Thursday, December 24, 2009

"A Sacrifice Far Greater"

Part 4

The New Testament superlatives of grace declare to us a salvation and a Savior "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).

"Life more abundant... peace that passeth all understanding... joy unspeakable and full of glory... exceeding great and precious promises... abounding in hope... the exceeding greatness of His power... abundant mercy... the exceeding riches of His grace... so great salvation... the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" (John 10:10; Philippians 4:7; I Peter 1:8; II Peter 1:4; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 1:19; I Peter 1:3; Ephesians 2:7; Hebrews 2:3; Ephesians 3:19).
We do well to rejoice in the magnitude of God's goodness provided to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Eternity will not be long enough to exhaust the abundance of the gift of Himself, and "the things that are freely given to us of God" (I Corinthians 2:12).

We do well also, however, to remember that our gain is in inverse proportion to His loss. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He were rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich "(II Corinthians 8:9). The greatness of His salvation for us was purchased by the greatness of His suffering for us. To the degree we receive grace, He received condemnation. To the degree we know mercy, He knew wrath. To the degree we experience peace, His soul was "exceeding sorrowful" (Matthew 26:38). To the degree we are enabled by His power, He was "crucified through weakness"(II Corinthians 13:4). To the degree we have hope, He felt the despair of "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). To the degree we live, He died. And to the degree God's love for us "passeth knowledge," the Lord Jesus knew the hatred and fiery indignation of His Father's wrath against sin. A superlative salvation is based on superlative suffering that culminated in the Prince of life becoming the participant in a horror of death completely contrary to His nature, being, character, and way.

We are to "rejoice in the Lord always" in great measure and exhilaration of heart (Philippians 4:10). In those who love the Lord Jesus, however, such gladness is rightly tempered by the remembrance of a sacrifice far greater than we will ever know. The acronym "God's Riches At Christ's Expense" (GRACE) says it well. We must remember the cost even as we rejoice. "So great salvation" came by way of so great sorrow, and such remembrance will purify and enhance our experience of so great a Savior.

"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed."
(Isaiah 53:5)

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