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Friday, August 15, 2014

 

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CONTENTS | LETTER 13

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The King Dethroned

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The way which led to kingship for Jesus took him to Calvary where he died. This was no mistake. Herein was a great and loving work. The Kingship of Jesus is more than sitting on the throne of David in Jerusalem, ruling over all nations -- though He will certainly do that. The Kingship of Jesus will be righteous and perfect. There will have been no other king before him like unto him, His Kingship will be perfect.

His path to Kingship began in Nazareth and was completed when He died on the Cross. It was a life of conquest, of battle unto the death. No one but He could have accomplished it. This was work for a man who was righteous altogether.

What was the work and why did it cost Jesus his life? You will recall from our last letter that all the children of Adam and Eve through the centuries had been sinners and had died. Sin was the undisputed king. The temptations which assail us had been too strong for all our forefathers. Even the best of them had been brought to their knees and had declared:

 

"I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me." (Psalm 51:3).

"We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and thy judgments . . . 0 Lord righteousnes belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces." (Daniel 9:5-7).

These words are true of everyone of us. There is not a man living who does not feel within himself this insufficiency and weakness. This is the root problem of mankind. Man cannot remove the cause even with the best intentions in the world. It is true of the best of us that, when we discover our sinfulness it is too late for us to escape. We know that we are as good as dead. If, indeed, the wages of sin is death, then all of us are under that sentence. We are like the condemned prisoner in the cell awaiting the day of his execution.

The terrible hopelessness of the human race in this respect is described in the Bible:

 

"There is none that doeth good, no, not one."

"There is none righteous, no not one." (Romans 3:12, 10).

"Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you." (Isaiah 59:2).

"For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us: and our sins we know them." (Isaiah 59:12).

We are like men thrown into the sea with iron chains around our hands and feet, and a great weight around our necks. However tremendous the effort we make, we are doomed to sink.

But God is merciful. No man is condemned merely because he is descended from Adam and Eve. He is not responsible for that. Man stands condemned because of sin; every man who comes to understand these things realizes that he is a slave to his own sins. We have inherited from Adam and Eve our human, mortal nature which takes us to the grove, and our inclination to sin which Adam and Eve chose when they chose to sin rather than to be obedient to God. But, beyond our inheritance we have our personal sins, our own iniquities and for those we have a special responsibility.

Now, whereas forgiveness of sins will remove our personal transgressions it does not take away the weakness of our natures -- its mortality and sinfulness. It was to this great and, humanly speaking, insoluble problem that Jesus came. He came with the express intent to take away the problem at the roots, to remove the cause and to make a new beginning.

This is how God described it in the Old Testament times:

 

"And God saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness it sustained him." (Isaiah 59:16).

God did not send an angel to do this work. Nor did He send a Son who, though sympathetic toward us, was outside our experience. Jesus was born of Mary of Nazareth for the express purpose of sharing our nature -- our weakness, our temptations, our trials, our mortality. No man can ever say to Jesus, "Lord, you do not know what it is to be tempted," or, "Lord, you do not know what it is to face death." The Bible makes the whole matter plain:

 

"When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them which were under the law . . . " (Galatians 4-4-5).

"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same."

"Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest . . . for in that he hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." (Hebrews 2:17,18).

"(He) was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15).

The Lord Jesus Christ attacked sin on its own ground -- human nature. Indeed there was no other way to victory. Sin had entered the beings of Adam and Eve by their own choice and death had followed in its train. Jesus strove with temptation on that very battleground. Within himself, in his heart and mind, temptation arose as they do with every one of us. But, for Jesus, each trial was a victory. By utter reliance upon his Father, in the agony of prayer and breaking of his own will, he maintained his righteousness. Even in the heat of attack by his personal enemies he could ask: "And, which of you convinceth me of sin?" There was no answer. In him was no sin. His perfect loveliness was unmarred by any transgression. The lily was pure white. Not because He could not sin, but rather that He would not. His life was a victory -- not shallow or makebelieve - but real and lasting.

This was a matchless time in all history. For the first time someone who bore the weak and temptable nature of his brethren was altogether and enduringly free from sin, Indeed, here was one who could die and yet was in no way guilty under the low which said: the wages of sin is death. Why then did He die?

This was the path marked out for him by God -- and the path which He willingly trod in perfect and loving obedience to his Father. He was the lamb of God. Not the lamb of the Old Testament which died unwillingly and in ignorance of why it was offered. Here was the Lamb truly related to sinners in that He was of their nature. Here would be the perfect acknowledgment of the sin of mankind and the perfect covering for the sinner's sin.

 

"He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross." (Phil. 2:8).

"Behold, the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29).

So complete was the victory of Jesus that not only was sin conquered as he lived, but even the very source of temptation was put to silence in a willing death. The very source of sin was destroyed.

The day of his death, therefore, was the moment of final accomplishment. For this reason he cried:

    "it is finished." [John 19:30]

He had completed the work God had given him to do. Sin was no longer the undisputed king over all the earth. Righteousness had come in: God's holy Name was set up anew. The poison of sin had been removed. Adam's evil work had been undone. The gates of righteousness were wide open and Jesus went in even though the jaws of death closed upon Him.

(Read for yourself: 1 Peter 2).

 


Questions on Letter 12 (answers)

1. Was anyone sinless besides Jesus Christ?

2. Is any man responsible for Adam's sin?

3. What then condemns a man?

4. Did Jesus share our mortal nature?

5. How did Jesus overcome sin and death?

6. How can we overcome sin and death?

CONTENTS | LETTER 13

 

 

 


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