Why Do I Need to Be Saved?

Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

On this podcast we frequently return to fundamental realities, essential truths, things most precious to us, like the glory of God and the cross of Jesus Christ. If you get these fundamentals right, everything else eventually falls into place. Get the fundamentals wrong, and nothing will fall exactly into place. Something will always be off.

In light of this, some of the most essential questions include these: Why, in the first place, do I need to be saved? Saved from whom? Saved from what? What is my problem? And how does God, and specifically Christ, address my problem? To explain, I love this following sermon excerpt from a 2009 message delivered at a Campus Crusade event in Minneapolis. There Pastor John expounded Romans 3:23–26, in which the apostle Paul says this:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

A glorious text of essential, must-know truth. Here’s Pastor John to explain it.

“Whom [referring to Christ] God put forward as a propitiation . . .” (Romans 3:25). Propitiation means a sacrifice that removes wrath. So, the wrath of God is absorbed by Christ when he dies in our place. Propitiation is the removal of the wrath of God off of us, though we deserve it.

“Condemnation happened at the cross. Whose? Mine. In whose flesh? Not mine.”

 

 

“Whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood [his death], to be received by faith.” That’s how you receive a gift: faith is a receiving; it’s not a doing.

“This was to show God’s righteousness . . .” Oh, really? Really? This putting Christ forward “was to show [God’s] righteousness, because in his divine forbearance [patience] he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:25–26).

I don’t think there’s a more important paragraph in the Bible than that right there. I mean, there may be some competing, but that’s just about as close to the center as you can get.

Cursed for Us

Take it apart for just a few minutes with me. God put Christ forward as a propitiation by his blood. Romans 8:3: “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.”

Whose sin? Mine. Whose flesh? Christ’s. That’s an amazing statement. Condemnation happened at the cross. Whose? Mine. In whose flesh? Not mine. This is propitiationPropitiation is the drawing away of condemnation from me. How can this be? How can it go there, on Christ? It belongs here, on me.

Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” Whose curse? God’s curse. He’s the one who backs up the law. The law is his word. If there’s a curse in the law on me, it’s coming from God. And Jesus becomes my curse.

So all that to say yes to propitiation; don’t translate it some other way. Don’t use expiation, which simply means “removal of guilt.” Don’t translate it merely as living sacrifice or sacrificial offering. It’s the removal of God Almighty’s just, holy condemnation and wrath, which belongs to me.

Glory Is Gone

Why did he need to do it that way? Why did Christ need to die in order to placate God’s wrath?

“This was to show God’s righteousness.” So, Christ died; God put him forward to die. This was to show God’s righteousness. Why did he need to show his righteousness? That’s a pretty high price for a demonstration of righteousness. Why did he need to show his righteousness?

“Because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Well, why does passing over sin make it necessary to demonstrate righteousness? Now we’re ready to see verse 23 and the nature of sin: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like I want you to feel now about the connection between sin and the glory of God. “All have sinned and fall short.” Fall short is an old-fashioned translation. The literal meaning is “they lack,” “they’re without.” In what way are we without? Romans 1:23 says we have exchanged the glory of God for the glory of created things. So, we had it; it was our treasure. When Adam and Eve were created, it was our treasure: we loved God, we cherished God, we esteemed God, we respected God; we were in awe of God and worshiped God and praised God and glorified God. And then we traded God.

“In that very moment of upholding his glory, God made it possible to save sinners.”

 

You’ve all done it; you do it every day. We embrace other values, other treasures, other desires that are so much stronger in our hearts than God is. We traded him, and so we lack God’s glory. It’s not our treasure; we’ve just thrown it away. And sin is anything you do in that process. Anything that reflects that God is not your treasure is sin. So, all have sinned and lack, throw away, exchange, demean, belittle, trample the infinite value of the glory of God.

Guilty Go Free

Now, why does that call the righteousness of God into question when he passes over such sin? Because when God, as he does for all of his people, passes over — does not condemn — sinners who have trampled his glory and demean his glory every single day of our lives, it looks as though he thinks that’s no big deal: to trample the glory of God is no big deal.

It would be like a judge sitting at a bench who’s got a murderer and a rapist in front of him. He says, “We’ll just let it go. We’ll just pass over the murder and the rape this time; we’ll just pass over it.” And everybody in the courtroom would say, “No way! You can’t do that and sit on that bench and be a just judge and say you’re just going to pass over this thing.”

And so, God knows that he would be unrighteous, he would be wrong, unjust, if he treated his glory as though it were so worthless that he could just pass over the trampling of his glory in his people. And so he doesn’t just pass over it; he sends his Son into the world to demonstrate his righteousness.

You see, if you understand Romans 3:23–26, what happened at the cross was the loudest statement imaginable: I love my glory. And in that very moment of upholding his glory, God made it possible to save sinners: “so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

The Unthinkable for the Undeserving

So, in John 17, Jesus expresses this idea: “I want them to see me — I want them to see me risen, triumphant, glorious, all-satisfying in my glory, so that my glory will continue to be exalted forever, and their joy would be full” (see John 17:24).

And at the center is the cross, making that possible for sinners. As God says, “I put my Son forward to demonstrate my righteousness. My righteousness is my unwavering commitment, always and everywhere, to uphold the infinite worth of my glory. And if I am bent on saving sinners who have trampled my glory, which I most certainly am, I will not do it in any way that calls my love for my glory into question. I will do the absolutely unthinkable. I will put my Son on the gibbet, and he will be tortured, and he will bear my wrath to make plain: I don’t sweep God-belittling sins under the rug of the universe when I save sinners.”

Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:

 

“And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.”

Genesis 39: 20

King James Version

EXPLORATION

“When You’re in the Dumps or Dungeon” 

Joseph Does Time in the Slammer

“God did not say, ‘Thou shalt not be tempted, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be distressed; but He said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.’”

Julian of Norwich

Revelations

Is there an adverse situation in my life right now that is causing me great desperation?

How has this situation affected my life each day?

“The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.”

Havelock Ellis

INSPIRATION

“In a dark time, the eye begins to see.”

Theodore Roethke

Several years ago, my husband and I were staying at a hotel built deep in a canyon away from any artificial light.  Late in the evening Jim took a walk on a path that went into a wooded area.  He later described his adventure as a walk in the “darkest” place he had ever been.

Of course, my first question when be was telling me about his experience was, “How could you find your way?”

He said that an unusual thing happened.  After being in this dark environment for a few minutes, he could begin to see the outline of trees and follow the pathway cleared in the woods.  It may have been dark, but he still had his sight.  He could still see.

This is what happened to Joseph.  Talk about a life filled with darkness.  First, as a young boy, he lost his beloved mother, Rachel.  While he was his father’s favored, the pampering by his dad only put him in a bad light with his “step-siblings” whose jealousy boiled over into murderous hate.

With such contempt for their younger brother, Joseph’s brothers finally thought they’d gotten rid of the pain-in-the-neck by selling him as a slave to the Ishmeelite merchants.

In Egypt, purchased by one of Pharaoh’s big-wigs, Joseph was quickly promoted and had the blessed hand of God aiding him in all he did. By this time, I would have begun to breathe a sigh of relief, thinking that perhaps things in my life were looking up.

But instead of being honored for his integrity and industriousness, his boss’s wife, Mrs. Potiphar, falsely accused Joseph of sexual indiscretion and his boss, Mr. Potiphar, had him tossed into prison like a criminal.

If you had been Joseph, wouldn’t you have felt as though God had let you down?  I will be quite honest, Joseph had every reason to despair.   His mother had died, his brothers sold him as a slave and an oversexed woman accused him of something he didn’t do.   And all Joseph had done was “lift up a standard” for his God.  His motives were pure.  His heart was right. He could look God in the eye and say, “I’m yours,” with a clear conscience. Yet, from all outward appearances, if you judged Joseph by his prison garb, you might think God had abandoned him and that he should be in a state of depression, despondency and despair.  But he wasn’t!  Praise God!

The apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Christians in Corinth wrote these encouraging words: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair” (II Corinthians 4: 8, K.J.V.).  In the Greek translation this is how this particular passage reads: “We suffer but we are not cramped in or hemmed in; we are facing doubt but we are not utterly at a loss.”

I love this!  Like Joseph, you and I may suffer.  You may be in a prison of poor health or tumultuous family relations or financial upheaval – you may hurt but you and I will never be hemmed in by our problems.  You and I may be blanketed by a cloud of doubt amidst the trauma that hits us like a tidal wave, however, we will NEVER be utterly lost.  There’s a way of escape.  We can rely on a God who NEVER “slumbers or sleeps.”  We can rely on a Savior who promises, “My peace I leave with you.”  And who also promised that, “I will come again and receive you unto myself.”  WOW!

Down in the dark dungeon, in a place where Joseph had a hard time seeing God’s loving hand at work, guess what happened?  Joseph found out he could still see.  He saw a gracious God who kept His promise, “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.”   And it was the God who keeps His promises to His children that Joseph recognized at work even in the prison.   Genesis 39: 21, (K.J.V.) unfurls the flag of the King of the Universe: “But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”

Are you suffering?   Are you doubting your God?  Is it too dark to see Him?  Keep looking, for soon, even in the darkness of your dungeon, you’ll see two hands of love, engraved with your name, at work.  For our God has plans for us – wonderful plans filled with the favour of a loving Father.

“It is impossible for that (woman) to despair who remembers that (her) Helper is Omnipotent.”

Jeremy Taylor

AFFIRMATION

“How long will you be absent?  For ever? Oh Lord!  Have you forgotten to be gracious, and have you shut up your loving kindness in displeasure?  Will you be no more entreated? Is your mercy clean gone for ever, and your promise come utterly to an end for ever?  Why do you wait for so long? Shall I despair of your mercy? Oh, God! Far be that from me; for you know better than I what is good for me.  Therefore do with me in all things what you will.”

Lady Jane Grey

1537-1554

(Based on Psalm 89: 46)

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus

Dorothy@TransformationGarden.com

P. S. Thank you so much for the gifts you send to Transformation Garden which continue to assist our ministry here in the United States and in 192 countries around the world.  100% of your donation goes directly to providing for our daily devotionals and gift bookmarks. Transformation Garden is a non-profit organization so your gift is tax-deductible and you will receive a receipt for any gift you send.sefsef

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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.

CONTENTMENT WEDNESDAY, JULY 8, 2020

BGW

“For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-11

The apostle Paul was a very learned man, but not the least among his manifold acquisitions in knowledge was this—he had learned to be content. Such learning is far better than much that is acquired in the schools. Their learning may look studiously back on the past, but too often those who cull the relics of antiquity with enthusiasm, are thoughtless about the present, and neglect the practical duties of daily life. Their learning may open up dead languages to those who will never derive any living benefit from them. Far better the learning of the apostle. It was a thing of ever-present utility, and alike serviceable for all generations; one of the rarest, but one of the most desirable accomplishments. I put the senior wrangler and the most learned of our Cambridge men, in the lowest form compared with this learned apostle; for this surely is the highest degree in humanities to which a man can possibly attain, to have learned in whatsoever state he is, to be content. You will see at once from reading the text, upon the very surface, that contentment in all states is not a natural propensity of man. Ill weeds grow apace; covetousness, discontent, and murmuring, are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. You have no need to sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth, upon which rests the curse; so you have no need to teach men to complain, they complain fast enough without any education. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated.

For meditationProverbs 30:7-9: the balanced prayer of Agur, an observant and humble man. Covetousness is the enemy of contentment.

Sermon no. 320
9 July (Preached 25 March 1860)

365 Days with C.H. Spurgeon, Vol. 1: A Unique Collection of 365 Daily Readings from Sermons Preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon from His New Park Street Pulpit (365 Days With Series); edited by Terence Peter Crosby; (c) Day One Publications, 1998.
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