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Jesus, Our Substitute (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
March 7, 2024 3:00 am

Jesus, Our Substitute (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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March 7, 2024 3:00 am

Why do some people who’ve heard the Gospel remain unsaved? Is there something more that needs to be done or given up? Is it possible the Gospel doesn’t apply to everyone? Hear the answers when you study along with Alistair Begg on Truth For Life.


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Why is it some people can hear the Gospel and seemingly tune it out?

Does something more need to happen? Is it possible the Gospel of Christ doesn't apply to everyone? Alistair Begg answers those questions today on Truth for Life. He continues our study in chapter 22 of Luke's Gospel. We're looking at verses 39 through 46. Says MacLeod, the Scottish theologian in graphic terminology, let's not sentimentalize it.

This is not some green hill far away. It is the scene of the greatest atrocity in history. Calvary is quite literally a shambles. God's lamb is being slaughtered on a garbage heap outside the city in darkness by brutal soldiery, and God is responsible. Now ask yourself, what right did God have to crucify his Son?

What moral right is there for an innocent man to be crucified? But here we have the sinless Savior. Now, when we read our Bibles and when we think about these things, it's not unusual nor is it wrong for us to say that in the cross the love of God is declared.

It is. But to say that does not get to the depths of it. It is right for us to say that Jesus is our priest and our representative, but even that does not get to the heart of it. It is right to say that Jesus died on our behalf, that he identified himself with us. But all of that terminology still falls short of the absolute nature of what is taking place in the passion of Christ. Because here, our advocate does not simply end up in the dog. He ends up on the cross.

Did you ever hear of such a thing? Jesus is our high priest. But what kind of priest is this who becomes the sacrifice? Priests offer sacrifices, but this priest is the sacrifice. This priest is on the altar.

What is this? How do we explain this? My Lord, what love is this that pays so dearly that I, the guilty one, may go free. You see, he died for sin, but not for his own sin. He had no sin. He died, says Paul to the Galatians in 1.4, he died for our sins. He was in every realistic sense made sin for us. He became, if you like, all of our rebellion, all of our lying, all of our cheating, all of our adultery, all of our filth, all of our ugliness. He became all of that on the cross. Otherwise, how could God crucify his son?

It wasn't that he simply slipped in and said, Don't worry, I'll do this for you. It was that he became the very embodiment of all that sin is. Without substitution, the death of Jesus is unintelligible.

It's unintelligible. Unless what we have here is what is being described in 2 Corinthians 5.21, that he was made sin for us—not that he was made a sinner for us, but that he was made sin for us, then how else do you explain it? What possible justification could God have for crucifying the innocent? Unless in substitution he becomes all that we are in our sin and in our rebellion in order that in the mastery and mystery of his grace, in him we might become the very righteousness of God.

You see, loved ones, if we thought about our singing a little more than we do, then we would sing a little better than we do. And when I think—think, that's the problem number one—and when I think that God his Son, not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in, that on the cross my burden, gladly bearing, he bled and died to take away my sin. He goes to the garbage keep for all of my garbage. He goes to the cross for all of my rebellion, for all my filthy thoughts, for all my selfish preoccupations, for all my pride, for all my self-agrendousment. He dies for that?

Baring shame and scoffing root in my place. Condemned he stood, and he sealed my pardon with his blood? How deep, how deep the Father's love for us! How vast, beyond all measure, that he should give his only Son to make a wretch his treasure!

The reason that some of you are unsaved is because you refuse to admit what you are. Wretched, lost, pitiable, blind, and naked. And Christ died for the wretched.

And that's why in our affluent, superficial religiosity we have no interest in a crucified Christ. How deep the Father's love for us! How vast, beyond all measure, that he should give his only Son to make a wretch his treasure! How deep the pain of searing loss!

The Father turns his face away. And wounds that mar the chosen one bring many sons to glory. There is no story in all of human history like this.

There is no notion in all of the religions of the world that comes close to touching this. This is imponderable. This is mysterious. This is majestic.

This is glorious. This is all about God and the wonder of his grace. You see, when Paul writes, then, to the Romans, after he gets through all of his doctrinal section, masterfully penning all of this great, deep theological insight, what does he then say to them in Romans 12?

1? Therefore I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice. On the strength of what? On the strength of the mercy of God expressed in his atoning death upon the cross. Who wouldn't give their life away for such a Savior? Who wouldn't give up their small ambitions for such a Christ?

Who wouldn't sacrifice all that they are and all that they have to go anywhere, anytime, for anyone with such amazing good news? And before the awesome prospect of this, he says to a group that he might as easily have said to them, You know, I've had enough of you fellas. Three years is more than enough. I've taught you everything I can tell you. Away you go by yourselves. Go off somewhere and get something to drink and leave me alone.

I'm on my own now. But he doesn't say that. He brings them with him. He brings them close.

He brings three of them. And he says to them, My soul is overwhelmed to the point of death. And when after the resurrection the lights go on, they suddenly realize that in the cross Jesus was substituting himself for them. In the cross he was changing places with us. In the cross he was taking the guilt of our sin to himself. He was accepting the divine judgment, which is justly and rightly against us.

Let me conclude. In the cross, God then does two things which would be otherwise impossible. First, he pardons those who believe in Christ, although they have sinned and deserve only condemnation. He pardons sinners. How can a just God pardon sinners because all of our sin was transferred to Christ?

This, you see, lays the axe at the root of every religious person's endeavors to make themselves acceptable to God, trying a little harder, attending a little more, praying a little more intensely, whatever it might be, as if somehow or another we would be able by means of such mechanisms to finally tip the scales in our favor. No, you have to understand, we have to understand that he pardons sinners. And if he didn't, then we would be forever excluded from his presence.

That's the first thing. He pardons all who believe in Christ even though they have sinned and sinned and deserve only condemnation. And he displays and satisfies his perfect, holy justice by executing the punishment that our sins deserve. Without this, we would be excluded from his presence forever, and without this, God would not be true to himself. Here's the gospel, then, in a phrase. Because Christ died for us, those who trust in him may know that their guilt has been pardoned once and for all. This is actually the answer to many of our fears.

The reason that many of us are so fearful is because there is no room for thoughts of God within our minds. This is the answer to many of our family problems and our marital difficulties and our agonies over our children and our depressions over our rebellion and our potential divorces and chaos and shambles. That for twenty-eight years now in pastoral ministry, I've labored first with my own soul to recognize this—that most of my issues—most of my issues, not to make light of any of them, most of my issues—are to be dealt with by a solid, experiential grasp of the gospel. And that when people come to me and say, Oh, my problem is this or my problem is that, without ever making light of those problems—the issues of bereavement, the concerns of relationships, the longings after the well-being of our children, and so on—loved ones, let me tell you something. This is the great issue of life.

This is the issue of life. Is it well with you health-wise? Is it well with you finance-wise? Is it well with you family-wise? Is it well with your soul? With your soul? Young person, listen to me!

Is it well with your soul, held in the grip of a habit, disgusted with yourself, trying constantly to repair the garbage and the damage? Here's the good news! You can't do it! You don't need to!

Someone else did it! That explains, incidentally, why H.G. Spafford—and I find myself going here so often—but that explains why H.G. Spafford writes as he does after he gets the telegram from his wife from France that simply says, Saved alone. She was referring to the fact that she'd left with his daughters to leave from New York to Le Havre. There had been a dreadful storm at sea, and the girls had been drowned—girls, incidentally, and in passing, who had been taken by their father, H.G. Spafford, to hear Dwight L. Moody preach in Chicago some months before that, and each of the girls, in the mercy of God, had trusted Christ. But the word now comes, I'm here, but the girls are gone. And Spafford gets on a ship and makes his way across the ocean, now to join his wife. And history records that the captain of the vessel slowed at the point of the Atlantic where they had left a marker for those who'd been drowned. And Spafford looks over the side of the ship and looks down into the ocean and realizes that this ocean has swallowed up his daughters. And he writes, you know, when peace like a river is mine, when sorrows like sea billows roll, you know, what can I say?

He says, This is what I can say. It is well with my soul. What?

What are you talking about? Your soul! What about your daughters? Well, of course, he was agonized over his daughters, but his great concern for his daughters was my concern for my daughters. Their souls!

Not ultimately their intellects, not ultimately their status in life, not ultimately whether they are well-known or obscure, but their souls! And so he writes the second verse, My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to your cross, and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

O my soul! What was he glorying in? He was glorying in the gospel. What is he realizing?

He was realizing that when Jesus died upon that cross, he was the substitute for H. G. Spafford. A significant number who are here this morning, I am convinced, have little more than an intellectual grasp of these truths. Our lives have not been touched and changed by them.

Had they been, we would be radically different. Had they been, some of us would no longer be here, but we would be in other places in the world concerned that into the Muslim world, in all of their darkness and lostness, there may be a light for the gospel—concerned that despite all of our business potential and all of our acumen for making resources, that we would give ourselves unreservedly to make this great news known. There's a boy in Scotland, the Sunday school teacher used to say, Put your name in the verse. Put your name in the verse. He was referring to John 3.16, and he would suggest to us as boys that where the word whosoever comes, we should put our name in there and make what Jesus accomplished on the cross our own precious possession. Have you ever put your name in the verse? For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that James, Kevin, Michelle, Sally should not perish but have everlasting life. What would we have to say before the bar of God's judgment? Only one thing, Christ died in my place. That's the gospel.

Do you know it? That's a clear and compelling explanation of the gospel from Alistair Begg. You're listening to Truth for Life and Alistair returns in just a bit to close today's program with prayer. If you still have questions about the gospel, about how to be saved from sin and death, take a few minutes and watch a couple of free videos on our website. One is a brief talk by Alistair explaining again the gospel.

The other is an animated film titled What's the Story of the Bible? You'll find both videos at slash learn more. You'll also find several suggestions for additional teaching from Alistair about Jesus, about the Bible, about the church, about the basics of Christianity.

It's all available to listen to, to watch, or to download for free. Here at Truth for Life we are always searching for more ways to help you become established in your faith and to help you share what you believe with others. We have many online resources that you can access and share for free on the Truth for Life mobile app or on our website at For example, you can watch or listen to thousands of Alistair's messages. You can read new articles that are being posted each week, sign up for daily devotional emails. You can even download Bible studies and study guides at no cost. In fact, if today's message inspired you to know Jesus better, that's the focus of a series Alistair preached a while back titled To Know Christ. There's a companion study guide that goes along with the nine messages in this series, so you can listen to the sermons one at a time, then complete the section in the study guide. When you do, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the person and work of Jesus, what his mission means for you personally.

The complete series can be heard for free online. The study guide can also be downloaded for free or ordered for $2 as a booklet at slash know Christ. You may wonder how we're able to provide all this biblical teaching for free or at our cost, and the answer is we can do it because of the generosity of truth partners. Listeners like you who consistently pray for Truth for Life and who commit to giving each month. They choose the amount they want to give and the collective giving from truth partners covers the operating expense needed to provide this daily program and make it available even in remote areas of the world. If you are one of our truth partners, thank you. And if you've been listening to Truth for Life for a while and haven't yet signed up to be part of this team, we would love for you to make today the day you join us. Signing up takes just a few minutes online at slash truth partner or call us.

The number is 888-588-7884. And we like showing our gratitude each month for your support. We do that by encouraging truth partners to request books that we recommend each month. If you commit to giving $20 a month or more, you can request both of these monthly books we offer. We choose these books with great care and with our mission in mind.

In fact, I've been mentioning the current book we're recommending. It's called O Sacred Head Now Wounded. It's a devotional book, a rich collection of daily readings specifically chosen to help you reflect deeply on the saving work of Christ, starting Resurrection Sunday and taking you through Pentecost. Each day you'll be guided through scripture readings, prayers, hymn lyrics, creeds, catechisms, all designed to help you have a richer experience meditating on what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Ask for your copy of O Sacred Head Now Wounded when you sign up to become a truth partner or when you give a one-time donation at

You can use the mobile app or give online at slash donate. Now here's Alistair with prayer. Father, seal your word in our hearts, we pray, praying those of us who are convinced intellectually of the existence of Christ and the significance of his death to a solid experiential grasp of its truth. For some of us who have been drifting and wandering and dilly-dallying in the precincts, stir our hearts afresh, we pray.

Forgive us for our superficial songs, our indolence, our lack of passion in light of yours. And thank you for the wonder of it all, despite the fact that we are sinful and continue to sin. That because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free. For God the just is satisfied to look on him and pardon me. May this be our experience, Lord, and may it be the very divine impetus for making the glorious news well known so that unbelieving people may become the committed followers of Jesus. And may grace and mercy and peace from Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one now and forevermore. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapine. Jesus clearly placed a high priority on prayer, but why? Tomorrow we'll learn how an all-knowing, all-powerful God uses our prayers. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-07 09:07:03 / 2024-03-07 09:14:50 / 8

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