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The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
April 2, 2023 7:00 pm


The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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April 2, 2023 7:00 pm

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Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

If you have your Bibles with you, turn with me, if you would, to Mark chapter 15. And we're looking this morning at verses 33 and 34 as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, we hallow your precious name this morning. We praise you for who you are.

We thank you, Lord, for all you've done. We pray for a great awakening in America. We pray that you would awaken us and bring us to genuine repentance.

We pray that you'd break the wokeness and the perversion is destroying souls and, Lord, you would just show us your glory. In the week that we reflect on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, what we do on this week, we ought to do year round. Forgive us for not doing that. Putting all else to the side, seriously praising, honoring, and appreciation, appreciating what Jesus has done for us by dying on the cross to pay our sin debt, rising from the dead to break the power of death over us. Please forgive our apathy and our preoccupation with ourselves. And fill our hearts with passion over the fact that we are the blood-bought, fully-forgiven, heaven-bound children of God. Thank you, Jesus, for doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. For it is in the precious, holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. Seventeen years ago, my friend Jack Babcock went to be with the Lord. Jack was a paraplegic. He, back years ago, was carrying mail in Iowa and hurt his back. His bones started deteriorating.

And for the last 25 years of his life, he was in a wheelchair. When I came to this church, he had joined, I think, just two weeks before I got here. And not long after that, he asked me if I would personally disciple him.

And I did. I took him under my wing. I went to his house once a week for four years in a row. And we ministered together.

We became very close friends. Jack had a wife. His name was Audrey.

She was a nurse at the rehabilitation hospital where he was in. And they got married. They loved each other deeply. And when Jack died, it was very hard on her. She grieved greatly.

Now, Audrey didn't have any children. But she had some nieces who loved her dearly. And these nieces felt sorry for her because she was going through such grief. And they went out and they bought her a dog.

A little schnauzer, a little puppy, and she named the little dog Jackie. Well, not long after Jack had passed away, she experienced another tragedy. Her house caught on fire. The house was burning down. They called the firemen out there and they were trying to put the fire out. And somehow the dog just got scared to death and the dog ran away. And she called me up.

She talked to me about it. And she said, Jackie's run away. And he was absolutely terrified.

And she said, I'm afraid that he will think that I have forsaken him, that I have abandoned him. It was that day that the house had burned down. I went over to their house and we looked all through the woods back behind their house trying to find the dog. Looked at streets and to be sure the dog hadn't got run over.

Couldn't find the dog at all. Well, that night, later that evening, I got a call from a very excited Audrey. And one of the neighbors had found the dog in the backyard and given her the dog back. And it was a great time. And I was happy for that.

I was happy for answered prayer. But I wanted to share that with you today because I wanted you to feel what was going on in Audrey's heart. She was bothered greatly that her little dog might feel forsaken or abandoned.

Let me ask you something. Had you ever been abandoned? When I was in my former church, a lady was visiting with us. She was 26 years old. Ten years before that, she had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. She had a little girl. That girl was 10 years old at this point in time. And when her dad found out about what had happened, her dad was furious.

He was a deacon in a church down in Texas. And he got mad and he disowned his daughter. He said, I don't want to see you ever again. I don't want to have anything to do with you. Don't call me. Don't write me. Nothing.

As far as I'm concerned, you don't even exist. She came to me for counseling. I had to admire that lady. She was a hard worker. She'd done a great job as a single mom, rearing up that little girl.

Little girl was very well behaved and was coming to church. And she was coming to church. She was hoping she would find a man who might be her husband and maybe a good father.

Let me tell you something. There was a hole a mile deep in that woman's heart. Her dad had abandoned her. Her dad had told her to get out of his life. She sent letters to her dad.

The letters came back, not even opened, saying return to sender. She would call her dad up and her dad would hear her voice and just slam the phone down on the hook. So I said, well, let me call your dad. She gave me his phone number and I called him up. And I said, sir, I'm your daughter's pastor.

He said, I don't have a daughter. I said, wait just a minute. I said, she's repented of her sin. She's walking with the Lord. The Lord's doing a great work in her heart. I said, she's got a hole down inside of her because of your broken relationship.

And I said, let me tell you something. She needs her daddy and she needs her daddy badly. He said, this is none of your business. He said, I have disowned my daughter.

I never want to see her again. I don't want her to call me. He said, I don't want you to call me anymore either. And he slammed the phone down on the hook.

I met with her right after that. And I said, I know that your dad's attitude is hurtful and I know that he's stubborn and he very well may never speak to you again. But I said, I want you to understand this. You have another father. And David spoke about that father in Psalm 27 verse 10. He said, when our father and mother forsake us, the Lord will lift us up. Some translations have, the Lord will take care of you.

Hebrews chapter 13 five, the Lord said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. My dad had a very tender heart. And if I was going through a rough time as an adult, he would call me up. He always got up real early in the morning.

He called me early and he would ask me, so how are things going? I'd share with him. He'd always pray for me over the phone. And he'd always say, I got a verse for you.

It would always be the same one. Proverbs chapter 13 verse five. The Lord said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. And I can't tell you what that did to my heart and how it just lifted me up to know that the Lord would never forsake me, his child. Today, we're looking at a passage where the one who said that I will never leave you nor forsake you was forsaken himself. Where if we went for three of the six hours on the cross, we experienced the abandonment of his Heavenly Father that absolutely crushed him. I got two points I want to share with you today.

Number one is physical horror. And we see this in Mark 15, go up a little further in verse 24 and verse 24a, very short verse, and they crucified him. Several years ago, Dan Nicholas shared something with us in our accountability group that I felt like was very intriguing to say the least. I've never heard this before, but he said that when David killed Goliath with a slingshot, then he chopped off his head. And we know that's true. But the tradition says that they took his head, the skull, and they took it to a little area right on the outskirts of what we know as Jerusalem today, and they buried it there. The place that they buried it, they called Golgotha, Goliath of Gath.

That's what it originally meant. It came to be called the place of the skull. That was the very place, Golgotha, where Jesus himself was crucified. Two thousand years ago, the battered, bruised, and bleeding body of Jesus was nailed to a cross, and Jesus spoke seven times from that cross that we have recorded for us. And those seven things that Jesus had to say teach us about who he is, and they teach us about who we are.

They also teach us what is necessary for God to reconcile a holy God with a sinful people. Now scripture refers to the cross as an offense. We don't look at the cross as an offense today, do we?

No, we wear silver crosses around our neck, or we see a big wooden cross up on the top of the steeple, or we have crosses that we tattoo on our biceps. We don't see it as an offense. Let me tell you, in Jesus' day it was an offense. It was like a hangman's noose. It was like a gas chamber.

It was like an electric chair. It was a symbol of pain and death. It was a symbol of shame and humiliation. There's historians who believe that crucifixion was the cruelest, most painful, most barbaric type of execution that there has ever been. And you know, it's interesting that oftentimes what they did before the crucifixion in the flogging of the person, what was so terrible and so horrible that the people that were being flogged died before they could even get to the cross. I saw Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ, and I will never get over the flogging scene that I saw in that movie. And I believe it was very, very close to what actually happened when Jesus was flogged. It was just unbelievable the pain that he went through, the treatment that he experienced. It was violent, it was unmerciful, and it was heartbreaking.

I wept through that scene. Let me read you what Chuck Swindoll had to say about flogging that Jesus had to endure. In those days there were two kinds of scourging or flogging, Jewish and Roman. The Jewish method is described in Deuteronomy 25, verse 1 through 3, where we are told that a person was not to be beaten more than 40 times because the Jew was afraid of breaking the law of God. He would commonly strike the victim 39 times, making sure he counted meticulously so that he didn't go beyond 40. But in Roman scourging, there was no specified number of times that a victim could be beaten.

Understandably then, the Romans commonly called their torturous act of scourging halfway death. Before the scourging began, the victim was stripped of all of his clothing and bent forward over a low, thick stump or post. At the base of the post were four metal rings. The wrist and the ankles of the victim were shackled to these rings.

Jesus was stripped of his garments, bent low over the post, with wrist and ankle shackled into that position. The scourging was done by a man called a lictor, a professional in the grim art of torture. The instrument used for scourging was called a flagellum. It was a piece of wood 14 to 18 inches long, circular in shape, to which were attached long leather thongs.

Into these leather thongs or straps were sewn bits of glass, bone, and pieces of metal. The soldier who performed flagellations moved to a position about six feet behind Jesus and spread his legs. The flagellum was brought all the way back and then whistled forward, making a dull drum sound as the strips of leather smashed against the back of the rib cage. The bits of bone and chain curled around the right side of the body and raised small subcutaneous hemorrhages on the chest. The flagellum came back again, aimed slightly lower, and again aimed higher, and it crashed against skin and flesh.

The flagellum now moved in slow, heavy rhythm. It was designed to reduce the naked body to strips of raw flesh and inflamed bleeding wounds. It was not uncommon for a man to die on the stump. Invariably, the victim passed out from pain, only to be revived by being splashed with buckets of salt water. These tortures layered pain upon pain to keep the victim conscious, wanting him to suffer as much as possible. The one in charge of the torture kept watch.

It was his responsibility to stop the discipline if he thought the guilty one might be revived. Point two, spiritual hell. Look at verses 33 to 34 again. And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. In the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, which means my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? With that in mind, I want to deal with one of the seven statements that Jesus made from the cross. It was the fourth statement in Arthur Pink's book on the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross. He called this the word of anguish.

Jesus cried out, my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? Abandonment's one of the most horrible gut-wrenching things that a person can endure. And the closer you are to the person who abandons you, the worse the pain is. If you have an acquaintance who abandons you, then you might get a little bit miffed, but it kind of rolls off of you like water off a duck's back. But if it's a close friend that abandons you, the pain is much worse. If it's a parent that abandons you, the pain is much, much worse.

But if it's a husband or wife that abandons you, it can absolutely rip your heart out. 3 p.m. as Jesus is hanging from that cross, exactly 12 hours have passed by since Peter has made his third denial of Christ. He does it before a young girl. He curses and swears that he does not know who Jesus even is. Just a short time before that, the disciples were in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus. The Scripture says that they all scattered and they ran like sheep, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah, who said strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.

And then right after they had done that, or right before that, Judas Iscariot comes up to Jesus, kisses him on the cheek, and he does that in order to betray Christ for 30 pieces of silver. Folks, these were the men who Jesus had poured his heart into. These are the men who Jesus had loved. These are the men who Jesus had trained, and they forsook him and left him to suffer on the cross alone. Jesus went to the Praetorium where he was being tried by Pilate, and there was a great, huge crowd of people there. These were the same people that were on the road on Palm Sunday who were shouting out, Hosanna to the Lord, glory to God in the highest.

And they were doing that just a few days before. And now on this day they're crying out, crucify him, crucify him. They too had forsaken Jesus. Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, a few of the other ladies were following the cross as Jesus is headed to Golgotha, and they're following it, but for all practical purposes, Jesus had to face that cross absolutely alone. No human there to help him, to be with him, to help him go through such a horrible, terrible time.

That was human abandonment, and that in itself is bad enough, but nothing compared to what he had coming. The Scripture tells us that Jesus made this fourth statement from the cross at the ninth hour, and the ninth hour is three o'clock in the afternoon. He'd been on that cross since the third hour, and that third hour is nine o'clock in the morning, so he'd been there for six hours already.

The second three hours was unbelievably hard, much harder than the first three hours were. And listen to what verse 33 says about those second three hours from noon until three. And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. I want you to picture this scene if you can. Where's the sun at noonday?

The sun's directly overhead. This is the time of day where it's brighter and lighter than at any other time, but nature itself bowed in sympathy as its creator was being put to death, and there was total darkness. Jesus has already been hanging on that cross for three hours. The pain that he's experiencing is just—we can't even imagine it. His back had been beaten and shredded almost to pieces, and when the wind would hit his back, it would just sting like crazy. When they nailed him to the cross, the splinters from the wood would get in the pieces of flesh in the back and cause great and horrible pain. There was a wedge of wood on the base of the cross where his back would be, so he couldn't lean himself back on the cross, so he couldn't relax any of his muscles. His lungs were absolutely on fire because he couldn't get the breath into his lungs like he needed. His bones had all been pulled out of joint. They took the cross.

They lifted it up into the air. They dropped it down into the hole, and when they did, all of his bones were out of joint, the bones and the tendons and muscles separating from the bones. He had a crown of thorns crushed down upon his brow. Those thorns were about an inch long, and they stuck into his, gouged into his scalp, and the sweat was just causing unbelievable stinging. He has huge iron spikes that have been nailed through his hands and through his feet. His face is beaten beyond recognition. His beard has been pulled out of his face.

His tongue is swollen, and his throat is on fire from dehydration. The physical pain that Jesus endured on the cross was absolutely unbelievable, but was that the hell that Jesus had to experience, and the answer to that is no. Folks, thousands and thousands of men had been crucified like Jesus was. Thousands had gone through that. In fact, we are told that they were crucifying so many people in Jerusalem at one particular time that they ran out of wood for the crosses, and they had to import wood all the way from Lebanon to get, to take care of the people that were going to be crucified. So as horrible as the physical crucifixion was, that was not the hell that Jesus had to endure. The real hell, the most horrible judgment, began at 12 noon.

Now the first three hours on the cross, Jesus suffered at the hands of men, but on the second three hours on the cross, he suffered at the hands of God. Darkness covered the land, completely and totally covered it at midday. Was it a cloud? No. Was it an eclipse?

No. A cloud couldn't stop the sun's brightness that much. And if it was an eclipse, and the eclipse would only lasted for a few minutes, this lasted for three hours. This was darkness like we saw way back in the Exodus, the book of Exodus, when God cast the tenth plague upon Egypt, or the ninth plague. It was a plague of darkness.

Let me read you about that. This is in Exodus chapter 10. It says, Then the Lord said to Moses, Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be a darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt. So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days.

He did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all people of Israel had light where they lived. This was supernatural darkness. It was darkness, the scripture says, that could be felt. This was a darkness that was so deep that even a blind man knew that it was dark. When Jesus described hell, and the disciples described hell, they often described it as a place of outer darkness.

Hell will be a place where the conscious presence of God is not, and because of that, it is darkness like that was experienced here for the time that Jesus was on the cross for the last three hours. It was twelve noon. Twelve noon that Jesus began to suffer our hell for us. It was twelve noon that the full wrath of God began to be poured out on Jesus.

Why was that necessary? Remember from last week I was preaching to you from the sermon that dealt with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was drinking the cup, and in that cup was our sin, the totality of our sin, from the first person, Adam, all the way to the last person who would come to know Christ when Jesus would come back. And I shared with you about the attributes of God, that God's attributes are attributes like a goodness and love and mercy and light, like an omnipotence and omniscience and omnipresence and immutability. But there's one attribute of God that overshadows all the other attributes, and that attribute is the attribute of holiness. All the other attributes flow out of the holiness of God. I shared with you last week about Isaiah chapter six, where the Lord was lifted up high on his throne, and the seraphim encircled the throne, singing out, Holy, holy, holy.

What were they singing? They were singing, God the Father is holy, God the Son is holy, God the Holy Spirit is holy, and his mercy is flowing out of his holiness, and his love is flowing out of his holiness. What is holiness, folks?

I think it's best described this way. It is his Godness. It is his Godness. It is perfect righteousness with not one hint of sin. It is his Godness. Now, back at chapter one, verse 13, the scripture says, O God, you are of pure eyes to even look upon evil.

What does that mean? And how do you square that with what Solomon said in Psalm 15, verse three, when Solomon said, the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding and keeping watch over the good and the evil. Habakkuk did not mean that God didn't see and understand our sin, that he just completely was oblivion to it, that he didn't see it.

No, he saw it all right. But what it means is that God cannot see sin go unpunished. God is so holy and sin is so horrible that all sin must be punished.

So what does that mean? Here's God's answer. I, Doug Agnew, will either suffer in the torments of hell forever with no hope of that torment ever ending.

I will do that myself or someone who is perfectly without sin will take my punishment for me and die in my place. Folks, that someone was the Lord Jesus Christ. People, that's why Jesus came. Jesus didn't come just to be a great teacher.

He didn't come just to be a role model for us. He didn't just come to break the yoke of Roman oppression over the Jews. Jesus came to suffer our hell for us. 2 Corinthians chapter 5 and verse 21 says, For God made him to be sin for us who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God in him. This explains Jesus' fourth cry from the cross. As the darkness set in, something took place in Jesus' spirit that had not taken place in those first three hours. The Scripture says here that Jesus became sin for us, that God took every sin for every child of God who would ever live or will ever live and transferred it into the person of Christ.

That's called a double imputation. So what happened? What happened was this. God took my sin and put it on Jesus' account. And God took Jesus' righteousness and put it on my account.

In John chapter 3 verse 14, Jesus is explaining the gospel to Nicodemus. And he says this, As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. And the serpent is a scripture, in the scripture is a symbol of sin. Why would Jesus use a symbol of sin to describe himself on the cross? Because for those three hours on the cross, he became sin. All of our sin was transferred into him so that God could judge it.

Now remember this. Jesus didn't get his star in Bethlehem. He is the eternal God. He has been here forever. And so all the way back through all of eternity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were in perfect agreement, perfect harmony, and perfect union, and in perfect fellowship. There has never been a time, even when Jesus walked on this earth as a man, when God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were not in perfect fellowship. But at 12 o'clock on the day that Jesus was crucified, that fellowship was broken. God the Father broke fellowship with God the Son. As Jesus became sin, God the Father had to turn his back on Jesus and let him experience the abandonment and the forsaking of God for those three hours. Abandonment. Absence to the presence and joy and peace of God the Father. And that abandonment made the flogging and the nails and the thorns seem like a picnic. Folks, this was hell in all of its fury. And Jesus cried out from the cross, Elilamasabakthani, it's interesting you go and you read this account in all the gospels and they quit writing in Greek and they go to the Aramaic in which Jesus spoke it.

And it's very interesting that the English does it too. Tells us what he actually said in the Aramaic. I think the Aramaic, it tells us and explains to us a little bit more of the pain that Jesus was experiencing. People, Jesus didn't have to do this. He didn't have to take it. Scripture says in Matthew chapter 26 that Jesus said that he could have called on 12 legions of angels and they would have come right down.

They would have destroyed this wicked earth and they would have taken Jesus back to glory. In John chapter 10 verse 15, Jesus said, No one takes my life from me. I lay down my life for the sheep. He willingly, voluntarily, purposely, unreservedly went to the cross on our behalf. Why? To suffer my hell for me.

And I stand before you today in this pulpit with this testimony. I did not deserve that kind of love and that kind of mercy. On the cross, Jesus suffered abandonment.

He experienced the Father's refusal to hear his cries. How difficult was that for him? For many years, people have speculated as to how Jesus actually died on the cross. When most people died on the cross, it took a couple of days to die. It only took Jesus six hours. When people died on the cross, they usually died of a loss of blood or dehydration or asphyxiation, not being able to breathe.

Jesus didn't die from any of those reasons. When Jesus died on the cross, a soldier came up to him. He took his spear and he cast it into his side. And when he did, the Scripture tells us that water and blood gush forth. Now for 1800 years, nobody understood what that was all about and why that happened like that. In the mid 1800s, the doctors started studying what would happen when a heart ruptures in the chest cavity.

And when that happens, there is blood and pericardial fluid that surrounds the heart that is pressured and it flows out of any open wound that is there in the body. Folks, that's what happened to Jesus. When Jesus became sin for those three hours and the wrath of God and the full force of hell was cast upon him, the stress was so great that his heart literally ruptured in his chest cavity and the proof of that is the water and blood that was passed out of that open wound. My stinking, filthy, selfish, compromising sin did that to Jesus. It did that to Jesus. I'm the one responsible for that.

You're the one responsible for that. We did that to Christ. Folks, why did he do it? He did it because he loved us.

Amazing love, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. Amazing love, how can it be that thou, my God, has died for me? A pastor friend asked me to help him one time. He said that his church was not giving.

They were very insufficient in the money that they gave and it was hard for the church to even function. He said, Doug, what should I do? Should I preach a whole lot of sermons on giving?

And I said, no, I don't think so. I said, do this, preach the cross. Preach the cross and when people understand the cross then they'll give, they'll give. I know that most of us here today are Christians but there's some of you that are not. There's some of you that are here right now and you don't really know Jesus.

There's never been a time when you have turned from your sin and submitted your life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. I'm not asking you today to come to me. I'm not asking you today to come to Grace Church. I'm asking you this, would you come to Jesus? Would you come to Jesus? Come to Jesus. Guilty, vile, and helpless we, spotless Lamb of God was He, full atonement can it be. Hallelujah, what a Savior. Hallelujah, what a Savior. Amen? Amen.

Let's pray. Dear Jesus, you were abandoned by your heavenly Father for three hours on the cross. That abandonment was so deep, so painful, so devastating that it ruptured your heart.

Not figuratively, but literally. And you went through hell for me and for all of your children. We didn't deserve that. Forgive us for not loving you and appreciating you like we should. May our appreciation deepen and be turned into godly service. Thank you, Jesus, for loving us and for being abandoned that we might be accepted. Heavenly Father, are we getting ready to participate now in the Lord's Supper? You said, Lord, that when we do this, that you would be with us in a spiritual sense in a different way than in any other times in our life. And I pray, Father, that we might experience your presence this morning. I pray that every heart here will be not on what's going to happen this afternoon, not on a ball game that's going to take place, but on the suffering that Jesus went through for us on the cross of Calvary. Lord, help us to love you more. And it's in Jesus' precious and holy name we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-02 14:17:54 / 2023-04-02 14:32:08 / 14

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