The Extent of Christ’s Death

Dr. Steve Viars April 2, 2021

- Good Friday is an opportunity for us to contemplate the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ…

- and I realize that after the year we’ve just experienced, some might say – can’t we talk about something other than death?...

- that emotional response to the subject actually makes the point…

- during the pandemic, we all took all sorts of steps to prevent death for ourselves, our families, people in our community, our health-care workers and first-responders…

- I’m sure when all of the scientific studies are completed, some if not much of what we did the last 12 months will look a bit silly…but we’ve been splashing ourselves with hand sanitizer, and washing our hands by singing the Happy Birthday song – and then someone came up with the belief that we had to sing it twice…

- for reasons I never quite understood since it was a respiratory illness, we were stockpiling paper products…

- and of course wearing the dreaded masks…

- taking all sorts of steps to try to avoid death…and there are many reasons for that…

- most of us would say that there are a number of aspects of life we cherish and enjoy…I don’t come across too many people who say – I want to die today – most say the exact opposite…I cherish and enjoy life…

- there’s also the fear of the unknown…many in the world consider death “the king of Terrors…”…so we try to avoid death…that’s a natural part of the human experience…

- however, every so often we come across someone willing to do the exact opposite…who actually chooses to die for someone he loves…

- Romans 5:7 acknowledges that rare possibility -- Romans 5:7 - For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.

- earlier this year 40-year-old Michael Wyman was with his wife and two young children near Blind Beach in Sonoma County, CA…[Heather – please insert pic]

- there had been warnings about high surf, but the family was simply walking along the shore…

- that’s when what experts call a “sneaker wave” occurred…where an unexpectedly large swell follows smaller surf…

- the wave knocked all 4 members of the family into the water…

- Michael and his wife Sarah were able to get back to the beach…but seven-year-old Anna and four-year-old John were swept in…

- what do you think Michael, the father did?...

- probably what every father in this room would have done…those were his own two children who loved him – and he loved them -- and he dove back into the water and I wish the story had a happy ending but both he and his children died that day…

- that’s the kind of love Paul envisions in Romans 5:7 – for the good man, someone would even dare to die…

- here’s my question for you this evening – are you and I the good man (or woman)?...

- is the extent of Christ’s death His willingness to sacrifice for those who were already righteous or good…He loved us because we first loved Him?...

- or was it more like this…

- this is Officer Jesse Madsen…[Heather – please insert pics] - Officer Madsen was a former Marine who received seven life-saving awards during the course of his law-enforcement career…

- 4 weeks ago, Madsen was driving in traffic on I-275 at one-o’clock in the morning when he learned there was an intoxicated man driving his car 100 mph in the wrong direction and headed directly for the group of cars in which the officer was driving…

- Do you know what Officer Madsen did?...according to eyewitnesses, including the woman whose car would have been hit first…Officer Madsen sped around her and drove his police car directly into the path of the oncoming drunk driver…stopping the man’s car from harming anyone else but giving his life in the process…

- he left behind a wife and three small children…

- please think with me tonight about The Extent of Christ’s Death…or perhaps more to the point, the question – Did Jesus Die for Good People?

- with that question in mind, please open your Bible to Romans chapter 5…page 121 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- the apostle Paul spent the better part of the first three chapters of the book of Romans explaining the universal lostness of mankind…

- it’s a fascinating indictment not only of men and women who were living in clear wickedness and rebellion toward God…but also for those who religious in some way…or morally good in their behavior and maybe even trusting in their own goodness or religious activities as a means of earning righteousness before God or an entrance to heaven when they died…

- of course for such persons, Good Friday would make little sense and the Easter Sunday would be just another day on the calendar…

- unless, compared to the perfect holiness of God…you and I aren’t that good after all?...

- that was certainly Paul’s conclusion in the previous chapters of this book…quoting several places in the OT, he said…

- Romans 3:10–18 - …There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving, The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

- friends – do you know what people like you and I need?...we need an Officer Madsen…

- please follow along in your Bible as I read beginning in Romans 5:6 – read Romans 5:6-9

- we’re talking about The Extent of Christ’s Death…and please think with me now about 3 lessons from the death of our Savior.

I. Our Undeniable Need

- there is some question among Bible students about whether Paul is talking about 2 different kinds of people in verse 7…

- how would you answer that question?...one will hardly die for a “righteous man”…but perhaps for the “good man” someone might dare to die…

- is that talking about the same kind of person, or two different ones?...

- there’s not universal agreement about that…

- some scholars say its two different ways of speaking about the same kind of individual…someone who is righteous and good – and for a person like that, there may be a rare individual who would die for them…

- others say no – the righteous man is a person who is humanly righteous – everybody loves that individual and appreciates all his accomplishments – and maybe if he was in danger – maybe another person would die for him…

- but the “good man” is someone with whom you have strong personal attachment…like a family member, someone who is already a meaningful part of your life…

- maybe in that case – someone would dare to die for them…

- now you might say – well, should we get into an argument about where Paul envisions one kind of persons or two kinds of persons in Romans 5:7?...

- no…why?...because what’s the point of the verse either way?...

A. We were neither righteous nor good

- did you recognize yourself in any of the descriptions of Romans 3?...

- how did Paul summarize that in chapter 5, verse 6?...

- we weren’t righteous or good….what were we?...do you see the two words?...

- Romans 5:6a – while we were still helpless…

- Romans 5:6b – Christ died for the ungodly…

- friend, can I pause and ask you tonight – do you agree with the Bible’s assessment of mankind’s lost condition?...

- some of you are old enough to remember the self-love, self-image, self-esteem movement…

- it came out of third force psychology which gave us heretical gems like “Eve did the right thing in opting for self…”…

- and that all inner-city crime could be eradicated if we could just enable everyone to love themselves more…

- as if the man getting drunk and driving his car down the interstate 100 miles an hour against oncoming traffic didn’t love himself enough already…[wasn’t it high time he started thinking about somebody else?...]

- but part of what was amazing about the self-love, self-image, self-esteem movement was the notion that Christ’s death proves your worth…

- you should feel better about yourself because Jesus was willing to die in your place…

- almost as if, on the front of the communion table, we should engrave the words…Do this, in remembrance…of you…

B. While we were yet sinners

- Romans 5:8 – while we were yet sinners

- the Bible contains a rich and varied emphasis on the sinfulness of man…

- there’s the Hebrew word Avah – bent, twisted

- the picture is of a key that is bent and no longer able to accomplish its intended purpose….

- so though we were designed to image and honor God, by sin we have been twisted and warped and in our unredeemed condition cannot in any way please God…

- Ra – ruin – sin ruins and deteriorates everything it touches…our lives, our relationships, even our bodies face ruin and decay…

- Pasha – rebellion against a rightful authority, revolt – in his excellent book The Theology of Christian Counseling – Jay Adams explains, “Sin is treason; it is rebellion against God, His law and His government. Clearly what happened in the garden was an attempt to overthrow God’s rule. The Father of lights was overthrown for the father of lies. The thought is, “Not Thy will, but mine be done. Here, in this term, is the core element. Modern aspirations for autonomy…express the essential concept in the term. This wish for autonomy, so prevalent today, must be identified and countered by counselors, or they shall fail” (Jay Adams, The Theology of Christian Counseling, p. 148).

- Rasha – hubbub, confusion, tossing – think of our political and societal landscape as just one of many ways this word comes to light in living technicolor…

- that’s just 4 of the 10 different Hebrew words in the OT for sin and that’s not counting the 7 additional Greek words in the NT…

- friend, if we’re going to let the Bible be our guide…we were less like the innocent children swept out to sea by a rogue wave and more like the intoxicated man driving his car down the interstate in the wrong direction going 100 miles per hour…

- the death of Jesus does not demonstrate our inherent worth…it demonstrates our undeniable need…

- that’s what makes this particular Friday so amazingly good…because Christ’s death on the cross also teaches us…

II. His Amazing Love

- I think we can say that to some degree, we understand the love of the father who dove back into the surf…we might even say, I think I would have done that…

- it’s harder to understand the love of Officer Madsen…they have recreated that accident and his commanding officer believes he had 2.5 seconds to make that maneuver which saved so many innocent lives…

- would it surprise anyone here that this officer had professed faith in Jesus Crist as Savior and Lord?...

- his memorial service was held at one of the largest evangelical churches in the Tampa area…and many would explain what occurred as the love of Christ working in and through this public servant…

- but even if we could get to the place mentally of understanding the love of the father at the beach, and the love of this officer…it defies that our holy God would love people like you and me…

- that’s why we sang a few moments ago…at the cross I bow my knees…at…

A. God’s grand demonstration

- Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

- the word “demonstrate” literally means “bring together, introduce, unite, or prove.”

- consider the sinless Son of God…hanging on a cross, where the weight of all of our avah (ruin), and ra (ruin), pasha (rebellion), and rasha (confusion)…and all the other aspects of our sin were laced upon Him…

- and then His holy Father turned His back on His own Son while He bore the weight and the penalty of that sin…

- that’s the essence of

B. Christ’s substitutionary death

- 2 Corinthians 5:21 - He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf…

- Colossians 1:20–22 - and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—

- what an incredible demonstration of God’s amazing love…

- many of us are looking forward to hopefully things opening up in the coming weeks and months…and participating is events we had to miss last summer…

- like the community fireworks on the 4th of July…

- what’s the best part of that event?...the Grand finale…

- the cross of Jesus Christ is the grand demonstration of His amazing love for us…

- so, where does that leave people like you and me?...for some, certainly at a point of decision…

- because what is it that connects Paul’s discussion of man’s depravity in chapters Romans 1-3…and the possibility of…

III. Our Great Salvation

- in Romans 5?...

- and that is, the centrality of faith in Romans 4…

- if you know your Bible, you know Paul just spent a chapter talking about the great Patriarch Abraham…and what was it that became the means through which Abraham was justified before God?...was it his works?...his own righteousness?...

- Romans 4:3 - For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

- the question for all of us is – do you believe God’s analysis of your sinful condition apart from Him, and your absolute need for the Lamb of God to die in your place?...

- and if the honest answer to that question on the part of anyone in this room or participating on-line is “no, I don’t”…then I have to love you enough as a pastor to inform you that you are driving the car of your life 100 mile per hour in the wrong direction…

- and you desperately need to admit your need and then find someone who can help you turn your car around…

- you need to get to the “much more than” portion of verse 9…did you see that?...

- the “while we were yet sinners” part of verse 8 does not have to be the end of the story…

- Romans 5:9 – Much more then…

- it’s very similar to what he will say later in the chapter… Romans 5:20 - …where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

- aren’t you glad that sin and death doesn’t have to be the end of the story?...

- after a year of a raging world-wide pandemic that has taken such an incredible toll…aren’t you glad that sin and death doesn’t have to be the end of the story?...

- Paul says we can be…

A. Justified by His blood

- that word means, declared/made righteous…

- this is why the blood of Christ is so precious to us…

- Romans 5:9 – Much more than, having now been justified by His blood…

- that’s the other half of - 2 Corinthians 5:21 - He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

- because of what occurred on Good Friday, not only can our sin be completely forgiven, but the righteousness can be placed on our account by faith…

- friend, that is very good news indeed…

- no wonder Paul would say at the very beginning of this book…. Romans 1:16–17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

- that means that it is possible for us to be…

B. Saved from the wrath of God through Him

- Romans 5:9 - Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

- and for anyone who would say – well, I don’t believe in such a thing as the wrath of God…really?...my only response to that would be – now you’re driving the car of your life 200 miles an hour in the wrong direction…

- here’s what the apostle of love recorded about that topic in the book of Revelation – a picture of 24 elders falling on their faces and worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ as He reigned forever and ever – and here’s what they said - Revelation 11:17–18 -

“We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

- friend, there are only two choices here…facing God’s holy wrath because you refused to repent and believe in His provision for your sin…or be saved from the wrath of God through Him…

- and if you’ve never made that decision before – we would invite you do that right now [develop – the gospel]…

- you know, every illustration falls short because in some way they don’t truly line up with reality…

- I wish I could have told you…that Michael Wyman was able to rescue his two children and even though he perished…3 days later he rose up out of the water and was now restored to his family….could you imagine that?...

- I wish I could tell you that the drunk driver’s car was turned around, and the man was saved and began living his life in an entirely new direction…

- and then miraculously the trooper came back to life 3 days later and he even invited the former drunk driver to live with him and his family in one beautiful house where there was plenty of room for him and everyone else who would repent and believe…

- I can’t tell you that about the tragedy at the beach, or the accident on the highway…

- but I can with confidence tell you that about the Lord Jesus Christ…

- Romans 5:6–9 - For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

Authors

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video