Joy to the World – Pt. 3

joy-to-the-world.jpgThe third verse of this hymn, like all of the other verses, is rich with important biblical truth that we cannot afford to miss.  As Christians, we’re called to delight in God’s truth and understanding the content of verse 3 should cause us to delight in God.  Verse three says –

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as, the curse is found.

Sins, Sorrows, Thorns and a Curse

This verse is describing what redemption looks like. Much like what Part 2 discussed, the world is presently under a curse because of Adam and Eve’s rebellion. Part of the curse, pronounced to Adam in Genesis 3 says-

17And to Adam he said,“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life, 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken, for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

After mankind’s rebellion, part of the curse described is creation working against man. No longer would Adam’s work as a cultivator of the ground be easy and bear plentiful produce. His labor would be painfully hard and the harmony between man and the rest of creation would be strenuous.  Like Adam, we live in a world where our work is often riddled with proverbial thorns, not often enjoyed nor yielding the “fruit” we desire.  In addition, the very ground that Adam was supposed to rule would ultimately consume him. That is our lot without a redeemer.  We are born into this life under God’s curse for Adam’s sin with death and eternal condemnation as our lot (Rom. 5:12,18-19). As stated in previous writings, all of creation is under a curse longing for a liberator.

Cosmic Redemption & Everlasting Joy

That liberator is Jesus.  During Christ’s earthly ministry He often stated that the kingdom of God had arrived, yet it wasn’t always understood nor was it fully actualized. His ministry not only consisted of teaching His Father’s truths, but He also demonstrated authority over creation (Mk. 4:35-41), over disease (Matt. 8:1-3, Mk. 5:21-34)  and over death (Mk. 5:35-43, Jhn 11:1-44). His ministry was to demonstrate the in-breaking of the kingdom of God and provide glimpses of victory over Satan and the effects of sin – especially on man. In essence, Christ’s victory in His death and resurrection reversed the curse pronounced in Genesis 3.

At the second coming of Christ, which will bring judgment for the unrepentant, also brings salvation for His people. No more will the effects of sin rule and dominate the earth nor His people. His redemption will be consummate as far as the curse is found.  God and man will be reconciled. Man and man will be in unity in Christ. The new heavens and new earth will be in perfect harmony with man. God’s dwelling place with be forever be with man on the earth where there will be everlasting joy (Rev. 21:3-4). Sin and sorrows will grow no more as they will be non-existent.

Why This Matters at Christmas

While this season looks back at the birth of Christ, it is imperative that we understand why looking back is crucial to what lies ahead. If there was no birth, there could be no death. No death of a redeemer means we’re still in bondage to sin, under God’s curse and fit for His eternal wrath.  Christ came to die for His people that they might live forever in peace and joy with God! His second coming will complete God’s plan of redemption that was planned from before the foundation of the world! 

Merry Christmas!

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50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die |reason 3|

To Learn Obedience and Be Perfected

Key Texts – Hebrews 2:10; 5:8

The third reason Piper mentions why Jesus came to die was to learn obedience and be perfected. At first glance this might sound a bit strange if you’re familiar with the fundamental doctrines of Christ. For the Scriptures declare that He never sinned and He is the Perfect Sacrifice for mankind. So how can we make sense of what it means for Christ to learn obedience and be perfect? Piper defines these issues in the negative, telling us what they don’t mean, and in the positive, telling us what they do mean.

Piper said learning obedience doesn’t mean that Christ had to learn to stop disobeying. For if Christ ever disobeyed the Father, He would not be our Perfect Sacrifice and He would be just like the rest of us – rebels. Piper goes on to say that Christ wasn’t getting rid of defects when the Scriptures say He was being made perfect through suffering. Rather, Christ was fulfilling all righteousness so that He could stand in our stead before the Father. Though Christ is by nature righteous because of His deity, as a man He practically fulfilled the Law, which we failed to do. There had to be a human to fulfill the Law of God for man to be accepted by God. Man must be seen as righteous before the Father. This is what Paul meant in 2 Corinthians 5:21. Jesus even spoke of His purpose to fulfill the Law in Matthew 5:17 and Luke 24:44

As a man, Jesus did what Adam failed to do – obey God. Adam brought condemnation into the world and Christ brought redemption. (Romans 5:12-21) Jesus is the Last Adam.

As a Son, Jesus did what Israel failed to do – obey God. Israel failed to be a light to the nations as God’s son, but Christ, the Son of God, is the light of the world. (Hosea 11:1-4, Matthew 3:17, John 8:12) Jesus is the True Israel.

This is all leading up to what Piper said at the end of the chapter: If the Son of God had gone from incarna­tion to the cross without a life of temptation and pain to test his righteousness and his love, he would not be a suitable Savior for fallen man” (25).

Christ learned obedience and was perfected to propitiate the Father’s wrath and make us acceptable before Him. What love is this?!?

Grace & Peace,

d.

50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die |reason 2|

To Please His Heavenly Father

Key Texts – Isaiah 53:10, Ephesians 5:2

The second reason Piper mentions why Jesus came to die was to please His heavenly Father. Some might ask how can the death of the Beloved Son in whom the Father was well pleased (Matt. 3:16-17) be pleasing to the Father? Shouldn’t the Father take delight in Christ’s obedience to His will like parents delight when their children obey their loving statutes? This should raise the question – Was it the Father’s will for His Son to die? Did the Father sovereignly purpose the death of His Son? The answer is a resounding yes! One of the key texts tells us:

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;…

(Isaiah 53:10a, ESV)

But why did the Father purpose to crush His only Son and take delight in His death? I would argue that it wasn’t merely the death of Christ that pleased the Father, but rather it’s what His death accomplished. Some of those accomplishments are: the satisfaction of God’s wrath for our sin, forgiveness of sin, reconciliation to God, worship of God, the witness of the church, the proclamation of the gospel, missions, restored relationships, repentance of sin, peacemaking, etc. As great as all of that is, the main reason why the Father was pleased with the death of His Son was because it was a means of displaying God’s glory to the seen and unseen realms.

Jesus’ death was the means by which the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, justice, righteousness, sovereignty and holiness of God could be seen in a very unique way at the same time – at the cross. Ponder that. Though believers are the beneficiaries of God’s grace, the ultimate reason for the Father crushing the Son was to bring glory to Himself, but He is no egoist! Jesus willfully and obediently offered His life as a substitutionary sacrifice to save sinners for the glory of God. Jesus delighted in bringing glory to the Father.

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

(John 4:34)

And this is why it pleased the Father to crush His Son.

It is only through that lens that we can understand how Christ’s life was a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2b cf Exodus 30:1-10).

For a further treatment on Jesus’ death being pleasing to God, read The Pleasure of God in Bruising the Son in The Pleasures of God, also by John Piper.

Next Reason: Jesus came to die to learn obedience and be perfected.

Grace & Peace,

d.

50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die |reason 1|

To Absorb the Wrath of God

Key TextsGalatians 3:13, Romans 3:25 and 1 John 4:10

Piper strategically starts off the book stating this reason – Jesus came to die to absorb God’s wrath.  This is no small thing and is loaded with several important implications.  The implications are  (1) God is holy and righteous (2) He has been offended (sinned against) (3) God is just and therefore He must judge offenses (4) He is loving, gracious and merciful to send Jesus to absorb His wrath (5) Christ loved the Father and sacrificed His own life as a guilt offering, though He is sinless (6) God’s wrath is satisfied by the death of His Beloved Son.

These 6 implications provide a shell of the gospel, but also much more than that.  These 6 implications help us to see something about the three parties involved  – God the Father, man, and God the Son – Jesus Christ.  Two things we see about God are He is wrathful and He is loving. We see man is a sinner. We see Christ is loving, perfect, and God’s ordained Sacrifice for sin.

It seems reasonable for Piper to begin here because the world’s biggest problem is sin.  It is imperative that we know that we are naturally rebellious to God and worthy of His eternal wrath.  Yes, God is full of wrath.  Piper makes mention that sin is no light thing and it is not light because of whom we sin against – Sovereign God.  Sin is great because God is great.  One of the terrible tragedies of sin is that it blinds us to the perfections of God and the beauty of Christ.  We are all born with sin-stained views of God and of ourselves. The stain of sin hides the true essence of God from us and blinds us to our own sin.  Sin is exceedingly sinful.

However, God is also love and in love He sent His Son to rescue rebels from His wrath. God poured out His just wrath against sin on His Son, the Sinless One.  This is the meaning of John 3:16 and Romans 5:8.   He sent His one and only Son to soak up His wrath for the sins we commit.  God pouring out His wrath on Christ exhibits His justice (sin must be dealt with) and His gracious and merciful love (He sent Christ to stand in our place to absorb His wrath) toward those who place their faith in Christ.  Those who admit their rebellion (sin) and accept God’s provision of righteousness (Jesus Christ) by faith, their unrighteousness is atoned for in Christ’s death and Christ’s righteousness is imputed or credited to that person. It’s the great exchange! (See 2 Corinthians 5:21)

But we cannot fail to mention one important issue. Behind every act that God does is a reason.  That reason is to glorify Himself. In sending Christ, the Father is drawing attention to many of His excellencies – His justice, His holiness, His righteousness, His patience, His love, His mercy, and His grace.  Though believers are the beneficiaries of salvation, the chief end of salvation is the glory of God! (See Romans 11:36)

Next Reason:  Jesus came to die to please His heavenly Father.

Grace & Peace,

d.