03 April 2009

Systematic Theology--Lesson 3, God the Son (part 2)

Last week we talked about the two natures of Christ. We saw that not only do we need to understand that he was fully God, but it is also necessary that we believe He was fully human. That if anyone does not believe He had a body of flesh and bone, they are in fact Antichrist. 1st John 4:2-3; 2nd John 1:7. He is very clear that one must believe Christ came in the flesh. So that’s who Christ was. Today we’re going to look at what Christ did and is doing now and will do. We will look at His death, what it accomplished. And we will look at His resurrection and what it accomplished. And we will look at what He is doing now and what He will do one day. We begin with The Death of Christ, specifically The Accomplishment of His Death.

Are we under the Law of Moses? For saints, those who know Christ as their Lord and Savior, then the answer is NO!
Romans 8:1-2There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death.
Galatians 5:18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Romans 6:14-15 (KJV)For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid!
And this brings us to the words of Christ in Matthew 5:17-18 (NASB)“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Christ did not come to abolish the Law—He came to fulfill it, and to redeem us from its curse and its penalty.

Paul tells us in Galatians 3:13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree. If you recall, John the Baptist—no relation to John the Methodist—was in Bethabara, baptizing people in the Jordan River, and along comes the Messiah, Christ Jesus, and what does John cry out? John 1:29“Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world!” He saved us by taking our sins upon Himself.
2nd Corinthians 5:21He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Isaiah 53:5But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Not a fair trade—but it fulfilled the Law. I like this quote from Martin Luther--"This is the mystery of the riches of divine grace for sinners, for by a wonderful exchange our sins are not ours but Christ's; Christ's righteousness is not Christ's but ours."

The Old Testament Day of Atonement—Yom Kippur—was symbolic of the coming Christ. The High Priest would take two goats, draw lots, and whichever goat was declared the “scapegoat” this would be the one to bear the sins of the people. Leviticus 16:21-22Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel… putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness… Think about this: When Christ hung on that Cross, He was our scapegoat—God laid upon Him all the sins of all those who would ever believe, and He was sent into the wilderness of death. The Passover also typified Christ. The Passover was celebrated to remember when God led the people out of slavery, when He spared the people because of what? The blood of a lamb on their doorpost.
Exodus 12:5-7“Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year…And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.”
1st Peter 1:18-19you were not redeemed with corruptible things…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
1st Corinthians 5:7For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

If we are covered by the blood of the Lamb of God—as a lamb without spot or blemish—then eternal death will pass us by because of the blood of Christ, our Passover. That’s the death of Christ and what it accomplished.

Next we are going to look at The Resurrection of Christ. Matthew 20:18-19--“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” Jesus is telling His disciples—AGAIN—that He must go to Jerusalem to die. Nobody believed Him. But let’s look at The Evidence of His Resurrection. First there is The Empty Tomb. He ain't there! When John and Peter and Mary Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene—when they got to that hole in the side of the hill they all saw the same thing—nuttin’! He ain't there! One of my favorite verses in all of Scripture is Matthew 28:5-6“I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” HE IS RISEN! There are not three more beautiful words in any language. Not only do we have the empty tomb. We also have The Eyewitnesses. Acts 1:3--He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. 1st Corinthians 15:3-8Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. He appeared to His apostles. He appeared to Mary His mother and to Mary Magdalene. He appeared to the travelers on the road to Emmaus. He appeared to over 500 people at one time—and He appeared to the apostle Paul over a year after His resurrection.

Then we have the soldiers guarding the tomb. Roman soldiers were a very meticulous lot. They were always on guard to do their duty at all times. And if it meant guarding a hole in a wall and keeping a bunch of Jewish fishermen from stealing the body of their teacher—if that’s what they had to do, they did it under pain of death. They weren’t about to die for a bunch of pitiful old Jewish guys. So it’s a pretty safe bet that when they told the chief priests what they saw they meant what they said. Matthew 28:11-15Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. They saw the angel come down. They saw the stone get rolled away. They saw Jesus walk out of that tomb. Can you imagine what they said as they stormed into the high priest's office? “What kind of god was this man? We didn’t sign up for this!When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed…; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Matthew wrote his gospel at least 10 years after the death and resurrection of Christ. So this story was still going around. And just to show you how long a good fish story can last, Justin Martyr wrote in the year 170 AD—a full 140 years after the resurrection—that there were still many Jews who still believed the story.

These eyewitnesses are evidence of His resurrection. In Acts 25, Paul has just appeared before the governor Festus. King Agrippa arrives and wants to hear about this Paul. So when he gets there, he is greeted by Festus who tells him, Acts 25:17-19 (NASB)"So after they had assembled here, I did not delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought before me. When the accusers stood up, they began bringing charges against him not of such crimes as I was expecting, but they simply had some points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a dead man, Jesus, whom Paul asserted to be alive." Then besides the empty tomb, besides the eyewitnesses, we have The Existence of the Church. I like this quote by Frank Harber--"It was not the teachings of Jesus that was the centerpiece of early Christian proclamation; rather, it was the message that the crucified Messiah was now alive."

So, we have all this evidence. Empty Tomb. Eyewitnesses. Existence of the Church. What does it all mean? In other words, what are The Effects of the Resurrection. For one, It Proved Jesus’ Claims.

In Mark 8:31-32, Jesus foretold His death. And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly.
And in fact, the Old Testament bears witness.
Hosea 6:2After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.
In John 2:19, He told the Pharisees “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.”

The resurrection also Provided Victory.
1st Corinthians 15:55-57O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:37we are more than conquerors—literally, we super-conquer—through Him who loved us.
Death is one enemy we can never defeat. But, because Christ has conquered the grave, He gives us that victory also.

Which brings us to the next point, It Previews Our Own Resurrection. In 1st Corinthians 15, Paul spends 6-7 verses telling us how useless our faith is if Christ is not risen. Our preaching is empty, our faith is futile, we are false witnesses, we are still in our sins, and above all else, we are of all men the most pitiable! BUT1st Corinthians 15:20-21But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.

Firstfruits. In the Old Testament, the Israelites, if they were planting 10 acres, what they would do was they would plant 1 acre. Then about a couple weeks later they would plant the other 9 acres. The first acre they planted would come up first, and this was dedicated to the service of God. This one acre was kinda like a guarantee for the rest of the harvest. And what was this one acre of fruit called? Firstfruits. Christ’s resurrection is the firstfruits of our own resurrection. Check this out. As Jesus hung on the cross, after He gave up the ghost and died, listen to what happens in Matthew 27:52-53graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. This was a sign that Jesus’ sacrifice was accepted by the Father. And it was a sign to us that we too would be raised.

It Paved Our Way Into God’s Presence. In the Old Testament tabernacle and temple, you had the Holy Place, and behind that you had the Most Holy Place. Who could go into the Most Holy Place? The high priest How often could he go in there? Once a year. What did he have to have? The blood of bulls and goats. We read in Hebrews 9-10 that the temple and the tabernacle were symbolic of Heaven. Christ has entered into the TRUE Most Holy Place—not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with His own blood. Hebrews 9:23-26it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often …but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And He has purified us for His own sake. Titus 2:12-14For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

And because He has purified us, we can now go into the very presence of God the Father!
Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Christ has become our Mediator between us and God.
1st Timothy 2:5For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

And all this was made possible the minute Christ gave up the ghost and died. We talked about how the graves were opened, and the dead were raised. What else happened when He gave up the ghost? Matthew 27:51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. God the Father accepted the sacrifice of His Son upon the Cross, He has broken down the middle wall of separation (Ephesians 2:14-15), we can go into His presence any time we need to.

So, brings us to our last point, what will He do on that last day? He will judge. There will be two separate judgments. The Judgment Seat of Christ, and The Great White Throne. We read about the Judgment Seat (Bema) of Christ in 1st Corinthians 3:11-15For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Now, can anybody tell me what false doctrine has been built upon this passage? PURGATORY. The Romish system uses this verse to justify their belief in Purgatory. Wrong. This passage does not talk about saints having their venial sins burned away. It is talking about all the dead works we believers did, that did nothing for the kingdom of Christ, being burned. Notice what it says. If anyone's work is burned... The person's WORK will be burned--not the person themselves. 2nd Corinthians 5:9-10 (ESV)So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

That is for believers. The unbelieving will stand before the Great White Throne, where they will be judged against Christ. Romans 2:16 speaks of the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ. All those who died in their sins will stand at this Great White Throne. Revelation 20:11-15Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it…And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened…And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books…Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. There are people who say “Well, when I get there, I'll make my case and He’ll have to listen.” Well, He might just give that person a chance to make their case. But then He’ll look at them and He may say something like, “You were pretty good. But you weren’t perfect. I was.” Matthew 5:48“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Romans 3:19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. They are judged against the Law. They are judged against Christ—who fulfilled the Law. This will be the “day when all things are accomplished” (Matthew 5:18). Next week we will look at God the Holy Spirit, probably the most misunderstood member of the Trinity. If you want to start an argument with a Christian, talk about the Holy Spirit.

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