(Editor's Note:) We have at least 2 "Sermons From Africa" on that index under the title of "The Death Of Jesus Christ." They have been given numbers to separate them. Nos. "1" and "2" were preached at one of our African missions 2 weeks apart in February of 1981. Each of them can stand alone. *****
Our attendance is gradually growing as it should, of course, especially in the Sunday morning services. But it's been growing a little bit also in the Sunday evening services. And we need to work a little harder on the Wednesday night services. Everybody, please make a special effort to be here on Wednesday night. We have about a forty minute lesson on prophecy study from the book of Revelation and then we have a few prayers together and go home. So, there's not any reason that you'll be real late on Wednesday night or anything. Make an effort to be here for the Wednesday night service as well.
The message today that the Lord has given us is one that should be the keynote of all Bible preaching. And I just realized recently that's it's been over a year now since I have just specifically preached a sermon or a series of sermons on this particular subject. I have brought it into many other messages, but the theme today is the death of Christ. Yes, the death of Jesus Christ. And this must be the keynote of our preaching if we are to win people to Christ --- The death of Christ, our Saviour.
I preached you a series --- I've forgotten now if it was three or five sermons in a row --- every Sunday morning in a row about fifteen months ago on this subject. I'm not sure yet if I'll preach again on this subject next Sunday or not. But anyway, let's get started on this one today.
The importance of Christ's death is one of the first things that we want to think about today. The importance of it. It's the most important event that has happened in recorded history! The most important event that's recorded in un-recorded history. People a lot of times don't like to hear about the death of Christ. But we need to hear about the death of Christ, don't we? Both Christians and the unsaved.
One thing about this when we start thinking about the importance of Christ's death. If you look through the New Testament and count the number of times in the New Testament that the death of Christ is mentioned, you'll find that it amounts to more than 175 different times in the New Testament alone. And then, of course, there are many prophetic and typical references in the Old Testament which would mount up no doubt into hundreds as well. But in the New Testament alone we find that it's directly mentioned about 175 times. You've heard me say very often this expression that He was born to die. And you'll no doubt hear me say it many times more. And He WAS born to die; that's what He became flesh for, in order that He might die for us, to pay for our sins.
Let's read over in Hebrews chapter 2. Hebrews 2:9, and then we'll skip on down and read verse 14 as well. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Then verse 14 in the same chapter says this: "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."
So not only was He born to die, He was born for this specific purpose in order that He might die for us. He left the glories of heaven as the song says and came down here to this sinful world, took upon Himself the form of a man, lived for thirty-three years here in the form of man and then died also as a sinless man to pay for our sins. Jesus became flesh for this specific purpose that He might deliver us from sin and deliver us from death, as it tells us there in Hebrews 2:14: "That he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."
Now His death, when we start thinking about it, many people seem to think His death is just one little minor incident in His life. But His death is not just an incident in His life, is it? It's not just an incident in His human life. But it's the very purpose for which He came. It's the supreme purpose of His life. The only real purpose of His coming was that He might die for us. In other words, He became man in order that He might die as a man for man. So it's not just a little incident in His life or one of many incidents in His life but it is THE incident in His life, is it not?
Christ came to die as a ransom! If you read with me over in Matthew chapter 20, verse 28, when we think of this word ransom, it really fits quite well in discussing the purpose for which Christ came, and the purpose for which He died, doesn't it? This word ransom, we're familiar with it even in modern days. When someone is kidnapped and held as a hostage and likely to be killed, then we talk about a ransom, don't we? To rescue them from this hopeless position in which they are. Therefore, we can well imagine that this word ransom fits perfectly in thinking about Christ coming and paying the ransom for mankind.
Matthew 20:28 says this: "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." That is what He came for. The real purpose of His coming was to pay the ransom for us in order that we might be delivered from our hopeless and helpless condition and position.
The death of Christ we find is such an important subject that it was the subject of Moses and Elias or Elijah. It was the very subject about which they talked with Jesus at the transfiguration, wasn't it? Imagine this, remember we're thinking about the importance of Christ's death now in the beginning of the message today. Just imagine this up there on Mount Tabor or wherever the Mount of Transfiguration is, we don't know for sure but many people say it was Mount Tabor, up there on Mount Tabor (use your imagination now) --- here's the scene! Peter, James and John are with the Lord, aren't they? And then they see this vision or this apparition or whatever you want to call it, it suddenly appears before them. Christ becomes shining, takes on a shining aspect and then they see Elijah and Moses also there speaking with Him on the top of the mountain. You would think, "Well, now they'd have a lot of very important things to talk about."
And yet, you know the only thing the Scripture mentions that they talked to Him about, THE ONLY THING WAS HIS DEATH, wasn't it? That's how important His death is and was, even these men who came back from the dead, Elijah and Moses who came back and suddenly appeared there with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration, the only thing the Scripture even mentions that they talked about was His death.
Let's read that together --- in Luke chapter 9 is a good account of it. Luke 9, beginning with verse 29. Beginning at verse 29 it says this: "And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias," (or Elijah, we would call him most of the time), "Who appeared in glory, and spake of his," what? "His decease." His death in other words. "Which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." His death was drawing near at Jerusalem and that's what they talked about.
"But Peter," listen to this now, notice this, there's an important lesson here for us as well, this last verse here --- "But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep." Now imagine that. We'll finish that verse in a minute. Just imagine that! Here they are, up here on the top of the Mount of Transfiguration with the Lord and they go to sleep. It sounds like a bunch of Baptists today, doesn't it? It sounds like a bunch of modern day Baptists! They were heavy with sleep, "And when they were awake," now here's what happened when they woke up, "they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him."
Just think, they missed part of the glory, didn't they? By being asleep. They missed part of the glory because these men apparently appeared while they were asleep, so they missed at least part of the glory, being asleep! That ought to be a lesson for us as Christians and as church members today. Stay awake! Stay awake! And I don't mean just keep your eyes open, I mean keep your spiritual eyes open as well. And if we do that, we won't miss part of the glory, we'll see all of the glory when it first appears, won't we? If we keep our spiritual eyes open, we won't miss part of it like these disciples did.
The prophesied death of Christ was a subject of great interest to the Old Testament prophets, wasn't it? The Scriptures tell us this clearly. First Peter chapter 1 speaks of this. First Peter 1:10 and 11 tells us of the great interest which the Old Testament prophets had in the death of Christ. Speaking here, First Peter 1:10, it says: "Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, (and searched diligently) who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." So even the Old Testament prophets searched and sought to know more about the death of Christ. And this is just another mark of the importance of the death of Christ.
His death was even the subject of interest to the angels, did you know that? Even the angels were greatly interested in this subject. First Peter 1:12 on down there in the next verse from the one we just read to you says this: "Which things the angels desire to look into." So even the angels in heaven were interested and desired to know more about the death of Christ. How much more important could anything be than one in which all of these different events have come about and have occurred to show it's great importance?
The death of Christ is not only of interest to the angels but we find it's the theme of heaven's song. Imagine this with me now. Let's read over in Revelation chapter 5. We're reading about a scene in heaven, here in Revelation 5, beginning with verse 8 and reading through verse 12, showing us that the death of Christ is the theme of heaven's song. And I can tell you that it's always going to be the theme of heaven's song, too! It will forever be so!
Let's read it here in Revelation 5:8-12. Remember this is a vision that John had of heaven and in fact, they're here near the throne or we might say about the throne when they're doing this. "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders," these are four living creatures in heaven, "and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints." Now listen to this, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts," that is, the living creatures, "and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."
So what do we see here? We see this vision that John had of the events that are going to take place in heaven in the future. And the main theme of this great song that the saints, represented by the four and twenty elders, and the glorious creatures about which we know nothing or very little except just a brief description here in Revelation, the guardians of the throne we could call them, and the angels, ten thousand times ten thousand and then thousands of thousands, it says. In other words, an endless number. To humans an uncountable number of angels as well as the saints of the ages are going to be up there singing before the throne and the theme of the song is going to be what we're talking about today, the death of Jesus Christ. That's going to be the keynote of the whole musical program up there in heaven --- the death of Christ!
Now as we move on a little further thinking about the death of Christ, we've been speaking up to this point entirely about the importance of it --- let's think for just a few minutes about the purpose of Christ's death or why He died. Why did He die?
In the first place, one would have to begin this thought by saying that He died because of the sins of others. He certainly didn't die for His own sins because He had none. He died because of the sins of others. In other words, sin made His death necessary. This by itself if we really realize what it means, should cause us as Christians to abhor sin, shouldn't it? To realize that it was sin that killed or made the death of the blessed Savior necessary. It was not His own sins as we've said but the sin of others that He bore in His death. He died for us. In other words, His death was vicarious or substitutionary. That is, the just dying for the unjust. He had no sins of His own, He was perfection without sin, therefore He could die for others. Had He had sin of His own He could not die for others because He would have had to die for His own sin. But He died a substitutionary death as we said, the just dying for the unjust.
Let's read a verse in Isaiah together now. Isaiah chapter 53, and we'll just read verse 5, although the entire chapter is worthy of reading any time. 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." It doesn't say anything about Him bearing any of this for Himself because He didn't have to bear any of it for Himself. Even in His human form He was perfection without sin, therefore He could die for others and bear our stripes in His own body on the cross! He could suffer and bleed and die for us so that Isaiah could prophecy way back there long before the birth of Christ, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah could write this and say: "with his stripes we are healed."
There's not any other way to be healed of our sin sickness. Some people seem to think there are other ways to get to heaven, that there are many ways to heaven. But let me tell you there's only one way, and Jesus is it! There is not any other way, He is it. No other way will ever get you or anyone else to h4eaven! No matter what anyone tells you about it, no matter what you believe about anything, the only thing that counts is what does God say about it! That's what really counts. Not what we believe, but what God says! That is what we can really depend on.
First Corinthians 15:3 says this among other things, and this is the key thought that I want to read to you: "how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures." "How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures." Peter has more to say about it when it says in First Peter 2:24: "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." So there in the last part of that verse he is quoting again almost the same words we see in Isaiah 53:5, isn't he?
First Peter 3:18, going on a little further in the same book where we just read says this: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." So, it's just a repetition again of the fact that the "why" of His dying is entirely because of our sin, isn't it? That's the only "why" there is. There is no other "why," no other reason, no other possible reason why He died except for the purpose of dying in our place that we might come to know God.
His death, in other words, was the price paid to redeem others from death. It was the price paid, as if you went out and paid a ransom, as we read to you earlier in another Scripture in Matthew! It is as if someone of your family were being held hostage and you had to pay ten thousand rand ("rand" is an African currency) or else they would be killed tomorrow at noon. Now I don't know how you'd get that ten thousand rand but you'd get it some way, wouldn't you? And I would too. You'd get it some way and you'd pay the price. And they wouldn't take anything except the ten thousand rand. They wouldn't take ten thousand dollars, they wouldn't take ten thousand pounds, they wanted ten thousand rand. And you'd pay the price, wouldn't you? And that's the way it was and the way it is about the death of Christ. There was only one payment for sin, that payment was death and still is. And He paid it. He's the only one that could pay it because everyone else had sins of their own. But He had no sin of His own, He has no sin of His own, therefore He could die and pay the ransom for many.
Matthew 20:28 says this, I believe I read this one to you earlier but I want to read it again at this point. I've just been speaking to you about it again. "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." In other words, He became a guilt offering for sin. It is only on the grounds of His death that pardon is granted to sinners. There is no other basis on which God could grant pardon to sinners except on the basis of the sin being paid for by the death of Christ. And it is important to recognize this fact. There is no other possible means of salvation. No other possible means on which God Himself could pardon sinners. If He did, He'd be an unjust God and God could not be God and be unjust, could He? There is only one basis on which He could pardon sinners and that is He could grant a pardon to sinners on the grounds of the death of His Son because His Son fulfilled the law of God which says that the wages of sin is death.
Hebrews 9:22 says this about this subject, "Without shedding of blood is no remission," meaning no remission of sin, of course. Isaiah chapter 53 again in verse 10 has more to say along this lines when it said this: "Yet it pleased," this is 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 is the only basis on which God can or will forgive or pardon sinners --- on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and Jesus paid that debt for all who ever will believe!
Again in Hebrews chapter 9, down a little further in that same chapter where we read a moment ago, in verse 28 it says this: "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." So because of the fact that He died, because of the fact that He paid for our sin, because of the fact that He ransomed us, because of the fact that He purchased our pardon with His own blood, we can look forward to this time when He's coming again in power and great glory to receive us unto Himself.
You say, "Well, what if I'm dead before He comes?" That won't make a bit of difference. Spiritually, you'll already be with Him from the moment you die, and physically you will be with Him the instant He returns because the Scripture teaches that when He comes back at the Rapture to call us to meet Him in the air, the dead in Christ as well as the living in Christ will be resurrected (or changed) and will go up to meet Him for the big celebration in heaven that's going to take place just after that. Are you ready for that time today? If you are not, I hope you will get ready today!
Notice as we go a little further that He, through the shedding of His blood, is that by which the wrath of God against us as sinners is appeased. There is nothing else as we've already mentioned in approaching it from a different direction already today, there is nothing else that will appease the wrath of God toward us as sinners. In other words, He is our propitiation. First John 4:10 says: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." That's what Jesus came for. He was born to die. He came to be a propitiation for our sin.
Remember that a holy God hates sin. And certainly God is holy and His holiness demands death for sin. The fact that He is holy demands death for sin. And the only way that man can appease this wrath of God toward us as sinners is through the death of Christ which He died on the cross for us, When we accept this, trust Him as our Savior, then God is appeased in His wrath toward us as sinners.
He died as a Passover sacrifice, as our Passover sacrifice, I like to say, in order that His blood might serve as a basis on which the holy God, who hates sin, would pass over and spare us. We won't read it today because of time but there is a verse in I Corinthians chapter 5, verse 7 which speaks of this and directly calls Him our Passover.
He died that we might be delivered from the claims of the law and made sons of God! Galatians 4:4 speaks of this. Let's read there in Galatians 4:4 and 5: "But when the fulness of time was come," --- let me back up, I left out one word. It is only a "the" but I don't like to leave out anything when I'm reading the Scriptures --- "But when the fulness of THE time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Now it is this which makes us sons of God --- The death of Christ, which we accept, in our place and then God adopts us or takes us into His own family, makes us His own son, His own daughter. There is no other way to become a child of God except by this means. His death provides the means by which we become the adopted children of God! There's no other means for this whatsoever.
Christ died to deliver! Christ died to deliver us from the present evil world! And you say, "Well, I didn't know it was so evil." Well, if you just open your eyes unless, you are blind, you can see it is terribly evil and getting worse every day, not better! Anyone that believes it's getting better every day is not only blind but deaf and dumb as well, aren't they? And yet we have a lot of so-called religious people who go around teaching that today the world is getting better and better and eventually it's going to get so good, you know, that the Lord Himself is going to come down and reign over us in the flesh. Baloney --- rubbish! That's all it is, isn't it? When they teach that. It's just not taught in the Scripture. And even common sense and logic would teach you that it is not true, even without the Scriptures. Because anyone that has half an ear and half an eye and half a brain can tell that this is just not happening, is it? And it is not going to happen on earth until King Jesus reigns on earth in the flesh!
But Christ did die to deliver us from the present evil world --- and He's going to do it! Galatians 1:4; "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from the present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." So when we get saved by the blood of Christ then we ought to be different from the world, shouldn't we? It doesn't mean we've got to go out there on the street and poke every unsaved person in the nose, it doesn't mean anything like that at all! It doesn't mean we've got to go out there and shoot all of the wicked people, it doesn't mean anything silly like that, does it? But He has delivered us from the present evil world and that was included in the reason for His death, wasn't it? He delivered us from the present evil world to separate us from the present evil world! He died to give us another place to go besides this present evil world --- the place that He has prepared for us and is preparing for us in heaven!
In other words, we were in bondage to this world both by sin and by the law! His death has made it possible that we can become sons of God and citizens of heaven. That's the way in which He has delivered us from this present evil world. His death has made it possible for us to become sons of God and citizens of heaven. Our citizenship, if we're saved, is in heaven. It is in heaven, our principal citizenship.
A Christian has dual citizenship. His first and foremost citizenship is that citizenship in heaven. And then his secondary and in some cases even his third citizenship would be his citizenship here on earth. As you know, a few people have dual citizenship here on earth as well.
Jesus died to bring us to God. That was the purpose of it, wasn't it? The purpose of His death was to bring us to God. First Peter 3:18, we read to you earlier, makes this very clear. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust," for what purpose? Why did He do it? "That he might bring us to God," it says. In other words, His death removes the impassable gulf that yawns between a holy God and sinful man. His blood or His death bridges this gap between the Holy God and sinful man.
In conclusion I want to read a little poem from a song in some of our song books. I want you to really think about these words as I read them to you. The title of it is, "He Died For Me." It's with the emphasis on "Me."
"I saw One hanging on a tree in agony and blood.
He fixed His languid eyes on me as near His cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath can I forget that look.
It seemed to charge me with His death, though not a word He spoke.
My conscience felt and owned the guilt and plunged me in despair.
I saw my sins, His blood had spilt and helped to nail Him there.
A second look He gave which said, ‘I freely all forgive,
This blood is for thy ransom paid, I died that thou mayest live.'"
And that does a pretty good job of telling it all, doesn't it? That little short poem. "I died that thou mayest live." So His death is of great importance and the sole purpose of His death is that we might live, that we might become sons and daughters of God, that we might become adopted children of God and citizens of heaven. But we can only become citizens of heaven if we're willing to trust Him, accept His death in our place as our substitute and trust Him as our Savior.
If you are here now and you haven't done this, would you do it right here and now? There will never be a better time! Or if you know that you've already trusted the Lord as your Savior but you haven't been following Him as you should and you feel Him speaking to you about getting in the Church and becoming active and serving Him as you should in His work, you know you've been saved but you've been out of His service and He's speaking to you about coming back to His house and serving and worshiping Him as you should, come down and tell us about it now!
If you will trust the Lord, come tell us about it so we can rejoice with you. He died for you, He died for me, and if you'll trust Him, He'll save you! You will become a son or daughter of God, a child of the Great King! You will become a citizen of heaven. If you haven't done that, do it now and we can rejoice with you!