Your Christian life has been given to you. The days that you have left are a gracious gift from God given to you so that you would use them as a platform for displaying love and submission to this Christ who loved you first. And in response, we say, Lord, I want to be a copycat.
I want to be like you. Welcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hello, I'm Bill Wright. We're continuing our series titled, As You Walk with Christ, with part two of Don's message titled, Are You a Copycat? Last time Don described for us what it means to walk in love in the manner of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It's a sacrificial seeking of good for others. Don also talked about the gospel's motivation. On today's program, we'll learn more about Christ's sacrifice and its magnitude. So turn again to Ephesians chapter five, as Don teaches God's people God's word from the Truth Pulpit.
Look at what it says here. He loved you. And what did he do? He gave himself up for us. He loved you. He gave himself up for us.
Paul goes back and forth in the second and the first person. He gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. We're going to unpack what this means here. Christ loved us this way. We benefit.
Watch this. You and I are the eternal beneficiaries of undeserved love, of love which we could not have asked for, demanded, or earned. We are on the receiving end of a gracious love from Christ that secured our good, not only for this life, but through all of eternity.
And what kind of love was it? It was a sacrificial love. And to explain his love, Paul here makes a profound statement about the meaning of the cross, a multifaceted statement about the cross.
And I gladly at this point acknowledge my debt to S. Lewis Johnson for some of the things that I am about to describe to you. What can we say about the love of Christ? Well understand, look at it here with me again.
Let's set the text clearly in our minds. Chapter 5 verse 2, walk in love just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us. Where did he do that?
Where did he do that? He did it at the cross. Paul here is making a statement about the theological significance of the cross and how we benefit from it. The crucifixion. What can we say about this death of Christ on the cross?
What was going on there and how does it relate to you living and pursuing a walk of love in this life? It is strong, it is mighty, it is powerful motivation. What can we say about what Christ did on the cross? First of all, about his act of love.
First of all, we say this and this all motivates us to live this way. First of all, it was voluntary. It was voluntary. Look at verse 2 with me. It says that just as Christ also loved you and what did he do? He gave himself up. By an act of his own volition, he set himself forward to be the sacrifice for your sins.
Christ chose to lay himself down so that we might have the eternal benefit of salvation. He who had the prerogative of judge over your sin, rather than executing the penalty immediately upon you, instead in compliance with his Father's wishes, said, I will give myself up. I won't exercise the prerogatives that belong to me. I won't cling to those things that are mine. I will give myself up for the benefit of my people. Look over at Philippians chapter 2.
We need to see this. That's just the next book over in your Bible. You should find that. Paul here in Ephesians 5 verse 2 is speaking along the same lines as what he describes in Philippians chapter 2 verse 5, where he's illustrating the virtue of humility, but pointing to the same source as his example. Philippians chapter 2 verse 4, because this helps with what we're looking at today. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus.
What attitude is that? Who, although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but he emptied himself, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. What was the love of Christ like? What was his humility like?
Walking down a staircase is one way to picture it. He stepped down from heaven into humanity. And as a man, he said, I did not come to be served, but to serve.
And so he didn't come in order to receive the acclamation that people give to royalty. He came to serve these sinners like you and me. So he stepped down from heaven to human life. And then what did he do? He who was eternal from the beginning, he who is eternal life, humbled himself to the point of death.
Down, down. Not just any death. Death on a cross. A degraded, shameful death pointed by God for Christ. He stepped down all the way to that from the glory throne room of heaven down to death on a cross.
Why? Because he's humble. Because he loves his people.
Because this is what was necessary to secure their eternal salvation. That's why. Well, step back. Step back from it all and ask a question. Who does that?
Who's like that? Christ is. And see, you got to remember that he gave himself up like that for you. Do you see the moral, the affectionate response that that requires, that that engenders, that that motivates you to?
Because that's what we're supposed to see here. Go back to Ephesians 5. Paul says, Paul says, Christ loved you and he gave himself up for us. You don't have to turn there, but I want to read John 10 verse 18 because this this verse always strikes me and it fits here. In verse 17, John 10 17, Christ says, for this reason the Father loves me because I lay down my life so that I may take it again.
And then what does he say? He says, no one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. Christ did this because he wanted to.
Think about it. Reflect on it, beloved, and let it change your character. Christ did this, stepped into this world, stepped into that shameful sacrifice, that shameful, glorious sacrifice. He did it because he wanted to, and he wanted to because he loved us like that. Here is love unexcelled, unsurpassed, unequaled. Love like that. Love that by the force of redemption, by the force of the divine influence upon our hearts. Love by a perfect example draws us to want to be that way too.
You know, I don't know about you. I don't want to be a selfish Christian in light of such a selfless Lord. The shame of being selfish and self-centered in the Christian life in response to how selfless Christ was is unthinkable, isn't it? When did you last give yourself for the people of God? When did you last selflessly hand things over to Christ and and do something just for the sheer joy of obedience to Christ and because it you knew it would glorify him?
Some of you I know have a lot to say in your recent past, but we have to ask ourselves these questions. Am I fundamentally selfish or selfless in response to the love of Christ? Paul says here he gave himself up. It was voluntary.
Christ's love, hear me on this, Christ's love comes to us as a free gift which he purchased with his own resources, specifically his own life blood. He did it voluntarily. He did it gladly. He did it freely. He gave himself over to a shameful death on the cross so that you could be redeemed. Wow. What else can we say about his sacrifice force from this text? Well let's look at it.
Let's just walk through it. Just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us. Uh-oh, stop there, for us. He gave himself up for us. The second thing that we can say, it was voluntary, it was a substitution. Christ's death was for us. What Paul is saying here is that he died in our place as believers. The judgment that should have fallen on you fell on Christ instead. He voluntarily entered into your shoes. He voluntarily took the certificate of judgment that was written against you and said, I'll take that one, I'll place it on myself, and subjected himself to the wrath of God on the cross so that you would not have to go through that wrath yourself.
He died in your place. Christ was innocent. You were guilty. Christ had no sin. You had a lot. But instead of you suffering in hell forever as the rightful price of your rebellion against God, Christ stood in your place at the cross.
Listen. And remembering how lovely and innocent and perfect and godly Christ was, in light of that, remember this, Christ suffered pains equal to eternal judgment on the cross on your behalf. He died as a substitute. In selfless love, Christ offered his life on the cross so you could receive a free gift of forgiveness. He stood in your guilty place and received your punishment. And beloved, think about it, he did that before you were even born.
He did that before you could even ask. So great was his love on behalf of us. Scripture tells us over and over again to look at the cross and see the love of God on display. In Romans chapter 5 verse 6, reiterating the point that this was a substitution, the Bible says, while we were still helpless at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates his own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us in our place, in your place, in your stead. He took the wrath of God in himself.
Why? So that you would not have to. You know, you run out of words to describe that kind of love, that kind of generosity, that kind of grace and mercy. Beloved, what Christ did in this act of substitution was God treated Christ as if he had lived your sinful life so that God could treat you as if you had lived Christ's sinless life.
That's the principle of substitution. And all of your wicked thoughts, your wicked words, your selfish defiance, your indifference to God, your indifference to the commandment to love him with all of your heart, soul, and strength, to love your neighbors yourself, and all of the violations of that, Christ said, Father, in essence, Father, treat me like I had done that because I want them to go free. Pour it out on me. Pour it out on me on the cross because I love my people and I want them to be free. I want them to be forgiven.
I want them with me for all of eternity. That's what Christ did for you. That's love. It was a substitution. Paul says in Ephesians 5 25, Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. What else can we say about this sacrifice? It was voluntary. It was a substitution.
There's another word that is good for you to hear. It was penal. P-E-N-A-L. Christ, when he was on the cross, made a penal sacrifice on your behalf.
What does that mean? Simply this, he was paying a penalty for you when he died. Look at chapter 5 verse 2 again.
It's all right here in the text. Christ, it says, gave himself up for us, and what was he doing? What was the nature of that giving on the cross? It was an offering. It was a sacrifice.
Using language that's reminiscent of the Old Testament sacrifices where people would put their hands on the animal in a symbolic transfer of guilt and the animal would be slain as a substitute for their sins in like manner. Christ offered himself up and said, Father, these people I know deserve a penalty. They deserve your judgment because law violators are subject to the penalties of the law.
Justice must be upheld. God's law cannot be compromised. God couldn't simply sweep it under the rug without a penalty being paid. Your sins required judgment. And what did Christ do? He said, Father, that judgment, put it on me.
Put it on my shoulders. The wages of sin is death. Justice requires that law violations be punished. And so Christ was there on the cross doing more than offering an example of love, although it was that. This wasn't simply to influence you morally. Christ was there paying a penalty at the hands of God, and he did it for you. He fulfilled everything that the law required against your sins when he died on that cross.
You know, and it, I think if I was reviewing it rightly, it would move us to tears. It would overwhelm us at such great, undeserved mercy being shown to us. Lord Jesus, you and all of your perfection. Lord Jesus, you and your great worth. Me being who I am.
What are you doing? You know, you, no, no, that justice should fall on me. Christ says, no, I love you, my child. I do this for you because I want to. This is voluntary. I'll take your place. You could never pay the price anyway.
I'll take your place. I'll pay the penalty on your behalf. That infinite debt that you have, I'll take my infinite being and apply it to your account. And whatever the mystery of this substitution is, somehow the weight of being punished eternally for your sin, Christ felt that. Christ paid that. Christ endured that in his separation from the Father. When he hung there and said, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? It's as if heaven itself had turned his back and he was alone on the cross.
Why? Because someone told him to? No, because he wanted to. Because that's the kind of loving Savior he is. Make no mistake, Christ endured the blow of divine justice against sin on your behalf if you are a Christian. It is the grounds upon which you can be forgiven.
No other way. So it was voluntary. It was a substitution.
It was penal. One last point, and this is a sweet one. What we're about to see here on this final point is why you can be secure in your salvation. Why, as we sing, bold I approach the eternal throne. This is why we can be confident.
This is why we can be secure. This is why we face death without fear. This is why we pursue a life of love, a walk of love. It's because this death of Christ was also a satisfaction. It was a satisfaction. Look at verse 2 with me again, Ephesians 5 verse 2. Walk in love just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us and offering a sacrifice to God.
He offered himself to God as a sacrifice, not to Satan. And what was it? It was as a fragrant aroma. What does that mean?
That sounds kind of weird, doesn't it? What this is saying is, is that that death of Christ rose up to God like the smoke of the burnt offerings in the Old Testament rose up. Scripture says it was a pleasing aroma.
It was a sacrifice offered in compliance with what God requires and with a heart, worshipful heart in the Old Testament offering that out of purity of devotion to God it rises up and though that sacrifice didn't take away sin it still pleased God because it was offered in conformance with what he wanted. Well in an ultimate sense, in a like manner, the death of Christ rose up not in smoke but in a spiritual sacrifice and God the Father received that death as something that that was sweet to him. The aroma, the effect of that was satisfying to him.
That's what I wanted. That is fragrant, it is sweet, it is like perfume to the Father because it pleased him. What does that mean? It means this, it means that God is completely satisfied with the death of Christ as the payment for your sins. There is nothing else for you to do to turn away the wrath of God because Christ has already done it.
It was sufficient, complete, perfect, nothing to be added, nothing to be taken away and here's the implication of that. Because Christ's death satisfies God the Father, God no longer holds your sins against you if you are a Christian. He will not, let it be said with emphasis, God will not take your sins into account at judgment.
Those have been wiped away, cast into the bottom of the sea, separated from you as far as the east is from the west. Your guilt has been removed, Christ's righteousness has been applied to your account and you are now fit for the presence of God. If you died now you could instantly go into the presence of God without fear because it was a fragrant aroma. God was satisfied and so here let's let's back up from it all and kind of wrap all of this up. What are we saying?
That you and I who are great sinners in Christ have a perfect Savior who made a a voluntary, substitutionary, penal sacrifice on the cross for us that satisfied God's demands for judgment forever. And why did he do that? Because he loved us. Because he sought our good at his own personal expense. That's a great gift of love isn't it?
What price would we pay on that? I think it was Isaac Watts that said, we're the whole realm of nature mine, that we're a present far too small. Love so amazing, so divine demands my life, my all.
That's why we walk in love. We're responding to one who loved us first and your life has been given to you. Your Christian life has been given to you.
The days that you have left are a gracious gift from God given to you so that you would use them as a platform for displaying love and submission to this Christ who loved you first in such a great incalculable way. And in response we say, Lord I want to be a copycat. I want to be like you. I want to be like that. That's my goal in life is simply to be like that. Is that your aspiration?
Do you look at the cross and say what scripture says should come? Lord let me be like you. Walking in love means being willing to sacrifice for the good of others, especially fellow believers. If we are to imitate God by walking in love, we are also called to a pure life and Pastor Don Green will show us what that means next time here on The Truth Pulpit as he continues our series, As You Walk with Christ.
Be sure to join us then. But right now here again is Don with some exciting ministry news. Well my friend it's always meaningful for me to be able to preach God's Word to God's people and to share it with you here on the radio.
Recently I completed a series that is one of my all-time favorites. It's called The Bible and Roman Catholicism. It was several messages designed to test Catholic teaching by what scripture says. We'd like to share a copy of that with you a full complete CD album of ten messages.
Just go to our website and request it or you'll find the downloads. We just want you to have this material at no cost as our gift and ministry to you. Just visit us at thetruthpulpit.com and click on radio offers to learn more. That's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright inviting you back next time for The Truth Pulpit where Don Green teaches God's people God's Word.
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