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The Manifold Wisdom of God”
The Wisdom of God Displayed in Substitution
2 Corinthians 5:21
God’s wisdom is revealed in his determination to accomplish redemption by substitution. Having chosen Christ to be our Redeemer, the Lord God contrived the way in which he would accomplish redemption. And the way he devised, indeed, the only way in which he could accomplish redemption is substitution. The Son of God was made to be, and voluntarily became our Representative, Surety, and Substitute for the accomplishment of redemption (Romans 3:24-26; Hebrews 7:22; Genesis 43:8-9). Before the world began, God’s own dear Son became our Substitute. He stood in our room and stead. And God determined that his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, must have the sins of his people made his, that he must take our guilt upon himself, and that he must suffer the utter extremity of the law’s penalty to the full satisfaction of justice in the room and stead of his people.
Not only did God determine to make Christ our Substitute, he looked upon him from eternity as the Substitute slain for the salvation of his people, and looked upon us as sinners redeemed by the precious blood of his dear Son (Romans 8:29-30). —— Wondrous grace! — “The works were finished from the foundation of the world!”
The glorious incarnation of Christ as our Substitute reveals the manifold wisdom of God wondrously (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Philippians 2:5-8; 2 Corinthians 8:9). No mind, but the infinite mind of the infinite God could conceive and accomplish such a thing as this. ¾ The great, eternal, incomprehensible God assumed our nature and came into this world! — “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us!” God the Son became the Son of Man! God became one of us! — He who is the eternal Jehovah became Jehovah’s Servant. — The infinite, omnipotent God became a finite, feeble man. — He who is the eternal Spirit was born of a woman. — The immortal God became flesh and blood. — God who is independent, self-sufficient, and all sufficient, stood in need of food, clothing, and shelter. — God who owns all things became a man who owned nothing. — He who upholds all things by the word of his power lived upon the charity of men. — God who knows all things, as a man, had to learn how to walk, talk, read, and write (2 Corinthians 8:9). — He who wrote the law and gave it to Moses in the Mount became subject to the law, and performed obedience to the law as a Man. — The holy Son of God came under the obligation and sentence of the law as a guilty sinner when he was made sin for us. — He who is life was made to die. — God who is infinitely, immutably, unchangeably happy was made to suffer sorrow, pain, torment, and death. — He who is the object of God’s perfect love became the object of God’s unmitigated wrath. — The great sovereign of heaven and earth became a worm (Psalm 22:6). — The eternal God died as our Substitute!
No man can even grasp the reality of the incarnation, much less understand it. But God, in infinite wisdom, purposed it before the world was made and brought it to pass for the accomplishment of our redemption (Galatians 4:4-6).
The life of our Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ, in this world reveals the manifold wisdom of God. If this gospel that I preach to you were the invention of men, the Savior would have been born in a palace, raised in royalty, trained with dignity, surrounded by riches, and presented with all the pageantry of one of the devil’s popes. But this thing is not of man. This is God’s work. When God’s Son came into the world to redeem man, he was born in a stable, raised in poverty, and lived in obscurity. When he came to announce his Messiahship and the inauguration of his kingdom, he rode into Jerusalem upon an ass’s colt. He died as a common malefactor. And he was buried in a borrowed tomb.
But what is the purpose, meaning, and significance of Christ’s earthly life? The Lord Jesus lived in this world in perfect submission and faith toward God as a man (Hebrews 2:10-11, 17-18). Our Savior endured all the trials, temptations, and sorrows of manhood in this world, so that he might be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows all the emotions of manhood. The only difference between him and us is that he knew no sin. He is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. He lived in this world. He lived by faith in God. He lived in submission to our Father’s will.
This he did as our Substitute. Our Savior lived a life of representative obedience to God for his elect (Romans 5:19). By his obedience he worked out and brought in a perfect righteousness for us. Under more severe temptations and conflicts than any of us can ever know (In the wilderness ¾ In Gethsemane ¾ On the cross) our Mediator was perfectly obedient. He fulfilled and obeyed the ceremonial law. He fulfilled and obeyed the moral law. He even submitted to and obeyed the civil laws of human governments.
The sacrificial, sin-atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ is a display of the manifold wisdom of God (Galatians 1:3-5). This is the means, the only means, the only possible means, by which the great and holy God could redeem, justify, and save guilty sinners. Nothing but divine wisdom could have devised such a plan. When it was announced in heaven, the angels must have been paralyzed with astonishment. Nothing in all the world is more astonishing and wonderful.
Christ who is God blessed forever, infinitely and essentially happy, endured the greatest sorrow, suffering, and agony of the universe. The supreme Lord and Judge of the world was arrested, tried, and condemned by maggots. He who is the living God and the Fountain of life was put to death. The Creator of the world was crucified by his own creatures. The God of glory was beaten, spit upon, and mocked by vile men. He, who is infinite good, died by indescribable cruelty. The King of heaven was buried in the earth. And this ignominious death was the means of Christ’s greatest honor and glory, for by his death he both glorified God and saved his people.
Be sure you understand what happened at Calvary. — The Lord Jesus Christ died by his own voluntary will — sovereignly (John 10:17-18). — Our Savior died as the Substitute for his people (Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 10:11, 15). — The Son of God died under the penalty of sin for the satisfaction of divine justice (Isaiah 53:9-10). — Our Redeemer effectually accomplished redemption for his people when he died (Hebrews 9:12). By his death at Calvary, justice was satisfied, sin was put away, and salvation was purchased and obtained for God’s elect!! The blood of Christ left nothing to chance. When he cried, “It is finished,” all the hosts of God’s elect were forever redeemed, justified, and sanctified!