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“Be surety for thy servant for good.” (Psalm 119:122)
The Lord Jesus Christ, our great, all-glorious Surety, died for and redeemed those for whom he assumed all responsibility as a surety in the covenant of grace before the world began.
Though very few in this reprobate age understand it, this is as blessed a truth of the gospel as it is vital. Our great Savior’s sacrificial work as our sin-atoning sacrifice as our great High Priest was made for those for whom he undertook to be a Surety in the covenant of grace before the world began. Those for whom Christ died, those who have been redeemed by his blood are the people for whom he became a covenant Surety.
A Covenant Surety
He is the Surety of the better testament, the covenant of grace (Hebrews 7:22). He became a Surety for those, and for none other than those, who were interested in that covenant. In that great covenant the Son of God engaged himself to be our Surety and Redeemer.
This is very important. It is Christ's suretyship which is the ground and foundation of redemption. This is the reason why our sins, and the punishment of our sins were laid upon him, the reason why he bore and endured the wrath of God for our sins, and paid all our debts as his people, and the reason why he redeemed us out of the hands of divine justice. The Son of God pledged himself to God the Father as a Surety, and laid himself under obligation to do all these things for us. He became totally responsible for his elect in all matters! But he was not obliged to pay the debts of those for whom he did not become a Surety, or to suffer and die in their room and stead.
John Gill wrote, “Christ's suretyship and redemption are of equal extent, and reach to the same objects; they are the Lord’s Benjamins, the sons of his right hand, his beloved sons, that Christ, the antitype of Judah, became a Surety for, and laid himself under obligation to bring them safe to glory, and present them to his divine Father.”
An Absolute Surety
When we think of a surety, we usually think of a mere guarantor, one who co-signs a mortgage or a bank loan. If the original debtor fails to pay the note for any reason, both he and the co-signer are responsible for the debt and all the interest accumulated by it. What the lending institution cannot collect from one party it will attempt to collect from the other.
That is not the kind of Surety Christ is. Our most glorious Christ is an absolute Surety. When he struck hands with the Father as our Surety, he voluntarily became totally responsible for all the debts and obligations of all his people, forever!
This is one place where I love and seek to promote shifted responsibility. All the responsibilities of God’s elect were shifted from us to our Surety. As such, as our covenant Surety, the Lord Jesus Christ promised to fulfill all
righteousness for us, satisfy divine justice for us, give us a new (holy) nature by his Spirit, preserve us unto the end, raise us up at the last day and present us in eternity before his Father’s throne holy, unblameable, and unreproveable. Upon this pledge to redeem and save his people, the Father trusted his Son as the Surety of his people and placed them in his hands (Ephesians 1:12; John 6:38-39). And upon the revelation of him in our hearts by the gospel, being chosen, redeemed by grace, we trust Christ as our Surety before God (Ephesians 1:13). If you can trust him, Christ is your Surety, too! God help you, now, to trust him, for Christ’s sake.
“Shout, believer, to thy God! He hath once the wine-press trod;
Peace procured by blood divine; cancelled all thy sins and mine.
Here thy bleeding wounds are healed, sin condemned and pardon sealed;
Grace her empire still maintains; love without a rival reigns.
In thy Surety thou art free; His dear hands were pierced for thee;
With His spotless garment on, holy as the Holy One!
Oh, the heights and depths of grace! Shining with meridian blaze!
Here the sacred records show sinners black, but comely too.”