The greatest criticism of Joel Osteen is his wealth. There is no sin in gaining riches legitimately.
I suspect that a large portion of Osteen’s critics are in debt as a result of living beyond their means, which the Bible warns against. Others may be on the public dole, which means they are living on money forcibly taken from others. Both of these type criticizers tend to develop a victim mentality and are tail wagers. Osteen is a victor, who holds his head high. Selfish people resent his success. Right thinking people look upon him as a motivator.
Romans 13:8 exhorts, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Proverbs 22:7 teaches that “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the servant or slave of the lender.”
Some, like Osteen, are benevolently rich; others are selfishly rich and will attempt to keep the poor in a state of poverty and dependence upon the state. Osteen teaches men how to prosper and be independent from the government and the greedy (filthy) rich. Osteen removes the debtors’ excuse to be in debt and in a state of poverty.
Some of the rich and poor serve mammon; others from these classes have mammon serve them as they serve God. As men are diligent in service and stewardship to God and others in a relatively free economy, they should not be debtors or poor for long.
A free economy rewards those who are providing goods and services at a price people are willing to pay. As for Joel Osteen, he offers the inspiration for men to become achievers and live up to their full potential in service to God and their fellows. Not only that, his encouragement is freely offered! The thankful should reward him in return.
I am beginning a study of Psalms in my home Bible Lessons. Psalm 1 sets the stage for all the psalms with the opening word “Blessed,” which is one of the most used words in this ancient hymn book.
God desires is to bless and prosper his people, which is “the prosperity gospel,” which I preach. I am not ashamed to use the term, even though it is has become a pejorative by those who would belittle those who teach that the righteous can expect to prosper (vs. 4) in the here and the hereafter.
The word “woe” is not found in Psalms, although it is implied that the ungodly are under a curse and they will not prosper over the long run but will perish.
In my Christian studies I have majored in the blessings of the gospel; however, I also have a minor in the afflictions of the gospel.
Joel Osteen teaches that God may even afflict us for a time in order to take us to higher ground. So, in the end even our afflictions are blessings, if we continue steadfast in the faith.
Obedient Christian, your season is at hand to bring forth abundant fruit as you hold unwavering unto the Lord. The winnowing is in process; the chaff is being separated from the wheat.
Join us Face Book live at 7 AM ET for the start of our study of Psalm. I promise that you will be blessed as you study and apply the principles of faith found in the treasures of Psalms.
That woman, Hillary, says, “I think it’s also critical to understand that, as I’ve been telling candidates who have come to see me, you can run the best campaign, you can even become the nominee, and you can have the election stolen from you.”
No wonder she lost the election. Talk about someone who can’t see the writing on the wall! Even Obama said she ran a “soulless” campaign.
The pundits and the pollsters were the other bad losers in the 2016 campaign. Did any of them have Trump actually winning? Yet already we are seeing polls as to whom the supposed front-runners are and these polls even have them defeating Trump. The pundits live and die by the polls. The “experts” are lacking in something of which Trump has in abundance, political instinct.
The commentators should have been fired for their lack of political insight. One of the very few who saw Hillary’s loss coming was the fat slob from Michigan who wears the baseball cap. My friends on Face Book are consistently more astute than the chatter boxes on the news channels.
You would think that Hillary and the analysts would at least take advantage of the benefit of hindsight. In retrospect the massive enthusiastic crowds which Trump drew wherever he rallied was the best indication that he was going to win handily. Yet, the prideful dolts on TV will not acknowledge the sustained popularity of Trump, who continues to draw fervent multitudes to his one-man rallies.
What was Hillary to do to improve her campaign? She could only draw hundreds in her public appearances, if that, and those came out of a sense of obligation. No wonder she did not campaign in places like Wisconsin and Michigan, traditionally blue states, where everyone was bored with the frumpy feminist in her pant suits. The truth is that she was a loser from the beginning.
Who can be a match against Trump? Certainly, not that woman! Nor can any of the cast of thousands, scrambling on stage for the spotlight against President Trump, touch the man. The touchy-feely guy, who is the disloyal oppositions supposed front runner, doesn’t have a prayer. All the prayers are on Trump’s behalf.
I don’t for a moment believe that Democrat candidates are actually coming to Hillary for advice. She is making that up. Democrats are asking the question, “How do you solve a problem like Hillary?” She will not “go gentle into that good night.”
We need to be gracious and respectful towards our theological opponents by tempering our language. It is not necessary to say that our opponents’ views are “lies” unless their position is to intentionally deceive. Willful deceit is what makes a lie, not a false belief among those diligently attempting to understand doctrinal issues argued by Christians throughout the church age.
The chief priests bribed the Roman soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb to say that his disciples came at night and stole the body. This was a deliberate attempt of deception for the purpose of denying the key doctrine of Christianity. This was an out and out lie and a grievous sin on the part of the religious leaders.
The two main schools of theology among Protestants are Calvinism and Arminianism; there is a third position called Moral Government. Advocates of one school sometimes label those of the other school with pejorative terms like liars, heretics or false prophets. These derogatory labels tend to hinder or even halt thoughtful and respectful dialogue and debate and can hamper us in promoting understanding or arriving at the truth.
On Sunday morning, May 5, Brother Frank and I visited Missouri United Methodist Church, which was our church home the nine years we lived in Columbia. It was the first time I returned to the Church, since moving back home to Terre Haute, Indiana, six years ago. Sister Cindy was not with me since she is visiting her mother in Georgia.
One thing about Methodism is that it is a constant. Methodist people tend to stick with their church; they are not church hoppers. I saw and chatted with numerous members with whom I was friendly during our Columbia years, including a few retired ministers. Sadly, I did miss some happy faces who are no longer in this world. They must have an even more joyful countenance now.
We attended “Seekers Class,” which for most of the time during our tenure was taught by two retired Methodist ministers, Dick and Otto. Both of these dynamic gentlemen were liberal theologically and socially but always allowed for open classroom discussion.
Dick and I regularly met for coffee during those years where we talked over our differences; we became good friends. Some around the church referred to us as “the Odd Couple.” Both of these men are now passed. Today we studied the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. Cindy and I always had a good time during the week talking about the different views of those within the class.
Those whom might think Methodists are dead, should have been in the service the morning which featured, “Joy and Jazz Sunday” with a group of musicians called, Tim Whitmer Consort. One thing about Missouri United Methodist Church, the church always had highly trained and professional music. I am partial towards choirs over praise and worship groups.
Unfortunately, the preacher did not preach today because of the special music but from his comments he seemed to be a man full of the Holy Spirit.
MUMC is a beautiful Gothic building built in the 1920’s. I am partial to vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows. The church is just down the block from Speakers’ Circle, where I upheld the doctrine of Christ crucified and resurrected at the University of Missouri as our flagship campus. Brother Frank and I will be holding forth there again through Thursday afternoon.
It was a wonderful morning. Sister Cindy and I have pleasant memories from our Columbia days, which for me mainly centered around MUMC. Sister Cindy was active in the community and headed the social activities of our home school group. During those years, I was on the gospel road much of the time so I was happy to have the roots and stability which a good church has to offer.
Those whom have difficulty finding a home church, I have trouble understanding. I have been in many churches over the years, that I believe that I could be at home. Of course, there are frustrations wherever one might attend. But is this not the case with family life and the work place? The responsible man does not change his family or walk away from his job; neither should he shun the church. It is easy to live the Christian life privately; the challenge is living for God in community
Public Justice satisfied
Isaiah 53:11: “He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”
The first Adam acquired experiential knowledge of evil as a result of eating the forbidden fruit. Adam failed to trust in and keep the word of his Heavenly Father who had taught him right from wrong.
Regrettably, all men followed Adam’s bad example of eating the forbidden fruit by determining for themselves right and wrong instead of accepting the Natural and Moral Law of God. Thus death reigned over the human race until Christ came. Whereas, the first Adam failed; the second Adam, Christ, by his knowledge overcame all of the temptations from the Evil One. Thus he became an acceptable sacrifice as a Lamb without blemish for all that believe.
Public justice is satisfied in the Atonement of Christ. Public justice is the Father’s sense of justice that is satisfied by the sacrifice of Christ, who shows his bountiful concern for the ends of justice by bearing the terrible consequences of sin. The goals of justice are to promote the highest good of all and prevent the highest misery of all.
By Jesus’ obedience he has honored unto death the law which all men have broken. And he has fully respected and represented the authority of his Father. He has impressed upon men and angels the evil of sin; he has provided a perfect role model, which should procure the future good conduct for those who have been forgiven by his gracious sacrifice.
A.M. Hills wrote, “Punitive justice must punish all sin according to its desert. Public justice is that principle in God that prompts him to deal with sin in such a way as will bring about the most good to the moral universe–to punish when he must, and forgive when he can. Public justice is divine justice in moral administration securing the highest good of all moral beings, or the moral universe.
“There is retribution in public justice. This retributive element is never wanting in it. God’s public justice manages the universe, doing the best it can with all moral beings. It saves sinners by way of Atonement when it can, i.e., when they will let him. It punishes those who reject the Atonement and all overtures of mercy and grace, because it must do it, for the good of others. There is nothing else to be done with such sinners. When they will not glorify God’s justice by accepting salvation through an Atoning Savior, they must glorify it by receiving damnation.”
Finally, the atonement of Christ gave God the opportunity of reveal his boundless love in a manner in which it had never been revealed. “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us Romans 5:8).” Mercy provided the Atonement; Justice required it
CHRIST REIGNETH FOREVER, ALLELUIA
Isaiah 53:12: Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia.
The last verse of chapter 53 as do the final verses of chapter 52 of Isaiah speak of the Messiah’s resurrection and his exaltation: “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider (Isaiah 53:13 & 15).”
The Son of God, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, far surpasses in power and glory all the kings and princes who have ever reigned on the earth. He even outshines the greatness of Moses and Elijah, who typify the law and prophets, with whom he was seen on the Mount of Transfiguration.
What are his spoils? All power has been given unto him in Heaven and Earth. “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever (Rev. 11:15).”
The second person of the Trinity, “being found in fashion as a man, humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:8-11).”
Triumphant warriors of old, Alexander, Caesar, Mohammad and Napoleon, seized the spoils of kingdoms. Their names were renowned. But they will bow to our conquering Messiah, who “having spoiled principalities and powers (Satan’s kingdom), made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it (Col 1:15).”
Jesus divides his plunders with his church. He gives us his inheritance. “He arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever, with his saints to reign.”
“But unto his people is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth [where he bruised Satan’s head]? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph 4:7-12).”
He has made us his ambassadors, his ministers, to reconcile the world unto himself (2 Cor 5:20).
Isaiah 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.”
Notice the language does not say “they made his grave.” It says “he made his grave.” Jesus said, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father (John 10:17).” Jesus was a man on a death mission to redeem mankind through his own demise.
Thomas W. Jenkyn explains the significance of Christ’s commission: “Christ voluntarily suffered death, not as the inflicted penalty of the law–because for a person of his character the law had no penalty–but, voluntarily suffering death, as an agreed arrangement, and as a received “commandment” from his Father. The result is that, the divine government has been more honored, by the obedience of such a person, than it has been dishonored by the disobedience of the offenders.”
Hebrews 2:14-15: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Jesus was crucified between two thieves even though he had not done anything unlawful or deceitful. Indeed, “He was the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).”
The Apostles’ Creed records, “He was crucified, dead and buried.” The events around the passion of Christ were providential. Ultimately, Jesus was allowed to choose his own manner of death. A quick death like a beheading would not have been suitable to demonstrate unto men and angels the terrible consequences of sin. Jesus chose the slowest and most painful (hence the term excruciating, literally (out of crucifying), gruesome, and ignominious manner of execution known to men, thus revealing his love, even for his enemies and executioners.
Yet, there were limits as to what God would allow in Christ’s humiliation. God did not permit Jesus’ corpse to be desecrated. Usually victims were left on display long after death for vultures to consume; ordinarily burial was not permitted. But Jesus was carefully buried in the tomb of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus.
THE PLEASURE OF THE LORD
Isaiah 53:10: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”
This bruising of Christ actually comes from Satan, not God. The first promise in the Bible of the Savior-Messiah is found in Genesis 3:15, when God pronounces judgment on Satan through his cover the serpent: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Satan crushed Jesus’ heel (his humanity) in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon Mt. Calvary. However, when Jesus rose from the dead, he crushed the head of the devil. Jesus dealt a fatal blow to Satan’s power and dominion.
The Heavenly Father does not take a sadistic pleasure in his Son’s humiliation. His pleasure is in the results of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. There is a sense in which the Father takes responsibility for the bruising since he is the one that sent his Son in harm’s way.
The Commander-in-Chief sends soldiers into battle knowing that many will be killed and others wounded. He realizes that his men will have to pay a horrible price to protect freedom and bring victory. The soldier experiences grief and deprivation while in the field of battle even if he is not wounded or killed. In some sense the Commander is responsible for the sufferings of his army since he gives the orders. However, we do not blame the Commander; we blame the enemy for the death of our patriots.
Jesus’ ministry against the devil begins with 40 days and nights of fasting in the wilderness. It culminates in sweating blood in Gethsemane and his scourging and his crucifixion. One can be sure that the Father was pleased with the Son’s victory over Sin, Death, Hell and the Grave, despite the costliness of the battle. Freedom from Sin and Death was purchased by our Savior at an incalculable cost.
When Isaiah writes, “thou shall make his soul” (and his body) a sin offering, the prophet may be speaking of both Jesus and the Church. Jesus “through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God (Hebrews 9:14);” much like a soldier in war offers himself as a volunteer to his Commander and his countrymen knowing the dangers. However, the patriot is willing to pay any price to defend all that is dear to him.
The Church regularly presents Jesus’ sacrifice unto the Father through the Lord’s Supper. The Church (his heel) suffers with the Son as we enter into spiritual warfare and stand against sin and fight for righteousness. As we are tested and tried, we offer ourselves to the Eternal Father as a sacrifice. “As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter (Romans 8:36).” We eat of his flesh; we drink of his life-giving blood.
The Lord identifies with our suffering and our slaughter as we engage the enemy. He realizes that the Army of God (the Church) will have to pay a horrible price to preserve the freedom and maintain the victory, which he purchased on the tree. “For in that he himself has suffered being tempted (tested), he is able to help them that are tempted (Hebrews 2:18).”
Isaiah foretells, “He (Jesus, as well as his body, the Church) shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” Both the Messiah and his Church have posterity (the family of God). Jesus in his short life procured endless days for himself and his spiritual offspring because of his resurrection from the dead. It is God’s pleasure or will that “none perish but that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)” and that all prosper in his grip.
“According as his divine power hath given unto us (his offspring) all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:2-4).”
THE LAMB OF GOD
Isaiah 53:7: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.”
When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).”
Jesus bore our sins in order to take them away, not to leave us in our sin. Jesus did not simply want to remit the penalty of sin but he was determined to conquer sin itself. He had a large vision not simply to deliver Jews from the bondage of sin but to set free the world from the dominion of sin.
The Ethiopian Eunuch was reading from this verse when he was confronted by Philip the Evangelist, who asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
Then Philip from the same scripture preached Jesus to the Eunuch, who was subsequently baptized. The Ethiopian represents the first Gentile convert, who likely then took the gospel to Africa. This conversion story should remove any doubt that Isaiah’s prophesy is about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
Isaiah 53:8: “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.”
The Ethiopian Eunuch was also reading Isaiah 53:8 when Philip expounded to him on the identity of the one spoken about in the verse. The author of the Book of Acts paraphrases the first part of this sentence in a clearer manner, “In his humiliation his justice was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth (Acts 8:33).” Jesus was deprived of justice in a mock trial. After Pilate interrogates Jesus, the Roman prelate declares, “I find no fault in this man (Luke 23:4).”
“Who shall declare his generation?” Isaiah is likely asking, “Who shall defend Messiah against all his false accusers?” Judas had already betrayed him; Peter had denied him. And Pilate finally, if reluctantly, condemned him.
“Who shall proclaim his great work of salvation?” When the Roman centurion saw Jesus cry out, and give up the ghost, he declared, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” A Gentile saw what the Jews refused to see.
The Jews were expecting a triumphant Messiah, who would free them from the despotism of Rome. They did not understand Isaiah’s prophesy that the Messiah would be “cut off from the land of the living.” Daniel has also affirmed “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself (Daniel 9:26).” He will be put to death for the transgression of the Jewish people, which was largely their failure to be a light unto the Gentiles and their exultation of their rites and rituals over the Moral Law of God.
Who could believe the report that the Messiah would be of humble origins without the regalia of a king; that he would be hated and rejected; that he would be grieving and sorrowful; that he would be wounded, crushed and put to death? In the self-righteous Jewish mind set the Messiah could not be slaughtered for the sins of the people. Jews were God’s chosen people; the heathen Gentiles were the sinners. No marvel that Isaiah cries, “Who hath believed our report?” Such a report of love and sacrifice is incredible to self-centered people.
Our Lord’s humiliation begins with his Incarnation. He leaves the glories and majesties of Heaven to make himself of no reputation and takes upon himself the form of a servant and is made in the likeness of sinful flesh. Finally he became obedient unto the death of the cross (Phil 2:7-8, Rom 8:3).
On the cross Jesus offers himself to men, to God and even to the devil. He did not offer himself to God to appease his wrath. Instead, Jesus presents himself as a sin-offering to God in order that God may profoundly demonstrate to the world the ugly results of sin, which always brings suffering and death. He gives himself over to the Jews to placate their hatred against the heavenly father and to reconcile all men to God by his marvelous demonstration of humility and sacrifice.
Jesus deals himself to Satan as a ransom for the souls he has held in captivity. How does Jesus offer himself to the devil? Jesus challenges the Evil One to give him his best shot, which is the gunpowder of hatred. All of Hell attacks Jesus but he steadfastly fends off all the demonic hoards. Jesus demonstrates that love is stronger fire power than hatred. Love ultimately overcomes all of Satan’s selfishness and malice. Jesus shows to men and angels that love wins.
OUR SUFFERING SERVANT
Isaiah 53: 5: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
In the atonement of Christ, God substituted the sufferings of Jesus for the penalty of sin, which is death that is eternal separation from God. Christ’s sufferings were not a punishment from his Father; for it would not have been just for God to punish an innocent man. But innocent men frequently suffer over the sins of others. Adam’s bad example has brought much suffering to the human race as men have followed him in sin.
Peter applies Isaiah’s vision in his first letter: Christ “his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:24).”
Christ suffered the shame of being regarded and treated as a sinner by evil men, when in fact he was a guiltless man. God’s purpose in sending Christ to atone for the sins of mankind was to change and transform men from sinners to saints. One is either dead to sin; that is sin no longer engages him or else he is dead in sin. As Paul writes, “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness (Romans 6:18),” through Christ’s death and resurrection.
Although the Father put his Son in harm’s way by sending him into the world, the chastisement of Christ was inflicted by sinful men, not by his heavenly Father. The Father did not chasten the Son in the sense of punishment but in the sense of discipline. Obedience was not automatic for Jesus in that he had “to learn obedience by the things which he suffered; being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Hebrews 5:8-9).”
John Miley wrote, “Christ was made a curse by being exposed to reproach and shame on a cross. The sufferings of Christ were substituted instead of inflicting the chastisement due to us; and that they are called by this name, because they answered the same ends, as if our chastisement had been literally inflicted upon us.”
After his baptism in Jordan where the Father pronounced his pleasure over his Son, Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matt 4:1).” Thus we have the beginning of his sorrows in his fasting for forty days and nights. And after enduring Satan’s temptations, the devil left Jesus for a season and the angels came and ministered unto him. Satan attacks him again in Gethsemane where Jesus fell into such heavy temptation that he sweated blood and almost died. But the experience strengthened him to endure the even greater test of Mt. Calvary, where in death he was finally perfected (Luke 13:32).
Christ desires to heal the whole man, body, soul and spirit. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all they diseases (Ps 103:32-3).”
What a great provision of salvation God has made for those who believe! No wonder Isaiah questioned, “Who hath believed our report? Who would think that God’s love would be so great that he would give his only begotten Son to endure such great infliction on the behalf of mankind? The Jews should have known; they should have believed from Isaiah’s prophesy and other Hebrew Scriptures, which spoke of the Messiah’s afflictions. But, alas, they were blinded by sin and the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4).
WHAT HAS GOD WROUGHT IN CHRIST?
Isaiah 53:6: “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.”
The prophet says all have gone astray and everyone has turned his own way. Scriptures do not teach that men are born sinful. Children are not born with a sinful nature; they are born with a human nature that has the capacity to do good or evil, to live selfishly or unselfishly. Alas, all have chosen to abuse their freedom by choosing to be selfish and thus they become sinful, which eventually becomes their nature until they experience the new birth through faith in Jesus Christ: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor 5:17).” Sin is now dead and righteousness is now alive in the one who is in Christ.
“For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21).” To be made “sin for us” does not mean that Jesus ever became a sinner, nor did God regard him as a sinner when he was on the cross. Isaiah could not mean that he became sinful, since in the same sentence he declares that Jesus “knew no sin.”
How has “the LORD laid upon Christ the iniquity of us all?” Jesus became a sin offering in order to demonstrate that sin results in suffering, humiliation and death. Upon the conditions of repentance and faith in Christ’s work of reconciliation, God could now offer us forgiveness and secure a suitable motive for our future obedience. After realizing the great cost in securing salvation, how could those who loves their Lord return to the sin from which they were once delivered? That would be to “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame (Hebrews 6:6).”
Some teach a legal fiction that our sins are transferred to Christ without him becoming a sinner and his righteousness is transmitted to us without us actually becoming righteous in this life.
Thomas W. Jenykn refutes this notion, “The substitution of Christ was twofold,–a substitution of his person instead of the offenders; and substitution of his suffering instead of their punishment. In this substitution there was no interchange of character, nor transfer of blame-worthiness; the innocent [Jesus] was innocent still, the offender [mankind] was an offender still.”
The blood of Jesus cleanses from sin. The Old Testament sacrifices merely covered sin for the time being. The dumb animals going to the slaughter could not provide the moral influence necessary to cleanse the consciousness of sin (Hebrews 10:2). Jesus appeared in order “to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:26).”
Those who claim that a believer remains a sinner after the cross in fact have an Old Testament relationship with God. The blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin; however, by the offering of his blood Jesus “hath perfected forever them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14).”
Why should Christ go through all his sufferings if he is not able to change the nature of man from a selfish to a benevolent nature? If we remain sinners after the cross, the LORD might as well have just left the O.T. sacrificial system in place. Alas, many who claim to have fellowship with Jesus Christ do not believe Isaiah’s report of a New Covenant coming in place with better promises than that of the Old.
THE SHAME OF THE CROSS
Isaiah 53:3: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
The sorrow of Christ consisted of his manifold temptations, especially in the wilderness, in Gethsemane and on the Cross. Intellectual and spiritual loneliness brought him sadness and great grief. Judas’ betrayed and Peter’s denial were exceeding painful. He appeared to be forsaken by all on the cross, even by his Heavenly Father. The humiliation of the Incarnation itself, which forced him to constantly come into contact with sin, made for a life of heartache. Bearing the curse of sin and being regarded as a sinner was a terrible shame. No wonder God the Father faltered by such intolerable humiliation as he observed from Heaven. When two persons are forever bound together by the bond of love, when one suffers the other is bound to be pained.
No man was more hated and distrusted than Jesus, which was another source of his grief. Jesus said, “They hated me without a cause (John 15:25).” This animosity was especially troubling because it came from his own people: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not (John 1:11).” The Jews were ashamed of their own Messiah, whom they had expected to lead them out of Roman rule, much as Moses delivered the people from the Egyptian tyranny. They turned away from the one who would set them free from the bondage of sin and the fear of death.
Thomas W. Jenkyn wrote, “Aversion from sufferings is an affection essential to every living being. Such an affection is in itself innocent and sinless; without it, man would not be the subject of hope or fear, and consequently, not a fit subject of moral government. Had the blessed Mediator been without such aversion to pain, he would not have appeared so great a sufferer. Sufferings were, therefore, introduced into the atonement, because they supplied the greatest number of motives to deter from sin, afforded the greatest amount of reasons for returning to allegiance, the soundest grounds of assurance of a cordial reception and pardon, and laid the most numerous and pressing bonds of obligations on the offenders.”
Despite being a man of sorrows, Jesus was able to focus on his ultimate joy. Paul wrote, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:2)”
The joy of Christ in his sacrifice is the joy of God in the redemption and the recovery of his beloved creation, mankind. His sufferings prepared him for an access to human hearts. His final joy consisted of winning men through empathy with their lost condition: “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted (Heb 2:17-18).”
Christ’s sufferings were not penal. He was not being punished by God by taking the place of men in punishment. His sufferings were sympathetic for identifying with men and demonstrating great compassion for their lost condition.
WAS THE FATHER ANGRY WITH HIS SON?
Isaiah 53:4: “Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”
The evangelist, Matthew, reports that Jesus healed Peter’s fevered mother-in-law. And afterwards that he cast devils out of many and healed all that were sick. Matthew ties in these deliverances and healings with Isaiah’s words, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses (Matt 8:17).” Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him (Acts 10:38).”
The grief which Jesus bore would include physical pains and infirmities and sicknesses; the sorrows would include the mental infirmities and anguishes of men. When Jesus healed a demon possessed blind and dumb man, the Pharisees accused him of casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. Jesus answered them saying, “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you (Matt 12:28).” Jesus mission was to restore the kingdom that Adam had turned over to the devil.
Jesus bore much grief and sorrow directed his way from the religious leaders for his deliverances and healings, especially when he healed people on the Sabbath. He was falsely accused of being a blasphemer, when in fact his accusers were the blasphemers. Self-centered men confused Jesus’ compassion with blasphemy.
Wicked men considered Jesus to be getting his just deserts when he suffered many things from the chief priests and the elders and then was delivered up to death. Such ignorance still is promoted today by theologians, who promote the penal substitution theory of the atonement. They claim that the Father poured out his entire wrath upon his Son and that Jesus was punished by God in our place. Some even have the audacity to teach that Jesus became a sinner on the cross and that God killed his own son.
“St. Paul’s statement that Jesus was made ‘sin for us,’ has led some to import into the sufferings of our Lord an infection of sin. . . They have supposed that He came near to the consciousness of being an embodiment of sin, near enough to a sense of guilt to stand before God as uttering the repentance of mankind. . . Had this been our Lord’s consciousness, instead of wonder that God had forsaken Him, there would have been the sense that this forsaking was His desert. The very contrary was the case. The anguish of the cry is in the surprise, and not only in the bitterness of the experience. The forsaking was unexpected, and it was met with the agonized wonder which only the integrity of perfect righteousness can know. No consciousness of His own, however momentary, can explain to Him the desertion of His Father. The only explanation is that death, the witness of wrath against sin, is here doing the worst against Him who stands for the guilty men (John Scott Lidgett, The Biblical Doctrine of the Atonement, 1897, p. 277).”
It should be noted that there is a true sense in which God’s wrath is appeased by the Atonement of Christ. Because God is loving and holy, he has a righteous indignation again the sinner. The atonement of Christ combined with the sinners repentance negates the necessity for God’s wrath against the penitent sinner.
The objective of the Father through the Atonement was to provide a wise, just and righteous means to pass over past sins and to provide another way of making man righteous than by punishing. Punishing may change a man’s behavior but it will not change a man’s heart.