David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Tag: blood

Secular Mind Sacrilege

If your overarching (or inadvertent) goal is to be liked by the world as a believer, you will inevitably have to pare off the rough edges of truth, as Spurgeon called it, and do massive editing to make the message more acceptable.

The gospel is an offense, in particular, that blood would be required by God for the forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22) and at that, His own Sons’ blood. This doctrine, penal substitutionary atonement, has been called “divine child abuse” from some within evangelicalism (Steve Chalke in particular, though many seem to agree with his assessment). This heart-truth of the gospel is absolute sacrilege to the secular mind.

There’s no way around it: what we believe about the truth of God’s Word, and actually, the fact we believe it speaks truth at all into the world, is itself an offense, let alone the doctrines contained within that it speaks to.

Jesus As Judge

This isn’t a portrayal of Jesus we like to ascribe to Him very often because, frankly, it is terrifying. Tim Keller has concisely and eloquently said, “If we play down ‘bad’ or harsh doctrines within the historic Christian faith, we will find, to our shock, that we have gutted all our pleasant and comfortable beliefs, too.” And this is certainly true with how we envision Jesus. Jesus is fully God and as such He is the same God of the Old Testament. Yes Jesus is fully loving as clearly demonstrated in His very condescension to man, His whole life lived, His death, and His resurrection for sinners! Yet He is also fully just and is the very One who will judge the world. This seems to easily slip past us very often. There is simply no way to escape this picture in the Scriptures. And it’s either true or it’s not.

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A Purified Conscience from Dead Works through the Blood of Christ

“For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
Hebrews 9:13-14

Naturally, each one of us has been created with a sense of justice, a sense of what is right and wrong. Over time, our sinning can erode or sear our consciences so that we don’t feel the effect or guilt of that sin anymore, thus becoming more and more enslaved to unrighteousness, serving the desires of our sinful souls, and as a result, we turn away increasingly from the living God. For the believer in Christ though, through His precious and infinitely valuable blood, our relationship to God has been restored in order that we may be drawn closer to Him and “glorify Him by enjoying Him forever.” (Piper)

What I want to focus us on in particular is how our consciences are purified from dead works so that we can give glory and honor to God. Because each of us has a natural sense of right and wrong, when we see the areas of our lives where we fall short, we naturally feel unworthy to approach God of ourselves, and really we are unworthy. The payment we need to be able to approach God is infinitely high, beyond the price we are able to pay. All of our striving and working will account for nothing because we cannot make an infinite payment for the wrong we have committed against the Lord God. His glory is infinite, and in harming His glory with our sin, we have thus committed an infinite offense, worthy of infinite punishment. Therefore our consciences are weighed down by guilt. And eventually, when we see we can’t make payment, we give up trying to pursue a right relationship with God and continue sinning, thus becoming more enslaved to sin than we were.

But in Christ, our consciences can be freed from our dead works that lead us to eternal damnation in order that we may be reconciled to God. How? In our natural state, as I said before, we cannot approach God, unless something or someone makes payment on our behalf, because we are not able to. And this is exactly what Christ has done for anyone who believes in Him and His sacrifice on the cross to bring about redemption. Because Christ is God who became man and lived a sinless life, He was qualified as the perfect sacrifice for sinners. He was qualified to make the infinite payment none of us could ever make to turn away the wrath of God. And this is exactly what He did on the cross. He died, rose again, and now sits at the right hand of God where He intercedes on behalf of those who trust Him for their salvation.

How does this purify the conscience of the believer from dead works to serve the living God? When we commit sin, our consciences constantly accuse us and point out that which is contrary to the standards God has set forth. We are weighed down with sin. It consumes us. But once you believe that Christ is the perfect sacrifice who intercedes on your behalf before God, and is in fact your very representative before the Father, this means that all of the wrong you have commited (with its due penalty, namely God’s wrath) has been removed. If Christ has canceled the debt we owe God for our sin through the work performed in His life, death, and resurrection, then we are freed in our consciences to live lives without the burden of guilt! This is radically transforming when we can live without divine guilt weighing us down. And this is the Gospel, the very thing that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions, namely salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Christ already bore the load for anyone who would believe in Him for salvation. We have nothing more we can add to His perfect, finished work. How freeing it is to have Christ take on the punishment and guilt we have stored up for our sins, and then to gain His perfect obedience and righteousness before the Father in return! What a gift.

Because of Christ taking the guilt off our shoulders through faith in His blood, freeing our consciences from the weight of guilt, we are then (and only then) able to approach God in confidence, because what could be a better payment for us than the sacrifice of God’s own Son on the cross? What amazing grace …

Isaiah 53:4-6

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Isaiah 53:4-6 (In Context)

I just love going back to the Old Testament and seeing Christ spoken of so clearly. This is the very Gospel in the Old Testament, that our Messiah would suffer so greatly on our behalf. I find it interesting to see how the writer talks about how He carried (past-tense) our sorrows, how he was stricken, smitten, and afflicted. Christ’s sacrificial death spans and pierces through time. When He died, He died with supreme, sovereign intentionality, to purchase those those the Father had chosen in eternity past, before the foundation of the world, His children (John 17). Christ’s atonement was to bring glory to God and to purchase salvation for the children of God, Jew and Gentile. The Holy Spirit then applies this work of redemption to the children of God in time. One of the cool things though is that the work of Christ was clearly perceived by the prophets several hundred years before Christ was born, this piece of scripture being a clear picture of this. How cool is that? They saw the work of redemption that was coming, not necessarily knowing all the particulars, but nevertheless seeing the Work of works. Thank God for Jesus, that He would put on human flesh, live a perfect life unto God, die on the cross for our sins, and rise from the grave, that any who would believe in Him would be saved. It’s just simply amazing, the very thing that brings life, and meaning to life. If you’re depressed, look to the cross of Christ; if you think more highly of yourself than you ought, look to the cross of Christ; if you have huge decisions to make, look to the cross of Christ and base them upon and as a result of His work. Are you worried or anxious? Look to the cross of Christ. There is nothing better than personal communion with the God of all time, the Sovereign King, the LORD of lords. Go to Him and look to Calvary where He was “crushed for our iniquities” and that “with His stripes we are healed.” Sin has ruined everything, Christ and His work can fix anything.

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