God's End Game - Part 24

Series: God's End Game

May 05, 2019
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

We are in the middle of the middle of our efforts to discover God’s end game. What is going to happen to us and the world when God closes the curtain on this life and carries things over to the next?

We started at the beginning in Genesis, because to figure out where we’re going we have to figure out where we started. We started with everything being good. But after Adam and Eve rebelled against their loving father, things went bad, very bad after that.

All of history, all that’s recorded in the Bible, is a record of God’s end game plan for setting things to rights.

God’s end game plan revolves around Jesus and has three telescoping parts, one flowing from the other.

It begins with the INCARNATION. Which we looked at. Jesus is God with us in the flesh, both 100% God and 100% man.

It climaxes with the CRUCIFIXION. Which we are unpacking now.

It carries on with the RESURRECTION.

In regards to the crucifixion, we have focused on…

What did it do?

I borrowed something from a theology book to aid in our quest to answer that question…

Jesus’s death by crucifixion was a divinely ordained historical event by which he lovingly accomplished atonement, purchased Christians’ freedom from sin’s bondage, won their justification before the Father, and triumphed over Satan’s tyranny.

We are picking apart that statement. Last week we covered how the crucifixion was about Jesus lovingly accomplishing atonement.

I fretted all week about that message. I went back over it and realized I didn’t even come close to conveying the truth and wonder of the atonement.

But in the interest of moving forward and staying on track with the big picture, I’m going to let that go for now. Maybe at the very least, we got a taste.

In the atonement, our sins were covered and we were made clean, acceptable to God. The enmity between us was settled; we were reconciled to God.

This morning let’s try to figure out how Jesus’ crucifixion…

purchased Christians’ freedom from sin’s bondage

To do that, look with me at Matthew chapter 20…

Matthew 20:20–28 (ESV) — 20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Zoom in on verse 28…

28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

What’s unique about that last verse is that in explaining how rule, authority, and honor work in God’s economy, Jesus actually tells us himself what the crucifixion does. Jesus tells us what his going to the cross will accomplish: it will provide a ransom for many, the many being those who would come to God through him.

When we think of a ransom, we think of a kidnapper demanding money. Although that’s somewhere in the ballpark, the ransom he’s talking about has deep ties with the OT where in general it means to buy back a person, land, or animal. A person pays a price to buy back someone or something.

Ransom is more or less synonymous with redeem. It refers to delivering someone or something from a situation. Particularly in the OT a slave could be redeemed or ransomed for a price.

The ultimate example in the OT of redemption was God’s delivering his people from the bondage of slavery in Egypt through the Passover.

So Jesus came to set those in bondage free by paying their ransom. What did he mean by that? That’s a question many have wrangled with over the years.

Some have approached it metaphorically in the sense that Jesus came to redeem us from all forms of oppression: poverty, racism, injustice, sexism, and the like. Certainly, Jesus is against those things, but is that what he really came to ransom us from?

The answer is no. Those things are evil, a result of this fallen world that God will ultimately redeem, but that’s not what Jesus intended when he said he came to give his life as a ransom.

He was referring to delivering from something much worse. Something much more pervasive and universal. Something mankind doesn’t want to believe or admit: sin.

There it is again. You talked about sin with the atonement! Why won’t you let that go? I’m tired of the subject of sin. Let’s back off that old fashioned way of thinking.

When I was a young pastor I had a mentor named Al Jackson. He took a church from turmoil to great heights by standing on what Jesus said about himself: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

One day a major church in town got a new pastor. He believed all paths led to God and promoted from the pulpit the idea that Buddhist and Muslims and other faiths are valid in God’s eyes. Everybody’s okay in the end.

He invited him to lunch one day and asked him point blank: But what do you do with sin? He had no answer.

Talking about sin isn’t old fashioned, it’s biblical.  Jesus talked about it.

This very subject came up early one morning when Jesus came to the temple in Jerusalem to teach. It’s in John chapter 8, which begins with the story of the woman caught in adultery.

After saving that poor woman’s life, Jesus started telling the Jews about how he was the light of the world and how they would die in their sins if they didn’t believe in him.

Let’s pick up in verse 30 where surprisingly John records that…

John 8:30–36 (ESV) — 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him. 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

At first, we might think the Jews were just plain old ignorant. They were right about being the biological descendants of Abraham but they’ve never been enslaved to anyone? Really? Did they forget their history?

Not only were they enslaved to Egypt, but they were also taken away into exile by other nations like Assyria and Babylonia.

There’s no way they, as a people, would have forgotten about that. One commentator explains…

The statement of the Jews concerning never having been in bondage was obviously not a mere political evaluation of their history. It was instead a religious statement rooted in their conviction that they were the spiritual children of God and were of the “descendants” of Abraham. … the Pharisees did not regard political liberty as the test of freedom. Being sons of God, a holy people, God’s possession… was for them the test of being free. So being circumcised, according to the rabbinic view, was the guarantee of escaping the bonds of [hell] just as the people of Israel earlier escaped the bondage of Egypt … Or as [a] famed Rabbi… reportedly stated concerning the Israelites, even the poor could be proud that they were “sons of kings” because they were sons of the [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob].

Our heritage, our bloodline, our status as God’s chosen race makes us free spiritually. We don’t need to be set free. They assumed.

That’s where they were wrong. Jesus, knowing their hearts and that their belief was only skin deep, revealed their true situation…

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.

In other words, your actions don’t bear you out. If you were really God’s people, if you were really right with him, your behavior would be different. You wouldn’t be sinless, of course, but you wouldn’t be practicing it.

Yes, they looked pretty good on the outside, but it was the inside that showed their true colors.

Jesus turned the Pharisees and Sadducees and other religious leaders on their ears by demonstrating that even though they had kept the law with their hands, they had not in their hearts. He stunned them all by saying in…

Matthew 5:20 (ESV) — 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

..then went on to explain how anger was murder of the heart and lust was adultery of the heart. He showed them how they were guilty, no better than the Gentiles or anyone else. Those who practice sin, whether sins of the hands or the heart or the mind, are enslaved to it.

NT Wrights comments…

[There is a worse slavery than that which they had suffered in Egypt, or the semi-slavery they were suffering under the rule of Rome. It is the slavery that grips not only individuals but also groups, nations and families of nations. It is the slavery we know as ‘sin’.

The trouble with saying that out loud is that many people in the Western world are bored of hearing about sin. They think it just means offences against someone else’s old-fashioned morality, often in matters to do with sex. But that’s far too small-minded a view. Sexual sins matter, of course; they matter very much. They can destroy a person, a marriage, a family, a community. But there is more to sin than sex, and sin as a whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. When people rebel against God in whatever way, new fields of force are called into being, a cumulative effect builds up, and individuals and societies alike become enslaved just as surely as if every single one of them wore chains and was hounded to work every day by a strong man with a whip.]

They were slaves to sin and didn’t know it! They were in bondage to the devil and had no idea. Their only hope was to be ransomed, redeemed. Jesus had come to give his life as a ransom for many. That’s why...

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The oppression and cruelty of poverty, racism, sexism, injustice, and things like them are real and terrible (and the gospel actually defeats them!), but there is an oppression far worse, one that affects the rich and poor alike, the slave and free. It affects every race, every gender, every nationality.

Paul made it clear…

Romans 3:23 (ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

What was true for those Jews is true for us: we all are slaves of sin. We all are in bondage and we need to be ransomed. Redeemed. Jesus came to pay our ransom. The apostle Peter wondered at this…

1 Peter 1:13–19 (ESV) — 13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

The Apostle Paul challenged pastor Titus to never stop preaching this…

Titus 2:11–15 (ESV) — 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Paul also taught the Christians at Galatia...

Galatians 4:3–5 (ESV) — 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Verse 5 takes us back to our text in John…

John 8:34-35 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.

Let me ask you a question: would you rather be a slave in a household or a son or daughter? That’s a no-brainer. A slave has no inheritance. A slave has no standing.

One pastor says…

[This is a profound thought, and this is very critical. What Jesus Christ is saying is some people are anxious because they live in the house like a slave. A slave never knows when he is going to be cast out. A slave doesn’t really feel like he’s into the power, but a son knows he belongs.

Freedom comes through Christ because in Christ, you know you belong. In Christ, you know you’re one of God’s children.]

Conclusion: The crucifixion was a divinely ordained event where Jesus lovingly accomplished our atonement: our sins have been covered; we have been made clean; the war between us and God has ended; we have been reconciled.

It was also the means by which our freedom from sin’s bondage was purchased. Our sins were so bad and our enslavement to them so deep, it took the blood of Jesus as payment to free us. We were freed from slavery and adopted into God’s house as sons and daughters.

This isn’t automatic. If anyone were going to get God’s grace and forgiveness automatically, it would be the Jews. You must come to God through Jesus by faith and repentance.

Are you a slave to sin and don’t realize it? Are you comparing yourself to others, assuming God will send the really bad ones to hell and spare those who were mostly good?

If that’s the way it works, why did Jesus die on the cross?

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