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Redemption

 

Salvation through Christ

Many years ago the Prince of Wales visited the capital city of India.  A formidable barrier had been set up to keep back the masses of people who wanted to catch a glimpse of royalty.  When the prince arrived, he shook hands with some of the political dignitaries who were presented to him.  Then, looking over their heads to the crowds beyond, he said, "Take down those barriers!"  They were quickly removed, and all the people, regardless of social rank, had free access to the heir of the British empire.  Some time later when the prince came to that district again, 10,000 outcasts waited under a banner inscribed with these words:  "The Prince of the Outcasts." What a great description of Jesus, who by his death has broken every barrier down between us and God.

 

Salvation by Grace

An Indian and a white man were deeply moved by the same sermon. That very night the Indian received the Savior, but for days the white man refused to accept Christ.  At last he too repented and enjoyed the sweet peace of having his sins forgiven.  Later he asked the Indian, "Why did it take me so long, while you responded right away?"  "My brother, " he replied, "I can best explain it by this little story:  At one time a rich prince wished to give each of us a new coat.  You shook your head and replied, 'I don't think so; mine looks good enough.'  When he made the same offer to me, I looked at my old blanket and said, 'This is good for nothing,' and I gratefully accepted the beautiful garment.  You wouldn't give up your own righteousness.  But knowing I had no goodness of my own, I immediately received the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness."

 

Salvation by Grace

It's Maundy Thursday, 1990 and thousands of Philippinos are re-enacting the last agony of Jesus.  Barefoot, over the hot stone streets in scorching sun, they are dragging heavy wooden crosses, flogging their bare backs bloody with glass-studded whips, grizzly Lenten rituals in which at least a dozen people will be nailed to crosses, seeking through pain and suffering, redemption.  It is tradition, so in a Moslem shrine in Bangledesh, a woman worshipper offering prayers extended her arms toward one of the crocodiles which live there; it bit off her hand and swallowed it. 

   People continue to do so many odd, self-humiliating acts, not understanding how to just receive the free gift of eternal life. Praise God, Jesus paid it all! --Associated Press, 4-12-90

 

Sacrifice

Back in the days of the Great depression a Missouri man named John Griffith was the controller of a great railroad drawbridge across the Mississippi River. One day in the summer of 1937 he decided to take his eight-year-old son, Greg, with him to work. At noon, John Griffith put the bridge up to allow ships to pass and sat on the observation deck with his son to eat lunch. Time passed quickly. Suddenly he was startled by the shrieking of a train whistle in the distance. He quickly looked at his watch and noticed it was 1:07-the Memphis Express, with four hundred passengers on board, was roaring toward the raised bridge! He leaped from the observation deck and ran back to the control tower. Just before throwing the master lever he glanced down for any ships below. There a sight caught his eye that caused his heart to leap poundingly into his throat. Greg had slipped from the observation deck and had fallen into the massive gears that operate the bridge. His left leg was caught in the cogs of the two main gears! Desperately John’ mind whirled to devise a rescue plan. But as soon as he thought of a possibility he knew there was no way it could be done.

        Again, with alarming closeness, the train whistle shrieked in the air. He could hear the clicking of the locomotive wheels over the tracks. That was his son down there-yet there were four hundred passengers on the train. John knew what he had to do, so he buried his head in his left arm and pushed the master switch forward. The great massive bridge lowered into place just as the Memphis Express began to roar across the river. When John Griffith lifted his head with his face smeared with tears, he looked into the passing windows of the train. There were businessmen casually reading their afternoon papers, finely dressed ladies in the dining car sipping coffee, and children pushing long spoons into their dishes of ice cream. No one looked at the control house, and no one looked at the great gear box. With wrenching agony, John Griffith cried out at the steel train: “I sacrificed my son for you people! Don’t you care?” The train rushed by, but nobody heard the father’s words, which recalled lamentations 1:12: “Is it nothing to you, all who pass by?”—Dr. D. James Kennedy

 

Sacrificial Lamb

When telling his young daughter the story of Abraham and Isaac, a father related how God had finally told Abraham not to kill Isaac and had provided a sacrificial lamb instead. The little girl looked up with a sad expression and said, “I don’t like killing lambs.” The father was speechless for a moment and then realized what traumatic and memorable events such sacrifices were. How serious the killing of a lamb for sacrifice and how destructive the reason for the sacrifice: sin. If the killing of a pure white lamb seems horrendous, how immeasurably more was the crucifixion of the Lamb of God!

 

Consequences of Salvation

The movie The Hanging Tree was set in a western gold-mining camp in the late 1800s. Gary Cooper played the role of doctor for the camp. One day, a young boy was seen robbing gold from the camp. He was shot from a distance but managed to hobble into hiding. All hands in the camp spread out to see who would be the first to kill him for this offense. The doctor found the hurt, frightened youth. He took him into his cabin, nursed him, and removed the bullet. After the boy regained consciousness, he inquired what the doctor would do with him now. The doctor held the slug in the boy’s face and said, “You will be my servant for as long as I want you to be, maybe forever, because that is how long you would be dead if this slug had remained in you.”

        That is the length of condemnation for the slug of sin if it remains in us. The Great Physician has already performed the surgery to remove the slug. The painless operation of trust in him is the only requirement. It is our privilege to be servants of the One who healed us forever, for without his healing, we also would be dead forever.

 

Gift of Salvation

A group of believers was meeting by a river when one of their group fell into the water. It was obvious that the poor fellow couldn’t swim, as he thrashed about wildly. One of the believers was a strong swimmer and was called on to jump in and save the man before he drowned. But though able to save the drowning man, he just watched until the wild struggles subsided. Then he dove in and pulled the man to safety.

        When the rescue was over, the rescuer explained his slowness to act. “If I had jumped in immediately, he would have been strong enough to drown us both. Only by waiting until he was too exhausted to try to save himself, could I save him.”

        It seems to be all too easy for us to be like that drowning man. Our self-efforts can actually prevent us from being saved! Unfortunately, some people must reach the point of being too exhausted to continue trying to save themselves (by dealing with their own sin) before they become willing to trust in the Savior and accept his gift of salvation.

 

Gift of Salvation

Suppose your best friend came by one day with a special gift for you. How would you respond? Would you immediately pull out your purse or wallet for some money to help pay for the gift? Of course not. To do so would be a great insult!

        A gift must be accepted for what it is-something freely given and unmerited. If you have to pay for a gift or do something to deserve or earn it, it is not a gift. True gifts are freely given and freely received. To attempt to give or receive a gift in any other manner makes it not a gift.

        So it is with our salvation. God offers us salvation as a free gift. He does not attach strings to it, because to do so makes it something other than a gift. In addition, any attempt on our part, no matter how small, to pay for our salvation by doing something or giving up something is an insult to God. No one in heaven will ever be able to say, “Look at me! I made it! With a little help from God, I made it!” Salvation is all by God. Not even the smallest part of it is the result of what we do or do not do. As God says in his Word, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8~9, NIV).

 

Gift of Salvation

The story has been told of a wealthy man who became a Christian. He tried to reach his friends for Christ and told them, with tremendous enthusiasm, what had happened to him, how the Lord had changed his whole life and even saved his marriage. But he found that his words seemed to fall on deaf ears. His friends were not interested.

        Since this man had great wealth, he developed a plan that would use this wealth to reach his friends. First he wrote out a check for a million dollars, which everyone knew he would easily be good for. He then visited his friends in turn and said, “I have always highly regarded you as a friend and have wanted to do something for you. Would you receive this check as a gift from me?”      

People would look at the check and, when they saw the amount of it, they would hand it back and say, “I can’t take that from you.” He tried to give the check to many of his friends, but no one would take it, although it was a valid and sincere offer. Finally the man realized that people are not willing to receive great gifts without having some part in it.

        That may be why some people hesitate to accept God’s offer of eternal life as a free gift.

 

Gift of Salvation

The story has been told of a missionary who became a good friend of an Indian pearl diver. The two had spent many hours together discussing salvation, but the Indian could not understand anything so precious being free. Instead, in making preparation for the life to come, the diver was going to walk the nine hundred miles to Delhi on his knees. He thought this would buy entrance into heaven for him. The missionary struggled to communicate to his friend that it is impossible to buy entrance into heaven because the price would be too costly. Instead, he said, Jesus had died to buy it for us.

        Before the left for his pilgrimage, the Indian gave the missionary the largest and most perfect pearl he had ever seen. The missionary offered to buy it, but the diver became upset and said that the pearl was beyond price, that his only son had lost his life in the attempt to get it. The pearl was worth the life blood of his son. As he said this, suddenly the diver understood that God was offering him salvation as a priceless gift. It is so precious that no man could buy it. It had cost God the life’s blood of his Son. The veil was lifted, he understood at last.

 

Example of Substitution

            A man was lost in the Alps. The owner of the lodge where he had been staying sent out his best rescue dog to look for him. The dog found the man half-conscious, grabbed him, and started to shake him in order to wake him up. On coming to his senses the man, seeing the dog and thinking it was a wolf, stabbed the animal. The dog let go and returned to the lodge, where it died shortly thereafter. The dog’s owner followed the trail of blood, came to the lost man, and saved him. The dog had given his life so that another might live.

 

Example of Substitution

            One day a certain farmer saw that a fire had ignited in his wheat fields, and was being blown toward his barns by the wind. To save the stored grain there, he lit a backfire, in hopes that it would impede the progress of the other flames. After both fires had subsided-and the barns had been saved-the farmer walked out through the smoldering ashes of the nearby fields. There he discovered the dead body of one of his hens, which had been caught in the blaze. Sadly, he turned over her black, charred body with his foot-and out from underneath ran four baby chicks. Her sacrifice saved her young ones. Such is the work of Christ on the cross, a place where the love of God dealt with the  justice of God, where God’s mercy matched God’s wrath. Our Lord’s sacrifice has saved us.—Attributed to Donald Grey Barnhouse

 

Example of Substitution

            In the winter of 1975, the Chicago Sun Times pictured a couple at a table kissing. The caption read: “Roderick A. Hinson gets a snack and a smack from Jacqueline Y. Nash in East Cleveland, Ohio, after he served her three-day jail sentence for possession of an unregistered gun.” Hinson said it was his fault that she had the gun and that “a jail is not a good place for a lady.” The judge said the substitution was unusual, but legal.

 

Example of Substitution

            In one of Billy Graham’s evangelistic films, Shiokari Pass, a young Christian became a hero. He was working with a railroad company, far away from his fiancée. He worked hard every day and finally the time came to go back to his fiancée and marry her. On the way back home, just before the peak of a steep hill, the train suddenly shook hard and stopped. When the young man went to the front of the passenger car on which he was riding, he found that it was disconnected from the rest of the train. It then began to roll backward down the steep slope. Since he had worked on the railroad, he knew there was a sharp curve behind them that the passenger car could not handle. It would be thrown off the tracks, killing the passengers. He tried to stop the car with the hand brake, but he failed. Our hero then remembered his favorite verse in the Bible: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Although this man had everything to live for, he jumped on the train tracks and stopped the passenger car with his body. He literally laid down his life to save the lives of many.

 

Example of Substitution

            During a war between Britain and France, men were conscripted into the French army by a kind of lottery system. When someone’s name was drawn, he had to go off to battle. On one occasion, the authorities came to a certain man and told him he was among those who had been chosen. He refused to go, saying, “I was shot and killed two years ago.” At first the officials questioned his sanity, but he insisted that was indeed the case. He claimed that the military records would show that he had been killed in action. “How can that be?” they questioned. “You are alive now!” He explained that when his name first came up, a close friend said to him, “You have a large family, but I am not married and nobody is dependent upon me. I’ll take your name and address and go in your place.” And that is indeed what the record showed. This rather unusual case was referred to Napoleon Bonaparte, who decided that the country had no legal claim on that man. He was free. He had died in the person of another!

 

Example of Substitution

A number of years ago, a news story told of a dramatic incident that occurred in a small Midwestern town. The residents of this town were warned to take cover because a tornado had been sighted. Living in this town was a young couple with a small baby. Knowing the tornado was upon them and that they had no time to take cover, they laid the tiny infant on the floor of their living room and covered the baby with their own bodies. The tornado struck with devastating force and leveled a row of homes, including theirs. The next morning, as rescue workers were rummaging through the destroyed homes, they heard a muffled crying. They came upon the lifeless bodies of the young couple, with their baby still safe beneath their shattered bodies.

        The gave their lives for their child. This is what Christ has done for us.

 

Example of Substitution

A wise and just ruler established a series of laws for his people to follow. One day his mother broke one of the laws and was brought to the ruler after being caught. The penalty was twenty lashes. How could the ruler remain just and still fulfill the demands of his love for his mother? He took the lashes on his own back. Justice was satisfied, while love was revealed in full measure.

 

Example of Substitution

During the Civil War, a company of irregulars known as “bushwhackers” was arrested by the Union soldiers. Because they were guerrilla fighters and not in uniform, they were sentenced to be shot.

        A courageous young boy in the Union Army touched his commanding officer on the arm and pleaded, “Won’t you allow me to take the place of one of the men you have just condemned? I know him well-he has a large family who needs him badly. My parents are dead and I have few friends. No one will miss me. Please let me take his punishment!” The officer hesitated, but finally gave his consent. Pulling the husband and father to one side, the young man filled his position in the death line. On the stone that marks his grave in a little southern town are these words: “Sacred to the memory of Willy Lear. He took my place.”

 

Example of Substitution

In Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities, a young French Revolution. His punishment was based solely on his forefathers’ crimes against the peasantry. The hour before his execution he was visited by a young English friend who could have passed for his twin. After the guard had left, the friend overpowered the doomed man with an anesthetic and exchanged clothes with him. Then, pretending to be the one condemned to die, he called the jailor and asked that his unconscious “visitor”, supposedly overcome with grief, be removed and returned to his home. The nobleman was thus saved from death.

        On his way to the guillotine, the young Englishman spoke these final words: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…” And he comforted himself with these words: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believerth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

 

Example of Substitution

Auschwitz was the first German concentration camp to become an extermination camp. The gas chambers were in constant use. But because of the great influx of new prisoners daily, the Germans began to use firing squads as well.

        One day, the commandant selected ten men from one barracks to be executed by the firing squad. One of those selected was the father of a large family. When he was pulled from his place in line, he fell to the ground, begging the commandant to spare his life. The commandant was unresponsive until the man standing next to the fallen one, a Catholic priest named Maximillian Kolbe, stepped forward to offer his life in exchange for the man on his knees. Surprisingly, the commandant agreed to such an arrangement. But, instead of being led away to the firing squad, Father Maximillian was thrown into a tiny damp cell where he suffered the agonizing death of starvation. Today, Maximillian Kolbe is honored by millions of people because he died in the place of one man.

        Jesus Christ, through an agonizing death on the cross, died not for one man, or a few, or even several-but for all men.

 

Example of Substitution

One Thanksgiving afternoon, while waiting for the expected feast, two sisters went outside to play. Being a bit mischievous, they soon found something that looked like fun to do, which all too soon led them to something they had been told not to do. Their father came into the backyard and found the evidence of their disobedience and called them to him. He explained to the girls that they must go to their room and that neither would be allowed to eat Thanksgiving dinner until the one who had disobeyed him confessed. The girls went to their room.

        A while later the girls heard their mother calling them for dinner. Not knowing what was going to happen, they went and took their usual places around the table. The girls noticed that their father was not seated at the table as usual and asked, “Where is Daddy?”

        The mother replied, “Daddy said that you girls could not eat Thanksgiving dinner with us today until one of you came to him and confessed your disobedience. Since neither of you came, Daddy decided that he would take your punishment himself-and so he will not be eating Thanksgiving dinner with us today.”

 

Extent of Atonement

To say that Christ redeemed men at the cross but did not also purchase for them the ability to believe would be like a man promising to give a thousand dollars to a blind man upon condition that he will open his eyes and see—which he knows full well the blind man cannot do.

 

Governmental View of Atonement

In a certain community in England, someone had been stealing sheep. The forces of the law were unable to apprehend the thief. A certain farmer was brought before the judge and accused of being the thief, but he established his innocence of any connection with the offense, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Thereupon the judge said, “You are an innocent man, but someone has been stealing sheep. I must show to this community what the law would do to a sheep thief.” Then the judge committed the innocent man to a period of incarceration, “to uphold public justice.” But what justice! ―― James O. Buswell

 

Redemption

A pastor of a church in Boston met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. The pastor inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?”

        “I tapped them out in the field,” the boy replied.

        “What are you going to do with them?”

        “I’m going to play with them, and then I guess I’ll just feed them to an old cat we have at home.”

        When the pastor offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, “Mister, you don’t want them, they’re just little old wild birds and can’t sing very well.”

        The pastor replied. “I’ll give you two dollars for the cage and the birds.”

        “Okay, it’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.”

        The exchange was made, and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. The pastor walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire cage, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue.

        The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate Christ’s coming to seek and to save those who-like the birds-were destined for destruction. The difference was that Christ had to purchase our freedom with his own life.

 

Redemption

The story has been told of an orphaned boy who was living with his grandmother when their house caught fire. The grandmother, trying to get upstairs to rescue the boy, died in the flames. The boy’s cries for help were finally answered by a man who climbed an iron drain pipe and came down with the boy hanging tightly to his neck.

        Several weeks later, a public hearing was held to determine who would receive custody of the child. A farmer, a teacher, and the town’s wealthiest citizen all gave the reasons they felt they should be chosen to give the boy a home. As they talked, the lad’s eyes remained focused on the floor.

        Then a stranger walked to the front and slowly took his hands from his pockets, revealing scars on them. As the crowd gasped, the boy cried out in recognition. This was the man who had saved his life and whose hands had been burned when he climbed the hot pipe. With a leap the boy threw his arms around the man’s neck and held on for dear life. The other men silently walked away, leaving the boy and his rescuer alone. Those marred hands had settled the issue.

 

Redemption

There was a young boy who lived in a New England seaport and loved to watch the boats come in from their daily catch. One day he decided to build a little sailboat all of his own. He worked for weeks, making sure each detail was just right. Finally the big day arrived. He went down to the wharf and proudly put his boat into the water. As he triumphantly observed his new sailboat, he noticed that the wind had suddenly changed, and the tiny boat was being swept out of sight. The little boy was heartbroken. Every day for a month he went back to see if his boat had been washed up on shore.

        Finally, one day in the market he saw his boat in a store window. He excitedly ran into the store and told the proprietress that it was his boat. The woman only responded by saying that the boat would cost him two dollars. After pleading with her to no avail, the boy finally pulled out the money and gave it to the storeowner. As the boy was leaving the store, he said, “Little boat, you are twice mine. You are mine because I made you, and now you are mine because I bought you.”

 

Redemption

One of the clearest contemporary examples of what redemption means is found in “green stamps.” Certain stores give you so many trading stamps for each dollar you spend at their store. You save up the stamps, and when you have enough, you can go to a redemption center and trade in stamps for something you want.

        This transaction has two parts: purchasing the right of redemption and then claiming your merchandise. You buy the right of redemption when you make your original purchase and the store gives you the stamps as a token. Later you take the stamps to the redemption center and use them to claim something you want. Those items you redeem are not free, because in reality you already paid the price for them when you made your original purchase.

        In the same way, God-by Christ’s blood-has already purchased us from the power of sin, and we are redeemed. Yet God does not come for his merchandise immediately. Instead, he has given us a token of our redemption, the Holy Spirit. So we have redemption: the forgiveness of sin.

 

Salvation through Christ

Many years ago the Prince of Wales visited the capital city of India.  A formidable barrier had been set up to keep back the masses of people who wanted to catch a glimpse of royalty.  When the prince arrived, he shook hands with some of the political dignitaries who were presented to him.  Then, looking over their heads to the crowds beyond, he said, "Take down those barriers!"  They were quickly removed, and all the people, regardless of social rank, had free access to the heir of the British empire.  Some time later when the prince came to that district again, 10,000 outcasts waited under a banner inscribed with these words:  "The Prince of the Outcasts." What a great description of Jesus, who by his death has broken every barrier down between us and God. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Salvation by Grace

An Indian and a white man were deeply moved by the same sermon. That very night the Indian received the Savior, but for days the white man refused to accept Christ.  At last he too repented and enjoyed the sweet peace of having his sins forgiven.  Later he asked the Indian, "Why did it take me so long, while you responded right away?"  "My brother, " he replied, "I can best explain it by this little story:  At one time a rich prince wished to give each of us a new coat.  You shook your head and replied, 'I don't think so; mine looks good enough.'  When he made the same offer to me, I looked at my old blanket and said, 'This is good for nothing,' and I gratefully accepted the beautiful garment.  You wouldn't give up your own righteousness.  But knowing I had no goodness of my own, I immediately received the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness." ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Salvation by Grace

It's Maundy Thursday, 1990 and thousands of Philippinos are re-enacting the last agony of Jesus.  Barefoot, over the hot stone streets in scorching sun, they are dragging heavy wooden crosses, flogging their bare backs bloody with glass-studded whips, grizzly Lenten rituals in which at least a dozen people will be nailed to crosses, seeking through pain and suffering, redemption.  It is tradition, so in a Moslem shrine in Bangledesh, a woman worshipper offering prayers extended her arms toward one of the crocodiles which live there; it bit off her hand and swallowed it. 

People continue to do so many odd, self-humiliating acts, not understanding how to just receive the free gift of eternal life. Praise God, Jesus paid it all! -- Associated Press, 4-12-90

 

Sacrifice

Back in the days of the Great depression a Missouri man named John Griffith was the controller of a great railroad drawbridge across the Mississippi River. One day in the summer of 1937 he decided to take his eight-year-old son, Greg, with him to work. At noon, John Griffith put the bridge up to allow ships to pass and sat on the observation deck with his son to eat lunch. Time passed quickly. Suddenly he was startled by the shrieking of a train whistle in the distance. He quickly looked at his watch and noticed it was 1:07-the Memphis Express, with four hundred passengers on board, was roaring toward the raised bridge! He leaped from the observation deck and ran back to the control tower. Just before throwing the master lever he glanced down for any ships below. There a sight caught his eye that caused his heart to leap poundingly into his throat. Greg had slipped from the observation deck and had fallen into the massive gears that operate the bridge. His left leg was caught in the cogs of the two main gears! Desperately John’ mind whirled to devise a rescue plan. But as soon as he thought of a possibility he knew there was no way it could be done.

Again, with alarming closeness, the train whistle shrieked in the air. He could hear the clicking of the locomotive wheels over the tracks. That was his son down there-yet there were four hundred passengers on the train. John knew what he had to do, so he buried his head in his left arm and pushed the master switch forward. The great massive bridge lowered into place just as the Memphis Express began to roar across the river. When John Griffith lifted his head with his face smeared with tears, he looked into the passing windows of the train. There were businessmen casually reading their afternoon papers, finely dressed ladies in the dining car sipping coffee, and children pushing long spoons into their dishes of ice cream. No one looked at the control house, and no one looked at the great gear box. With wrenching agony, John Griffith cried out at the steel train: “I sacrificed my son for you people! Don’t you care?” The train rushed by, but nobody heard the father’s words, which recalled lamentations 1:12: “Is it nothing to you, all who pass by?”— Dr. D. James Kennedy

 

Sacrificial Lamb

When telling his young daughter the story of Abraham and Isaac, a father related how God had finally told Abraham not to kill Isaac and had provided a sacrificial lamb instead. The little girl looked up with a sad expression and said, “I don’t like killing lambs.” The father was speechless for a moment and then realized what traumatic and memorable events such sacrifices were. How serious the killing of a lamb for sacrifice and how destructive the reason for the sacrifice: sin. If the killing of a pure white lamb seems horrendous, how immeasurably more was the crucifixion of the Lamb of God! ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Consequences of Salvation

The movie The Hanging Tree was set in a western gold-mining camp in the late 1800s. Gary Cooper played the role of doctor for the camp. One day, a young boy was seen robbing gold from the camp. He was shot from a distance but managed to hobble into hiding. All hands in the camp spread out to see who would be the first to kill him for this offense. The doctor found the hurt, frightened youth. He took him into his cabin, nursed him, and removed the bullet. After the boy regained consciousness, he inquired what the doctor would do with him now. The doctor held the slug in the boy’s face and said, “You will be my servant for as long as I want you to be, maybe forever, because that is how long you would be dead if this slug had remained in you.”

That is the length of condemnation for the slug of sin if it remains in us. The Great Physician has already performed the surgery to remove the slug. The painless operation of trust in him is the only requirement. It is our privilege to be servants of the One who healed us forever, for without his healing, we also would be dead forever. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Gift of Salvation

A group of believers was meeting by a river when one of their group fell into the water. It was obvious that the poor fellow couldn’t swim, as he thrashed about wildly. One of the believers was a strong swimmer and was called on to jump in and save the man before he drowned. But though able to save the drowning man, he just watched until the wild struggles subsided. Then he dove in and pulled the man to safety.

When the rescue was over, the rescuer explained his slowness to act. “If I had jumped in immediately, he would have been strong enough to drown us both. Only by waiting until he was too exhausted to try to save himself, could I save him.”

It seems to be all too easy for us to be like that drowning man. Our self-efforts can actually prevent us from being saved! Unfortunately, some people must reach the point of being too exhausted to continue trying to save themselves (by dealing with their own sin) before they become willing to trust in the Savior and accept his gift of salvation. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Gift of Salvation

Suppose your best friend came by one day with a special gift for you. How would you respond? Would you immediately pull out your purse or wallet for some money to help pay for the gift? Of course not. To do so would be a great insult!

A gift must be accepted for what it is-something freely given and unmerited. If you have to pay for a gift or do something to deserve or earn it, it is not a gift. True gifts are freely given and freely received. To attempt to give or receive a gift in any other manner makes it not a gift.

So it is with our salvation. God offers us salvation as a free gift. He does not attach strings to it, because to do so makes it something other than a gift. In addition, any attempt on our part, no matter how small, to pay for our salvation by doing something or giving up something is an insult to God. No one in heaven will ever be able to say, “Look at me! I made it! With a little help from God, I made it!” Salvation is all by God. Not even the smallest part of it is the result of what we do or do not do. As God says in his Word, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8~9, NIV). ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Gift of Salvation

The story has been told of a wealthy man who became a Christian. He tried to reach his friends for Christ and told them, with tremendous enthusiasm, what had happened to him, how the Lord had changed his whole life and even saved his marriage. But he found that his words seemed to fall on deaf ears. His friends were not interested.

Since this man had great wealth, he developed a plan that would use this wealth to reach his friends. First he wrote out a check for a million dollars, which everyone knew he would easily be good for. He then visited his friends in turn and said, “I have always highly regarded you as a friend and have wanted to do something for you. Would you receive this check as a gift from me?”    

People would look at the check and, when they saw the amount of it, they would hand it back and say, “I can’t take that from you.” He tried to give the check to many of his friends, but no one would take it, although it was a valid and sincere offer. Finally the man realized that people are not willing to receive great gifts without having some part in it.

That may be why some people hesitate to accept God’s offer of eternal life as a free gift. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Gift of Salvation

The story has been told of a missionary who became a good friend of an Indian pearl diver. The two had spent many hours together discussing salvation, but the Indian could not understand anything so precious being free. Instead, in making preparation for the life to come, the diver was going to walk the nine hundred miles to Delhi on his knees. He thought this would buy entrance into heaven for him. The missionary struggled to communicate to his friend that it is impossible to buy entrance into heaven because the price would be too costly. Instead, he said, Jesus had died to buy it for us.

Before the left for his pilgrimage, the Indian gave the missionary the largest and most perfect pearl he had ever seen. The missionary offered to buy it, but the diver became upset and said that the pearl was beyond price, that his only son had lost his life in the attempt to get it. The pearl was worth the life blood of his son. As he said this, suddenly the diver understood that God was offering him salvation as a priceless gift. It is so precious that no man could buy it. It had cost God the life’s blood of his Son. The veil was lifted, he understood at last. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Example of Substitution

A man was lost in the Alps. The owner of the lodge where he had been staying sent out his best rescue dog to look for him. The dog found the man half-conscious, grabbed him, and started to shake him in order to wake him up. On coming to his senses the man, seeing the dog and thinking it was a wolf, stabbed the animal. The dog let go and returned to the lodge, where it died shortly thereafter. The dog’s owner followed the trail of blood, came to the lost man, and saved him. The dog had given his life so that another might live. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Example of Substitution

One day a certain farmer saw that a fire had ignited in his wheat fields, and was being blown toward his barns by the wind. To save the stored grain there, he lit a backfire, in hopes that it would impede the progress of the other flames. After both fires had subsided-and the barns had been saved-the farmer walked out through the smoldering ashes of the nearby fields. There he discovered the dead body of one of his hens, which had been caught in the blaze. Sadly, he turned over her black, charred body with his foot-and out from underneath ran four baby chicks. Her sacrifice saved her young ones. Such is the work of Christ on the cross, a place where the love of God dealt with the  justice of God, where God’s mercy matched God’s wrath. Our Lord’s sacrifice has saved us.— Attributed to Donald Grey Barnhouse

 

Example of Substitution

In the winter of 1975, the Chicago Sun Times pictured a couple at a table kissing. The caption read: “Roderick A. Hinson gets a snack and a smack from Jacqueline Y. Nash in East Cleveland, Ohio, after he served her three-day jail sentence for possession of an unregistered gun.” Hinson said it was his fault that she had the gun and that “a jail is not a good place for a lady.” The judge said the substitution was unusual, but legal. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Example of Substitution

In one of Billy Graham’s evangelistic films, Shiokari Pass, a young Christian became a hero. He was working with a railroad company, far away from his fiancée. He worked hard every day and finally the time came to go back to his fiancée and marry her. On the way back home, just before the peak of a steep hill, the train suddenly shook hard and stopped. When the young man went to the front of the passenger car on which he was riding, he found that it was disconnected from the rest of the train. It then began to roll backward down the steep slope. Since he had worked on the railroad, he knew there was a sharp curve behind them that the passenger car could not handle. It would be thrown off the tracks, killing the passengers. He tried to stop the car with the hand brake, but he failed. Our hero then remembered his favorite verse in the Bible: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Although this man had everything to live for, he jumped on the train tracks and stopped the passenger car with his body. He literally laid down his life to save the lives of many. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Example of Substitution

During a war between Britain and France, men were conscripted into the French army by a kind of lottery system. When someone’s name was drawn, he had to go off to battle. On one occasion, the authorities came to a certain man and told him he was among those who had been chosen. He refused to go, saying, “I was shot and killed two years ago.” At first the officials questioned his sanity, but he insisted that was indeed the case. He claimed that the military records would show that he had been killed in action. “How can that be?” they questioned. “You are alive now!” He explained that when his name first came up, a close friend said to him, “You have a large family, but I am not married and nobody is dependent upon me. I’ll take your name and address and go in your place.” And that is indeed what the record showed. This rather unusual case was referred to Napoleon Bonaparte, who decided that the country had no legal claim on that man. He was free. He had died in the person of another! ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Example of Substitution

A number of years ago, a news story told of a dramatic incident that occurred in a small Midwestern town. The residents of this town were warned to take cover because a tornado had been sighted. Living in this town was a young couple with a small baby. Knowing the tornado was upon them and that they had no time to take cover, they laid the tiny infant on the floor of their living room and covered the baby with their own bodies. The tornado struck with devastating force and leveled a row of homes, including theirs. The next morning, as rescue workers were rummaging through the destroyed homes, they heard a muffled crying. They came upon the lifeless bodies of the young couple, with their baby still safe beneath their shattered bodies.

The gave their lives for their child. This is what Christ has done for us. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Example of Substitution

A wise and just ruler established a series of laws for his people to follow. One day his mother broke one of the laws and was brought to the ruler after being caught. The penalty was twenty lashes. How could the ruler remain just and still fulfill the demands of his love for his mother? He took the lashes on his own back. Justice was satisfied, while love was revealed in full measure. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Example of Substitution

During the Civil War, a company of irregulars known as “bushwhackers” was arrested by the Union soldiers. Because they were guerrilla fighters and not in uniform, they were sentenced to be shot.

A courageous young boy in the Union Army touched his commanding officer on the arm and pleaded, “Won’t you allow me to take the place of one of the men you have just condemned? I know him well-he has a large family who needs him badly. My parents are dead and I have few friends. No one will miss me. Please let me take his punishment!” The officer hesitated, but finally gave his consent. Pulling the husband and father to one side, the young man filled his position in the death line. On the stone that marks his grave in a little southern town are these words: “Sacred to the memory of Willy Lear. He took my place.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Example of Substitution

In Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities, a young French Revolution. His punishment was based solely on his forefathers’ crimes against the peasantry. The hour before his execution he was visited by a young English friend who could have passed for his twin. After the guard had left, the friend overpowered the doomed man with an anesthetic and exchanged clothes with him. Then, pretending to be the one condemned to die, he called the jailor and asked that his unconscious “visitor”, supposedly overcome with grief, be removed and returned to his home. The nobleman was thus saved from death.

On his way to the guillotine, the young Englishman spoke these final words: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…” And he comforted himself with these words: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believerth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Example of Substitution

Auschwitz was the first German concentration camp to become an extermination camp. The gas chambers were in constant use. But because of the great influx of new prisoners daily, the Germans began to use firing squads as well.

One day, the commandant selected ten men from one barracks to be executed by the firing squad. One of those selected was the father of a large family. When he was pulled from his place in line, he fell to the ground, begging the commandant to spare his life. The commandant was unresponsive until the man standing next to the fallen one, a Catholic priest named Maximillian Kolbe, stepped forward to offer his life in exchange for the man on his knees. Surprisingly, the commandant agreed to such an arrangement. But, instead of being led away to the firing squad, Father Maximillian was thrown into a tiny damp cell where he suffered the agonizing death of starvation. Today, Maximillian Kolbe is honored by millions of people because he died in the place of one man.

Jesus Christ, through an agonizing death on the cross, died not for one man, or a few, or even several-but for all men. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Example of Substitution

One Thanksgiving afternoon, while waiting for the expected feast, two sisters went outside to play. Being a bit mischievous, they soon found something that looked like fun to do, which all too soon led them to something they had been told not to do. Their father came into the backyard and found the evidence of their disobedience and called them to him. He explained to the girls that they must go to their room and that neither would be allowed to eat Thanksgiving dinner until the one who had disobeyed him confessed. The girls went to their room.

A while later the girls heard their mother calling them for dinner. Not knowing what was going to happen, they went and took their usual places around the table. The girls noticed that their father was not seated at the table as usual and asked, “Where is Daddy?”

The mother replied, “Daddy said that you girls could not eat Thanksgiving dinner with us today until one of you came to him and confessed your disobedience. Since neither of you came, Daddy decided that he would take your punishment himself-and so he will not be eating Thanksgiving dinner with us today.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Extent of Atonement

To say that Christ redeemed men at the cross but did not also purchase for them the ability to believe would be like a man promising to give a thousand dollars to a blind man upon condition that he will open his eyes and see—which he knows full well the blind man cannot do. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Governmental View of Atonement

In a certain community in England, someone had been stealing sheep. The forces of the law were unable to apprehend the thief. A certain farmer was brought before the judge and accused of being the thief, but he established his innocence of any connection with the offense, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Thereupon the judge said, “You are an innocent man, but someone has been stealing sheep. I must show to this community what the law would do to a sheep thief.” Then the judge committed the innocent man to a period of incarceration, “to uphold public justice.” But what justice! ―― James O. Buswell

 

Redemption

A pastor of a church in Boston met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. The pastor inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?”

        “I tapped them out in the field,” the boy replied.

        “What are you going to do with them?”

        “I’m going to play with them, and then I guess I’ll just feed them to an old cat we have at home.”

        When the pastor offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, “Mister, you don’t want them, they’re just little old wild birds and can’t sing very well.”

        The pastor replied. “I’ll give you two dollars for the cage and the birds.”

        “Okay, it’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.”

        The exchange was made, and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. The pastor walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire cage, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue.

        The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate Christ’s coming to seek and to save those who-like the birds-were destined for destruction. The difference was that Christ had to purchase our freedom with his own life. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Redemption

The story has been told of an orphaned boy who was living with his grandmother when their house caught fire. The grandmother, trying to get upstairs to rescue the boy, died in the flames. The boy’s cries for help were finally answered by a man who climbed an iron drain pipe and came down with the boy hanging tightly to his neck.

Several weeks later, a public hearing was held to determine who would receive custody of the child. A farmer, a teacher, and the town’s wealthiest citizen all gave the reasons they felt they should be chosen to give the boy a home. As they talked, the lad’s eyes remained focused on the floor.

Then a stranger walked to the front and slowly took his hands from his pockets, revealing scars on them. As the crowd gasped, the boy cried out in recognition. This was the man who had saved his life and whose hands had been burned when he climbed the hot pipe. With a leap the boy threw his arms around the man’s neck and held on for dear life. The other men silently walked away, leaving the boy and his rescuer alone. Those marred hands had settled the issue. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Redemption

There was a young boy who lived in a New England seaport and loved to watch the boats come in from their daily catch. One day he decided to build a little sailboat all of his own. He worked for weeks, making sure each detail was just right. Finally the big day arrived. He went down to the wharf and proudly put his boat into the water. As he triumphantly observed his new sailboat, he noticed that the wind had suddenly changed, and the tiny boat was being swept out of sight. The little boy was heartbroken. Every day for a month he went back to see if his boat had been washed up on shore.

Finally, one day in the market he saw his boat in a store window. He excitedly ran into the store and told the proprietress that it was his boat. The woman only responded by saying that the boat would cost him two dollars. After pleading with her to no avail, the boy finally pulled out the money and gave it to the storeowner. As the boy was leaving the store, he said, “Little boat, you are twice mine. You are mine because I made you, and now you are mine because I bought you.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Redemption

One of the clearest contemporary examples of what redemption means is found in “green stamps.” Certain stores give you so many trading stamps for each dollar you spend at their store. You save up the stamps, and when you have enough, you can go to a redemption center and trade in stamps for something you want.

This transaction has two parts: purchasing the right of redemption and then claiming your merchandise. You buy the right of redemption when you make your original purchase and the store gives you the stamps as a token. Later you take the stamps to the redemption center and use them to claim something you want. Those items you redeem are not free, because in reality you already paid the price for them when you made your original purchase.

In the same way, God-by Christ’s blood-has already purchased us from the power of sin, and we are redeemed. Yet God does not come for his merchandise immediately. Instead, he has given us a token of our redemption, the Holy Spirit. So we have redemption: the forgiveness of sin. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Crucifixion

The unnatural position used in crucifixion made every movement painful; the lacerated veins and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish; the wounds, inflamed by exposure, gradually gangrened; the arteries—especially at the head and stomach—became swollen and oppressed with surcharged blood; and while each variety of misery went on gradually increasing, there was added to them the intolerable pang of a burning and raging thirst; and all these physical complications caused an internal excitement and anxiety, which made the prospect of death itself—of death, the unknown enemy, at whose approach man usually shudders most—bear the aspect of a delicious and exquisite release. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

ATONEMENT

I read about a small boy who was consistently late coming home from school. His parents warned him one day that he must be home on time that afternoon, but nevertheless he arrived later than ever. His mother met him at the door and said nothing. At dinner that night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He looked at his father's full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent. The boy was crushed.

The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy's plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy, and smiled at his son. When that boy grew to be a man, he said, "All my life I've known what God is like by what my father did that night."   

J. Allan Peterson.


The government of Polish Prime Minister Jaruzelski had ordered crucifixes removed from classroom walls, just as they had been banned in factories, hospitals, and other public institutions. Catholic bishops attacked the ban that had stirred waves of anger and resentment all across Poland. Ultimately the government relented, insisting that the law remain on the books, but agreeing not to press for removal of the crucifixes, particularly in the schoolrooms.

But one zealous Communist school administrator in Garwolin decided that the law was the law. So one evening he had seven large crucifixes removed from lecture halls where they had hung since the school's founding in the twenties. Days later, a group of parents entered the school and hung more crosses. The administrator promptly had these taken down as well.

The next day two-thirds of the school's six hundred students staged a sit-in. When heavily armed riot police arrived, the students were forced into the streets. Then they marched, crucifixes held high, to a nearby church where they were joined by twenty-five hundred other students from nearby schools for a morning of prayer in support of the protest. Soldiers surrounded the church. But the pictures from inside of students holding crosses high above their heads flashed around the world. So did the words of the priest who delivered the message to the weeping congregation that morning. "There is no Poland without a cross." 

Chuck Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict, pp. 202-3.


Alila stood on the beach holding her tiny infant son close to her heart. Tears welled in her eyes as she began slowly walking toward the river's edge. She stepped into the water, silently making her way out until she was waist deep, the water gently lapping at the sleeping baby's feet. She stood there for a long time holding the child tightly as she stared out across the river. Then all of a sudden in one quick movement she threw the six month old baby to his watery death.

Native missionary M.V. Varghese often witnesses among the crowds who gather at the Ganges. It was he who came upon Alila that day kneeling in the sand crying uncontrollably and beating her breast. With compassion he knelt down next to her and asked her what was wrong.

Through her sobs she told him, "The problems in my home are too many and my sins are heavy on my heart, so I offered the best I have to the goddess Ganges, my first born son." Brother Varghese's heart ached for the desperate woman. As she wept he gently began to tell her about the love of Jesus and that through Him her sins could be forgiven. She looked at him strangely. "I have never heard that before," she replied through her tears. "Why couldn't you have come thirty minutes earlier? If you did, my child would not have had to die."

Each year millions of people come to the holy Indian city of Hardwar to bathe in the River Ganges. These multitudes come believing this Hindu ritual will wash their sins away. For many people like Alila, missionaries are arriving too late, simply because there aren't enough of these faithful brothers and sisters on the mission field. 

Christianity Today, 1993.


During the Middle Ages there was a popular story which circulated about Martin of Tours, the saint for whom Martin Luther was named. It was said that Satan once appeared to St Martin in the guise of the Savior himself. St. Martin was ready to fall to his feet and worship this resplendent being of glory and light. Then, suddenly, he looked up into the palms of his hands and asked, "Where are the nail prints?" Whereupon the apparition vanished.

Source Unknown.


Theologians tell a story to illustrate how Christ's triumph presently benefits our lives: Imagine a city under siege. The enemy that surrounds they city will not let anyone or anything leave. Supplies are running low, and the citizens are fearful. But in the dark of the night, a spy sneaks through the enemy lines. He has rushed to the city to tell the people that in another place the main enemy force has been defeated; the leaders have already surrendered. The people do not need to be afraid. It is only a matter of time until the besieging troops receive the news and lay down their weapons. Similarly, we may seem now to be surrounded by the forces of evil -- disease, injustice, oppression, death. But the enemy has actually been defeated at Calvary. Things are not the way they seem to be. It is only a matter of time until it becomes clear to all that the battle is really over. 

Richard J. Mouw, Uncommon Decency,  pp. 149-150.


For family devotions, Martin Luther once read the account of Abraham offering Isaac on the altar in Genesis 22. His wife, Katie, said, "I do not believe it. God would not have treated his son like that!" "But, Katie," Luther replied, "He did." 

W. Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers,  p. 191.


Mahatma Gandhi is fasting to protest the riot killings that followed the partition that created Hindu India and Moslem Pakistan in 1947. A fellow Hindu approaches to confess a great wrong. "I killed a child," says the distraught man. "I smashed his head against a wall." "Why?" asks the Mahatma (Hindu for "Great Soul"). "They killed my boy. The Moslems killed my son." "I know a way out of hell," says Gandhi. "Find a child, a little boy whose mother and father have been killed, and raise him as your own. Only be sure he is a Moslem--and that you raise him as one." 

Reader's Digest, February 1992, p. 106.


In his book Written In Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.

"Would you give your blood to Mary?" the doctor asked.  Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, "Sure, for my sister." Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room--Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny's smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube. With the ordeal almost over, his voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence. "Doctor, when do I die?'

Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he'd agreed to donate his blood. He's thought giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life. In that brief moment, he'd made his great decision. Johnny, fortunately, didn't have to die to save his sister. Each of us, however, has a condition more serious than Mary's, and it required Jesus to give not just His blood but His life.     

Thomas Lindberg.


God requires satisfaction because He is holiness, but He makes satisfaction because He is love. 

A.H. Strong.


Em Griffin writes, in Making Friends, about three kinds of London maps: The street map, the map depicting throughways, and the underground map of the subway. "Each map is accurate and correct," he writes, "but each map does not give the complete picture. To see the whole, the three maps must be printed one on top of each other. However, that is often confusing, so I use only one 'layer' at a time.

"It is the same with the words used to describe the death of Jesus Christ. Each word, like redemption, reconciliation, or justification, is accurate and correct, but each word does not give the complete picture. To see the whole we need to place one 'layer' one top of the other, but that is sometimes confusing--we cannot see the trees for the whole! So we separate out each splendid concept and discover that the whole is more than the sum of its parts."   

John Ross.


STATISTICS AND STUFF

Who can estimate the value of God's gift, when He gave to the world His only begotten Son! It is something unspeakable and incomprehensible. It passes man's understanding. Two things there are which man has no arithmetic to reckon, and no line to measure. One of these things is the extent of that man's loss who loses his own soul. The other is the extent of God's gift when he gave Christ to sinners...Sin must indeed be exceeding sinful, when the Father must needs give His only Son to be the sinner's Friend! 

J.C. Ryle, Foundations of Faith.


"laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6). Commenting on this verse Martin Luther wrote: "All the prophets did foresee in Spirit that Christ should become the greatest transgressor, murderer, adulterer, thief, rebel, blasphemer, etc., that ever was or could be in all the world. For he, being made a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world is not now an innocent person and without sins...but a sinner." He was, of course, talking about the imputing of our wrongdoing to Christ as our substitute.

Luther continues: "Our most merciful Father...sent his only Son into the world and laid upon him...the sins of all men saying: Be thou Peter that denier; Paul that persecutor, blasphemer and cruel oppressor; David that adulterer; that sinner which did eat the apple in Paradise; that thief which hanged upon the cross; and briefly be thou the person which hath committed the sins of all men; see therefore that thou pay and satisfy for them. Here now comes the law and saith: I find him a sinner...therefore let him die upon the cross. And so he setteth upon him and killeth him. By this means the whole world is purged and cleansed from all sins."

The presentation of the death of Christ as the substitute exhibits the love of the cross more richly, fully, gloriously, and glowingly than any other account of it. Luther saw this and gloried in it. He once wrote to a friend: "Learn to know Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him, and say, 'Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and given me what is yours. You became what you were not, so that I might become what I was not.'"  What a great and wonderful exchange! Was there ever such love? 

James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.


We trample the blood of the Son of God if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only explanation for the forgiveness of God and for the unfathomable depth of His forgetting is the death of Jesus Christ. Our repentance is merely the outcome of our personal realization of the atonement which He has worked out for us. It does not matter who or what we are; there is absolute reinstatement into God by the death of Jesus Christ and by no other way, not because Jesus Christ pleads, but because He died. It is not earned, but accepted. All the pleading which deliberately refuses to recognize the Cross is of no avail; it is battering at a door other than the one that Jesus has opened. Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong. The atonement is a propitiation whereby God, through the death of Jesus, makes an unholy man holy.    

Oswald Chambers.


POEMS

In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp'd my wild career:
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix'd His languid eyes on me.
As near His Cross I stood.

Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem'd to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and own'd the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help'd to nail Him there.

Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!
A second look He gave, which said,
"I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou may'st live."

Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,
My spirit now if fill'd,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I kill'd!

John Newton, 1725-1807.


Jesus Christ, our blessed Savior,
Turned away God's wrath forever;
By His better grief and woe
He saved us from the evil foe.
Christ says: 'Come, all ye that labor,
And receive My grace and favor';
They who feel no want nor ill
Need no physician's help nor skill.
As His pledge of love undying,
He this precious food supplying,
Gives His body with the bread
And with the wine the blood He shed.
Praise the Father, who from heaven
Unto us such food hath given
And, to mend what we have done,
Gave unto death His only Son.
If thy heart this truth professes
And thy mouth thy sin confesses,
His dear guest thou here shalt be,
And Christ Himself shall banquet thee.

John Huss

 

REDEMPTION

A story told by Paul Lee Tan illustrates the meaning of redemption. He said that when A.J. Gordon was pastor of a church in Boston, he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, "Son, where did you get those birds?" The boy replied, "I trapped them out in the field." "What are you going to do with them?" "I'm going to play with them, and then I guess I'll just feed them to an old cat we have at home." When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, "Mister, you don't want them, they're just little old wild birds and can't sing very well." Gordon replied, "I'll give you $2 for the cage and the birds." "Okay, it's a deal, but you're making a bad bargain." The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ's coming to seek and to save the lost -- paying for them with His own precious blood. "That boy told me the birds were not songsters," said Gordon, "but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, 'Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!"

You and I have been held captive to sin, but Christ has purchased our pardon and set us at liberty. When a person has this life-changing experience, he will want to sing, "Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!" 

Our Daily Bread.


The Boy Who Lost His Boat

Tom carried his new boat to the edge of the river. He carefully placed it in the water and slowly let out the string. How smoothly the boat sailed! Tom sat in the warm sunshine, admiring the little boat that he had built. Suddenly a strong current caught the boat. Tom tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke. The little boat raced downstream.

Tom ran along the sandy shore as fast as he could. But his little boat soon slipped out of sight. All afternoon he searched for the boat. Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Tom sadly went home.

A few days later, on the way home from school, Tom spotted a boat just like his in a store window. When he got closer, he could see -- sure enough -- it was his!

Tom hurried to the store manager: "Sir, that's my boat in your window! I made it!"

"Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you'll have to buy it for one dollar."

Tom ran home and counted all his money. Exactly one dollar! When he reached the store, he rushed to the counter. "Here's the money for my boat." As he left the store, Tom hugged his boat and said, "Now you're twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you." 

Good News Publishers, Westchester, IL.


A favorite story of the little boy who built a sailboat. He built the sail and had it all fixed up, tarred and painted. He took it to the lake and pushed it in hoping it would sail. Sure enough a wisp of breeze filled the little sail and it billowed and went rippling along the waves. Suddenly before the little boy knew it, the boat was out of his reach, even though he waded in fast and tried to grab it. As he watched it float away, he hoped maybe the breeze would shift and it would come sailing back to him. Instead he watched it go farther and farther until it was gone. When he went home crying, his mother asked, "What's wrong, didn't it work?" And he said, "It worked too well."

Some time later, the little boy was downtown and walked past a second hand store. There in the window he saw the boat. It was unmistakably his, so he went in and said to the proprietor, "That's my boat." He walked to the window, picked it up and started to leave with it. The owner of the shop said, "Wait a minute, Sonny. That's my boat. I bought it from someone." The boy said, "No, it's my boat. I made it. See." And he showed him the little scratches and the marks where he hammered and filed. The man said, "I'm sorry, Sonny. If you want it, you have to buy it." The poor little guy didn't have any money, but he worked hard and saved his pennies. Finally, one day he had enough money. He went in and bought the little boat. As he left the store holding the boat close to him, he was heard saying, "You're my boat. You're twice my boat. First you're my boat 'cause I made you and second you're my boat 'cause I bought you!"

If you ever think that you aren't worth much and if you think you're cheap, just remember what God thinks of you. He thinks you're His. Twice His. First you're His because He made you. And second you're His because He bought you on the cross. He paid a price to redeem you. So let go of your stress to God's care, and let go of your sins to God's cross.

Source Unknown.


The redeemed are dependent of God for all. All that we have-- wisdom, the pardon of sin, deliverance, acceptance in God's favor, grace, holiness, true comfort and happiness, eternal life and glory--we have from God by a Mediator; and this Mediator is God. God not only gives us the Mediator, and accepts His mediation, and of His power and grace bestows the things purchased by the Mediator, but He is the Mediator. Our blessings are what we have by purchase; and the purchase is made of God; the blessings are purchased of Him; and not only so, but God is the purchaser. Yes, God is both the purchaser and the price; for Christ, who is God, purchased these blessings by offering Himself as the price of our salvation. 

Jonathan Edwards, Closer Walk, July, 1988, p. 15.


A gathering of friends at an English estate nearly turned to tragedy when one of the children strayed into deep water. The gardener heard the cries for help, plunged in, and rescued the drowning child. That youngster's name was Winston Churchill. His grateful parents asked the gardener what they could do to reward him. He hesitated, then said, "I wish my son could go to college someday and become a doctor." "We'll see to it," Churchill's parents promised. 

Years later, while Sir Winston was prime minister of England, he was stricken with pneumonia. The country's best physician was summoned. His name was Dr. Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered and developed penicillin. He was also the son of that gardener who had saved young Winston from drowning. Later Churchill remarked, "Rarely has one man owed his life twice to the same person."

Ron Hutchcraft, Wake Up Calls, Moody, 1990, p. 22.