Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Significance of Christ's Sacrifice

 As we approach Resurrection Day, we recognize that this season represents the very centerpiece of the Christian life. Christ the Lord, the resurrected Son of God, has enabled us to receive: forgiveness of sins, the promise of a present life lived in the glory of God’s power and the promise of an endless life in God’s presence!

We believe the Good Friday dimension of life that says, "Christ died for my sins." Many readily believe and receive the payment Christ made for our sins. Many also readily accept and receive the Resurrection Sunday dimension of life that says, “Because I live you will live also.”

But that does not teach the full measure of provision which God has made possible through the redeeming work of our Lord.

Christ’s suffering was both redemptive and substitutionary. Jesus suffered in our stead, and absorbed in Himself the horrible implications and effects of sin's impact on the human existence.Isaiah 53:4-5 powerfully illustrates this:

"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

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."

This scripture, along with Matthew 8:17 and I Peter 2:24, shows how completely biblical it is to reach out to the Lord Jesus Christ for deliverance from suffering and sickness just as surely as we can reach to Him for salvation from our sins.

Many believe Christ died for our sins. Many find it easy to believe and receive forgiveness for your sins. What about when pressures mount?

What about when your marriage ruptures? What about when your business is on life support? What about when you face betrayal? What about when your co-workers are disloyal and setting you up for failure? What about when your children are floundering?

What about the periods when turnaround, deliverance or healing seems so remote—not because God is cruel, taunting or uncaring, but because it just seems to elude us?

At such a point, some people try to wax philosophical or become resentful or bitter. Some tend to rationalize the situation as "God's will." Others become angry with God, saying He doesn't care. But Christ, in going all the way through His sufferings, has provided an alternative.

You see, there is a force—a power—in Jesus' suffering to break the ability of pain, injury, or sorrow to dominate you, even when these things seem to persist even after you have prayed. Hebrews 2:18 tells us, "For since he himself has now been through suffering...when we suffer...he is wonderfully able to help us" (Hebrews 2:18, TLB). Christ's suffering has a power to absorb the most hellish attack, the most tragic or traumatic pain, or whatever it is that seems about to exceed your capacity to endure.

Without Christ, problems, crises, heartaches, embarrassments, stresses, upheavals, and all forms of suffering can overwhelm people until they're reduced to an emotional pulp. Without Christ people can feel resigned to give up. Some are driven to exhaustion or depression. Others just suffer breakdowns. Still others suffer heart attacks, seizures or strokes.

But the revitalizing truth is that in His suffering, Christ has caused the very eye of your storm to collapse: He has disabled the power of suffering to destroy you.

Jesus has broken the ability of suffering to reduce you to bitterness, foolishness, faithlessness, or disobedience. Jesus wants to fill you with the same life that brought Him through suffering. He wants to fill you with the same life that kept Him from shrinking before the fires of hell's worst workings. He wants to fill you with the same life that kept Him from being weary in well-doing. He wants to fill you with the same life that kept Him from becoming bitter or turning to animosity. He wants to fill you with the same life that caused Him to TRIUMPH!

You must recognize, acknowledge, believe, and receive that His life power belongs to you. Take it! That is part of your salvation that was purchased by Christ’s suffering! Yes, the Lord says, "Come to Me, I love you, I forgive you, and I understand." But also hear Him say: "I will invade your suffering with My life, and not only will you survive but you will triumph in the midst of it all!"

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