God the Father has unmeasured love for His people. The supreme manifestation of this love is displayed at the cross of Christ. In that provision, teaches Alistair Begg, the Father arranged for our atonement, and the Son willingly laid down His life. And still today, the Spirit opens the eyes of our hearts to the salvation that was procured—a salvation that is for all rebels who turn from their sinful ways and trust Christ.
The following message by Alistair begg is made available by truth for life. For more information, visit us online at truth for life dot org. For while we were still weak at the right time christ died for the ungodly for one will scarcely die for a righteous person, Though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, christ died for us. We pray together father. We thank you for these wonderful words that we’ve been able to read. We thank you for the rightful confession that we’ve been able to make because quite honestly, on our best day, we are unprofitable servants. We thank you for the songs that we have been able to sing together, turning our gaze to christ and making us ponder the wonder of redemption that is provided in him. And now we pray that as we prepare to celebrate in the way that jesus asked for us to do, to remember him to remember him in his death. To remember him in his shedding blood for the salvation of sinful men and women. We pray that the word of God may find a resting place in each of our hearts and prepare us rightly for all that we will do. And we ask it in jesus name. Amen please be seated. Well, I have Just one text and we began with it. We read more than the text, but it’s the eighth verse of Romans chapter five Where paul says, But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners christ died for us, I don’t know what you’ve been thinking about this week. I’m sure if you’ve had your mind at all on the things that bring us to a night like this and certainly to sunday morning, you will have tracked down the familiar avenues of the story of easter and all that leads up to it. You will perhaps have pondered as I have done the fact that really the early parts of Matthew Mark luke and john serve as a kind of prologue really to their great preoccupation with the final week in the life of jesus. And in the course of all of that, my heart and mind has been stirred just by one simple thought. And it is this the love of God, the love of God. Hence my text. Let me read it to you again. God shows his love for us in this, In that while we were still sinners christ died for us, I chose romans 58 because it’s brief, but I might equally well have decided that we would take first john chapter four and verse 10, which reads in this is love. Not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiate in for our sins or we could equally well have taken what is arguably the best known verse in the entire bible, which reads for God, so loved the world that he gave, his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. The events that we have read from John 19, which are paralleled in the other gospels, make it very clear to us that all that unfolded in these moments, in these hours for the Lord, Jesus did not take him by surprise. If you know your bible, you will know that immediately on the heels of Peter’s great declaration of faith, when Jesus has asked, who do people say that I am? And Peter comes up with the right answer really? He says, well, we know who you are, you are the christ, the son of the living God and then immediately on the heels of that we’re told and it’s not the only time that he does it, he does it three times in in short order and this is what it says from that time, This is Matthew 16 from that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and on the third day, be raised in speaking of his death again in the gospel of john, he wanted his disciples to understand this and we must understand it too. No one, he says takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord, I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again, Jesus did not crucify himself, Jesus was crucified, but in the reality of that he remains transcendent over the very things that are happening to him and as the sun’s light faded that day in the middle of the day and as the darkness covered over the whole land and as as we’ve sung, the temple curtain was torn into. In the midst of all of that, jesus had cried out with a loud voice, a number of things, he cried out, we read one of them, it is finished, but he cried out, Father into your hands, I commend my spirit. And then having said that, he breathed his last, the amazing drama that unfolded there was such that even hard bitten soldiers realized there is something that has happened here in this day that has never happened before and doubtless will never happen again. The centurion, we’re told pronounces christ’s innocence and the crowd that have been there milling around watching a variety of people, a variety of perspectives. The crowd then begin to disperse and luke tells us and they went home overcome with grief actually, it says that they were beating their breasts as they walked away as a, as a signal of the reality of what had happened and jesus when he had said, you know, I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it up again, realized that the jews would realize because they knew that a man hanging upon a cross was cursed by God. He knew that they would be able to put the pieces together in the way that the songwriter has put them together for us. Now that the curse has been born that we who deserve and live under a curse may be freed from the curse because christ has become a curse for us. Now, all of that is part and parcel of the things that perhaps you’ve been reading or will read in the next few hours as we come to easter sunday and I find myself as you know, I so often do retreating or advancing to the hymn writers for their poetry is so helpful in these things. The head writer says I sometimes think about the cross and close my eyes and try to see the cruel nails and crown of thorns and jesus crucified for me. I closed my eyes and try to see, I want to say three things and in very short order because remember I told you I’ve been thinking about the Love of God, what what I what I want you to understand tonight is the fact that it is the love of God the Father, which is the driving force, which is the impulsive power that provides us with the cross of the Lord, jesus christ. So my first point is this that this event has been arranged by God the Father inscribed upon the cross. We see again, the hymn writer in shining letters, God is love. So that salvation, the provision of salvation springs from the heart of the Father. Now, this is the thing that has been exercising me because I realized. But even in my own preaching, even in our own consideration of these things, it is possible for us to be rightly focused on the work of the Lord jesus rightly focused on the work of the Lord jesus and actually inadvertently feeling to recognize that it is the love of God the Father, which is the source from which all of this spring’s, he said, Well, think about it, please do think about it in that passage where jesus says, I have the power to lay it down. I have the power to take it up again. He says to his listeners, this charge I have received from my father, I am doing this because my father has planned for this to take place. That’s why in Romans five is quite remarkable, is it says, you know, uh somebody might be prepared to to die for a righteous person or to die for a good person or a righteous good person, but who would do this, But God commence his love towards us. In a while. We were still sinners christ died for us. The love of the father from eternity is exercised towards sinners. He decrees from eternity that he will save those who are rebels against him. That’s his decree again. The hymn writer masterfully says how helpless and hopeless we sinners had been. If he never had loved us till cleansed from our sin. And that of course, is where so many people go wrong. They think that’s exactly the position. If you can clean yourself up enough, if you can do the best you can do, then perhaps you’ll put yourself in the position where God will be glad to have you. No, he is the God who from all of eternity has planned with a love, a love that is an antecedent love. In other words, he didn’t love us because we were attractive. He didn’t love us because it was prompted by anything in us. He didn’t love us because we deserved it. He loved us because he loved us. It’s holy ground, isn’t it? Because if you think of the wisdom of God, if we can speak in these terms, you say well, the wisdom of God, it makes us think about the vastness of his mind. But when you think about the love of God, you think about the heart of God. God’s purpose of love for sinners was formed before the foundation of the world. And as a result of that, he determined that he would provide for sinners and in his provision for sinners, he sent his son to secure the salvation of sinners. Come, let us sing of a wonderful love out of the heart of the father above. The love of the father arranged it. This atonement arranged by the father was agreed to by the Sun because the father knew that sinners would never be in a position to deal with our own predicament. So there was going to have to be a solution. And that solution provided in the compelling love of the father is then expressed in the amazing love of the Lord jesus. So that on the cross, the Lord jesus willingly purposefully experiences what we as sinners deserve. And it is vitally important that we recognize that in seeking to as it were a portion these things, we recognize the harmony that exists between the father and the son and the Holy Spirit. And when people go wrong on this, you will be able to pick it up. You will hear people speaking about these things in terminology along these lines that somehow or another, the death of christ constrains the love of the father that jesus now has if you like induced the father to love in this way the reverse is the case. The death of the Lord jesus christ, to which he agreed does not constrain the love of the father, but the love of the father constrains the death of his only beloved son. My God. What love is this that pays so dearly? I’ve been thinking about this, the father did not lay on the sun an ordeal, he was unwilling to experience, nor did the sun extract from the father a salvation he was unwilling to provide. But christ died in the sinner’s place as the supreme, the supreme manifestation and expression of the love of God, the father. Yeah. And dying in our place he provides reconciliation because we are alienated, dying in our place. He bears the curse. We deserve dying in our place. He provides a pardon by bearing our penalty. All the love that drew salvation plan arranged by God the father, oh the grace that brought it down to man agreed to by God the son. And oh the mighty work that God spanned at calvary because it is applied to us by the Holy Spirit. Or if you read all theology books, I just chose three years what the father has planned. The sun has procured and the Holy Spirit applies the inter trinity, Terrian purpose of God is beyond our capacity to comprehend. Tis finished. The messiah dies and all for sins but not his own. This is ridiculous. The wages of sin is death. So how does the sinless die unless the sinless dies for the sinful, unless the guiltless dies for the guilty. There’s a mystery how the spirit of God brings it home to us, but he does. It’s important for that. We understand that the Holy Spirit is not a spectator in these events. He’s not a bystander, you know this because you’ve done hebrews and in hebrews 9 14, some of you have noted it in your bible how much more he’s talking about the blood of bulls and goats. Remember if the blood of bulls and goats was providing this external purification, how much more will the blood of christ notice the phraseology, Who through the eternal Spirit offers himself without blemish to purify our consciences. In other words, the Holy Spirit was at work, both aiding and empowering christ as he fulfills the privilege of being both the priest and the sacrifice and thereby securing an eternal redemption. It’s also the work of the Holy Spirit, incidentally, to open the eyes of our hearts, causing us to find in jesus, not an idea, not an example, not a guru, but a savior. You see when the Holy Spirit fulfills the application of the wonder of the love of the father and the work of the Son to a life. You don’t talk about it in third party terminology. No, you find yourself saying with Saul, the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me. He didn’t just deal with sin in a great generic mass. He dealt with your sin. He dealt with my sin. He dealt with everything that represented my disinterest in God, my rebellion against God. He took all of that in himself. How do I know that? Because the Holy Spirit applied it to my heart when in a sunday school, a sunday school, you mean like a child. Yes, like a child, Thank God for our sunday school teachers. Making clear to Children, this is the love of the father, This is the work of the sun, this is how the Holy Spirit brings it home to you and all of a sudden your eyes will be open and you’ll say, oh and I love jesus too, jesus loves me this, I know for the bible tells me so the little ones to him belong and we’re the week and he is strong, oh I just did with this house stop. But I just came across a quote, a wonderful quote by Spurgeon in this regard the other day talking about how in the world is it that we move beyond a simple head. Knowledge of things like this, to where we are brought to close with this to to receive this, to be united with the Lord, jesus christ This is what he says. The mysterious hand of the divine spirit drop the living seed into a heart that he had himself prepared to receive it. How good is that? It’s got to be that it’s gonna be there because the people all hear the same talk. The people are all able to think by and large. The people can follow the progression of some kind of semi cogent argument, but who believes who has believed our report and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed. Who has I know not how the spirit moves, convincing men of sin, revealing jesus through the word, creating faith in him, but when he does, the people say, and I know who might have believed. I wonder have you been thinking along these lines too? I wonder you go home tonight and say, Father, What a love. Lord, jesus christ. What a savior. Holy Spirit, What a friend and counselor. Just let’s have a moment of silence. God shows his love toward us and that while we were still sinners christ died for us, this message was brought to you from truth. For life where the learning is for living, learn more about truth for life with Alistair begg visit us online at truth for life dot org.