2Cor 5:21                              The Spotless Lamb of God                                  4/7/2013        

·        Reconciling the World Unto Himself (2Cor 5:14-21, Luke 1:35, John 3:13, 10:30, 6:44)

 

 

 

 

·        The Word “All” (2Cor 5:14-15, John 14:6, Rom 11:32, 25, Gal 4:25)

 

 

 

 

#1.       A Sin Offering (2Cor 5:21, Hos 4:8, Lev 4:1-6:7, 6:24-7:38, Ezek 43:22,25, 44:29, 45:22,23)

 

 

 

 

·        For Us (2Cor 5:21, Rom 5:12, 1Sam 2:8)

 

 

 

 

#2.       Who Knew No Sin (2Cor 5:21, Heb 7:26)

 

 

 

 

·        That We Might Be Made The Righteousness of God in Him (Rom 8:38-39, 3:10, Ecc 7:20, Phil 1:6, 2Cor 5:21)

 

 

 

#3.       In Him? (2Cor 5:21, Eph 1:3-4, Rev 3:21, 1Sam 2:8¸ Gen 15:1)

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 2Cor 5:14 (2X). By special request from several people, today I am going to focus on 2Cor 5:21, and the title of the sermon for today is, The Spotless Lamb of God (2X). I have never preached on this verse before, and I have noticed that it has confused many people. For the sake of the context I will start with verse 14. Verse 21 is a very important verse, and a most difficult verse. As you know, I am drawn to the difficult parts in the Bible. We are obligated to harmonize all the Scriptures, for God is not a liar. To understand the Gospel very well, and to be able to explain it to those who ask us for a reason of the hope that is in us, we need to be prepared for all their questions, also the difficult parts. We read in 2Cor 5:14-21,

2Cor 5:14-21, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15  And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

16 ¶  Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21  For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

·        Reconciling the World Unto Himself (2Cor 5:14-21, Luke 1:35, John 3:13, 10:30, 6:44)

What is the gist of this passage? Indeed it is as indicated by verse 19, “that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself”. That is the focus of this entire passage. God the Son incarnate in Christ was here on earth for the purpose of reconciling the world unto Himself through His sacrifice on the cross. Let us now consider the details of this statement. What does it mean that God the Son was incarnate in Christ? It means that God the Son, the second person of the triune God who is fully God, took up residence in the body of the man Christ Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary and thereby created a new Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. God the Son was in Christ here on earth, but at the same time He never ceased to be the second Person of the triune Godhead in heaven. The angel said to Mary in Luke 1:35, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” It was not God the Father who has commanded Christ to come to this earth, for all three Persons of the triune Godhead are equal in power and in authority. God the Son took up residence in the womb of the Virgin Mary by His own power and by His own volition, and He chose to do that through the activity of God the Holy Spirit. This explains why the Lord Jesus Christ is called the Son of God, but He is never called the Son of the Holy Spirit. God says in John 3:13,

John 3:13  “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

Christ never ceased to be God the Son in heaven, in power and great glory. That is why He could say in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one,” present tense. And what was He here for? He was here for the purpose of reconciling the world unto Himself. To reconcile means to bring peace to two warring parties. The world was at war with God. Christ came to bring peace between the world and God. Which world was that? When we look into the world today, almost 2000 years after the cross, we see that the world is still at war with God. Only a small fraction of the world is now at peace with God. Only a small fraction of the world does worship the true God of the Bible, but the rest of the world ignores God and goes their own way. If Christ was supposed to bring peace between God and the whole world, then Christ would have been a miserable failure. Obviously this view must be the wrong interpretation. Not the whole world was in view. When we say that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2Cor 5:19) we speak only of a part of the world. It is the world of the chosen people of God who are going to be drawn to Christ. The Lord Jesus said in John 6:44,

John 6:44, No man CAN come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Are these the people of the world that Christ came to reconcile to God? Then these are the only ones. It is the world of the elect we are dealing with here in 2Cor 5:14-21. God is not speaking in this passage about everyone in the whole world. Let us see this more clearly from the beginning.

·        The Word “All” (2Cor 5:14-15, John 14:6, Rom 11:32, 25, Gal 4:25)

2Cor 5:14-15, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:  15  And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

Who are represented by the word “all” in this passage? Is it all mankind? Did Christ pay the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for all mankind? Did He die for all mankind? Is Hell filled with people for whom Christ died? If that is so, then Christ is a miserable Savior. The Lord Jesus said in John 14:6, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” In other words, no man CAN come into heaven except he is saved by Me, through the cross, and he receives the faith that accompanies salvation.

Where does that leave the ancient Chinese, and the American Indians? It leaves them outside of God’s salvation, for they lived and died in a Christless universe. Christ did not die for those people.

Let us look at this from another angle. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 11:32 (2X). We have here a verse which has been lifted out of context to fit the doctrine of the premillennial people who believe that all the descendants of Jacob will be saved and will evangelize the world. But this does not harmonize with Gal 4:25 which says, “Jerusalem which now is, is in bondage with her children,” which means that the nation of the Jews as a whole remains in bondage to sin and Satan for their unbelief. Then we read in Rom 11:32,

Rom 11:32, “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.”

Who are in view when God says that He will “have mercy upon all?” Those are all the remnant of the Jews whose sins have been paid at the cross. Obviously it is only a remnant of the Jews on whom Christ has shown mercy at the cross, for the majority of them remain in unbelief until the fulness of the Gentiles have come in (Rom 11:25). Christ did not pay for their sins since Gal 4:25 still stands until the Last Day. And thus, if we put this information back into 2Cor 5:14-15, we read:

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all the remnant, then were all the remnant dead:  15  And that he died for all the remnant, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

Now, after this long introduction, we are ready for 2Cor 5:21.

#1.       A Sin Offering (2Cor 5:21, Hos 4:8, Lev 4:1-6:7, 6:24-7:38, Ezek 43:22,25, 44:29, 45:22,23)

2Cor 5:21, “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Which group of people is God speaking about in this verse? The context tells us that the words “us” and “we” refer to the elect of God, and only to the elect of God. The Greek text says, “for Him who knew no sin, God has made sin or a sin offering for us.” The design of this very important verse is to urge the strongest possible reason for being reconciled to God. This is implied in the first word “for”, which is the Greek word “gar”. It is not improper to appeal to people’s reason and conscience to remind them of the power, the goodness, and the fear of the Creator, and to remind them of the hope of heaven and the fear of hell, but the strongest argument is the fact that the Son of God has become incarnate for our sins, and has suffered and died to pay on behalf of our sins.

Then the words, “to be sin for us.” The words “to be” are not in the original text, for Christ was already prepared before the foundation of the world, according to the counsel of God. Literally it is, “He hath made Him sin, or a sin offering.” But what is meant by this? #1, It cannot be that Christ was literally sin in the abstract or in the literal sense of the word. No one can pretend this. The expression must therefore be in some sense figurative. #2, It also cannot be that Christ was a sinner, for it is said in the immediate connection that “He knew no sin,” and it is known throughout the Bible that Christ was holy, and harmless, and undefiled. Nor can it mean #3, that Christ was in any proper sense of the word “guilty”, for no one is truly guilty who is not personally a transgressor of the law. And if He was in any proper sense “guilty,” then He deserved to die, and His death could have no more merit than that of any other guilty being. And if He was properly “guilty” it would make no difference if this was by His own fault or by imputation; a guilty being deserved to be punished, and where the penalty is deserved there can be no merit in sufferings.

But all such views as go to make our holy Redeemer a sinner, or guilty, or deserving sufferings border on blasphemy. In no form and in no sense possible can it be maintained that the Lord Jesus was sinful, or guilty. It is a cornerstone of our religion that He was holy, and pure, and the object of the divine approval. Every view which leads to the statement that He was in any sense guilty, or which implies that He deserved to die, should be called false, and should be abandoned immediately. But #4, if the declaration that He was made “sin” does not mean that He was sin itself, or a sinner, or guilty, then it must mean that He was “a sin-offering”, an offering or a sacrifice for sin (Lev 4:1-6:7, 6:24-7:38). It means that God treated Him as a sinner, though He was not guilty, like the animals that were sacrificed as a sin-offering. Those animals were not guilty.

There are many passages in the Old Testament where the word “sin” is used in the sense of sin-offering, or a sacrifice for sin. For example we read in Hos 4:8, “They eat up the sin of my people (meaning the sin-offerings of My people), and they set their heart on their iniquity.” That this Hebrew word translated “sin” in Hos 4:8 actually means sin-offering is shown in Ezek 43:22,25, 44:29, 45:22,23,25, where this same Hebrew word is translated as “sin-offering.” Where does this take us?

2Cor 5:21, “For He hath made Him to be sin (offering) for us, who knew no sin;

·        For Us (2Cor 5:21, Rom 5:12, 1Sam 2:8)

Who is represented by the personal pronoun “us” here in this place? Well, the context of these verses is that it applies only to the elect of God. That is why we had that long introduction in this sermon. We need to keep that context in mind. Christ did something for us, for the elect, and now we want to know what He did for us. Did He personally atone for us on the cross?

Does this mean that the Lord Jesus Christ was a substitute for us, to suffer in our place the penalty for our sins? Many people think that this is what this verse is addressing. But that is not so. The Greek word “for” in this place is the word “huper”, and generally the word “huper” does not mean “in the place of” but it means “on behalf of.” If we interpret the word “huper” as meaning “in the place of” then Christ is bearing our sins in our place, and that means that He has become defiled with our sins. We cannot allow this interpretation, because Christ is the spotless Lamb of God, and He must remain undefiled throughout the atonement process, for that is a requirement to be our Redeemer. If Christ was bearing the guilt of only one sin, then He must first cleanse His soul from that sin before He can be our Redeemer. But that cleansing would have taken an eternity in Hell, and that would mean that He would never get around taking care of our sins. That is why God used the word “huper” in verse 21 where it is translated “for us.” The word “huper” means “on behalf of.” What difference does this make? Well, it has to do with the word “impute” that we found in verse 19. The word “impute” is an accounting term. Adam’s sin was imputed to the account of all his descendants. That means we are declared guilty of this original sin of Adam. God would be totally righteous in casting the whole human race into Hell for we are all guilty.

Rom 5:12 declares, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”

Here is the principle: sin that is imputed must be atoned for as much as sin that is committed. Now look at it from another angle: the guilt of my sins is taken from my account and is imputed to the account of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we understand why Christ was a man of sorrows, for our sins were imputed to His account a long time ago, in fact they were imputed to His account before the foundation of the world. Before time began He knew every sin we were going to commit in all our life. And so, when Christ went to the cross all our sins were still future sins.

What does it mean that He atoned for our sins “on behalf of us?” Christ has been appointed as the Judge of all mankind, both of the living and the dead. In AD 33 we stood before the Judgment seat of Christ to answer for all our sins. In a figure you can say that we were unable to pay such a great debt, for we were poor bankrupt sinners; we were the beggars on the dunghill (1Sam 2:8). If we would have to pay our debt we would be spending an eternity in Hell. Then Christ had pity on us, and He left the Judgment seat and stood before the judgment bench and paid the debt that we owe. He was rich. He had the resources to pay our debt. In a figure it was as if He, the rich man, paid the debt for the poor man. That is the meaning of Him paying the penalty “on behalf of us.” He was never defiled with our sins, but He paid our debt from His account. And all this was made possible because of the word “impute” and the word “huper”, which means “on behalf of”. Let us return to 2Cor 5:21.

#2.       Who Knew No Sin (2Cor 5:21, Heb 7:26)

2Cor 5:21  For He (God) hath made Him (Christ) to be sin (offering) for us (on behalf of us), who knew no sin;

Christ was not guilty of any sin. If He had not been, He would not have been qualified to make an atonement. He was perfectly holy and pure. Heb 7:26 says that He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” On this depends the whole superstructure of the plan of salvation. The phrase “knew no sin” is an expression of great beauty and dignity. He was a stranger to transgression; He was conscious of no sin; He committed none. He had a mind and heart perfectly free from pollution, and His whole life was perfectly pure and holy in the sight of God. How could it be otherwise, for He was God the Son incarnate? He was one with the Father. It was inconceivable that He would be guilty of even one sin, for God cannot sin, neither does He tempt anyone into sin.

·        That We Might Be Made The Righteousness of God in Him (Rom 8:38-39, 3:10, Ecc 7:20, Phil 1:6, 2Cor 5:21)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 8:38 (2X). Who are the people represented by the personal pronoun “We”? Again we have to say: the context dictates that the personal pronoun “We” refers to all the elect of God. Why do I often refer to myself as belonging to the elect of God? If I have been Born Again, and I believe I have, then I am saved, and if I am saved I do belong to the elect of God, for no one else will be saved. This is a glorious thought. This is an awareness that brings great joy in my life. It means that the Lord Jesus Christ has personally come down to earth to pay for my sins on the cross, and thereafter to take me up in His arms and assure me that Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:38-39). Christ shall keep me in His arms and by His Holy Spirit He will make sure that my lifestyle is in agreement with what He intended it to be.

And how do I interpret that I might be made the righteousness of God in Him. This word “might” does not mean to express an uncertainty, like it might and it might not come to pass. This sentence is constructed like “the future imperative”: It is certainly going to come to pass, but not now. It will be in the future, for my righteousness shall be bestowed upon me in the life hereafter. You notice that it speaks of the righteousness of God. What is the righteousness of God?

I have addressed this before. Righteousness is a property of God. Righteousness means to be right with God and to agree with God in all points of His character and His being. The saints and angels in heaven are in full agreement with all of God’s character and with the nature of His being. They are now free from sin. But human beings on earth cannot be righteous like that. Let me bring up two reasons to show that we cannot be righteous here on earth. In Rom 3:10 God says, “There is NONE righteous, NO, NOT ONE.” This is an absolute statement. It does not only refer to our condition before the moment of our salvation, but it also refers to our condition after the moment of our salvation. To those who are puffed up in pride, thinking that now they are able to live a holy life God says in Ecc 7:20, “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” In other words, even when we are declared “just”, which is the same word as “righteous”, even when we are declared “righteous” and in all our actions are doing good, there are still sins cleaving to all that we do. All our deeds are tainted with sin, even after the moment of our salvation. Only when we are with Christ in heaven will we actually be free from sin. But what does God mean when He calls us righteous while we still live here on earth? God “declares” us righteous, meaning “Not guilty”. God declares us not guilty when the atonement of Christ on the cross includes the payment for all our sins. In our soul we have been cleansed from the guilt of all our sins, but we have not experienced this transformation in our body. In our body we still are attached to the sinful creature that we were, and in our body we are still inclined to sin like before. But God is faithful, like we read in Phil 1:6,

Phil 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Before the moment of our salvation we are called sinners. After we have become Born Again we are called saints, because Christ has cleansed all the sins from our soul. Nevertheless, the saints still commit sins as Ecc 7:20 tells us. And so, let us be realistic about our own sinfulness. If we would live our entire life like a saint, we would probably sin at least 30 times a day, because every action that we take is tainted with sin. Now multiply this number of sin times the days of our life. 30 X 365 X 80 years equals 876,000. Each sin is an insult to God. And so we see two things: #1, that God is incredibly merciful if He would forgive us the sins of our lifetime, for we have insulted Him more than half a million times. #2, That God is not unfair when He casts people into Hell. He is not giving them a penalty that is far in excess of the crime they have committed, for they have insulted Him more than a million times. If you slap a policeman in the face you go to jail. If you slap the president of the United States in the face you go to jail for 5 to 10 years. If you slap God in the face you go to Hell for a much longer time. Now we are almost done with 2Cor 5:21. Only two words remain: in Him.

#3.       In Him (2Cor 5:21, Eph 1:3-4, Rev 3:21, 1Sam 2:8¸ Gen 15:1)

Please turn again to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 2Cor 5:21, and there we read:

2Cor 5:21  For He (God) hath made Him (Christ) to be sin (offering) for us (on behalf of us), who knew no sin (not a single sin); that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (in Christ).”

The righteousness of God will be imputed to us when we enter into heaven, or when we enter into the New Heaven and the New Earth. At that time we will be righteous like God. And why did God include the words “in Him?” The answer is that we were and presently are in Christ from before the foundation of the world. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:3 (2X).

Eph 1:3-4, ¶  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

You see, because we are in Christ we were crucified with Christ, and we died with Christ, and we were buried with Christ, and we were raised with Christ, and we ascended with Christ into the heavenlies, and we are seated with Christ on the right hand of the Father. And so, when we speak about us in Christ at the time of the Rapture, we inherit the righteousness of God because Christ is God the Son, and His righteousness is imputed to us because we are in Him.  This is a great privilege. This is an honor which the angels do not have. But herein you can see the honor that God bestows on those who are the Bride of Christ.

God is love, and God is a great deal more than just love. But to satisfy His attribute that God is love He created us, His special people, His elect people, on whom He pours His love so intensely that He first makes us very needy, and then He supplies to us all that we need, and then He rewards us for having received all that we need, and then He takes us into the New Heaven and the New Earth to an inheritance so indescribably glorious that we can hardly believe what we are reading. Let me take you to two verses that illustrate what I have tried to describe.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 3:21 (2X). Here is the first of the two verses that illustrate the grace of God that He freely bestows upon those people whom He created especially to shower His love upon. God has shown us in 2Cor 5:21 that He has given us His Son to be our sin-offering. We have sinned and we needed a sin-offering, according to Lev 4:1-6:7 and Lev 6:24-7:38. But we had nothing to offer, for everything we had to offer was tainted with sin. And so God gave us the sin-offering that was perfect, and that we could offer to God. And by this offering we could be reconciled to God and receive the fruit of our reconciliation. We read in Rev 3:21

Rev 3:21, To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Who are those who will be overcomers? Every one of the elect will be saved, and will overcome the temptations of Satan, and will receive the reward of the inheritance of Christ as described in Rev 3:21. Just think of it, I shall not share this throne of Christ with 100 million other saints who also shall receive this glorious reward. No! I shall reign with Christ in His throne as if the entire new universe including the New Jerusalem belongs to me, because I am the Bride of Christ. And God will arrange that every one of His saints receives that same honor. We do not understand how God will do this, but we do understand how Rev 3:21 applies to us individually. It is amazing how there are people who want extra rewards in addition to all this honor. They have forgotten what they deserve and what the grace of God really is. They have just lost their reward.

Please turn to the Prophecy of 1Sam 2:8 (2X). The second passage that reflects the fruit of our reconciliation to God is here in 1Sam 2:8. We read in

1Sam 2:28, He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them.

Who are those poor people? We are those poor. We were bankrupt. We had nothing to offer. We were dead in trespasses and sins. But God who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, lifted us up out of the dust, and lifted up the beggar from the dunghill. Who are the beggars? We were the poor beggars on a dunghill, where this earth is represented as a dunghill. This earth is under the curse of God because sin has corrupted this earth, and it is on a slippery slide on the way to be destroyed in a huge fireball. But God has not forgotten His special people on whom He will bestow His love. The Lord will take every one of these beggars and set them among princes in heaven, and one by one He will make them inherit the throne (singular) of glory. What throne is this? It is the throne of God which is their inheritance. Is this a new thing? No it is not new, for God said to Abraham in Gen 15:1, “Fear not Abram, I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” God Himself, and His throne, shall be given to each one of His elect people. Again, this is the same promise as given in Rev 3:21. It is amazing how everything harmonizes with everything else.

And it is amazing how God has bestowed His love upon the people of His choice. If we believe all these things, and we believe the whole Bible, including all those things we do not like, then this faith was a gift from God to His people, and we can be assured that we belong to the people of His choice.

AMEN.                  Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.