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The Reconciling Death

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 7, 2023 12:01 am

The Reconciling Death

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 7, 2023 12:01 am

On the cross, Jesus bore the unmitigated wrath of God for the sins of His people. Today, R.C. Sproul delivers a Good Friday sermon on the perfect work of atonement that Christ accomplished through His death.

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A Good Friday sermon today on Renewing Your Mind. The full measure of divine wrath was poured out on Jesus. Thousands of people in the old days died the excruciatingly painful death of crucifixion, but only one was the object of the unmitigated wrath of God. Over the years, the meaning of the cross has been confused, denied, even attempts to dilute what took place there.

But to try and sanitize what took place on Good Friday is actually to destroy the beauty and the sweetness of the gospel. Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham and thank you for joining us for this Good Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind. Today, we're featuring a sermon given by R.C. Sproul at St. Andrew's Chapel as the congregation there gathered for a Good Friday service. Dr. Sproul will be looking at Romans 5 in a message titled, The Reconciling Death.

Here's Dr. Sproul. Normally on Good Friday, I choose a text from one of the gospel narratives that recount for us the crucifixion of our Lord. Tonight, however, I'm going to turn to the epistles to hear the apostolic interpretation of the significance of the narratives that are found in the gospels. And so tonight, I will be reading from Paul's letter to the church at Rome from chapter 5, beginning at verse 6 and reading through verse 11.

And I've asked the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. For when we were still without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more than having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Again, on this Friday evening, you have been privileged to hear a word from God Himself.

Please receive it as such and hug it to your soul. Please be seated. Let us pray. My Father, there is not enough strength in any individual's mind in this room or in all of our minds combined to plumb the depths of what transpired on Calvary. We thank You for the insight given us tonight from Your consecrated Apostle, whom You set apart to preach Your gospel. Help us to hear and to understand this element of it tonight. For we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

Amen. We hear of stories from the battlefields of the world where a cadre of men may be entrenched in an enlarged foxhole when the enemy hurls a hand grenade into that foxhole, and instantly and instinctively one of the men jumps on top of the hand grenade and takes the full Brunovitz blast to himself in order to save his comrades. These, of course, are acts of genuine heroism, and the soldier that jumps on the hand grenade for his friends spares them the pain of immediate death but nevertheless merely delays the inevitable demise of his comrades. And Paul takes up that idea here when he contemplates the significance of the death of Jesus, where he says, scarcely will one give his life for a righteous man, and that perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love towards us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. You know, I've heard stories of soldiers jumping on hand grenades to save their comrades, but I've never heard the story of a soldier who crossed over and jumped into his enemy's foxhole to absorb the blast of the grenade meant for them.

We're not usually willing to lay down our lives for our foes. But the point of contrast that Paul is giving us here is this is exactly what Jesus did on the cross. Before I look at this text any further, let's remember that we have all of the accounts of the narratives given to us in the gospels about the details of the execution of Jesus. And later on we will sing the spiritual, Were You There?

Where the choir will sing it, right? When they crucified my Lord. Well, suppose you were there, and you were standing with that crowd at Golgotha outside the city of Jerusalem, and you were watching three men being executed by the Roman means of execution through crucifixion. And you knew a little bit of the information that two of them were thieves, and the other one was being crucified with a title over his head that said, This is the King of the Jews.

And you heard that he had been guilty of blaspheming and of insurrection. But as you observed this event, would you have any idea, just standing there watching, that what was unfolding before your eyes was the most important salvific cosmic event in world history? Now maybe if you were an expert in Isaiah 53 and thoroughly drenched yourself in the information of the suffering servant of the book of Isaiah, or had memorized Psalm 22, and noticed the uncanny correspondence between what the psalmist described in that psalm and what was unfolding before you, you might perhaps have had a clue.

But consider the people who were partners to that event and how they understood its meaning. Caiaphas said it is his expedience that one man die for the good of the nation. And if Caiaphas was there looking at Jesus on the cross, he would be satisfied saying, At least we put this troublemaker to death, and we won't get Romans upset with us with all this talk about a kingdom. We only have one king, and it's Caesar. So good riddance, Mr. Jesus.

This is expedient. Or to the eyes of Pontius Pilate, who after his examination and interrogation said, I find no fault in this man. And with a troubled conscience, he tried to just simply beat him up and scourge him, satisfy the bloodlust of the mob. And when that failed, he offered a trade with Barabbas, and the crowd preferred Barabbas over Jesus.

Nevertheless, Pilate acquiesced. He caved in the public opinion, and from a principle of appeasement, he found it necessary to sacrifice Jesus. So, notice the irony here that both in the view of Caiaphas and in the view of Pilate, the death of Jesus was something of a sacrifice. They had no idea what kind of a sacrifice this really was. Some of the disciples stood back in the distance in the shadows, lest they would suffer a similar fate and watch this action take place, and all of their hopes of glory and salvation were being shattered before their very eyes. The centurion watched it, and he said, surely this man was a righteous man. I might even think that he was actually the Son of God. The crowd saw an imposter being executed. He saved others.

He can't save himself. The thieves that were crucified next to him, at least one recognized that though their deaths were exercises in justice, there was something unjust and unfair about the death of Jesus. And even his mother, who stood at the foot of the cross, looked up at her son, and perhaps certainly she remembered the words she had heard the day that she dedicated Jesus in the temple, when the prophet said, surely a sword will pierce your soul. Now this one is given for the falling and the rising of many in Israel.

And Mary felt the full measure of that sword on that afternoon. Back in the 20th century, the church was almost completely engulfed by a new wave of theology that swept across Europe in the beginning decades of the 20th century and then across the ocean, theology called neo-orthodoxy or dialectical theology. And one of the precepts of that particular theology was this, that God reveals Himself not in propositions, not in statements that can be parsed, not in indicative declarative words such as we find in Scripture, but God reveals Himself in events. But what revelation was contained in that event? You see, in biblical Christianity, God reveals Himself not only in the events, but especially in the interpretation of the events. That's why after the gospels are given to us, we have the epistles that explain the meaning and the significance of the events that were recorded in the gospels. This portion of chapter 5 of Romans is one such interpretation. For Paul sees in the death of Jesus not just the tragic, unjust execution of an innocent man, but he says in this cross, this cross, there is salvation. That by the shedding of this man's blood comes our justification, that this death in this place is a vicarious death, where one man is offered as a substitute for others. Karl Barth was certainly right about one insight that he had when he said the single most important word in all of the Greek New Testament is that tiny little word that is huper, which being translated means in behalf of. And so to understand Calvary, that word is necessary to employ. That whatever was taking place there was not taking place for Jesus.

It was taking place in behalf of others, in behalf of us. While we were still sinners, Paul tells us, Christ died for us, much more than having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled through the death of His Son, how much more we shall be saved by His life.

What does this mean? Jesus didn't die on the cross so that I won't die. Jesus didn't die on the cross so that you won't die.

Guess what? You're still going to die if He tarries, and so am I. And so how does He die for us if we still have to succumb to thanatos, to thanatos, to death?

I have a very good friend that I've known for many years who served on the board of Ligonier for over a quarter of a century, called me and told me that he has a high-level aggressive form of cancer and the prognosis is not good at all. And he said, R.C., R.C., I'm scared. Not of death, but of dying.

Because we still have to go through the process. But what death ultimately means for the sinner, beloved, is far worse than the process of dying. It means judgment before a holy God whose wrath is justly directed at those who declare themselves His enemy. As this is what the Bible says is our natural condition, and I've mentioned before in another occasion, for another illustration, I told the story of being invited to speak at an atheist club at a college, a strange invitation, but I accepted it. And of course, those who were assembled for that meaning were not overjoyed with my presence. And by the time I finished my address, their patience had turned to fury when the essence of my message was this, that I'll be happy to try to give you rational arguments for the existence of God as long as you understand that I don't think for a moment that your problem with the existence of God is an intellectual problem.

I'll play the game if you want me to. But you and I both know that your problem is a moral one. It's not that you don't know that God exists. It's that you despise the God whom you know, exists. You are His sworn enemy, and if you could banish Him from the universe, you would do that in a heartbeat because then you would be free to do whatever you want to do and never be held accountable for what He commands you to do. And so, at death is not annihilation.

At death there's not peaceable slumber. For those who remain unreconciled, it is to stand in the presence of the naked fury of a God who is an all-consuming fire and is too holy to even look at our sin. And this is what Paul's getting at, that he died for our justification, and that by His blood we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Again, I've mentioned before an experience I had several years ago at the Christian Booksellers Convention when at the plenary meeting on Sunday morning there were five or six thousand people engaged in the selling of Christian literature across this country, and I preached the simple message called, saved from what? And I said, what is it that we're saved from? We're saved from God.

What? I thought it was God who saved us. Yes, it is God who saves us, but it is God who saves us from Himself. It was God's idea to send His Son as your substitute to give you a way to be reconciled to Him. And what the Father said, I'll take the blood of My Son instead of yours. And who standing at the base of that cross would have looked up there and seen all hell breaking loose on that figure, that the full measure of divine wrath was poured out on Jesus. Thousands of people in the old days died the excruciatingly painful death of crucifixion, but only one was the object of the unmitigated wrath of God. While we were yet sinners, He took that wrath upon Himself. Paul goes on to say, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, but much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Not only that, we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have already received the reconciliation. At the beginning of this chapter, Paul mused on the consequences of our justification, and he said, as you recall, being justified therefore we have peace with God.

Oh, I never knew we were at war. Then why do you jump every time somebody calls boo? Why do you flee when no one pursues you?

Why do you tremble at the rustling of a leaf? We know, we know very well that that war is real, and the only way that estrangement can be removed and reconciliation be accomplished is if a peace offering is given that is acceptable to God. The cross is about substitution, and as archaic as it may sound, the cross is about satisfaction, that God required a sacrifice to satisfy His justice, and the sacrifice was offered on the cross that day throughout Israel. Family after family after family sat down and celebrated the Passover, completely unaware that the whole meaning of the Passover, the entire fulfillment of the Passover, was taking place on that hill where the Lamb without blemish was offered as a sacrifice to God. And the most amazing thing, beloved, is that when Christ as our High Priest offered Himself to the Father as a perfect sacrifice, a sacrifice once and for all, never needing to be repeated, the Father looked at the Son, and He said, yes, that's fine. It's accomplished. That is good news on this Good Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Nathan W. Bingham. The clear explanation of the Gospel that you heard today from R.C. Sproul is perhaps a message you'd like to share with others, family or friends, and you can find it at, or of course, in your favorite podcast app. Today's sermon was from Romans 5. If you'd like to study that chapter further or do a deep dive into the Apostle Paul's magnum opus, his letter to the church in Rome, we're making available Dr. Sproul's expositional commentary on Romans for a gift of any amount, and you can make your donation today by visiting

This is the hardcover edition, so you'll be able to highlight and underline as you do your study, but we're also giving you access to the digital edition, so you can take it with you wherever you go on your phone or your tablet. So make your donation today at Today we considered the death of Christ and His suffering, but as Christians, how should we think about life when suffering comes our way? How should we respond? That's what Dr. Sproul will consider next week here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-07 07:47:57 / 2023-04-07 07:55:37 / 8

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