Charles Stanley - Jesus is Our Substitute
"Let Him be crucified". That's what they cried, especially the religious leaders of the day. Let Him be crucified. Because they wanted to get rid of Jesus at any price. And the crucifixion was the worst kind of death. In fact, it was handed down from the barbarians centuries before. Then to the Persians, then to the Greeks, then to the Romans and they perfected it so that a person could suffer the longest period of time without dying. And so to say about Jesus, the perfect Son of God, "Let Him be crucified," would be the worst kind of proclamation they could yell out to Him. What was all of that about? They want to get rid of Him. People still want to get rid of Him.
Things haven't really changed all that much. People don't like the name of Jesus. And those who don't, make it known. Those of us who love Him, make it known that we do. And so, when you look at the Scriptures and find out who was this who was creating all of this, it was the religious leaders of the day. Because He interfered with their religious system. That is, He wasn't teaching what they were teaching and what was happening was, they were losing control. And so the only way to get rid of Him was to say, start saying, get a rally going. "Let Him be crucified".
And so when you look at that passage of Scripture, I want you to turn if you will to First Corinthians chapter one. And I want us to read beginning in verse eighteen, because Paul here is describing what this is all about. And he says beginning, for example in verse eighteen. "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God". That is, people who are lost, they think that's ridiculous. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside".
Where is the wise man? And has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those of us who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Who was this fellow? He was not just the preacher, but He was more than that. He was not just some itinerant fellow who came along, that's what the world thinks, that He was just another one of those. But the Bible tells us He's something and much more than that. Who was this man with this whole new idea about life? He encouraged people, for example, in a Roman empire to love one another, which was absolutely foreign. Love one another, to be forgiving toward each other. No, you don't love your enemies. You destroy them, you kill them if at all possible. And so, His message was stinging. It was disrupting their whole thought pattern. And so He was encouraging people to live on a whole different lifestyle.
In fact, when you read the Sermon on the Mount, for example, and then you look at the lifestyle that they had, it was totally different. So, naturally they were very troubled by this itinerant preacher, they call Jesus. And if you'll think about some of the things He said, He taught them how to pray. Well they had their prayers. You need to be taught how to pray. They had the prayers that they repeated. He taught them how to pray. He taught them not to worry. He taught them to trust the Heavenly Father for everything. And so He taught them how to pray for the things in life that they needed. All of this was, this was a whole different lifestyle and a whole different religion that they were interested in or that they were accustomed to.
And so, He was an intruder into their society, an intruder to their religion. There was nothing about Him that was enticing to those religious leaders. So, when He began to talk about things like healing the sick, and when they saw Him, for example, do just that, and giving sight to a blind man like Bartimaeus. And when He talked about raising the dead, this was it. You can't raise anybody from the dead. Once you're dead, you are dead. And yet, that's what He was talking about. And the fact that people didn't seem to object to that, but they were increasing all the time and people were sort of looking down on the Pharisees and the Sadducees because this Man offered them the promise of life. Life that had some beauty to it. Life that had some glory in it. Life that had some sense of satisfaction. And especially the part about loving each other. Told them not to worry, not to fret over things, but that their Heavenly Father would provide everything they needed.
All of these were ideas that the Pharisees and the Sadducees knew in their mind, but Jesus came teaching that in a very practical way. And the healing of the sick was a real issue to them. And then when He raised the dead, that was it! Nobody can raise the dead, impossible to raise the dead. And in spite of what they saw, in spite of what the people saw and what they were excited about, these religious leaders had turned their face against Jesus, turned their authority against Him, and their intention was to destroy Him at all cost. Anything that seemingly threatened their ideas, their laws in any way, or would round people up and give them a new idea about life, especially of some theological idea, that was a threat.
So Jesus came upon the scene, the eternal Son of God, with love and caring and goodness and mercy and kindness and healing, but it crossed the line when He talked about being the Son of God. And so Jesus came upon the scene with a total whole new idea about life, and their idea was, get rid of Him at any cost, because to believe what Jesus was teaching was for the Pharisees and the Sadducees to lose control of the people of their day. So if you'd have been one of those persons who lived in those days, do you think you would have followed Jesus? Or do you think maybe you would have thought well it's a little safer to stay with the Romans because they have all the power.
Now I know this guy is preaching healing and forgiveness and cleansing and heaven and all these things that sound good, but would that be a safe way to live? No, you either believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only Savior, or you don't. There's those, Jesus made everything very straight and clear. You don't come to the place where you have to choose, "Well, maybe He was right and maybe He was wrong". No. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father, the Son of God, born of a virgin, prophesied by Isaiah and the prophets as the one coming to set man free of sin and disobedience and rebellion. And the process of doing it would absolutely disrupt society. That's what He did. What would it take to disrupt the lifestyle that we have?
Well, it's already being disrupted. And so, what you and I believe is becoming less and less popular, and more and more threatening to a society that wants to be morally free and free in every way, do what you want to do when you want to do it, you don't have to ask anybody and you certainly don't want somebody who goes to church telling you how to live. And you and I have to make a decision. Am I going to be true to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, believe what He taught in His Word, or am I going to go with the world?
And if you think, "Well, I don't have to make that decision". Yes, you will. You're already having to make it. If you watch the television, you listen to the people you work with or some of your friends or people who are strangers, whatever it might be, the pressure is on to rid our society of anything that is Jesus, godly, anything of that nature. And so when you look at the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, really what happened at the cross, it should cause us to be more determined than ever before to live a godly life. Jesus Christ was the virgin born Son of God, prophesied by the prophets, that He would come as the Savior.
All that He taught was absolutely essential. But the most important thing Jesus did, what do you think it was? The most important thing Jesus did was to die as the One who bore the sin of the world, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He came into the world for the primary purpose of dying for your sin and mine. And the more we are obedient to Him, praise Him, worship Him, live true to Him, the more uncomfortable those around us will be. Because the world is bent toward doing what they want to do, the way they want to do it, and they don't want anybody else telling them what to do.
And so, when you talk about the death of Jesus Christ, if you don't, if you don't get this point, you miss His whole point. He didn't just die the death of a preacher, of a healer, of a man with a new idea, He died a substitutionary death. And that word is the heart of everything we believe about the atoning death of Jesus. That is, to substitute something means that something takes its place. And so, when Jesus came, He came and died as a substitute for all of us, so that we don't have to die in our sin. And that is the heart and core of the whole message of the gospel, that Jesus Christ, the perfect sinless Son of God, came into the world for the primary purpose of giving His life, because His life was divine, that's the only life that could be a substitute.
It couldn't be any one of us. It was, it was a substitutionary, why? Because He was born of a virgin. He was God born in the flesh. He was the Son of God. And for example, when He was baptized, He was announced as the Son of God. On the Mount of Transfiguration, He was announced to those who were with Him, as the Son of God. It's the fact that He was the Son of God, came to be a substitute for our sin that made Him different from all the rest. Jesus was the perfect Son of God, the only substitute necessary to take care of not only the sins of a few people, but the sins of the whole world.
Think about this. He had to be different in order for God to say that I will place the sin of all mankind upon Him, crucify Him as payment for the sin of the world that's who Jesus is, that's what it's all about. It's all about Jesus dying and taking our sin debt upon Himself in order that you and I would be acceptable to God. Because Jesus came that we might have life, as He said, and have it more abundant. If you intend to go to heaven, there is only one way. And the world can't stand that thought. But Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, the life," and then He made it very clear. "No one comes to the Father but by Me".
You either believe that or you don't believe it. If you don't believe it, you don't believe the Word of God. If you do believe it, do you know why you believe it? Because only Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, He's the only sacrifice that could be acceptable because He's the only sinless sacrifice, that ever lived. So when somebody says to you, "Well, are you a Christian"? Yes. They look at you and think, "Well, if you have this experience of salvation, I'm just as good as you are. You go to church, I go to church. You've been baptized, I've been baptized. You believe about Jesus. I believe about Jesus". No, no, no, no. We don't believe about Jesus, we believe in Jesus to the extent that we have yielded ourselves to Him as our Savior, Lord and Master, our God.
And our hope of heaven is not just a hope, but it's absolute assurance. And so, we're living in a world where the trauma is getting worse and worse. Because the more holy God's people live, the more, the more unacceptable we become. The more true we are to the Word of God, when you say that Jesus Christ is the only way. So when your grandchildren or maybe your children come to you and they talk to you about what they've been learning. And the fact that you do not want to be narrow minded because it makes it a little difficult. Listen, when somebody's says you're narrow-minded, here's what you say. I'm not narrow-minded. I just believe what God said. Period. End of story.
Well what did God say? Well, I'm glad you asked me that because that's what I want you to ask me. What does God say? And God says, "I've sent My only begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believes in Him would have everlasting life. Those who don't, the wrath of God's coming upon them. I know you don't like that. I'm sorry". But, that's the issue. Jesus made it crystal clear. I am the way, the truth, the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me. Either Jesus Christ was a liar or He's truly the Son of God, before whom we'll stand one of these days.
And so, when you read the Scripture and I go back to Romans chapter five, for example, and look if you will be, this is a wonderful passage. Look if you will in this fifth chapter. The Scripture says, beginning in verse six, "While we were still helpless". That's what Paul said, "While we're still helpless", verse six, "at the right time, God's 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, died in our behalf".
Listen, much more then, having now been justified by His blood. What does that mean? That means that the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ was shed, and therefore those of us who trust Him as our Savior to be justified means to be declared righteous, by what He did, not what we did, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life. If you'll notice in that passage, it's all about Him, Him, Him. Saved by His life, believe Him, trust Him. That's what it's all about.
And then, I go back to a passage in Acts chapter four, when Peter was defending the gospel, preached this awesome sermon, and then, he and John were arrested and called before the Sanhedrin and the Jewish leaders of this day, here's what he said. Peter said in verse eleven of this fourth chapter, he's speaking of Jesus, "Is the stone which was rejected by you," the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone. Speaking of Jesus. And then, he made this statement, "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved".
Look at that verse of Scripture. You either believe the Bible or you don't believe it. You either believe He's the only way, you don't. Listen to what he said, "There is salvation in no one else". You can stop right there. You believe the Bible, there is salvation in no one else, there is no other name. Nothing else, nobody else under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. What you believe is absolutely essential in your relationship to God. And listen to this, it isn't a matter of being thoughtful of other people. It isn't a matter of being narrow-minded. It isn't a matter of being unkind and unloving and judgmental and critical, that's not what it's about. It's about do I believe what God said?
And when you read these verses, which Peter and John were defending, the gospel, listen to this. Here's what he said, and this is before the Sanhedrin and all people who are getting ready to persecute him, there is salvation in no one else, there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. No other name.
Now, they will say to you, "Well, that's being narrow-minded". Well, that's right. God's very narrow-minded. He's so narrow-minded that He sent one Person, one Man, one virgin-born Man, the Son of God who was with the Father before eternity began. He sent one person and He, they called Him Jesus, and there's no one else. There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. You either do believe it or you don't believe it. And so, you can expect to be criticized and we should not be ashamed of the testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now think about this. Think about this. Does God make it clear in His Word how to be saved? And the answer is, "Yes". Does He make it clear in His Word that those who are willing to trust Him as their personal Savior will be saved? Yes He does. So the question is, am I going to believe what God said or not? So I would ask anybody this. If you're not going to believe what the Bible says, what are you going to believe? That is, what are you going to put your faith in if it's not the Word of God? If there's something other than this, what are you going to believe in? But when it comes down to eternity, this is it.
So what you have to ask is this. Do I believe the Word of God or do I not? And secondly, do I have, do I believe it strongly enough and do I have the courage to say to the people that I live with, work with and people I meet and so forth, when they question it, do you have the courage to say, when they say to you, "Do you believe that Jesus is the only way"? Here's what you say. "That's what the Bible says". "Well, do you believe everything the Bible says"? "Yes I do". Well, and then say to them. "What do you believe"? In other words, you don't have any reason to give an inch. You don't have any reason to ever be embarrassed. You don't have any reason to ever be afraid to defend the truth of the Word of God. No reason.
Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son," speaking of Himself, "that whoever believes in Him," that means believes that He's the Son of God, believes that His death on the cross atoned for all sin, believes enough that you surrender your life to Him. Your sins will be forgiven, your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life, one of these days you're going to heaven. It's a settled issue with God when you trusted His Son as your personal Savior. Amen? So we can shout till Jesus comes with absolute assurance that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
And I would say to you this morning that if you've never trusted Him as your Savior, this is a perfect time. You've heard the simple gospel. Have you ever said to God, the Father, I've sinned against You, I know I have, I'm not worthy to be saved, but today, I'm asking You to forgive me of my sin. Not on the basis of renewed conduct. Not on the basis of what I'm going to do. Not on the basis of all these, I'm asking You to forgive me of my sin on the basis that I have accepted that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Your Son, went to the cross, shed His blood for my sins. And I'm trusting You to forgive me of my sins based on the shedding of the blood of Jesus, and You said, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved". That's the basis of it.
Will you be saved? Absolutely. If you come any other way, basing your forgiveness, your salvation on any other reason but what Christ did at the cross, unacceptable. God knows what's right, He know what's wrong, He knows what's true, and He knows how to make saints out of all of us sinners. None of us will ever be perfect. Nowhere in the Bible does it say I have to be perfect in order to be saved. And you can look at the biblical characters, even following Jesus. Peter was, he was never perfect. None of those people claimed to be perfect. They claimed to be examples of the grace, mercy, and love of God.
Think about this, you and I have the greatest message the world will ever hear. That we have a Heavenly Father who loved us enough in our sins that He sent His only begotten Son into the world to die the worst kind of death that a person could die. Shed His blood, be accepted by the Father, and forgiven of our sins, our name written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and heaven our home. That's who God is. We can't boast of anything, all of us are on a same level when it comes to being a Christian, a follower of Jesus. But all of us who are going to heaven are going by the grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me". Amen?
And Father, we pray that every person who hears this message will understand it is not to be judgmental, it is not to think that we are better than someone else, it is to simply speak the truth of the love of the Father, that You're willing to love sinners, and forgive those who're willing to accept Your Son as the true way, the only way of life. Thank You for loving us, thank You for forgiving us, and Thank You that one day we'll stand before You knowing we're there not by anything we did. But what You did at one moment on the cross when Your Son, Jesus, paid our sin-debt in full. And we will praise You forever for it, in Jesus' name. Amen.