What We Learned Together This Sunday September 3, 2023
Today is the third message of this short series in this season for New Life Fellowship. We have seen Being Members of the Body of Christ in First Corinthians 12. We have seen Christian Call of Unity for the Church Body in Ephesians 4. The message today in Philippians chapter one “Only Conduct Yourselves In A Manner Worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” All that the message of the Gospel proclaims and means, calls us to be as His people and His church. The message of the Gospel is salvation, reconciliation, and transformation. The emphasis on sacrificial love and humble service, including repentance and obedience, seeing abundant grace and abounding mercy. There is the perfect righteousness of Christ and the holiness of God. Both forgiveness of all our sins and kindness of God toward sinners. A message of substitutionary death, the Lamb of God who dies for our sins, the Son of God who lived and died for our rescue and salvation, and the Spirit of God regenerates, renews, and restores.
First, Choose To Live Your Life in A Manner Worthy of the Gospel [1:27a]. Here is both PERSONAL DIRECTION and PERSONAL DECISION. The first word only places importance and significance in this matter for the church. And also consider all of the things which the Apostle Paul had going on in his life [1:12-14, 21-23]. The gospel emphasized here in this verse twice and in this first chapter in the book of Philippians [cf. 1:5, 7, 12, 16]. Here Paul begins “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ . . .” Different translations: only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ [NASB] . . . only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ [ESV] . . . only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ [NKJV] . . . But whatever happens, make sure that your everyday life is worthy of the Gospel of Christ [Phillips]. This first command in this epistle [verses 27-30 one sentence]. The Gospel of Christ meaning Gospel truths, Gospel blessings, and Gospel promises. Believe the truth of the Gospel, and also behave in a manner worthy of the Gospel. Believe God the Father and Provider! Believe Jesus is Savior and Leader! Believe the Spirit is our Comforter and Teacher! Such a threefold teaching with the will of God, the work of God, and Word of God! Choice made by you because of the change within you by His grace, so that the Gospel is lived in my life as a testimony of the salvation by God. Paul emphasizing living together with a people with responsibilities of belonging there and being here in this body. One commentator wrote, “but the word Paul uses in Philippians speaks of one’s manner of life seen as a duty to a body or group of which one is a member, and to the head of that group to whom he is responsible. It is a more inclusive word.”
“But in the form in which Paul gives the exhortation, the person exhorted is to recognize his position as a citizen of a heavenly kingdom, and while obeying the exhortation as a matter of obligation to God, yet at the same time realize his responsibility to obey it because of the privileged position he occupies, and literally exhort or charge himself to do the same. One could translate therefore: “Only see to it that you recognize your responsibility as a citizen and put yourself to the absolute necessity of performing the duties devolving upon you in that position.” [Wuest Word Pictures]
And there is this point by Paul in the middle of the verse, “so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear about you . . .” What are people hearing about us here at New Life Fellowship? What will they be talking about in regard to us here? We want them to say there they only conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel.
Here is the first of two measurements of conducting ourselves in the manner worthy of the Gospel. The Standing In Unity with Others in the Gospel. Here is the PRESENT ACTION for the church body. Paul writes “that you are standing firm in one spirit . . .” The same wording used in chapter four [cf. 4:1]. Standing Firm for the Gospel which means “unyielding in battle” giving imagery of soldiers. Who we stand with and why we stand here. Where I stand my ground including convictions and commitments with military imagery. Stephen Davey states, The verb here for standing firm, is a military metaphor that pictures the Philippian believers serving in the same army, battling the same foe – which in this word picture would represent disunity. He says, stand firm in one spirit. And he knew they knew – and we might not – that the Roman ground troops fought their enemy not as single soldiers, but in densely packed rows, eight soldiers deep. They moved forward in step – they even moved sideways and backward together – by trumpet or voice commands.” Its that season again, and you know what I mean. Its Fall so its football season! Defense and Offense and Special teams for good football. Here is the defense of the Christian unity when we gather with other soldiers with our shields protecting others from the enemies and warfare against us. Here at New Life Fellowship joining with other soldiers in discipleship meetings, Bible Studies, and Community Groups bringing our shields with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Sad that sometimes we need shields because of other Christians in the church body turning against their fellow soldiers. In words of criticism and bitterness, or attitudes of self-righteousness and pride, so that the one spirit of not evident and present in the body.
Here is the second measurement of conducting ourselves in the manner worthy of the Gospel. The Striving for Partnership with Others with the Gospel. Here is the PRESENT PARTICIPATION. Paul writes, “with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” Striving Together for the Gospel which means “undivided in strategy” giving imagery of athletics. This is a present active participle meaning present participation as our character describing the present activity in our lives. What we are striving for and why we are working together. In this context Paul would expand teaching on the humility as he adds more teaching and the example of Christ as support [cf. Philippians 2:1-5; 3:12-14]. Here is the offense of the Christian unity when we work with other athletes with our efforts and ministries with others for the mission for us as a church body. Serving in unity in ministry together for the faith of the Gospel. Here at New Life Fellowship joining with other athletes serving, helping, ministering, working in different ministry plans bringing our efforts with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Here at New Life Fellowship praying for the 27 fellow workers in the AWANA ministry “with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.”
Here is a summer of this verse by one commentator. “Only (since my only reason for remaining on earth is for your progress in the Christian life), see to it that you recognize your responsibility as citizens (of heaven), and put yourselves to the absolute necessity of performing the duties devolving upon you in that position, doing this in a manner which is befitting to the gospel of Christ, in order that whether having come and having seen you, or whether being absent I am hearing the things concerning you, namely, that you are standing firm in one spirit, holding your ground, with one soul contending (as a team of athletes would) in perfect co-operation with one another for the faith of the gospel.” [Wuest Translation]
We Choose To Live our Life in A Manner Worthy of the Gospel with both PERSONAL DIRECTION and PERSONAL DECISION, so that PRESENT ACTION and PRESENT PARTICIPATION be the character of our ministry and the quality of our testimony. First,The power of the Gospel should be demonstrated in our conduct together. Let our church body not merely be what men can do but how God does work through the Gospel! Second, Confess sins in our lives hindering the Gospel ministry and testimony. Communion Sunday the time for us all to take inventory and seek inspection of our lives as Christians. Strengthen our partnership & fellowship we have in the Gospel together. What will people be hearing about New Life Fellowship? How will we be obeying this command and fulfilling these responsibilities as a church body? May we each commit to standing firm for the Gospel and Striving Together for the Gospel. May they say of us in this community . . . “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ . . . I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” [Philippians 1:27].
Wednesday Men's Bible Study July 19, 2023 Chapter Three Identifying Your Own Way
Also Burgers with Bruce Dinner at the Leonard's 6:30 PM
What We Learned Together Communion Sunday May 14, 2023
We are focusing on John 3:16 this morning for our communion study. One commentator wrote, “What proclamation of the Gospel has been so oft on the lips of missionaries and preachers in every age since it was first uttered? What has sent such thrilling sensations through millions of mankind? What has been honored to bring such multitudes to the feet of Christ? What to kindle in the cold and selfish breasts of mortals the fires of self-sacrificing love to mankind, as these words of transparent simplicity, yet overpowering majesty?” It is a great testimony in this verse. These words in John 3:16 are important for each of us here this morning. The message of salvation here in the Gospel of John through the words of Jesus. We have entitled the message “Whoever Is Believing in The One and only Son. May we all go forth from this time together telling others the truth in John 3:16. The message we can speak this week because of our time of communion this morning as those who are believing in Him.
In this Scripture passage we are given truth from God for us about salvation. Here in these verses we see The Grace of God through the Truths of Salvation in Giving His Son [3:16-18]
In verse 16 The Truth of The Greatness of The Love of God. In verse 17-18 The Truth of The Seriousness of The Judgment of God. Four simple points from this one verse. This one verse contains just a few words in which a sermon could be preached on every word in this one verse.
First, His One and Only Son was given to Display—The Love of God. Verse sixteen begins “For God so loved the world . . .” The first word “for” points us back to verses 14-15 in John chapter three. There The Deliverance by God for the Consequences of Sin in Providing His Son. The Old Testament reference in Numbers 21 His provision for cure from the poison of the serpents. As one commentator said, “Moses raised a bronze snake on a pole as a cure for a punishment due to disobedience. So Jesus would be lifted up on a cross for people’s sin.” In verse 15 “so that whoever [sing] believes might in Him have eternal life.” The character of those who are believing personal and presently. The great declaration that Jesus would be lifted up! He would be raised up on the cross and die in the place of sinners. Jesus is the remedy and cure for the poison of our disobedience within as the very One lifted up that we would look to Him for salvation. You Have This Salvation Who Believe in The Savior To Save Me The Sinner. Deliverance from sin in the look to the solution which God provided for them and for us! God so loved the world, meaning He loved the world in this way and in this manner. Not how great is His love, for it is great indeed! The very nature and character of God as The One who loved the world. We must begin with God for He is first in this truth. Not His emotion but His action. Not His feeling but His giving, doing, the sacrificing. His personal actual, and real love for the world where mankind dwells. “God’s love is to be admired not because the world is so big and includes so many people, but because the world is so bad.” John would write later in his epistle of First John, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” [I John 4:9-10] He gave the greatest and the best, His only begotten Son, for the least and the worst.
Second, His One and Only Son was given to Provide—The Gift of God. Then John writes, “that He gave His only Son . . .” Language uniquely used of Jesus. For Jesus is “the one and only/only begotten” “unique,” and there is no other like Him or can take His place or has His importance. The one most precious and therefore God was most generous in giving His One and Only Son! “Who can estimate the value of God's gift, when He gave to the world His only begotten Son? One that thinks lightly of man's need and man's sin, would do well to consider man's Saviour. Sin must indeed be exceeding sinful, when the Father must needs give His only Son to be the sinner's Friend!” [J. C. Ryle]
Third, His One and Only Son was given to Believe—The Promise of God. Here the purpose is given for the giving of the Son “so that everyone who believes in Him . . .” This is the repeating of the phrase in verse fifteen. No matter who they might be and what they have done, and how bad of a person they are or what kind of sinner they have been. My belief which results in an active faith that looks at Jesus & His provision for me. He is the remedy. He is the cure. He is the Only Savior. “The love of God in the great gift, and then in the great plan by which that gift becomes available to guilty men.” [Charles Spurgeon] Whoever Is Believing In The One and Only Son!
Fourth, His One and Only Son was given to Testify—The Truth of God. “ . . . will not perish, but have eternal life.” In the context the consequence of not looking up to the snake lifted up that one would die because of their sin. Perishing does not mean that one ceases to exist but suffering the death as the consequence of the judgement of God. A reminder for us all there are two kinds of people. We gather here this morning as a people declaring we are believing in Jesus as the remedy for our sin, and the cure for the poison in our lives. There are some who are perishing because they would not believe and will receive the punishment of the judgment of God. This verse calls us to be such ones who are the believing ones, and even as we gather together as a church body giving testimony as ones who are believing in Him. As we celebrate communion together we are stating publicly, “I am a believer. I am believing. I look to Jesus. He is my Savior.”
Is John 3:16 more than words you learned a long time ago? Is it the way you live your life? Does this verse express who you are believing in the One and Only Son? If that is true than people would hear us declaring to them the truth of John 3:16. And there is the truth in the next two verses. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” [John 3:17-18] Our testimony this morning is that I am believing, that Jesus is my Savior. Our testimony that we are the one which John 3:16 describes as whoever is believing in Him. I know this is true for so many here today who are believers. But there may be one here today who has not believed. Understand what you see as wrong in your life that God see its also and that Jesus is the remedy for your sins in your life. Look to Jesus this morning!
As Charles Spurgeon said, “Will anyone refuse? This good gift, this perfect gift,-can you decline it? Oh, that you may have faith to lay hold on Jesus, for thus he will be yours. He is God's free gift to all free receivers; a full Christ for empty sinners. If you can but hold out your empty willing hand, the Lord will give Christ to you at this moment. Nothing is freer than a gift. Nothing is more worth having than a gift which comes fresh from the hand of God.”
What We learned Together Sunday April 9, 2023 Resurrection Sunday
INTRODUCTION “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed” We are here today because Jesus is risen from the dead. A great statement of Christian truth is “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” [Romans 10:9-10]. It is our Christian testimony based on the authority of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]. This morning for our special Resurrection Sunday we are teaching from the Gospel of John again. This morning John chapter 20 where we are seeing the message of the Apostle John as the eyewitness of these events. This morning believing Jesus has risen from the dead as we study John chapter 20 together. Different Perspectives of the Empty Tomb [Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24] John has already clearly stated the burial confirms the reality of His death [Cf. 19:35, 38-42]. In this Gospel narrative “John writes with exceptional detail and great vividness throughout.” What he saw and believed & wants us to see and believe throughout the narrative. Three different Greek words used in this chapter for the English word saw: observing 20:2, 5 [1:14, 29, 38; 11:45], seeing 20:6 [1:34], and understanding 20:8, 18-29 [John 1:39, 46, 50-51; 4:29, 45; 19:35]. Four sections to this chapter: Seeing The Stone Taken Away from the Tomb of Jesus, Seeing The Burial Clothes Lying in The Tomb of Jesus, Seeing The Lord Jesus Physically Resurrected from the Dead, and Seeing The Lord Jesus Personally Alive Before Them All. There is hope for today and hope for tomorrow believing Jesus has risen from the dead.First, Seeing The Stone Taken Away from the Tomb of Jesus [20:1-2]. Arriving at the Tomb Where Jesus’ Body Was Buried [20:1a]. John details the first day of the week . . . It Is Sunday! And as Mary Magdalene arrives she “saw the stone taken away from the tomb.” cf. 19:41-42 Throughout John gives repetition of the phrase “the tomb” [cf. John 19:41; 20:1,2,3,4,6,8]. Here is the history of the empty tomb. Then Announcing to the Disciples that Jesus’ Body Was Gone [20:2]. What was Mary Magdalene’s conclusion? Cf. 20:11-13 She was thinking only what man had done not what God truly did. The same word taken away used in both verse one and verse two. The great number of emotions on that day for her with sadness and loss compounded by unexpected circumstances seeming more intense and dark with his body now gone. She wanted to remember Him and go to where His body had been placed but now even that desire is obstructed. This is where the skeptics stops with someone took His body and that explains the empty tomb but there is so much more to the truth of these matters. What she didn’t know and couldn’t understand apart from Jesus revealing Himself to her.
Second, Seeing The Burial Clothes Lying in The Tomb of Jesus [20:3-10]. From the history of this event to their testimony about these events. What they saw there in the empty tomb is placed before the reader by the eyewitness testimony of the Apostle John. Arriving at the Tomb Where Jesus’ Body Was Supposed To Be [20:3-5]. John gives us the details showing the real situation and real action by both Peter and John. Why such details included here not found in the other Gospel accounts? John understands that the readers have these other accounts so his emphasis here is on how they acted and reacted. They were not planning but running. They were not strategizing but reacting. Then Approaching the Tomb Where Jesus’ Body Was No Longer [20:6-10]. The presence of linen wrappings but the absence of the body. Peter sees the burial clothes with the emphasis on “the body, he saw plainly, was gone. But there was something in the whole appearance of things which he could not understand.” Notice the emphasis upon Peter saw what was left in the tomb. The narrative connects these verses with the repeated conjunction “and . . . and . . . and . . .” The face cloth rolled up all by itself is significant. Remembering the same clothes used on Lazarus in John chapter 11 and those burial clothes needed to be removed by others. Here the burial clothes are left behind by Jesus in the tomb contradicting the theory of grave robbers stealing the body. As one commentator said the burials clothes lying in the empty tomb, “by the one who no longer had any use for them.” These same burial clothes mentioned in John 19:40 when the body of Jesus was buried. Then notice the statements by John in verse eight, “he saw and believed.” Without actually seeing Jesus resurrected John here states that he believed by the evidence presented to him at the empty tomb. And therefore he presents to the reader calling upon each one to see and believe. Here again is brought into focus believing Jesus has risen from the dead. Jesus conquered death is the plain statement of the narrative. Also verse nine and ten remind us that the authority of Scripture is the basis for belief in the resurrection of Jesus. This was in the proclaiming of Jesus’ Words in the Gospel of John [Cf. John 2:22; 10:17-18; 11:25].
Third, Seeing The Lord Jesus Physically Resurrected from the Dead [20:11-18]. Now Mary returns to the tomb of Jesus. And John continues the narrative “ . . . the tomb . . . where the body of Jesus had been lying . . .” Here Mary is weeping and sees the angels. Her words about Jesus “ . . . my Lord . . . the Lord . . .” What a special relationship Mary had with Jesus because of His grace, His forgiveness, and His salvation in her life. [Cf. John 20:20, 25, 28] Jesus reveals himself to her in the deep state of despair while weeping. It calls upon us to recognize and see the great comfort and care the resurrected Lord provides for His own disciples who He loves, and they love him. Jesus is not detached from the sorrow and grief of His disciples. How different she left the tomb after seeing Jesus from when she arrived at the tomb according to verse one. “[She] came announcing to the disciples, I have seen the Lord . . .” A message from the Lord Jesus in obedience to His words. Here the emphasis is Jesus is Lord. Not only Jesus conquered death but also Jesus is Lord. This is what we believe and teach in the resurrection of Jesus. He is Lord! By her own testimony “I have seen the Lord!” It is one of the great declarations as His disciples that Jesus is risen from the dead and therefore Jesus is Lord. Proclaiming who He is and what He has done testifying this believing Jesus has risen from the dead. The one who had been weeping is now witnessing! Having shown us the history by providing us the testimony, John here now shows His authority as the resurrected Lord.
Fourth, Seeing The Lord Jesus Personally Alive Before Them All [20:19-29]. Jesus presented Himself alive to His disciples. Here the emphasis is Jesus Is Alive. Read verse 19 “Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them . . .” Peace Jesus gives to His disciples. His very presence with them. Read verse 20 “disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” Read verse 25 “we have seen the Lord!” And yet Thomas was unwilling and unbelieving as if there was a lack of evidence and eyewitness accounts. Such a great reminder that there might be one like Thomas here today. May the evidence, testimony, and words of Jesus minister to you this day so that you would understand and believe. There is plenty of evidence and by the authority of the Word of God believing Jesus has risen from the dead. So that we can trust Him wholeheartedly. The devil wants to play with your emotions and your heart in these matters. And again eight days later Jesus appears to His disciples. Read verse 29 “because you have seen me, have you believed?” Read verse 29 “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Jesus mentioned this back in His High Priestly prayer. John recorded His words, “I am not asking on behalf of these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word” [John 17:20]. Is that you Jesus is speaking about in these words to Thomas? Is Jesus talking about you as a believer? And finally John concludes this chapter and this section of the Gospel narrative with his theme of believing. That is what is means to be a believer. I believe Jesus has risen from the dead. Maybe you are here today and the words for Thomas are Jesus’ words for you dear friend, “do not be unbelieving, but believing.” [20:27] And Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and My God!” One of the highest confessions and professions of any man of Jesus on the earth! This is what the resurrection of Jesus does in the rising of our thoughts about Him that we would also declare My Lord and My God. Not only Jesus conquered death and Jesus is Lord, and therefore Jesus is alive. So I therefore ought to obey Him, serve Him, love Him, and worship Him. The reality of His resurrection. To believe that Jesus has risen from the dead is to believe the words of Jesus! To believe that Jesus has risen from the dead is to believe the testimony of the Word of God! See and believe that Jesus would be your Lord and your God. This needs to be our testimony that we say Jesus is “My Lord and My God!” In these final verses of this chapter John writes, “So then, many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing you may have life in His name.” [John 20:30-31]
“He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!” Seeing and believing! Believing Jesus has risen from the dead. What we have seen in this chapter: Seeing The Stone Taken Away from the Tomb of Jesus, Seeing The Burial Clothes Lying in The Tomb of Jesus, Seeing The Lord Jesus Physically Resurrected from the Dead, and Seeing The Lord Jesus Personally Alive Before Them All. There is hope for today and hope for tomorrow believing Jesus has risen from the dead. Here John gives his readers evidences, testimonies, and appearances so that we would also believe! Do you believe? Jesus conquered death. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Alive. There are several points of application for us believing Jesus has risen from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead means He lives and therefore intercedes on our behalf [cf. Romans 5:10;6:4;Ephesians 1:19-20;Hebrews 7:25]. The resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact & biblical truth which intersects in the lives of real people in real situations—His Help, Our Hope, The Home. The resurrection of Jesus means each of us should live as those believing Jesus has risen from the dead with our testimony being “my Lord and My God.” The resurrection of Jesus means that we announce to others the Gospel message believing Jesus has risen from the dead. Are you believing Jesus has risen from the dead?
Christ Suffered and Died . . . To Show His Own Love for Us 
The Passion of Jesus Christ, John Piper pp. 30-31
Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25
[He] loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
The death of Christ is not only the demonstration of God’s love (John 3:16), it is also the supreme expression of Christ’s own love for all who receive it as their treasure. The early witnesses who suffered most for being Christians were captured by this fact: Christ “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). They took the self-giving act of Christ’s sacrifice very personally.
They said, “He loved me. He gave himself for me.”
Surely this is the way we should understand the sufferings and death of Christ. They have to do with me. They are about Christ’s love for me personally. It is my sin that cuts me off from God, not sin in general. It is my hard-heartedness and spiritual numbness that demean the worth of Christ. I am lost and perishing. When it comes to salvation, I have forfeited all claim on justice. All I can do is plead for mercy.
Then I see Christ suffering and dying. For whom? It says, Christ Suffered and Died . . . 30 6 “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
And I ask, Am I among the “many”? Can I be one of his “friends”? May I belong to the “church”? And I hear the answer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). “To all who did receive him,
who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
“Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
My heart is swayed, and I embrace the beauty and bounty of Christ as my treasure. And there flows into my heart this great reality—the love of Christ for me.
So I say with those early witnesses, “He loved me and gave himself for me.”
And what do I mean? I mean that he paid the highest price possible to give me the greatest gift possible. And what is that? It is the gift he prayed for at the end of his life: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory” (John 17:24). In his suffering and death “we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). We have seen enough to capture us for his cause. But the best is yet to come. He died to secure this for us.
That is the love of Christ.
The Way to God by Charles Haddon Spurgeon March 27, 1859
The Spurgeon Library | The Way to God
When Adam was perfect in the garden of Eden, God walked with him in the cool of the day. God and man held the most intimate and affectionate intercourse with one another. Man was a happy creature, God was a condescending Creator, and the two met together and held sweet converse and communion. But from the moment when Adam touched the forbidden fruit, the way from God to man became blocked up, the bridge was broken down, a great gulph was fixed, so that if it had not been for the divine plan of grace, we could not have ascended to God, neither could God in justice come down to us. Happily, however, the everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure, had provided for this great catastrophe. Christ Jesus the Mediator had in old eternity been ordained to become the medium of access between man and God. If you want a figure of him, remember the memorable dream of Jacob. He laid him down in a solitary place, and he dreamed a dream, which had in it something more substantial than anything he had seen with his eyes wide open. He saw a ladder, the foot whereof rested upon earth, and the top thereof reached to heaven itself. Upon this ladder he saw angels ascending and descending. Now this ladder was Christ. Christ in his humanity rested upon the earth, he is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. In his divinity he reaches to the highest heaven, for he is very God of very God. When our prayers ascend on high they must tread the staves of this ladder, and when God's blessings descend to us, the rounds of this marvellous ladder must be the means of their descent. Never has a prayer ascended to God save through Jesus Christ. Never has a blessing come down to man save through the same Divine Mediator. There is now a highway, a way of holiness wherein the redeemed can walk to God, and God can come to us. The king's highway, --
"The way the holy prophets went—The road that leads from banishment."
Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life.
Let us think for a moment of Jesus Christ as the way to God. The reason why man cannot come to God as he did in the garden is, that God is the same, but man is changed. God is as affectionate and as condescending as ever, but man is unholy and impure. Now, God is as pure as he is affectionate, while God is love it is just as true that God is infinitely just and holy. His holy eyes cannot endure iniquity. If, then, a sinful creature could obtain access to God, if a rebellious creature could come into the immediate presence of the Most High, the effect must be disastrous in the extreme, for it would be a necessity of God's nature that he must utterly devour the creature in which he sees sin to be. Come into the presence of God, O sinner, and thou mightest as well march into a consuming fire. As Nebuchadnezzar's furnace burned the men who came to throw in the three holy children so must God, the consuming fire, burn and destroy us, even if we approach him with our prayers and thanksgivings, were it not for the interposition of Jesus Christ the Mediator. I say, this is a necessity of his nature. God is necessarily just, and justice cannot endure a sin. God is necessarily pure and holy: he might sooner cease to be God than cease to be pure. Now, the approach of impurity to him he must repel. Though no laws can bind him, yet the law of his nature never can be broken. His nature is, "I will by no means clear the guilty." He is slow to anger, he is great in power, and he is ready to forgive, but so long as guilt lies unforgiven he is also ready to punish, nay, he must punish or else cease to be. Consequently, no man can come to God as a sinner, unless he comes to him to be utterly destroyed, and that without remedy. You do not wish so to come to God. Happy is it, then, that we are enabled to tell to all our fellow-creatures of a way whereby we can come with joy and gladness to the Father, through Jesus Christ.
Christ Suffered and Died . . . To Absorb the Wrath of God 
The Passion of Jesus Christ, John Piper pp. 20-21
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Galatians 3:13
God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:25
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10
If God were not just, there would be no demand for his Son to suffer and die. And if God were not loving, there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and die. But God is both just and loving. Therefore his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice.
God’s law demanded, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). But we have all loved other things more. This is what sin is—dishonoring God by preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences. Therefore, the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We glorify what we enjoy most. And it isn’t God.
Therefore sin is not small, because it is not against a small Sovereign. The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted. The Creator of the universe is infinitely worthy of respect and admiration and loyalty. Therefore, failure to love him is not trivial—it is treason. It defames God and destroys human happiness.
Since God is just, he does not sweep these crimes under the rug of the universe. He feels a holy wrath against them. They deserve to be punished, and he has made this clear: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).
There is a holy curse hanging over all sin. Not to punish would be unjust. The demeaning of God would be endorsed. A lie would reign at the core of reality. Therefore, God says, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 27:26).
But the love of God does not rest with the curse that hangs over all sinful humanity. He is not content to show wrath, no matter how holy it is. Therefore God sends his own Son to absorb his wrath and bear the curse for all who trust him. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).
This is the meaning of the word “propitiation” in the text quoted above (Romans 3:25). It refers to the removal of God’s wrath by providing a substitute. The substitute is provided by God himself. The substitute, Jesus Christ, does not just cancel the wrath; he absorbs it and diverts it from us to himself. God’s wrath is just, and it was spent, not withdrawn.
Let us not trifle with God or trivialize his love. We will never stand in awe of being loved by God until we reckon with the seriousness of our sin and the justice of his wrath against us. But when, by grace, we waken to our unworthiness, then we may look at the suffering and death of Christ and say, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the [wrath-absorbing] propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.