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An Effective Atonement

Born to Die  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Joy to the World
Welcome (Sam Garcia)
Scripture Reading (John 19:28-30)
Prayer of Praise (Christ our Joy), Sarah Jordan
Holy, Holy, Holy
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Prayer of Confession (Discontentment), Jim Lewis
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
PBC Catechism #50
What is our responsibility as missionaries?
With God’s help we pledge to seek the salvation of our families, friends, and acquaintances. We further pledge to labor in love towards our neighbors and the nations, pursuing them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pastoral Prayer (Mike Lindell)
SERMON
Peter and Kate McAllister had likely been planning this vacation for months. Not only were they traveling to Paris to celebrate Christmas, not only were they bringing their relatively large family of seven, but they had invited Peter’s brother Frank and his family of seven. And tagging along was their niece Heather.
So as Heather put it after they loaded up that fateful morning, there was “five boys, six girls, four parents, two drivers, . . . and a partridge in a pear tree.” [1]
But that trip to Paris took more than advance planning. Peter McAllister paid a hefty price to make it happen. One article estimates that the cost for 11 coach and 4 first-class non-stop plane tickets from Chicago to Paris at Christmastime in 1990 was more than $35,000. [2]
But regardless of how much they paid and planned, Peter and Kate couldn’t guarantee the results of their Christmas vacation. Before their plane touched down in Paris, they realized they had left their youngest son, Kevin, home alone. Because you can make plans and pay the price, but you can’t guarantee the results.
We know that’s true, don’t we?
How many times have your best laid plans been interrupted by providence?
How many times have you paid for something that didn’t deliver on it’s promises?
How many times have we been reminded that making plans and paying the price isn’t enough to guarantee good results?
Is that true for God?
This Christmas we’re exploring what Christmas says about the atonement, the good news that Jesus was born to die to save His people.
Last week learned how God planned the atonement before the foundation of the world, when God chose to save some by His grace, for our good, and for His glory.
Of course the price God paid to save His people was the death of His own Son.
When God makes a plan and pays the price, can He guarantee the results? Or is He no better than the McAllisters?
Turn to John 19:30
For three hours Jesus has endured the excruciating pain of the cross.
He has endured the wrath of God, as the Father laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He says He’s thirsty and is given sour wine to drink
And then He says something that demonstrates His death was effective, it accomplished everything God intended.
In other words, when God makes a plan and pays the price He guarantees the results.
John 19:30—When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
With God’s help, I want to ask and answer three questions from our text:
As we answer these questions, I hope you’ll grow in your confidence that Jesus’ death was effective, it accomplished everything God intended.

1) What was FINISHED on the Cross?

Sherlock Holmes—“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” [3]

Miracles?

Jesus did many miracles in His earthly ministry
Was Jesus finished with miracles?
No, for His greatest miracle hasn’t happened yet (the resurrection)

Teaching?

Much of Jesus’ ministry was about teaching
Was Jesus finished teaching?
No, He will teach disciples on road to Emmaus how all Scriptures are pointing to Himself

Humanity?

Joan Osborne famously asked, “What if God was one of us?” The marvel of the Christmas story is that God became one of us!!!
When Jesus said “it is finished,” was He talking about His time existing in human flesh?
No, His resurrection and ascension teaches us that He will forever remain in His glorified body

Prophecy?

Much of Jesus’ ministry is fulfilling prophecy!
Even in our text, He mentions His thirst to fulfill the Scripture (referring to prophesies in Psalm 22 and Psalm 69).
Was Jesus finished fulfilling prophecy? No, they haven't pierced His side or buried Him. He hasn't been resurrected!
We’re still awaiting more fulfillment at His second coming!

All Work?

Perhaps this is a general statement about Jesus resting from all His work as the Father rested on the seventh day after creation
No, Jesus continues to work!
Hebrews 7:25 says Jesus is continually working in heaven, interceding on our behalf before the Father
Jesus’ work now is different (He’ll never die on a cross again), but He’s not done working entirely.

Suffering?

Jesus has been suffering on the cross for three hours! When He says “it is finished” is He simply saying He won’t suffer any more?
We might be closer to the answer, but we’re not quite there.
After all, the New Testament suggests that when Jesus’ people suffer, He suffers...
Remember when Saul the persecutor was on his way to Damascus and was blinded by a light from heaven?
Two times Jesus says to Saul, “you are persecuting Me!!!”
The right answer is found in the text itself:
“It is finished” is one word in the original language, the Greek word “tetelestai
It’s a word that refers to the total completion of an activity, the entire fulfillment of an obligation, or the full payment of a debt
In Jesus’ day, the word was often stamped on a purchase or written on a receipt, because it meant “paid in full.” [4]
So when Jesus says, “it is finished,” He means that the payment for sin has been fully and finally paid!

Payment for Sin!

This coincides with what Jesus told His disciples earlier about why He would die...
Mark 10:45—“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
A ransom is a payment paid to free someone from slavery
What was finished? When Jesus said “it is finished,” He was referring to the payment that was made on the cross.
Which leads directly into our second question...

2) What was PAID FOR on the Cross?

Knowing what you’re paying for matters.
For example, whether or not the McAllister’s trip to Paris was successful depends on what they were paying for. If they paid all that money simply to touch down in Paris, they succeeded! But if they paid to have a nice Christmas vacation with all their family together in Paris, they failed miserably!
What was Jesus paying for on the cross?
There’s really only three options...
Jesus died to save everybody
Jesus died to make everybody savable
Jesus died to save His people

Jesus paid to save EVERYBODY?

When Jesus said “it is finished,” He could’ve meant that He did everything necessary to save everybody!
Problem: not everybody is saved!
Matthew 7:13-14Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
If Jesus died to save everybody, than not only has He failed, but He’s failed miserably because many are on the way to destruction and only few are on the way of life!
If Jesus died to save everybody, then God is no better than the McAllisters! The Father made the plans, the Son paid the price, and yet neither could guarantee the results!!!
Surely God’s goal in the cross wasn’t for Jesus to save everybody. Then perhaps it’s that...

Jesus paid to make everybody SAVABLE?

When Jesus said “it was finished,” He was saying that He paid for everything on His end.
But, there is still work that must be done because we have to respond to His work. And not everybody will be saved because not everybody responds to the Gospel.
In other words, Jesus died to make everybody savable.
In this view, Jesus’ death is like an unfinished bridge. He’s done part of the work to bridge the gap between God and man, but unless we do our part that gap will never be bridged.
*** SHOW UNFINISHED BRIDGE IMAGE ***
Problem 1: this is not in line with what Jesus actually says.
He doesn’t say “it is started!” He says “it is finished!”
Imagine you’ve got a $5000 credit card statement and a friend says to you, “I’ve paid your credit card debt! It is finished!” You look at your statement, and sure there’s been a payment made but you still have a balance remaining. Whether the balance is $50, $500, or $1000, it doesn’t matter. It may be somewhat paid. It might even be mostly paid. But it’s not paid in full.
Problem 2: the NT consistently presents the cross as effective. It actually accomplishes something...
Romans 5:10—...while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son...
Jesus’ death actually reconciled us to the Father, it didn’t merely make us reconcilable
Galatians 3:13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”
Jesus didn’t die to make His people “redeemable,” but to actually redeem them!
Ephesians 1:7—In Him we have redemption through His blood...
We have redemption through Jesus’ blood, not the possibility of redemption
Colossians 2:13-14—God… forg[ave] us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Our record wasn’t potentially cancelled at the cross, but actually cancelled.
1 Timothy 1:15—… Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners...
Jesus didn’t come to make sinners savable, but to actually save them!
Titus 2:14—[Jesus Christ] 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.
Jesus didn’t die to potentially purify but to actually purify people
Hebrews 9:12—He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
Jesus’ death secured an eternal redemption
1 Peter 2:24—He ... bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.
Not by Jesus’ wounds we might be healed, but we have been healed
Revelation 1:5—...Jesus Christ … loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood.
Not that Jesus’ blood might free us, but it has freed us
Problem 3: if Jesus died to make everybody savable, than God can’t guarantee the results!
Merle Haggard—...I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole. No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried. Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied that leaves only me to blame 'cause Mama tried.
God is not a “Mama tried” kind of God!
God is no better than the McAllisters! The Father made the plans, the Son paid the price, and yet neither could guarantee the results!!!
Surely God’s goal in the cross wasn’t for Jesus to make everybody savable. Then it must be that...

Jesus paid to save HIS PEOPLE!

When Jesus said “it was finished,” He was saying that everything necessary to redeem His people was accomplished.
Sure, our redemption must be applied to us personally when we repent and believe the Gospel. But the work is done. It’s finished.
Jesus dies to save His people, and all His people will be saved.
In this view, Jesus’ death is like this bridge. No, it’s not as wide as the other bridge. This is much more narrow, and fewer people can get across it. But it is a completed bridge. Everything necessary to bridge the gap between God and man has been done by Jesus!
*** SHOW NARROW BRIDGE IMAGE ***
This is the consistent teaching of the NT...
Matthew 1:21—She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
Jesus came to save His people!
Mark 10:45—...the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Jesus gave His life as a ransom payment. Not a partial payment for everybody, but a full payment for His people!
John 10:11—I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
Jesus died for His sheep!
Acts 20:28Paul exhorts the elders ...to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood.
Jesus gave His blood to obtain the church!
Revelation 5:9—And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation”
Jesus died for people, not possibilities! And those people included those from every tribe, language, etc.!
What we’re saying...
Jesus’ death didn’t pay the penalty for everybody’s sins, otherwise it wouldn’t make any sense for unbelievers to suffer in hell if their sin debt had already been paid at the cross.
Jesus’ death didn’t mostly pay the penalty to make everybody savable. A partial payment for everybody really isn’t encouraging if you think about it.
Jesus’ death fully paid the penalty for the sins of His people.
This includes...
Every OT saint who trusted in the promises of God
Every NT saint who repented and believed in the Gospel
Anyone today who repents of their sins and trusts in Jesus
I believe it also includes millions of aborted and miscarried babies, as well as those who die without the ability to understand right from wrong (although that’s another topic for another day)
This doctrine is sometimes called “limited atonement,” although I prefer the terms particular redemption or definite atonement.
Some object to this doctrine because they fear we’re saying God doesn’t love the world. Of course He does! But this doctrine teaches that Jesus has a special and distinct love for His people!
Ephesians 5:25—Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her
Wives, would you be happy if your husband said, “I love you just like I love all women”? Absolutely not!!! You want your husband to love you with a special and distinct love.
Jesus cried out “it is finished” from the cross because He made a full payment for the sins of His people.
His death was effective, it accomplished everything God intended.

3) How do we RESPOND to this Doctrine?

Repent and believe!
Some don’t like this doctrine because they think it discourages the free offer of salvation to all
I promise you this: if you repent and believe you WILL be saved!!!
John 6:37—All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.
Proclaim the Good News!
Objection: why share the Gospel?!?
John 10:14-16—I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
Imagine you were taken to the locker room of a massive high school. There in that locker room are hundreds of lockers. Someone then gives you a key and a promise. “This key will unlock a limited number of these lockers. Most of these lockers will not be opened by this key, but each locker that is unlocked contains a pile of cash that is yours to keep. A fortune is waiting for you if you will just use this key.”
What would you do? Would you try a few lockers and then give up? If you truly believed the person who made this promise, you wouldn’t stop until you had tried to unlock every locker with this key.
Because the atonement is both planned and effective, we can proclaim the Gospel with confidence knowing that some will repent and believe!!!
Praise God!
Which Christmas present leads to greater thanksgiving to the giver? A white elephant gift that was purchased with no one specific in mind, or a carefully prepared, purchased, thought-out gift from your spouse?
When Jesus paid the price to save you, He wasn’t purchasing a heavenly white elephant gift. He died with you in mind! With your sin!
When we sing Jesus Paid it All in a moment, sing with joy and thanksgiving knowing that He paid for you!
Love specifically
One author put it this way...
“If God loved us specifically, we are to love one another not only unconditionally but specifically, practically, personally. We don’t operate with a vague, positive sense that we love people, love humanity, love the world. We operate out of a specific sense of loving the person in front of us. . . . Here is one simple, meaningful think you could do: learn the names of the people in your church. Remember them. Call them by name. No more, ‘Hey . . . brother.’ Their name is written down in the Lamb’s book of life—let it be on your mind and heart too. . . . Love leads us to truly know one another. If we know the definite design of the atonement but there is no definite love among us, we have misunderstood the design of the atonement.” [5]
Rest in the Cross!
Romans 8:1—There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever wondered why that can be true?
The reason there is no condemnation is because Jesus has already received it entirely on the cross in our place!!!
In 1989, Elder D.J. Ward, a pastor in Lexington, KY preached a sermon that powerfully illustrated this point. Rather than quoting him, pay attention to the screen before we stand to sing...
Jesus Paid it All
Benediction (Eph. 3:20-21)
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