When Christ was Alone on the Cross

Steve Viars September 3, 2017 Matthew 27:33-56
Outline

Proverbs 18:21 - Death and life are in the power of the tongue…

“God forsaken by God, who can understand that?” (Martin Luther quoted in The Heart of the Cross, Boice and Ryken, p. 48).

“Our Lord was then in the darkest part of His way.  He had trodden the winepress now for hours, and the work was almost finished.  He had reached the culminating point of His anguish.  This is His dolorous lament from the lowest pit of misery—‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ I do not think that the records of time, or even of eternity, contain a sentence more full of anguish.  Here the wormwood, and the gall, and all the other bitterness, are outdone.  Here you may look as into a vast abyss; and though you strain your eyes, and gaze till sight fails you, yet perceive no bottom; it is measureless, unfathomable, inconceivable.  This anguish of the Savior on your behalf and mine is no more to be measured and weighed than the sin which needed it, or with the love that endured it.  We will adore where we cannot comprehend.” (Christ’s Words from the Cross, C. H. Spurgeon, p. 51)

3 ways to consider Christ’s question from the cross

I. The Context of the Question – The Depravity of Man

“The cross is central in the structure of all four gospels.  They have been well described as ‘passion narratives with long introductions.’  They are not biographies.  In each one the death and resurrection of Jesus take up such a disproportionate amount of space that it is quite clear that the author has no intention of giving us an account of the life of our Lord.  Everything is arranged to lead up to the climax, the cross.” (The Cross of Jesus, Leon Morris, p. 2)

A. From the perspective of Matthew

B. From the perspective of His disciples in general

Mark 14:50 - And they all left Him and fled.

Matthew 26:74-75 - Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Luke 22:60-61 - But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.”

C. From the perspective of others at the scene

Matthew 27:35 - And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots…

Matthew 27:39 - And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads…

Matthew 27:40 - …and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

Matthew 27:41-43 - In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”

Matthew 27:44 - The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.

Romans 1:28-32 - And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

II. The Purpose of the Question – Our Divine Substitute

A. Thinking about God’s questions in general

“’My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’  Surely our Lord dwelt on that ‘why’ that we might also turn our eyes that way.  He would have us see the why and the wherefore of His grief.  He would have us mark the gracious motive for its endurance.  Think much of all your Lord suffered, but do not overlook the reason of it…Thus the Savior raises an inquiry not so much for Himself as for us.” (Christ’s Words from the Cross, C.H. Spurgeon, p. 62).

B. To remind us of God’s justice

Galatians 3:13 - Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”…

Isaiah 53:5 - But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.

1 Peter 2:24 - …and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

1 John 4:10 - In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

“…the glory of Christ is extinguished.” (John Piper, John Calvin, p. 3)

“The deepest thinkers among mankind have always thought that real forgiveness is possible only when due regard is paid to the moral law…C.A. Dinsmore examined such diverse writings as those of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, George Eliot, Hawthorne, Tennyson, and others and came to the conclusion that ‘It is an axiom in life and in religious thought that there is no reconciliation without satisfaction.’…We must never overlook the fact that sinners have broken the law of God…there is never the slightest indication that anything else than Christ’s atoning work can deal with the problem of the evil that is so much part of the human situation.” (Leon Morris, The Cross of Christ, p. 9-10)

Habakkuk 1:13 - Your eyes are too pure to approve evil…

C. To create an amazement in our hearts at the depth and beauty of this atonement

a. it was personal

“My God”

b. it was biblical

c. it was covenantal

Romans 5:15-17 - But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 2:9 - But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

III. The Implication of the Question – Immeasurable Hope

A. Hope because we will never have to experience this kind of separation

Psalm 23:4, 6 - Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me…Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

1 Peter 3:18 - For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God…

B. Hope that progressive growth in holiness is attainable

1 Peter 4:1-2 - Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

“…let us abhor the sin which brought such agony upon our beloved Lord. What an accursed thing is sin, which crucified the Lord Jesus! Do you laugh at it? Will you go and spend an evening to see a mimic performance of it? Do you roll sin under your tongue as a sweet morsel, and then come to God’s house, on the Lord’s-day morning, and think to worship Him? Worship Him! Worship Him, with sin indulged in your breast! Worship Him, with sin loved and pampered in your life! O, if I had a dear brother who had been murdered, what would you think of me if I treasured the knife which had been crimsoned with his blood?—if I made a friend of the murderer, and daily consorted with the assassin, who drove the dagger into my brother’s heart? Surely I, too, must be an accomplice in the crime! Sin murdered Christ; will you be a friend to it? Sin pierced the heart of the Incarnate God; can you love it? Oh, that there was an abyss as deep as Christ’s misery, that I might at once hurl this dagger of sin into its depths, whence it might never be brought to light again! Begone, O sin! You are banished from the heart where Jesus reigns! Begone, for you have crucified my Lord, and made Him cry, ‘Why hath thou forsaken me?’ O my readers, if you did but know yourselves, and know the love of Christ, you would each one vow that you would harbor sin no longer. You would be indignant at sin, and cry, ‘The dearest idol I have known, Whate’er that idol be, Lord, I will tear it from its throne, And worship only Thee.’”

C. That He will always hear our prayers

“By rending the Temple veil, God was saying, in effect, ‘In the death of My Son, Jesus Christ, there is total access into My holy presence. He has paid the full price of sin for everyone who trusts in Him, and I now throw open My holy presence to all who will come in His name.’ The writer of Hebrews admonished, ‘Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.’ (Hebrews 4:16).” (MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 27:51). Chicago: Moody Press)

 

- please think for a moment about some of the greatest words that have been said to you…ones that were precious, impactful, memorable…

- and then let me ask you this – what is it that places certain words in that category – where you would say that they stand out as being unique and maybe even life-changing?...

- perhaps here’s a start at answering that questions…simply the content of what was being said…

- I have no idea how many words we hear or read in a given day – but some just stand out…

- like just a few minutes before I started preparing this message…I ran into one of our long-time church members and she said – Pastor Viars I just want you to know that we love you…right out of the blue…

- well, that has a different impact on your soul than – would you like fries with that?...

- sentences of about the same length – but some words stand out because of their content….

- but there’s more to it than that…there’s also your need at that particular time…

- for example, and I know this one might bring up some hard memories for some and great memories for others…

- but what about the phrase, you’re in remission…

- well, if you weren’t even sick in any way, and a doctor stops by your office in his lab coat and says…listen, I know you don’t have any disease, but thought I’d just tell you – you’re in remission…that wouldn’t do much for you…

- but if you’re in his office – and you’ve been fighting cancer with the best treatments available and you have everyone you know praying for that outcome, and he walks into the examining room in his office and says – you’re in remission…

- what changes the impact is your need…so you have the content, and the need…

- there’s also the occasion---like let’s say you’re married and you and your spouse and your kids are having breakfast…and your youngest stands up, clears his throat and says – mom, dad, on the authority vested in me by the State of Indiana and looking to God for divine help, I now pronounce you husband and wife.  What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.  Dad…dad…you may now kiss your bride.  Then he sits back down and finishes his oatmeal…

- well, they’re great words…but the occasion is a bit off…

- and then there’s the issue of credibility…which you could probably say about all of those…

- if the person who says I love you does things day after day that suggests the opposite – the words won’t have much meaning…

- or if the doctor who says you’re in remission has his doctorate in mechanical engineering…

- or your child making the pronouncement…is well, your child making the pronouncement…there’s not much credibility…

- but words that meet all of those requirements…excellent in their content, meeting a crucial need, at just the perfect time, with impeccable credentials…those are words that can be precious, impactful, memorable, and life-changing…

- that’s so true that Solomon would go so far as to say…Proverbs 18:21 - Death and life are in the power of the tongue…

- are you thinking about examples that fit into that category for you…

- how about this statement of Jesus while He was dying on the cross?...My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?...

- we’d like to consider the meaning and implications of that amazing statement this morning…

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to Matthew chapter 27…page 25 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- together we’re completing a series we’ve been doing the last several weeks on When Jesus was Alone…

- we’ve studied how He was alone when He was tempted by our adversary at the very beginning of his public ministry, and when He was alone in prayer, and alone at His trials…

- this morning we’d like to conclude by thinking about what He said when He was Alone on the Cross…and while there were seven different statements made, all of them intensely powerful and each worthy of weeks and weeks of study…the one this morning gets at the core or the core of the core…the substitutionary death of Christ…

- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?...

- let’s begin reading at verse 33…read Matthew 27:33-56

- all of us would say this morning that what Jesus said in Matthew 27:46 is far beyond our ability to fully comprehend…

- the great reformer Martin Luther said of these verses – “God forsaken by God, who can understand that?” (quoted in The Heart of the Cross, Boice and Ryken, p. 48).

- if that’s what Luther thought, where does that leave most of us…

- C. H. Spurgeon told his church family – “Our Lord was then in the darkest part of His way.  He had trodden the winepress now for hours, and the work was almost finished.  He had reached the culminating point of His anguish.  This is His dolorous lament from the lowest pit of misery—‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ I do not think that the records of time, or even of eternity, contain a sentence more full of anguish.  Here the wormwood, and the gall, and all the other bitterness, are outdone.  Here you may look as into a vast abyss; and though you strain your eyes, and gaze till sight fails you, yet perceive no bottom; it is measureless, unfathomable, inconceivable.  This anguish of the Savior on your behalf and mine is no more to be measured and weighed than the sin which needed it, or with the love that endured it.  We will adore where we cannot comprehend” (Christ’s Words from the Cross, C. H. Spurgeon, p. 51).

- so ultimately that’s our goal this morning – to adore where we cannot comprehend…but to put this in context with our overall theme this year of In Christ Alone…we could never joyfully live in that position…unless Jesus was willing to be alone like this on the cross…

- this passage gives us Three ways to consider Christ’s question from the cross – so let’s divide the rest of our time in this way…

I. The Context of the Question

II. The Purpose of the Question

III. The Implications of the Question

I. The Context of the Question – The Depravity of Man

- theologian and Bible teacher Leon Morris gave a series of lectures at Southern Seminary years ago that were so well received they were actually later published in the book The Cross of Jesus…and he said…The cross is central in the structure of all four gospels.  They have been well described as “passion narratives with long introductions.”  They are not biographies.  In each one the death and resurrection of Jesus take up such a disproportionate amount of space that it is quite clear that the author has no intention of giving us an account of the life of our Lord.  Everything is arranged to lead up to the climax, the cross” (The Cross of Jesus, Leon Morris, p. 2).

- please think about this…

A. From the perspective of Matthew

- each gospel has a distinct author, and a distinct audience, and a distinct purpose…

- throughout this book, Matthew has been addressing a Jewish audience and presenting Jesus as the promised Messiah, their rightful King…

- so this passage explains…how a king dies…how the OT prophesied the Messiah would die…

- how the Person you and I would want to submit our lives to, and stake our eternal destinies on, would die…

B. From the perspective of His disciples in general

- these events are dripping with the depravity of man…

- back at His arrest – you read this short but powerful verse…Mark 14:50 - And they all left Him and fled.

- in other words, leaving Him alone…

- then there was Peter, the one who had proudly said at the last supper that even if everyone else forsook the Lord, he would not…

- well, that hadn’t worked out so well…to no one’s surprise but maybe Peter’s, because Christ told him in advance what he would do…

- and Matthew just explained at the end of chapter 26…Matthew 26:74–75 - Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

- and Luke adds this sad but powerful detail…Luke 22:60–61 - But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.”

 - the depravity of man…leaving Jesus alone…

- add to that what we just read in our verses…

C. From the perspective of others of the scene

- people in verse 35 - Matthew 27:35 - And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots…the level of insensitivity is hard to believe…

- or those in verse 39 - Matthew 27:39 - And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads

- and listen to what they were saying in mocking derision while he suffered on the cross…Matthew 27:40 - and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

- even the religious leaders in verses 41-42 – chief priests, scribes, elders – the ones you would think would have some sort of compassion and gentleness…not on this day…Matthew 27:41–43 - In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. “He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”

- in some cases – actually quoting Scripture as part of their mockery…

- then even…Matthew 27:44 - The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.

- incredible illustrations of the depravity of man…and please remember, this is after all of the horror and cruelty of the beatings, trials, and crucifixion…

- and another point that may impact us a bit more after the eclipse a couple of weeks back…

- there had been three hours of supernaturally induced darkness on the earth…which you would think might have given wicked men reason to pause and reflect about what was occurring…

- so…incredible illustrations of the depravity of man…and the only way a person could behave that way is if he was spiritually dead…completely desensitized to the suffering of another human being…

- Jesus may have been dying, but in a very real sense, these men were already dead…

- it goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden where the temptation of the first Adam was – you can rebel against God’s commands and “you won’t surely die…”

- Paul disagreed in the book of Romans when he said…Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—

- what we’re seeing play out in this passage is how spiritually dead people behave…

- like Paul said earlier in Romans – what is the result of generation after generation of rebellion…Romans 1:28–32 - And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

- the point of all of that is – Matthew’s King – the Lord Jesus Christ…was dying in a context of incredibly depraved human beings who had long ago been separated from God and hardened in their own rebellion…

- they’re the ones…dare I say…we’re the ones who deserved to be forsaken…and if raw justice was God’s only attribute…that’s exactly what would have happened…

- so by now, Jesus has been on the cross for nearly six hours (by our reckoning from 9 in the morning to three in the afternoon…the last three where darkness had fallen upon all the land Matthew says…

- crucifixions were known in the Roman world to result in some of the worst swearing and blasphemy imaginable as the victim writhed in pain and slowly died of suffocation and thirst…

- yet at this point – our crucified King had uttered three statements…

- regarding those nailing Him to the cross, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do…

- and to the repentant thief – This day, you shall be with me in paradise…

- and regarding his mother who was watching and the disciple John – woman, behold thy son – son, behold thy mother…

- no cursing, no threatening, no blasphemy…

- Matthew’s point is clear – even in the backdrop of incredible depravity…this is how a righteous king dies…

- so that’s the context of the question…but what about….

II. The Purpose of the Question

- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me….

A. Thinking about God’s questions in general

- did the Lord ever ask a question to get information?...

- back in the Garden of Eden when all of this started – Where are you Adam?, Who told you you were naked?, Have you eaten from the tree which I commanded you not to eat?...

- we see it in all sorts of places – like when he asks hard-hearted Jonah – Do you have good reason to be angry?...

- Spurgeon said – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Surely our Lord dwelt on that “why” that we might also turn our eyes that way.  He would have us see the why and the wherefore of His grief.  He would have us mark the gracious motive for its endurance.  Think much of all your Lord suffered, but do not overlook the reason of it…Thus the Savior raises an inquiry not do much for Himself as for us. (Spurgeon, Christ’s Words from the Cross, p. 62).

- so if not to get information, what was the purpose?...

B. To remind us of God’s justice

- in these finite moments, our infinite king was becoming sin for us…

- not only bearing the weight and the penalty, although the horror of that for the Holy Lamb of God would be immense…

- but the testimony of Scripture is that the Messiah became sin for us…

  • Galatians 3:13 - Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—
  • Isaiah 53:5 - But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.
  • 1 Peter 2:24 - and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
  • 1 John 4:10 - In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

- we’re talking about the doctrine of the substitutionary death of Christ – and this is why the Reformers were so upset about a man centered Christianity that focused on human effort, and the sale of indulgences, and paying money to the church to free deceased loved ones from purgatory, or the worship of Mary, and on and on…

- it’s like John Calvin said to Cardinal Sadolet in 1538, when the focus is there – “…the glory of Christ is extinguished” (John Piper, John Calvin, p. 3)

- conversely, His glory is magnified when you consider that our King not only did this…but He did it in the condition of being forsaken by the Father…

- not only the disciples who had previously fled, or his fellow human beings who had treated his physical body with as much cruelty and pain as they could possibly devise and then stood back and mocked…

- that’s one kind of aloneness…of being forsaken…

- but at the very core of our faith is understanding that while Jesus became sin on our behalf, our Holy Father had to, and did forsake His own Son…

- there wasn’t any angelic announcement like at His birth where the glory of God filled the night sky…

- there weren’t the words of affirmation like at His baptism…this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased…

- there wasn’t intimacy in prayer He had enjoyed so many times on earth…

- our King had to die in every conceivable way…

- being separated from the fellowship of His Father…

- and then as the thirst increased and His physical life was ending…the God who provides living water had even withdrawn His life giving presence…

- the penalty of our sin was that substantial and the sufficiency of the payment was that complete…

- Leon Morris observed - The deepest thinkers among mankind have always thought that real forgiveness is possible only when due regard is paid to the moral law… C.A. Dinsmore examined such diverse writings as those of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, George Eliot, Hawthorne, Tennyson, and others and came to the conclusion that “It is an axiom in life and in religious thought that there is no reconciliation without satisfaction.”…We must never overlook the fact that sinners have broken the law of God…there is never the slightest indication that anything else than Christ’s atoning work can deal with the problem of the evil that is so much part of the human situation (Leon Morris, The Cross of Christ, p. 9-10).

- so why did the Father forsake His son – it’s as simple and profound as Habakkuk 1:13 - Your eyes are too pure to approve evil…

- but this event is about so much more that justice…as we watch the interaction of the Godhead…

C. To create an amazement in our hearts at the depth and beauty of this atonement

a. it was personal

- twice Jesus said “My God”…even in His agony and aloneness He worshipped

b. it was biblical

- Jesus is quoting Psalm 22…which is fascinating and instructive when you consider it…

- to what did the Lord turn during the temptations at the beginning of His public ministry?...

- to what is He turning now?

c. it was covenantal

- throughout the OT and especially at critical points in His dealings with man He had promised, I will be your God and you will be my people…

- and over and over we human beings violated the covenant and worshipped someone or something else…

- yet even in His very final moments of physical life…our King…kept the covenant on behalf of all who would trust in Him…which is why Paul could also say…

- Romans 5:15–17 - But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

- there’s so much more that could be said at this point – because Scripture fans out from this event like a spider web…verses like…

- Hebrews 2:9 - But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

- but perhaps Spurgeon was right – we’ll never fully comprehend this…but we can certainly stand at the cliff in adoration…

- in fact, as I was preparing this (and can I just say again on behalf of all our pastors what a profound privilege it is to actually be paid to study the Word of God about topics like this)…the song that kept going through my mind was from one of our Christmas hymns…

- O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord…

- so that is the context of the question, and the purpose of the question….but what about…

III. The Implication of the Question – Immeasurable Hope

- this is not in any way comprehensive and perhaps a good holiday homework assignment for you, your friends, and your family…would be to further develop this list…but her are three of the most important ones…

A. Hope because we will never have to experience this kind of separation

- you and I will never have to die like this…

- our greatest comfort during the time of death or any trial or challenge in-between…is the enduring and powerful presence of our Lord…

- we can say with David -- Psalm 23:4, 6 - Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me…Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

- and I would encourage you in the coming days to find opportunities to encourage your heart in that…

- so you’re walking into what could be a difficult meeting…(develop)

- of course this assumes that you have a personal relationship with God – (develop the gospel)

- 1 Peter 3:18 - For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God…

B. Hope that progressive growth in holiness is attainable

- there’s so much that could be said here about how spiritual growth is anything but man-centered…

- we’re in union with Christ…we’re indwelled by the HS…the Father will never leave us or forsake us…

- and so then, in Christ, we can have hope for change now and in the days ahead…

- 1 Peter 4:1–2 - Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

- Spurgeon said - “…let us abhor the sin which brought such agony upon our beloved Lord. What an accursed thing is sin, which crucified the Lord Jesus! Do you laugh at it? Will you go and spend an evening to see a mimic performance of it? Do you roll sin under your tongue as a sweet morsel, and then come to God’s house, on the Lord’s-day morning, and think to worship Him? Worship Him! Worship Him, with sin indulged in your breast! Worship Him, with sin loved and pampered in your life! O, if I had a dear brother who had been murdered, what would you think of me if I treasured the knife which had been crimsoned with his blood?—if I made a friend of the murderer, and daily consorted with the assassin, who drive the dagger into my brother’s heart? Surely I, too, must be an accomplice in the crime! Sin murdered Christ; will you be a friend to it? Sin pierced the heart of the Incarnate God; can you love it? Oh, that there was an abyss as deep as Christ’s misery, that I might at once hurl this dagger of sin into its depths, whence it might never be brought to light again! Begone, O sin! You are banished from the heart where Jesus reigns! Begone, for you have crucified my Lord, and made Him cry, ‘Why hath thou forsaken me?’ O my readers, if you did but know yourselves, and know the love of Christ, you would each one vow that you would harbor sin no longer. You would be indignant at sin, and cry,

The dearest idol I have known,

Whate’er that idol be,

Lord, I will tear it from its throne,

And worship only Thee.”

C. That He will always hear our prayers

- if you know your Bible, you know that in just a few moments, another miracle is going to occur where the veil of the temple is going to be rent in two…

- By rending the Temple veil, God was saying, in effect, “In the death of My Son, Jesus Christ, there is total access into My holy presence. He has paid the full price of sin for everyone who trusts in Him, and I now throw open My holy presence to all who will come in His name.” The writer of Hebrews admonished, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 27:51). Chicago: Moody Press.

- develop prayer requests at our various campuses…

 

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

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