Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | May 3, 2006

The Ultimate Price

This weekend we watched a movie called United 93, which was based the events that occurred on September 11, 2001.  It was an excellent movie portraying what transpired on United 93 and all the behind the scenes events (air traffic control, military, etc) that occurred that day.  Although, we were aware of the outcome of the movie the intensity throughout the film was high.  As anticipated, the story of United 93 revolves around the contrast between the evil actions of the terrorists and the heroic actions by the passengers.  The motives of the two opposing groups are relevant to our topic today.

It is believed the target that the terrorist intended to hit was the Capitol Building inWashington D.C.  Obviously, this would have been a tragic and pivotal moment in our history if they were successful in their effort.  Lord knows what this would have done to our government it is certainly possible that Marshall Law may have been imposed.  However, we were spared from this terrible tragedy due to the heroic efforts of the few passengers on board the flight.  After learning that other planes were hijacked and used in kamikaze style attacks on the World Trade Center, they endeavored to prevent the terrorists from achieving their goal.  They were successful in fighting back the terrorists causing the plane to crash in a Pennsylvanian open field.  Although, they successfully stopped the terrorists they suffered the ultimate price in losing their lives to save others.

The terrorists belonged to a religious ideology that glorified “martyrs” who sacrificed their lives to kill infidels (non-muslims).  It is believed that the only guarantee that a person will enter into heaven is by martyrdom.  This work assures the believer that they will obtain satisfaction before God and be able to directly enter into paradise.  This brand of Islam actually believes they are doing God’s will by killing innocent people.  The ideology has motivated many of the despicable attacks against innocence in Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Spain and Great Britain.  Certainly, it is unfathomable how fallen humanity has been able to evolve in religious ideology from performing good deeds to earn heaven to performing an evil act to earn heaven.  Similar to all world religions, this form of auto-soteriology (self-saving) at its foundation presupposes that human effort is sufficient before God.  Unfortunately, it performs the detestable offense of not only calling evil good, it actually glorifies evil.

As we have been learning in this series human effort is inadequate to obtain favor with God.  Furthermore, any attempt to presume that human effort is required undermines the sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross.  The terrorists enter death believing that they will be rewarded for their efforts, however the reality is that they are in for terrible surprise when their destination is reached.  We should all acknowledge the great service that the passengers of United 93 performed to defend our freedoms.  The noble act required courage and selfless humility to sacrifice their lives for the sake of many others.  Although, this heroism is humanity at their finest it still pales in comparison to suffering sacrifice of our Savior.  Today we arrive at the portion of the Apostles Creed where we consider our Savior’s suffering on our behalf.  Question 37 of the Heidelberg Catechism states the following:

Q. What do you understand by the word "suffered"? 

A. That during his whole life on earth, but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race. 1 This he did in order that, by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice, 2 he might set us free, body and soul, from eternal condemnation, 3 and gain for us God's grace, righteousness, and eternal life. 4  

1 Isaiah 53:  …As a result, of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities…1 Peter 2:24:  …and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.  1 Peter 3:18: For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 2 Romans 3:25: …who God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.  This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed…  Hebrews 10:14:  For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.  1 John 2:2: …and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world.  1 John 4:10:  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.3 Romans 8:1-4:  Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death…. Galatians 3:13:  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” 4 John 3:16:  For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but eternal life.  Romans 3:24-26:  …being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 

In man’s rebellion against his Creator, he has subjected himself to God’s wrath.  The Lord is just and specified the options to Adam.  Obey and you will have eternal life.  Disobey and you will have eternal death.  Since man rebelled against the rule of God, God being just is now obligated to punish man for his disobedience.  If God does not punish sin He would not be just, thus a day will come when all humanity will be held accountable.  However, being gracious God sent His Son the Second Adam to take this sin of His people.  From His conception to His death Christ fulfilled the Law on behalf of His people.  He was subjected to temptation, just as Adam was, yet He did not fail but overcame it.  Then He willing allowed Himself to be crucified even though He was innocent.  On the cross, He was not only subjected to the pain of hanging from the cross, He was subjected to wrath of God that we deserve for our rebellion.  In this period of history, Christ substituted Himself in our place to save us from what we deserve.  God accepted the sacrifice that Christ performed completely and now applies it to us.  Our sin is transferred to Christ and Christ’s righteousness is transferred to us. 

This is the good news and is the most herois, most noble, and most wonderful deed that has ever been performed in the whole world.  The full measure of our sin and the judgment we deserve was assigned to Christ.  It has been completely paid for and is now ours through faith Christ alone as a free gift of salvation.  We can add nothing to this perfect atonement, which is contrary to our nature.  By nature we are always attempting to employ some means to control our own destiny.  For centuries men has created new ways in trying to earn salvation from keeping the Law, paying money, rigorous acsetisim, ecstatic tongue, spiritual fervor and even suicidal mission killing innocence.  None of these will be sufficient and nothing else ever will.  Christ paid the ultimate price, so that His people wouldn't have to since there was no other way for fallen man.   

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