2009-04-18 - Heidelberg 17.3
Heidelberg Catechism Series, Part 42
2 Corinthians 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
Question 17.3: "Why must He also be true God?"
Answer: "So that, by the power of his divinity, he might bear the weight of God's anger in his humanity and earn for us, and restore to us, righteousness and life."
In 17.2, we looked at probably the most popular verse in all of the Bible (John 3:16), and today we are looking at a verse that teaches one of the central truths in all of Scripture. The transaction spoken of here, Christ being made sin on our behalf, is the hope of the follower of Christ. We call it substitution. Christ is our substitute, bearing our sin, enduring God's wrath, and giving us His righteousness in the place of our sin. It is the wonder of Heaven. It is the thing that angels long to look into. God became man and Atoned for man's sin, gave His children His perfect righteousness, and made them holy in the eye of the Father. It is the Gospel of our salvation.
He (the Father) made Him (the Son) to be sin. Who is Him? Him is the Son of God, co-equal with the Father from all eternity. Him is the Son of Mary, born in Bethlehem, scorned by the religious leaders of His day. Him is One who knew hunger, thirst, and such poverty that He had nowhere to lay His head (Matt. 8:20). Him is the One who wore the crown of thorns and was crucified on a cross. Him is the One who rose from the dead because death could not hold Him (Romans 6:9). Him (Christ) knew no sin, but He became sin on our behalf. Do not think of Him as simply a historical figure, though He is that. He is a personal Savior, and He is very near to you now. Our verse speaks of a great transaction. We gave Christ our sin, and He gives us His righteousness. He was holy and sinless. He gives us His perfection, when we trust Him.
No one can change the truth that, if you have trusted in Jesus, He has saved you. It is as if we were before a court. We had amassed great debts which we could not pay. All we can do is answer "yes," to the charges brought before us. We are guilty of everything. We have not a penny to pay. This is our sin. We are without hope, unless someone saves us and pays our debt. Jesus Christ agrees to pay our debt. We trust Him to do so, and He pays the debt we owe for sin. We walk out of the court free, because Christ has given us our freedom. It is not that we promised somehow to make up for what we did to put us into debt. We cannot do so. We did not become free because we were really nice people. We are not. The only way we become free is if someone pays our debt. Someone must atone for our sin. Christ did this on the cross, and when we come to Him in faith, trusting in His sacrifice for sin, our debt is paid in full. We are given His purity. The court never asks for payment twice, and if we are resting in Christ, all our sins are forgiven, the debt is paid, and we joyfully now serve Christ. He has won our life back - not just now - but forever. It is the power of His divinity. He makes atonement for sin, and if we trust the Savior, our sins are forgiven.
Soli Deo Gloria,