Substitutionary Death

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

This is the work of Christ  on the cross that  removed  forever  the barrier  of SPIRITUAL DEATH  which hangs over  the head of every man who’s ever  been born.  It has not only has removed our death penalty, but it has made it possible for God to restore His life to every man who will accept it.  A brief preview:

Propitiation is towards God, satisfying His absolute righteousness and holiness.  Christ death did that for us.

Redemption is towards sin, providing payment of the sin-debt through Jesus’ blood.  As a result, man has also been set free from the slave market of sin and brought out from under Satan’s authority.  Christ death did that for us.

Substitutionary Death is towards death, through Christ dying in our place.  This is the work of Christ we want to look in depth in this lesson.


Consequences of Sin

The penalty for sin has always been death.  One of the first principles Adam and Eve ever learned from God was that in the day they ate of the forbidden fruit, they would die.  Gen 2:17 They didn’t fully understand that death meant a spiritual separation from God.  Then on that sad day Adam and Eve stood over the lifeless body of their dead son Able, they were all too aware for what it meant to die physically.  The final aspect of death is still future and is called the second death or eternal death.  This will be the final eternal state of all who die on this earth without ever having their spiritual lives restored.  This is not a state of eternal unconsciousness, but rather one of very real torment and remorse forever and ever.  Rev 20:14, Matt 8:12, Luke 16:19-31.


The Pattern of Sacrifice

In each layer of civilization which the archaeologists’ spades uncovered there have been evidence of sacrifice made to God.  As such, it is understandable as to why every stage of human history has its record of animal and human sacrifices.  Its because there was an original prototype at the very beginning of human history from which all the other patterns developed and that is none other than the incident at the garden of Eden.  The account of animal sacrifice found in the OT in the book of Genesis occurred long before God gave the command to Moses to institute a system of worship which included animal sacrifices.  The first time an innocent animal had to die because of man’s sin was when God killed one in the Garden to provide a covering for Adam and Eve’s nakedness.

So the necessity of seeking God’s forgiveness and redemption from sins through the sacrifice of an innocent substitute was a familiar practice from the very beginning of man’s history which was instituted by God Himself. 


One Lamb For One Man

God initially authorized the slaying of one animal to atone for the sins of one man.  This is the picture for us in the story of Adam’s son, Abel’s sacrifice.  His brother, Cain, brought an offering of fruit which God rejected.


One Lamb For One Family

In the story of the Passover experience of the Hebrews in Egypt, we see that God ordained that one  lamb  could  suffice  as a sacrifice for one family Exo 12:3-14.  In order to spare the Hebrews the death of their first born, God made the provision that they could kill a lamb and eat the meat while sprinkling its blood over the doorpost.


One Lamb For One Nation

After the Jews left their servitude in Egypt and were on their way to the promised land, God met Moses on Mt. Sinai and gave him the ten commandments and many other laws by which the people were to regulate their lives and their worship.  Principally Moses was commanded to construct a portable building which was used in their worship and sacrificing to God which was called the ‘tabernacle.’  The blood of one sacrificial lamb could atone for the sins of the whole nation of Israel from year to year. 


One Lamb For The World 

Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, was the first person to call Jesus by the name ‘the Lamb of God,’  Now, where did John get that mental picture of Jesus as a Lamb, taking away the sins of the world?  No doubt, in his knowledge of the OT scripture and his experience with animal sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem, he had come to realize that the continual shedding of the blood of substitutionary animals did not take away the sins or the guilt they produce.  He must have sensed that God had made some other provision for forgiveness and cleansing.  I am sure also that God must have supernaturally revealed to him that here was the One who would be that permanent provision for sin.

Throughout John’s ministry, he convincingly sets forth the fact that Jesus was the permanent sacrifice that God had provided to be our substitutionary death.


God’s Ultimate Lamb

There is little more that can be said to amplify this vivid picture of Jesus’ substitutionary death on our behalf.  The only thing to add is that in becoming a Lamb for the world’s sins, Jesus fulfilled the need for one lamb for one man, one lamb for a family and one lamb for a nation.  It was no mere coincidence that by His baptism, He took upon the sins of humanity and through His crucifixion, He became our sacrificial Lamb.  He was destined by God to be the world’s Passover Lamb whose blood, when applied to the door post of our hearts, would cause God to pass over us in judgment.


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