Why did Jesus die? Because He deserved to die.
Because it was the right thing to do. Because though He didn't sin Himself, our sins were reckoned to His account, imputed sin. And when God looked on Him, when the Father looked on Him, He saw a sinner. The Apostle Paul summed up the Gospel in a very succinct way when he said that Christ came into the world to save sinners.
He lived a perfect life and died on the cross. Yet there are aspects of Christ's atoning work that perhaps we've never considered before. Ligonier Teaching Fellow, Dr. Derek Thomas, is going to help us do that today here on Renewing Your Mind. And as a result, we will come away with a greater assurance of our salvation. He's teaching from Romans chapter 8. We come now to verses 31 and 32. This section begins a series of four questions, all of which begin with the interrogative who, not what, and is therefore referring to a person who is against us, charging us, and of course that is the devil. And we'll have more to say to that aspect of things as we move through the rest of this passage. But I want us to see the question, first of all, what then shall we say to these things?
What things? Well, the things that he's been talking about in Romans 8. In verse 1, that there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Or what he says in verse 3, that God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh. What shall we say to these things? Or in verse 9, for example, you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and that we are indwelt by the Spirit, the Spirit who witnesses with our spirits that we are the children of God. What shall we then say to these things? Or verse 17, that we are children, and if children heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, we are inheritors, what shall we then say to these things? Or verse 18, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.
What shall we say to these things? Or in verse 26, when he speaks about the Spirit interceding for us in times of weakness and trial and difficulty, what shall we then say to these things? And His answer is, if God is for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also along with Him freely give us all things? And there is a focus in this text on the Father, there is a focus in this text on the Son, and there is a focus in this text on us. First of all, on the Father, verse 32, He who did not spare His own Son. The gospel is, first of all, a statement about the Father. It is, of course, about Jesus. It is, of course, about Jesus dying on the cross.
It's about His substitutionary death. It's about how He satisfied the demands of divine justice, how He was buried and raised again and ascended to the right hand of God and how He ever lives to intercede for us. The gospel is about Jesus, but the gospel, first of all, is about the Father. John 3.16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
The God is God the Father. He loved and gave His only begotten Son. And therefore, this is a correction to the notion that the gospel is about Jesus making a reluctant, somewhat miserly and unpredictable Father to love us. He woos the Father reluctantly to love us. And there are presentations of the gospel that almost sound like that, to be honest, and this is a correction to that. We have been loved by the Father, the Father who gives His own Son.
Nicholas Wolterstorff, a very famous philosopher in our time, has written many, many books. One was called Lament for a Son, and it's about his son who was an adult and died in a rock-climbing accident. And he writes a book about the pain, the searing pain of losing a son. And the Father knows that pain. He too has lost a son. He too knows what it is to send his son to die and to die upon a cross and to be pronounced dead and to be placed in a tomb. We have a heavenly Father who knows what it is to suffer loss and to lose a son. He did not spare His own Son. He could have spared Him, but He did not spare Him. And the word that's used here is the same word in the Greek translation of Genesis, in the Septuagint, when Abraham and Isaac, Isaac is being offered up, and God spares Isaac and provides the lamb that's caught in the thicket and so on.
And it's that word that's used here. God spared Isaac, but He did not spare His own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all. Who killed Jesus?
Perhaps we can ask it in that way. Who killed Him? Was it the high priest? Was it Pilate? Was it the Sanhedrin? Was it Judas?
Was it the Jews of the first century in Jerusalem collectively, as Peter himself, one of them, says in his Pentecost sermon, it was you by wicked hands who took Him and slew Him, but it was all by the determinate power and foreknowledge of God, Peter said. And so, in a sense, it was the Father who put Him to death. It was the justice of His Father that put Him to death. It is a demonstration of the extent to which the Father loves us and, in the context, has loved us from before the foundation of the world. He foreknew us and predestined us and called us and justified us and glorified us.
This is the Father's love. One of the greatest questions that you can ask, it's one of the most pertinent questions that you can ever ask is, why did Jesus die? Why did He die? Death is the wages of sin, but if Jesus never sinned, why did He die? There is something unjust about it.
There's something wrong about it at the very core. If Jesus never sinned, why did He die? And there are only two answers to that question. One is that there is no justice in the world, that you can live a perfect life, you can obey the law, you can keep all of the commandments, you can be impeccable, and you can still die. You can still suffer the penalty for sin that you didn't commit, and therefore that God Himself is unjust.
And there is no justice in the world, and you would sink into despair and cynicism. Or you can answer the question, why did Jesus die? Because He deserved to die.
Because it was the right thing to do. Because though He didn't sin Himself, our sins were reckoned to His account, imputed sin. And when God looked on Him, when the Father looked on Him, He saw a sinner.
He saw the greatest sinner the world had ever seen, in the words of Luther. And the death that Jesus endured was the reflex of God's holiness toward sin, and it was the right thing, it was the just thing to do. He died, and the justice of His death lies in the fact that our sins were reckoned to His account. He died for us. He died in our room. He died in our place. First of all, there is something in this text about the Father's love for us, what manner of love it is, how great it is, how extraordinary it is.
And then secondly, there is a focus on the Son. He was delivered up. He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all. He gave Him up. And in other translations, He delivered Him up for us all. And it's a verb that is employed in the gospel narrative description of how Jesus was handed over. He was handed over to the scribes and Pharisees. He was handed over to Pilate.
He was handed over to Herod. He was handed over to be crucified. And five, six times in the gospel narrative of the crucifixion of Jesus, this verb is implied.
He was handed over. Paul speaks of it in the opening of Romans 8. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. And now he's coming back to it here in verse 31 and especially here in verse 32.
God did not spare Him. Behind this, I think, lies the idea that between the Father and the Son, there is an agreement. There is a covenant, what we sometimes refer to as the covenant of redemption, between the Father and the Son in eternity. And one imagines a conversation between the Father and the Son, how will sinners be saved?
And someone must pay the penalty for their sin, and someone must become a substitute, and someone must satisfy the demands of divine justice, for they cannot save themselves. And one imagines a conversation in which Jesus responds, I will go. Perhaps some of you remember from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, that there's the Council of Elrond. The ring has been found. It has been in Bilbo Baggins, his possession all along, and now Frodo has brought it all the way to this council of Elrond in Rivendell, and the Fellowship of the Nine is about to begin, you remember. And the ring is sitting on a kind of pedestal in the center where they are gathered, and somebody says, who will go? And there's an argument between the dwarves and the elves and the men that are there, and then you remember Frodo speaks up quietly at first, and then he yells at the top of his voice, I will go, but I do not know the way. And Jesus is saying, I will go. I will become the substitute. I will bear the wrath that is the just penalty for sin.
I will take that upon myself. He sends His own Son. You remember on two occasions at the time of His baptism and at the time of the Transfiguration, the Father speaks, doesn't He? He perforates into space and time at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, and at the very onset of that descent into Jerusalem and crucifixion, the Father speaks and says, you are My Son, and I love you. And I think those words are intended, first of all, for Jesus.
They're intended for the disciples to overhear, perhaps to corroborate the identity of Jesus, but I think, first of all, they were intended for Jesus Himself. Jesus as the God-man, Jesus in His incarnate condition, Jesus in His human mind with a human will and human affections and a human psychology and a human way of knowing things, and He needs reassurance as to His identity. How does Jesus know His identity? And it's not, I think, because His divine mind is telling His human mind.
There's no evidence in the gospels that that takes place at all. It's the fact that He believes His identity as He reads it in Scripture, as Mary would have told Him, His identity as providence unfolds, and now by the voice of His heavenly Father saying, You are My Son, and I love you. He gave His only begotten Son, and the Son was willing to come. He was willing to be the Messiah. He was willing to be the Mediator, the Redeemer, the one who stands between God and man, a man to represent men to God and God to represent God to men, two natures in one person. And what is it that He accepts to do?
What is it that He takes on the role of being a mediator, and where would that role take Him? To the cross, to Calvary. He came for sin. He was made, verse 3 of chapter 8, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. He had come to deal with the issue of sin. And therefore, on the cross, when He dies, as darkness descends for three hours, as though God hides His face from Him, as though creation itself hides itself as Jesus is hoisted above the ground, and He cries, "'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'"
Quoting from Psalm 22, and it's not just that He's quoting a psalm that He has memorized, but He's quoting it with effect. God has abandoned Him. He doesn't say, "'My Father, my Father,' as though the native consciousness of His sonship has been obliterated by the fact that all that He can sense is God's anger. God has withdrawn. God isn't showing His face.
He doesn't feel the warmth of His Father's arms around Him. He is descending into hell. He's becoming the greatest sinner the world has ever seen. And God, the Father who loves Him, isn't telling Him that anymore. And Jesus is dying as our substitute in our room and in our stead. At the end of every service on Sundays, we typically pronounce a benediction.
And some people close their eyes because they think a benediction is a prayer, and some of them keep their eyes open, as I think they should, because it's not a prayer but a statement. It's God's gospel statement. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. But that's not what Jesus heard on the cross.
The Lord curse you and be angry with you and hide His face from you and refuse to smile on you and give you hell. We get the Aaronic benediction, and Jesus got that. God did not spare Him. Had He spared Him, we would not be saved. Had God answered the question that Jesus asked in the Garden of Gethsemane, Father, let this cup pass from me.
Is there not some other way? Imagine if the Father had said, Enough, my son. They're not worth your death.
You're too precious to me to let go and endure this pathway. But instead, there is silence. There is no voice that speaks in Gethsemane.
There is no reassurance. You are my son today. I have begotten you. I love you.
I've always loved you. There is just silence. And Jesus walks into Gethsemane and out of Gethsemane and towards Calvary, and He does so by faith, trusting that His Father will never leave Him nor forsake Him in the ultimate sense. So, there's a focus on the Father, there's a focus on the Son, and there's also a focus on us. He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Now that Jesus has died, now that He has paid the penalty for sin, now that God the Father has raised Him from the dead, a public demonstration of the Father's acceptance of all that He has done, now that Jesus has, to use a euphemism, gone up in the world, ascended to the Father's right hand, how is it possible for Jesus to have accomplished all that was necessary to save us and that that accomplishment not be applied?
How is that possible? If Jesus has accomplished everything that is necessary for our salvation, it stands to reason it will be applied, and it will be applied to the letter for all for whom Jesus died, for all for whom He shed His blood, for all for whom He made atonement, for all for whom He became the propitiation for our sins. He will apply the same to call and justify and glorify. There's a logic here to what Paul is saying.
All things. How will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? He's not talking about giving you a car or a nice necklace or some other bauble from the trinket store of this world. He's talking about glory. He's talking about the new heaven and new earth. He's talking about God's purpose in saving you to conform you to the image of His Son, and He ensures that all things work together for the good of those that love Him so that that eventual outcome will be sure and certain. There's something here about the Father. There's something here about the Son, and then there's something here for us. Jesus died and rose again, and therefore my future is secure and certain. The Holy Spirit will not refuse to apply all that Jesus has accomplished for us, for the Holy Spirit and Jesus are of the same mind and they're of the same opinion. Everything that Jesus has accomplished for us, He will give us in abundance and more.
What a glorious truth. That's Dr. Derek Thomas from his teaching series on Romans chapter 8, and you're listening to Renewing Your Mind. As one of our teaching fellows here at Ligonier Ministries, Dr. Thomas has the opportunity to teach here on the campus from time to time, and this series is his latest for us. We'd like to send you the two DVD set containing the full 12-part series. When you give a donation of any amount, we'll be glad to send it your way. There are a couple of ways you can reach us. One is by phone at 800-435-4343. You can also find us online at renewingyourmind.org.
When R.C. Sproul founded the Ligonier Valley Study Center in 1971, he recognized that people need to know who God is. They need to hear the truth of the gospel that Dr. Derek Thomas just conveyed to us. One of the other ways we do that is through our daily devotional magazine, Table Talk. In fact, Dr. David Strain wrote an article that picks up on today's theme. He said, Jesus does not apply the leverage of the cross to pry salvation from the Father's miserly fist.
No, the cross was the Father's idea, conceived by His love for unlovely rebels. That's the kind of well-written, encouraging truth you'll read in Table Talk. You can find out more about this helpful resource that I've been subscribing to for more than 30 years.
Just go to tabletalkmagazine.com. Well, if you ever have felt uncertain about your salvation, I hope you'll be with us tomorrow for a lesson by Dr. Thomas that's titled, Silencing the Accuser. It's been paid in full. Payment God cannot twice demand. He cannot demand payment at the cross, and then when you get to heaven, demand it of you again. That would be unjust. So the cross says sin has been paid for in full. It can never be reckoned to my account ever again. Join us as we continue the series on Romans 8 tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. .
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