discouraged, you’ll remember. They even tried to put Saul’s armor upon him, and as I’ve often said, remembering something that one of my old friends, a preacher that went to be in the presence of the Lord before me, he use to say that David took three steps in Saul’s armor before the armor moved. [Laughter] Then when David found out that he was not comfortable with that, he had not tried it out, or experimented with it. He went in his shepherds garment with a pouch which he filled with five smooth stones, not the five points of Calvinism, [Laughter] and a stick. He approached the Philistine. He had some sharp words to say for him after the Philistine had taunted him and said, “You’re coming against me with a stick and stones.” And David said he came in the name of the Lord God of Israel. And, as you know, he took one of his smooth stones, put it in his slingshot, and slung the stone, or slang the stone, or whatever you do with a sling shot, [Laughter] and it hit Goliath in his forehead and went in his forehead, and he fell over dead.
And David then, it’s rather an interesting thing; David did not kill him with his sling shot. He evidently stunned him, maybe he did kill him, but anyway, he took the sword of Goliath out and killed Goliath with his own sword. All of that, of course, beautifully illustrates, if it is not designed to in Scripture, typically, the struggle between our Lord Jesus Christ and the great champion opposing the Lord God in the heavenlies, Satan himself. As the writer of the Epistle of the Hebrews says in verse 14 and verse 15, “Since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself, likewise, also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. So the Lord Jesus is our covenantal head. He is our David. In fact he’s the greater than David, and it’s he who has overcome the Goliath of the devil and has made it possible for us to be delivered from the claims to judgment that our sins had upon us.
Now the Lord Jesus Christ has overcome the occult world then. We live in a day in which there is a whole lot of that. We have individuals who believe in reincarnation, witchcraft, new age philosophies, even people who worship the devil, an amazing thing when you think about it, but nevertheless, it is true. And even into our society in Texas, we have, even among our high school, young men, the worship of Satan illustrated on the front pages of our news papers in recent months by the slaying of an investigator of drugs by young men, involved in Satan worship. We’re certainly living in strange days, but the Lord Jesus has overcome the satanic world. He has overcome that world and man’s vain attempt, under the instigation of the evil one, to storm God’s throne. For the right to rule has been smashed by the eternal laws related to the eternal being of the Lord God, so that man is, ultimately, consigned to finitude and to mortality. In other words, one day there will be written over man, as an opponent of God, finis. The solution to the problem of Satan and sin is found in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now we’ve been trying to point out that the death of Christ is not an option in the forgiveness of sins. It is a necessity. That’s what he states again, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” One might ask at this point, “Why is it necessary in the context of Hebrews chapter 2 for him to speak about this?” Well he’s just said in the 9th verse, “We see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”
Now we know from the apostle’s language in the epistle to the Corinthians that in Paul’s day men considered the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ to be an offense. Gentiles considered it to be foolish. The Jewish people, who were unbelievers, not the believing Jewish people, but the unbelieving Jewish people, they regarded the cross as an offense. They could not understand, did not understand, the light of God’s knowledge had not shined into their hearts, how it is necessary for an individual to die to shed his blood as a sacrifice that sins might be forgiven. The author of the Epistle of the Hebrews writes against that background.
You know as Dr. Barnhouse used to say, the Epistle of the Hebrews was written to the Hebrews that the Hebrews might be taught that they should no longer be Hebrews, or something like that. And so it was necessary for the apostle or the writer of this epistle rather, to point out that the death was necessary. So he tells us how he regained sovereignty for man in verses 5 through 9 by his death. And then in verse 10 through 18 he expatiates on the question of why he must suffer. You can just imagine after he has said that he might taste death for everyone someone who found the cross an offense might say to the author of the Epistle of the Hebrews, “Well why must he suffer death?” And so he answers that.
Now I’d like to notice first, as we look at verse 10, and look at verse 10 alone, the propriety of the divine solution as he puts it. He states, “For.” Now that lets us know immediately he’s explaining what went before and specifically, that he might taste death for everyone and that he was crowned with glory and honor by the suffering of death, “For.” That’s why it’s necessary, “For it was fitting for Him, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” That’s why he suffered. But he says, “It was fitting.” Now when he says, “It was fitting,” he uses a term that is what we would call a word for obligation. There are several in the New Testament. One refers to logical obligation, or logical necessity. Another word, that word is not used here. There is another word that refers to moral necessity. And then there is this word that refers to a necessity by the nature of things. That is by the situation as it exists. That is what is meant by, “For it was fitting for him.” That is, it’s suitable to the human plight that he should suffer, and it is also suitable to the sovereignty of the Lord God.
In other words, man’s plight makes a sacrifice necessary. God’s sovereignty is the ultimate source of it. Occasionally individuals will say, regarding the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, “Well I just do not think that a blood sacrifice is worthy of God.” Now if you’ve ever been around discussions among students and among teachers in theological institutions, or in our universities in the religion department, you don’t have to go anywhere to hear this kind of objection lodged against the Christian faith and the necessity of a satisfaction in blood. That’s not the kind of thing the God I believe in would do. So, it’s not a worthy thing. Why should God demand a sacrifice? Why should he demand to be placated by a sacrifice before he forgives sin?
Now, the first thing, I think, that we need to remember about that is this. The man who says, “I would not have a high opinion of a God who would or would not do this or that,” is not telling us anything about the knowledge of God. That’s the first thing we need to remember. Just think about it for a moment, the man who says, “I wouldn’t have a high opinion of a God who would do this or that,” is not adding a single thing to our knowledge of God. What is he telling us? Well, he’s telling us something about himself. That’s what he’s telling us. He’s not telling us anything about God. He’s telling us about himself. We may be sure of this, that everything that God does is worthy of God. So the question is not whether I think that’s a worthy thing for God to do or not.
The question is, “Has he done it?” And of course, if we’re thinking about Scriptural things and we’re thinking about the Bible as the word of God, then the source of our knowledge is to be found in the word of God. So when we go to the word of God we ask, “Does the word of God say that he did it?” And if the word of God says he did it, well of course I believe, he did it, and therefore, it’s a worthy act of God. It’s an act worthy of his name. So the question then is, “Does Scripture say that he has done it? Does Scripture say that Christ has actually offered a sacrifice for sins?” And if he has offered a sacrifice for sins, a satisfaction, then, of course, it’s worthy of God. And if we accept the Scriptures as the word of God, we must believe it, and we must act upon it, and we must turn to the God who offers this sacrifice.
This question of whether God requires a sacrifice and whether it’s necessary for a satisfaction to be offered to the holiness and justice of God in order for sins to be forgiven is not something we’ve thought about in the 19th century. This is something the Christian church has discussed with unbelieving elements through the centuries because it’s the fundamental message of the word of God. As a matter of fact, when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden and God began the story of the way by which fallen men might come to the forgiveness of sins, what did he begin with? The Doctrine of Sacrifice, all through the Old Testament, the Doctrine of Sacrifice from the 3rd chapter implicitly from the 4th chapter explicitly through the rest of the Old Testament Scriptures, the necessity of sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins was over and over proclaimed by God so that when Jesus Christ came they would have been perfectly prepared for the sacrifice to remove all sacrifice.
Now in the 11th and 12th Century, there were theologians who discussed some of these things, and one of them was a theologian by the name of Anselm. He was the Archbishop of Canterbury. Anselm wrote a great book. It was called Cur Deus Homo. Strikingly, it’s still studied in our theological seminaries, if they are studying good Christian literature, and it’s studied in our philosophical departments, our philosophy departments of our colleges and universities because of the argumentative skills and the examples that one finds from Anselm’s writing. He wrote this book called Cur Deus Homo, among other works that he wrote, which means, essentially, “Why God became man,” or since the Latin expression is capable of another reading, translation, why the God man, why God became man or why the God man, and in it is an imaginary opponent whose name is Boso, not Bozo, Boso.
And at the heart of one of the discussions about the necessity of punishment, this conversation ensues. They cannot help but smile at Anselm, he’s putting these words in Boso’s mouth, but of course, they’re his thoughts. He says this, “To remit sin without satisfaction is nothing else than not to punish it, and since nothing else than punishment is the right adjustment of the sin that has not been satisfied for, if it is not punished, it’s left unadjusted.” “What you say is reasonable,” Anselm says. “But it is not becoming for God to leave anything in his kingdom unadjusted,” Boso replies. “If I wish to assert otherwise, I fear to sin,” Anselm says. “So then it does not become God to leave sin thus unpunished,” Boso says. Now he’s going over this because he’s trying to make a point, and don’t tell me we don’t need it because we do, saying the same thing over and over again. “So it follows,” Anselm replies. “And there’s another thing,” Boso says that follows, “That if sin is thus left unpunished it would be just the same with God whether one sins or does not sin, and that does not befit God,” Boso says. “I cannot deny it,” Anselm replies. “Look at this too,” Boso goes on to say, “Nobody is ignorant that the righteousness of men is under the law so that the measure of its recompense is dispensed by God according to its quantity.” “So we believe,” Anselm says. “But if sin is neither paid for nor punished it’s subject to no law,” Boso says. “I cannot understand it otherwise,” Anselm says. “Then unrighteousness if it be remitted by mere mercy is freer than righteousness, and that seems extremely unsuitable,” Boso says. “This absurdity also is attached to it that it makes unrighteousness like God in that just as God is subject to no law, so unrighteousness is not.”
Now if you just think for a moment, what has he said? Well, he’s said this; God cannot leave things unadjusted in his kingdom. When a man sins there must be some kind of adjustment. He’s also said this, if sin is left unpunished, it will be just the same with God whether one sins or one does not sin. If a man can sin and there is no judgment, then the same activity of God is directed toward him as to the one who has obeyed the Lord God. Ah, my parents sitting in the audience, that’s a lesson for you who fail to, punish your children. It’s a lesson for you who fail to discipline your children. They’re not stupid. They know. If they offend their parents and no punishment is meted, no discipline is carried out, then the kind of activity that one exercises in the presence and before his parents, makes no difference. It’s very simple. That’s why you parents, it’s necessary for you to discipline your children. It’s necessary for you to punish them. It’s only in that way that they can be taught from the beginning and prepared for the day when someone will say to them, “We are sinners. We need to be forgiven of our sins against an eternal God. Christ has offered the sacrifice by which our sins have been punished and we may be delivered.” And they’ll understand. Oh I don’t mean they’ll all understand, but their preparation for understanding is that much better. Furthermore, Boso has also pointed out, if sin is not paid for, nor punished, it’s subject to no law, and thus, the way in which we behave. It makes no difference. There’s no law against any kind of behavior. Well, I think it’s plain that Anselm has hit upon something that’s very significant for the death of Jesus Christ, a punishment, a satisfaction, is necessary.
Now let me make one thing clear because this morning after I went out of the message someone said to me, “That was deep this morning.” And I say, “Well that’s just the gospel.” Then we went on and it turned out the reason for the difficulty was a failure to understand the difference between expiation and propitiation. And I probably am at fault because I didn’t explain it. Expiation has to do with sin. Sin is expiated. Sin is paid for. That’s what it means. God is propitiated. He is satisfied. So expiation has to do with our sin. Propitiation has to do with the satisfaction of a just and holy Father in heaven. So when we say that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is the means by which we are delivered, it’s delivered because sin is expiated and the Father, in his holiness and righteousness, his law, is satisfied.
So, now let’s go on, and our text says, “For it was fitting for him.” In the nature of things, sin must be adjusted, to use Boso’s expression. The law against sin must be satisfied. The Father must be propitiated. “For whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings,” so he talks about the perfection of the Son. So by representative suffering, man in Christ has regained his destiny. The parallels of verse 10 with verse 9 are clear. In verse 10 he presents it under the figure of an army of soldiers who are marching under one leader to a promised land, and by his entrance, he secures their entrance. So it was fitting for God to prefect the author of their salvation through sufferings, the leader of their salvation.
One of the marvelous things about the word of God is the way in which the Old Testament is wedded to the New Testament. In the Old Testament the word to perfect was a word that was used to refer to the qualification of a priest for his work. They were perfected. They were required to have something in their hands to present to God. The Hebrew expression in the Old Testament male’ yaw means to fill the hands. So they had to have something to present to the Lord God. What they presented was the sacrifice that had been offered, that is the benefits of it. The satisfaction that it rendered to God and the sin that was expiated was presented, the priest performing the sacrifice. The priests of the Old Testament, when they were brought into their office, had to be consecrated for their office of making the sacrifices by which the people of God were maintained and fellowshipped with the Lord God.
Now the priest was perfected, or consecrated in his office by ritual in the Old Testament. He went through a ritual described in passages in the Book of Exodus, for example, and also the Book of Leviticus. The ritual carefully set out in typical form how a priest became a priest, how a high priest became a high priest. In the New Testament, the reality is different because Christ is consecrated as high priest, not by ritual, but by sufferings, by the sufferings which he endured. His will was perfected. His character was fashioned. His dependence was confirmed. He is morally fit to be the high priest by virtue of the experiences of suffering. In fact, as the writer of the Epistle of the Hebrews says in the 5th chapter, he learned obedience by the things which he suffered.
And then he states that, “Having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” And, of course, the climax of all of his sufferings is the suffering of the cross by which he was consecrated to the office of eternal priest after the order of Melchizedek. To make them like him, the captain of their salvation must become like them, and in his death bring them to the forgiveness of sins, to their union with him. So, by his entrance, he secures their entrance. And the marvelous thing about our Lord Jesus Christ is he is not the captain in the sense of a general who stays at head quarters and sends out messages here and there by his little flunkies to the front lines, the trenches, where the people are fighting, but the Lord Jesus Christ comes down into the experiences of humanity and carries out his saving work at the heart of the critical place of suffering.
Bodelschwingh, a German Christian man, once lost, in a plague, four of his children, I think they were four sons, all lost in the plague, was a godly believing man. He said, “I have learned how hard God can be.” And he said it in faith and submission, “How hard God can be.” The cross illustrates that on the one hand, but also how merciful as well. One can see, incidentally, how false are those conceptions of Jesus Christ which are so common. Jesus Christ is the great teacher. The cross is incompatible with the mission of the Lord Jesus as simply a teacher. There is no need for a cross. The cross is incompatible with the idea that the Lord Jesus is simply an example. The cross is incompatible with the idea that the Lord Jesus is only a prophet. The very fact that our Lord must go and suffer the pangs of eternal separation from God, my Christian friend and my non Christian friend, eternal judgment, “My God. My God. Why hast Thou forsaken me?” That blasts and destroys all theories that Christ is simply an example, or a prophet, or a moral leader, or a teacher.
Now we’ve been talking about objections to the Doctrine of Satisfaction, that is, that the Lord Jesus has offered a sacrifice in suffering effecting an expiation of sin and a propitiation of God’s justice rendering him able, consistent with his perfections, his nature, his attributes, in mercy to reconcile us. And we have, for example, tried to bring up some of the objections that modern man makes. Some of them deny that God is possessed of distributive justice and a justice that must be satisfied. Satisfaction makes God inferior to man. We forgive without any satisfaction. God has to have a satisfaction. We are freer in mercy than God is. Satisfaction assumes a seism, that’s the way you pronounce it, a seism in the trinity. In other words, the Father must be propitiated, and Christ expiates. Christ expiates sin. The Father is propitiated, so that the two seem to be working at cross purposes. The Bible doesn’t make use of the concept of punishment. It is also said. We cited some texts last week which suggest that that is totally untrue. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might become the righteousness of God in him,” “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse, having become a curse for us.”
Now let me suggest just a couple more, real quickly. Guilt or righteousness cannot be transferred. You cannot transfer our guilt to Christ, and you cannot transfer his righteousness to us. I’d like to acknowledge that I cannot transfer, and say this too, that it is true to say that states of consciousness or states of moral character cannot be transferred. That’s true. But responsibility to justice is not a state of consciousness or moral character. Responsibility to justice, there isn’t anything that suggests that that cannot be transferred. It’s no more impossible than for one man to pay the debt of another. And that’s precisely what the Bible says in Colossians chapter 2, that the transgressions are wiped out that are ours. Another objection, expiation and propitiation are heathenish ideas and revolting. My friend, our feelings are not the test of truth. Why is the idea of expiation a part of almost all the religions of men, whether pagan, Jewish or Christian? It is cherished and delighted in as the only hope of the guilty. As soon as man fell, as a mentioned, a religion for sinners was revealed by God. And the principle truth unfolded in the beginning was the necessity of sin’s punishment as a satisfaction of justice. What was the prominent addition to the worship of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Sacrifice, implied right after the fall, in God clothing them with the skins of animals, and then in the 4th chapter, explicitly, set forth, then in Book of Exodus when the law is given, all the details of it and all of the things having to do with it are beginning to be set forth, completed in the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
So, bloody sacrifice ordained by God. Prayer could only rise to heaven as the way was opened for it by the smoke of the sacrifice. The first and foremost thought of God’s mind is sacrifice. With man’s unbelieving mind, it’s the last and least, and still is today. The convicted sinner turns from it, as one of my favorite theologians says, “The convicted sinner turns from it, stolid and blind until God shines in his heart.” That’s really the problem. So, God felt it fitting to perfect the file leader, the captain, the leader of their salvation through suffering. So, the picture the author of the Epistle of the Hebrews gives us is of a great procession of individuals, the people of God, a great procession with vast numbers of people, in fact, the last book of the New Testament tells us, “So many that they could not possibly be numbered.” That’s the Calvinistic view of how many people shall be saved, incidentally, so many that they cannot be numbered. They are moving toward the Kingdom of God, as he says later in chapter 13, behind the banner of the one captain, the Lord Jesus Christ. He leads, as this author points out in chapter 12 verse 2. He must lead. We must follow. As he sets out in chapter 11 in verse 27, “We go forward as seeing him who is invisible,” and we are provided for by him along the way. Listen to verse 18 here, “For since he himself in that which he has suffered, he is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” So, he’s the cause. He’s the leader of the people of God on the way to God’s great salvation.
I had the privilege of studying under a man in Scotland, a marvelous preacher of the word. He has a marvelous account in one of his messages, in one of his published books. It’s based on Isaiah chapter 52 and verse 12, where the prophet writes, “But you will not go out in haste nor will you go as fugitives,” he’s talking about the deliverance that awaits them in the future, “For the Lord will go before you and the God of Israel will be your rear guard,” in other words, God our vanguard, God our rear guard. Now one of the things that I’ve been interested in studying the Bible is the use of the Old Testament and the New Testament, it seems plain that what he’s thinking about is the children of Israel as they left Egypt, and he’s using that as a figure, talking about the future. Because you’ll remember when the children of Israel came out of Egypt and started toward the Promised Land, they were horrified to discover after a while that the Egyptians were pursuing them. They were terrified. They couldn’t possibly stand against the Egyptians. And we read in the word of God that the Lord God under the figure of the cloud and the fire moved to the rear of the children of Israel and protected them from the Egyptians. God our vanguard, God our rear guard is what the prophet is saying. My Christian friend, that’s the way in which we are going to the Kingdom of God, to the city of God. And it’s by virtue of the sacrifice that was accomplished for us.
Some marvelous other things that are said in the sermon that my teacher gave, he mentions Alexander Whyte, who was for many years a preacher at Saint George’s in Edinburgh, he was once describing the way in which the blood hounds of temptation and remorse can sometimes haunt the soul, and Alexander Whyte said, “You may be saved, but they will pursue you up to the very gates of heaven, and leave the bloody slather of their jaws upon the golden bars.” Well with God our vanguard and God our rear guard, we needn’t even worry about them. He’s the captain of our salvation. He has been perfected, and he will bring us safely to our city of God, about which we were singing, incidentally, in one of our hymns.
Notice it’s the captain of their salvation. He didn’t die to show us how to die. He died that we might be saved. And there’s no reference to his salvation because he didn’t need any. One might ask, “What about these other words that I’ve skipped over?” Well they express the purpose that the Father had in this work. He said, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory,” many sons. God’s not satisfied in one sense with just one son. He must have other sons who are conformed to the image of him, although, he is always different. In one sense, that’s the loftiest conception of the purpose of God that you can conceive of, that we, one day, the people of God, shall be conformed to the image of the Son of God and in glory. Now that’s something to shout hallelujah about, “Bringing many sons to glory.”
Dr. Chafer used to have a series of sermons on the theme, Populating Heaven. What a marvelous theme that is, Populating Heaven. He’s bringing many sons to glory. That’s what God’s doing by virtue of the work of the captain of our salvation, glory. They are great words in the Bible. This one is a word that suggests the liberation and reintegration of the whole cosmos in the will of God. Some of those great words are Savior, whosoever, I love that word, Calvinists love that word. That’s something we preach, “Whosoever believeth in him shall be saved.” God, eternity, love, heaven, but you know the word glory seems in one sense to cover it all. “Many sons into glory,” that’s the consummation. That’s what Jacob learned when he was met by God at Bethel and told by God that God would never leave him until he had accomplished all of his purposes in him. That’s what Paul got an inkling of when he was in the third heaven and saw and heard things which it was not lawful for him to talk about. That’s what the dying thief was told when Jesus said to him, “Today thou shall be with me in paradise.”
So, is it necessary that Christ should die? Well if the saving program of God is to be brought to its fruition, it’s necessary for the Son of God to suffer and die. Let us not be misled. Let us not be put off by individuals who say, “The God that I have in my mind is not worthy as such a God as that.” That doesn’t tell us anything about God. The Scriptures tell us the things about God that are significant. So we emphasize the necessity of the satisfaction, the sacrifice and suffering effecting an expiation of our sin and a propitiation of God’s justice rendering him able, consistent with his perfections and mercy, to reconcile us to renew us to exalt us to the dignity and excellence and blessedness of the sons of God, in short, to bring us to glory. The two omitted phrases; incidentally, “For whom are all things, and through whom are all things,” mark out the Father as the final cause of everything. “For whom are all things,” reminding us of Romans 11:36, and “Through whom,” as the efficient cause of everything, the final cause, the efficient cause of everything, the initiative and the sovereignty of God combined for the salvation of, believe it or not, us, how marvelous.
If you’re here today and you’ve never believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we invite you to turn to the Scriptures to read your state, your peril, your coming judgment, the fact that you are already suffering it in measure for your perishing, and to flee to the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. May God in his marvelous grace shine into your heart so that you see yourself, and you see Christ as the answer to your need. Let’s stand for the benediction.
[Prayer] Father, who could expound the marvelous Scriptures of the word of God? So much more than these fallible human minds and lips could possibly set forth is found in Thy word. Oh God, by Thy…
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