Charles Stanley - Your Conviction About the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
The title of this message is the convictions we have about the crucifixion. Now, more than likely you have lots of convictions about a lot of things. But let me just say this to you: if you don't get this right, you will not have any eternal life. What do we mean by "Your Convictions about the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ"? So, I want you to turn, if you will, to First Corinthians chapter two. The Apostle Paul had been beaten and jailed in Philippi and he'd been run out of Thessalonica and Berea and some other places. And Corinth was probably the most corrupt city of that day. And so, when he went to Corinth, he made it very clear that he was not going to get in any discussions about their philosophies, and they believed a little bit of everything. And he wanted to make it very clear that he was going to talk about one thing.
So, if you will look at this second chapter, beginning in verse one, he says, "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of Almighty God". When we think about the crucifixion, we probably all have different ideas about what God had had in mind. But my purpose is to help you understand exactly what happened. It was more than just a man hanging on a cross. What really transpired? What took place? And besides that, how does it affect you?
And I want us to look at this first chapter of Corinthians for a moment, and there are a couple of verses here in verse twenty-three to give you an idea of how awesome the crucifixion of Jesus was to the Apostle Paul. He said in verse twenty-three, "But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men". Usually when people think about the cross, they've got them hanging around their neck; or they've got on a bracelet; or it's on the wall somewhere.
And so, they think in terms of that being a symbol of Christianity. I want you to understand what that really is. What is it really about? And Paul said as far as he was concerned, it was the subject. And he was walking into a group of philosophers who wanted to engage in all kinds of ideas. He said, "I'm coming with one thing in mind. I want you to understand what happened when Jesus Christ was crucified". And if someone should ask you, you'd probably give them a very simple answer to that. But when we talk about a conviction, and I want you to jot it down because it's a conviction about anything. Having a conviction is being so thoroughly convinced that something is absolutely true that you'll take a stand for it regardless of the consequences.
So, when people talk about the cross, would you take a stand for the cross? Would you say, "Yes, I do believe in the cross"? Well, I want us to consider some very vital points about the cross, maybe some that you've not thought about. You believe in the cross and you know that Jesus Christ died on the cross, but what was all that about? What was Christ's death on the cross? He could have died some other way, but very crystal clear, the Bible talks about His death on the cross. So I want you to look at a couple of verses, if you will. Look, if you will, in First Peter, chapter one. First Peter chapter one, and look in, if you will, in verse twenty. And I'm going to give you a number of verses. I hope you will be wise enough to write them down.
Listen to what Peter says in this twentieth verse. Or we can start with verse nineteen, "But with the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ," speaking of the cross. "For He was," watch this, "For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and your hope are in God". Now, I want you to turn back over, if you will, to Ephesians chapter one. We're talking about the cross. We're talking about how it all happened. Though Jews and Romans had something to do with it, that's not what it was all about. Look in Ephesians chapter one, beginning in verse four, and notice what he says, "Just as He," God, "chose us in Him," that is in Jesus, watch this, "before the foundation of the world, that we," you and I, "would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of His will".
Here's what he's saying. Before you and I ever came on the scene, God had already planned the death of His Son to atone for the sin of all mankind. God knew we were going to sin before He created us. And what I want you to notice he says there, he says, "Before the foundation of the world," God knew who was going to be saved. God knew that you would be saved. God knew who would not be saved. God laid out an awesome plan of redemption for all mankind. So it wasn't God reacting to anything. And if you'll notice how he said it, and I love this passage, how he said it in Ephesians, he says, look, "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will". That's a choice He made. God chose to save us through His Son.
And so, when He says, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world," the cross is all about how God fulfilled His predestined plan to save you, to save me and to save every person who will ever be saved. That's what the cross is about. It's about God who planned the salvation of mankind. And He didn't plan it in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned. Before the foundation of the world, He planned it. It was motivated by three things. That is, God, why did God choose salvation for mankind, knowing he was going to fall? Well, His first motive was our sinfulness. The Bible says, "For all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God". That is, we miss it. All of us have sinned. And I'm amazed at some people I meet, and I love to meet people that I think are not Christians because I find out what they believe. And if I bring up sin, the conversation gets close to being over.
As long as we're talking about something else, "Well fine, I'm glad to see you, the pastor, mm-mm-mm". But then when you start talking about sin. But listen, it's God who said, "For all have sinned". That is, we have violated the law of God, broken the law of God. All of us have sinned and come short of what God intended for us. And so, one of His purposes, one of His goals is forgiveness. We've all sinned against Him. We have to deal with sin in some fashion. We can ignore it and pay the price or we can be forgiven. Three motives: the sinfulness of mankind, and secondly, the love of God.
And I want you to turn to a verse here, especially, in Romans chapter five. God had in mind our sinfulness, but He also had in mind His awesome love for us. And in this fifth chapter of Romans, and there are lots of wonderful verses here. But if you'll turn, if you will, to verse eight, when Paul says it and says it so beautifully. Listen, "But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". And so, what motivated Him? What motivated Him is His love for us. His love brought about our salvation. Three motives. First of all, our sinfulness, we were lost. Secondly, His love motivated Him to do something. And the third thing that motivated Him was His justice.
Now, watch this carefully because here's the heart of the gospel. God said, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die". Every person who sins against God is liable to the judgment; will stand before the judgment. So how does a loving God save a sinful world and still be just? Well, you'll recall, for example, back in the Old Testament, there was a shedding of blood of bulls and goats and lamb and sheep and doves and all the rest. And all of that was a symbol of something. It was telling a story. It was telling a truth: that these are symbolical of what will ultimately happen one time, once and for all, and that is the death of His Son. But, of course, they didn't understand all that at the time.
And so, what was happening was that God was being true to Himself. He was preparing to pay for your sin and my sin so that His death was an atoning death. Jesus, who was God in the flesh, atoned for our sin, paid our sin debt in full with His life. No one else could do it because all the rest of us have sinned against Him. The only person who's ever lived was sinless was Jesus, because He was God in the flesh. He came for the primary purpose of dying an atoning death, not just the death, but an atoning death, a death that was payment. Jesus came as God's payment for your sin and mine. And He died to fulfill all those pictures: bull, sheep, goats, lambs, all of those things were just a foresight of what was going to happen.
So when Jesus went to the cross, He died on the cross as payment for your sin and mine. So, when we talk about the cross, we're talking about a transaction took place. Our heavenly Father sent His Son not just to live those thirty-three years, but for the primary purpose of dying. He had to be deity. He had to be the Son of God. He had to be a person of the Trinity for no one else could die for our sins because everybody else has sinned against Him. So the cross is the epitome, the heart, the core of the Christian life. It isn't just something that we sing about and we read about and we think, "Well, I love these words about the cross". No. The cross is the heart of the Christian life. You would not be saved apart from the cross. And so, when we think about the cross, you and I are declared righteous before God when we trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.
Let's go back to Romans chapter three for a moment. And I think about this particular verse that oftentimes people just sort of skip over it. But the Scripture says in verse twenty-five of that Romans three. He says in the twenty-third verse, one we all know by heart, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly," on the cross, "as a propitiation," as an atoning sacrifice, "In His blood through faith". The cross is all about payment for sin. And the cross is all about Jesus whose life was absolutely sinless and absolutely perfect.
And so, when we come to look at His life and what was going on, He came to die. And remember, there are three things that God had in mind: our sinfulness, His love, and then His justice. And His justice was settled by the death of His Son, Jesus, on the cross. Now, I think about Hebrews chapter nine for a moment. And if you'll look at these verses, beginning in verse twenty-four. Listen to what he says, "For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands," like the Holy of Holies in the Temple and so forth, "a mere copy of the true one, but," He, listen, "but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us".
Now, He says, "Nor was it that He would offer Himself often," but only once, "as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with," the same thing. "Otherwise, He would have needed to have suffered often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself". So listen, this is not all about some Easter celebration, this is about the death of God who came in the person of Jesus Christ. It's all about payment for your sin and my sin. But there's something else I want you to notice and that's this.
That crucifixion of Jesus was an event that could never be duplicated and never needed being repeated. It was a one-time thing. Never, never duplicated because Jesus came, He died and He ascended to the Father. You can never duplicate that again. Never. One moment in history, one moment in the life of all of creation, here is God in the flesh, His Son, Jesus, dying for the sins of mankind. And not only that, watch this, never needing to repeat it. Think about this. We don't know how old this world is. I mean, God knows, but there are all kind of estimations how old the world is.
Watch this, one time, one day, on one hill, on one cross Jesus died in the human flesh to atone for all the sin of mankind from Adam all the way till Jesus comes back again. He paid our sin debt. Doesn't need to be repeated because that's the power of Jesus' dying. He took all the sin of all mankind upon Himself. We can't even begin to imagine the emotional weight, not, listen, being crucified was bad enough. Being jeered by the Jews and all the rest; but bearing the weight of the sin of the world. You see, His sacrifice was an atoning sacrifice. He was paying for something. He paid for your sin and mine, the sins of the whole world. It only happened one time.
If you'll think about this, all the things that we think are important, tell me one thing as important as God in human flesh dying for the sins of the whole world, past, present, and future. What could match that? Nothing could match it. Just happened once. Not going to happen again. Because, you see, it was God in the person of Jesus who was dying in order to pay a sin debt that He assumed, your sins and mine. And He paid the penalty. And then I want to mention one last thing. Listen to this, the death of Jesus Christ covered everything, everything. There is nothing to match it, nothing to compare to it. So when He died, it affected all those who past, present, and future. And you and I live in the awareness of the presence of Almighty God.
Listen, our future is set if your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life; if you've trusted Jesus as your Savior. Because here's what they can't answer. Well, who paid for your sins? If you tell me that you're good enough, how good is that? How good do you have to be to atone for your sins? You can't answer the question. And when somebody says, "Well, I don't believe there's just one way". Oh, you don't, okay. Well, what's the other way? Watch this. You see, that's a trap they set for themselves. If they think they're going to be saved by being good, how good? Can't answer it. Secondly, if Jesus is not the only way, what's the other way? The other way has to be something you do, or your goodness or your works or whatever. It's a trap. There's only one way. There's only one Savior and one way. And it makes no difference what somebody says, this is the Word of God. And listen, not only is it the Word of God, but I think about this. He's coming back. He's coming back.
So I'd say to somebody, "Is your god coming back"? No. How are you going to be delivered from your sinfulness? You can think up anything you want to think up, but you'll never be able to think up anything that makes you acceptable to God, or what you would be saying is, "God made a horrible mistake. He killed His only Begotten Son. He could have done it some other way". What way's the other way? It all boils down to how good we are, and that doesn't work. The cross is about the only way to heaven. The only way of salvation. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, places their life before Him and in Him, would be saved. The cross isn't something you just wear around your arm, around your neck. It's about the most momentous event in human history. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing can match it. Nothing can do what it did. Jesus died for your sins and mine. This is about the Son of God loving you enough to go to the cross and pay your sin debt in full, completely. And that being true, have you ever trusted Him as your Savior? I'm talking about have you ever accepted Jesus Christ as God's only Begotten Son who went to the cross, died for your sin, took your sin debt in full upon Himself.
Have you ever accepted Him as your Savior and Lord and Master? Have you believed Him for the forgiveness of your sins? Anything else you do is inadequate. You see, the reason it doesn't need to be repeated is because it was all sufficient. One time in all of human history, Jesus died for your sin. You either accept Him as your personal Savior or here's what you do: you accept the weight and the guilt of all of your sin before Holy God and you'll be separated from Him for all eternity. It's Jesus or no way. Not Jesus one way. Jesus, the only way. Because He's the only one who paid for your sin, and that payment was accepted by the Father. How do we know that? That's what the resurrection's all about. God's declaration, paid in full, here's the proof. The proof is in the resurrection. So how blessed we are to be saved. How blessed we are. But it's a message we must tell the whole world. That is our assignment, having become followers of Jesus.
Father, we love You and praise You for Your goodness and love toward us. We can't even grasp it fully. Our minds cannot fully grasp what You did at the cross. But You've made it clear enough that we wouldn't want to face life without Jesus as our Savior. And I pray, Father, for somebody who's seated right here right now, someone who is listening or watching. That they'd be wise enough right now to pray this simple prayer. Oh Father, I have sinned against You over and over and over again. I'm coming to You, not because I deserve anything. I'm coming to admit that I'm a sinner. And I'm asking You to forgive me of my sins, believing that Jesus paid the price on the cross. And I'm asking you to save me right now, in Jesus' name, amen.