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Sermon #25 — 1st John Series
Title: “He laid down his life for us!”
Text: 1 John 3:16
Subject: The Death of Christ for His People
Readings: Mark Henson and Rex Bartley
Tape# 1st John 25
At this time of the year all minds are rightly, joyfully focused upon the incarnation of the Son of God and the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hark the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
I am thankful that at least once every year every man, woman, and child in the civilized world is compelled to face the fact that “God was manifest in the flesh,” that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” I am delighted that at this season of the year men, women, and children (for the most part) are filled with cheer and busy themselves buying gifts, sending cards, and doing things to make others happy.
Christmas is a wonderful season of the year. How very thankful we ought to be for Christ’s entrance into the world! How thankful we should be for anything that causes us to think of and remember that…
“When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)
· It was by his life of obedience to God as a man that our Savior worked out, accomplished, and brought in “everlasting righteousness” for us.
· Our Savior’s obedience in life was just as necessary to our everlasting salvation by him as his obedience in death.
· Living here as a man, God in our flesh, our dear Savior learned obedience by the things he suffered and is now (as our Great High Priest in Heaven) “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” and is “able to succour them that are tempted!”
I am thankful for this season of the year, when everyone is compelled to remember the birth and life of our blessed Savior; but let me tell you something that might surprise you. — The Word of God never tells us to remember his birth or his life. The Scriptures tell us to remember our Savior’s death.
· Baptism confesses his death.
· The Lord’s Supper remembers his death!
· Without his death his incarnation means nothing!
· Without his death his life means nothing!
· Without his death he means nothing!
1st John 3:16
With that as the background I want you to open your Bibles with me to 1st John 3:16.
“Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16)
“He laid down his life for us!” — That is my text and that is my subject. — “He laid down his life for us!” What majestic simplicity! Seven, simple, one syllable words! Yet, in those seven words the most profound wonder of history is declared and the greatest mystery of heaven is revealed. Sublime ideas are easily stated in simple words. It takes big words to express little thoughts.
· Papists have nothing to say, so they say it in Latin.
· Religious philosophers have so little to say that they have to say it with great swelling words of man’s wisdom.
· God’s servants have something wonderful to say, the most wonderful thing ever spoken by mortal tongue, so they say it with determined simplicity — “He laid down his life for us!”
The apostle Paul expressed great concern for the saints at Corinth, fearing that Satan might corrupt them from “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). How plain, how clear, how simple the truth of God is! The polished tongue of the orator impresses men, but it dulls the light of truth. The gospel is revealed in plain words and is to be preached in plain words.
· “Christ died for the ungodly!”
· “By grace are ye saved through faith!”
· “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!”
· “He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him!”
· “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
· “He laid down his life for us!”
Let’s look at this wonderful declaration of mercy, love, and grace together for a few minutes. — “He laid down his life for us!” What can I do with such a statement? If I would speak of it profitably to your souls, let me simply fall before God my Savior in adoration, let me fall prostrate before the Throne of Grace and worship. And when I am done, let me remain prostrate in humility, gratitude, and praise to God my Savior who loved me and gave himself for me. — “He laid down his life for us!”
Proposition: “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us.”
O my brother, my dear sister, try to enter into this, try to get some appreciation of this, ask God the Holy Spirit to write it upon your heart and mine. — “He laid down his life for us!”
Divisions: Let me show you four things from this wonderful revelation of the love of God. — “He laid down his life for us!”
1. Did he lay down his life for us? — Then how great God our Savior must be!
2. Did he lay down his life for us? — Then how horribly evil our sins must be!
3. Did he lay down his life for us? — Then how great his love for us must be!
4. Did he lay down his life for us? — Then how utterly safe we must be!
1st — Did the Son of God lay down his life for us? — Then how great God our Savior must be! Thousands upon thousands of humans have been sacrificed to the gods of men; but never did man imagine a God who would sacrifice himself for men! Yet, this is God our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. — “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us!” What a great God, what a great Savior he must be!
Who is it that has laid down his life? My friends; there is no understanding of the death of Christ or that which was accomplished by his death until we know something about the person of Christ. We are not going to be able to understand the sufficiency of his death. We are not going to be able to understand what was accomplished by his death, unless we understand something about the person who died. — Learn who die at Calvary and the question, “For who did Christ die?” becomes completely redundant. If he who died in God in human flesh then all for whom he died are redeemed and saved by his sin-atoning death! — “He shall not fail!”
The efficacy and the value of the death of Christ depend totally on who Christ is. — “He laid down His life for us.” That is where the greatest emphasis is. — “He laid down his life for us.”
If I told you that God died for us on the cross of Calvary, there is some truth in that. There is an element of truth in that “for God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.” But if I were to tell you that God died for us, you wouldn’t understand what I was talking about and you couldn’t believe it or rejoice in it, simply because God cannot die.
God cannot lie and God cannot die. God cannot change. God cannot do wrong. God is life and in him there is no death and no darkness. If I told you today, “He laid down his life for us,” and said that he is God and God alone, you would have no cause to rejoice because you would come right back and say, “Preacher; God can’t die; God is life.” And you’d be right.
Suppose I told you that a man died for us. A man named “Jesus of Nazareth” died on the cross for us. You might admire his kindness, you might appreciate his love, and you might have great respect for him, but you still couldn’t rejoice. You couldn’t give thanks because a man’s death would never satisfy the holy law of God. A man’s death could never satisfy the justice of God. If all the men in the whole world died, it still wouldn’t satisfy the infinite holiness and justice of God. Are you with me? — “He laid down his life for us.” Who is this “He” who laid down his life for us?
Well, we can’t just say that he is God though he is. We can’t just say that he is man, though he is. We can say this: — He is the God-man. You see; Jesus Christ who was born of Mary and who lived on this earth for 33½ years and died on that cross is no mere man. He is indeed a man but he is more, infinitely more: — He is the God-man, the God who became a man, the Man who is God! This is the very foundation of our faith. This is the very foundation of our joy. And this is the foundation of our hope. — God became a man. That is what he announced in Genesis 3:15. There the Lord God promised that the woman’s Seed would crush the serpent’s head! Christ is that One who is the woman’s Seed. The serpent is Satan who used the serpent. His head is his government, power, and authority. No man is the seed of woman. A woman does not have a seed. We are all the seed of man because we are naturally born. — Jesus Christ is the “Seed of woman.”
(Isaiah 7:14) “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
(Isaiah 9:6-7) “6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of [his] government and peace [there shall be] no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
(John 1:1-3) “1 ¶ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
(John 1:14) “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
(Hebrews 1:1-3) “1 ¶ God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Jesus Christ is God, God in human flesh. Read Matthew 1:18-23. That Holy Thing conceived in Mary’s virgin womb by the overshadowing power of God the Holy Ghost is the Son of God in human flesh!
“18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:18-23)
You see, God was in Christ. He is the God-man. This is what the Scripture teaches. Man cannot satisfy anything that God requires. Man cannot satisfy. God can’t suffer. Man cannot satisfy but man can suffer. God cannot suffer but God can satisfy. So, Jesus Christ became the God-man, a perfect God, very God of very God, and the perfect man, able to suffer and satisfy.
No one knows the infinite worth and merit of Christ, of his obedience and blood. But this we do know: — He who is God and man in one glorious person is an omnipotently efficacious Redeemer and Savior!
Do you see how clear that is? — “He laid down His life for us. Who is it that condemneth, it is Christ that died, yea, rather, is risen again who is even at the right hand of God who also makes intercession for us.” That is plain isn’t it? I’m talking about the God-man, Jesus, the Christ! — “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God!”
(1 John 4:1-3) “1 ¶ Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
2nd — Did he lay down his life for us? — Then how great, how horrible great, how very evil our sins must be! Oh, how indescribably evil sin must be if it cannot be forgiven but by the blood of Christ, if it cannot be washed away but by the blood of the God-man, if it cannot be blotted out but by the blood of a man who is God, if it cannot be removed but by the death-blood of Immanuel!
What does the holy Lord God think of sin? It is something which must not be looked upon lightly. It is infinitely hateful to God, calling for condemnation and wrath. Sin calls for death and hell. There is nothing light or trivial about it. Sin is not something to be joked about, or looked upon carelessly, or forgotten. It calls for special marks of wrath. It is the abominable thing which God hates. Its beginning is wrath and death. Its end is hell. The Lord God would have us view sin as he views it. What do you think of sin? What is your opinion sin? What is mine?
Sin is an infinitely evil thing. Sin is an attack upon the very throne of God. It is an offense against God’s holiness, the transgression of God’s law, and the rebellion of the heart against God’s sovereignty. Sin is the monstrous attempt of depraved man to rape God and rob him of his dignity and glory as God! Sin is man’s denial of God’s right to be God! Sin deserves the infinite fury of God’s holy wrath!
How does God deal with sin? He does not sweep it under the rug and forget it. He deals with it as a Judge. He estimates it as a Judge. He condemns it as a Judge. He inflicts punishment upon it as a Judge, punishment that must be executed either on the sinner personally or on the sinner’s Substitute. Condemnation must be proclaimed. The penalty must be executed,
He condemns sin. He gave the law to condemn sin. He set up the cross to condemn it more. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The wages of sin is death.
He provides a Sin-bearer. He does not leave us to do this; but does it himself. He not only appoints the sin-offering, but he provides the victim. His Son, the Word made flesh, — He is the appointed Sin-bearer, divine and human, perfect in all respects, sufficient for the great undertaking, able to bear wrath without being consumed.
He transfers the guilt. The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. The chastisement of our peace was on him. He whose right it is to retain or transfer the guilt transfers it to a Substitute.
Thus, he has accomplished atonement. His appointed High Priest has made the atonement. This atonement is now a past fact. It is done. The Sin-offering has been brought. The blood has been shed. The propitiation has been made. God has done it all, without man’s help, or desire, or cooperation! Nothing more is needed. No more blood, no more fire, no more endurance of wrath. It is all done! Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. Mercy is now free to flow out to poor sinners like you and me.
It takes the work of God the Holy Spirit in the heart to make us begin to understand the sinfulness of sin.
· There is a law conviction that stirs up fear. — “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. … For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Romans 7:7, 9)
· There is a conviction that arises from a sense of God’s majesty. — Astounded at the majesty of our Savior, the Apostle Peter fell on his knees and cried, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8)
· There is a conviction that works repentance and faith, a conviction that comes by the revelation of Christ’s saving accomplish-ments. This is the work of God the Holy Spirit in our hearts (Isaiah 6:1-8; John 16:7-11).
(Isaiah 6:1-8) “1 ¶ In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”
“5 ¶ Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, [which] he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid [it] upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here [am] I; send me.”
(John 16:7-11) “7 ¶ Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”
How great, how evil a thing sin must be!
· All the sacrifices of the law could not put it away!
· No human work can put it away!
· No religious ceremony can put it away!
· Only the precious blood of Christ can put away sin! — “Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself!”
My sin, oh the bliss of that glorious thought,
My sin not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, oh my soul!
· How great God our Savior must be!
· How great our sin must be!
3rd — Did he lay down his life for us? — Then how great, how infinitely, how indescribably great his love for us must be! “Greater love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends. But God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ didn’t die for his friends. He died for his enemies. — “Christ died for the ungodly.”
Election — When I think of the love of God in choosing us (for he chose us from all eternity and made us a part of that Everlasting Covenant), I am amazed. Our Lord said, “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” I am amazed that God should choose you, and much more amazed that he should choose me; but he did. Our Savior said, “Ye have not chosen me; but I have chosen you.”
Predestination — When I think of God’s love that “predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his Son,” I am amazed. Paul wrote in Ephesians, “In love he predestinated us to the adoption of children according to the good pleasures of his own will.” Peter said God has given us “an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away.” I am amazed at his love.
Providence — When I think of his love of purpose and providence that protected us and hedged us about, fed us, clothed us, called us, kept us, and met every need for us “according to his riches in glory through Christ Jesus,” that love by which God took care of his own throughout the days of time unto the day of our calling (Jude 1), I am amazed. Then, he called us by his grace. I am amazed. Why should He love me so?
“And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who His pain,
for me who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be?
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
Heavenly Glory — When I contemplate what awaits a us in glory, what awaits every believer in glory in the presence of God Almighty, I am amazed, amazed at the love of God for us.
Redemption — But when I think of redemption, of blood atonement, when I think on this: — “He laid down his life for us!” — I am overwhelmed by his love, utterly overwhelmed when I see the Son of God in human flesh, numbered with the transgressors. He became one with us, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. He took on himself the “likeness of sinful flesh.” Then, he who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him!
Before the court of Heaven, he was made sin for us. That is exactly right! — “He bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” He took our sins in himself. When I consider that our Lord Jesus Christ actually took our sins in his body on the tree and endured not only the wrath of hell, the wrath of men, and the wrath of governments, but the wrath of heaven, that is the love of God. He cried; — “My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?”
When I think of that, that he was forsaken of God, I say; that is the love of God. — “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us!” That is where the love of God is seen more than any other place. It is not in the everlasting Covenant, although it is there. It is not in his preserving, providential care, although it is there. It is not even in his calling to faith; although it is there.
But, when I see Him suffering on the cross, bearing our sins in his body as our sin-offering, sacrifice, and as our Substitute, I say; there is the love of God.
“Oh, love of God, how rich, how pure
How measureless, how strong.
It shall forevermore endure
The saint’s and angel’s songs.
Could we with ink the oceans fill
And where the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade.
To write the love of God above
Would drain that oceans dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky!”
Yes, he laid aside his crown of glory and wore a crown of thorns. He laid aside his robe of brightness and took a robe of flesh. He laid aside his scepter to hold the mocking reed. He laid aside all of his glory in Heaven that he might bear our sins. He thirsted that I might drink the water of life. He died that I might live. That is love!
4th — Did the Lord of Glory lay down his life for us? Did the Son of God lay down his life for us? Did the Lord Jesus Christ die for us? — Then how very great our safety and security must be in him!
(Romans 8:1-4) “1 ¶ [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
(Romans 8:32-39) “32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? —— 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? [It is] God that justifieth. —— 34 Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In his life, I have perfect holiness. In his death I have perfect justification. Not even a devil or an angel or the Father himself can lay one thing to the charge of one for whom Christ died. If He died for us, how safe we must be, how secure we must be!
“Under the blood of Jesus
Safe in the Shepherd’s fold,
Under the blood of Jesus,
Safe while the ages roll.
Safe, though the world may crumble,
Safe, though the stars grow dim,
Under the blood of Jesus,
I am secure in Him.”
Illustration: — “It’s good to come here and know that everything’s under the blood.”
— Harold Martin
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