Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Who Asked Him To?"

I recently read a comment from a very anti-Christian celebrity (whose name and other details I don't recall). This person, responding to the claim of the Gospel of Christ that Jesus died for them, said this: "Who asked Him to?" For some reason this statement has been rolling around in my head ever since.

Now I don't want to get into the theological issues of particular redemption and all that entails here, but rather to examine this question as stated. Who, indeed, asked Jesus Christ to die for fallen men and women? Obviously, this response was meant to be a dissing of Christianity, in essence saying that they don't need Christ or His death for their sin. I understand that, and in fact I probably had the same response to this truth many years ago before God sovereignly graced me with the spiritual life and understanding to respond to the Gospel. This is really the cry of a heart hardened and dead in sin, steeped in self-sufficiency and rebellion against God.

But all that aside, let's consider the question on a Biblical basis. Who did ask Christ to die on the cross as a vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice to receive the just penalty of God the Father for sin? Here are a few passages that shed some light on this topic:

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)

For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:19-20)

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

Who asked Christ to die for the sin of the elect? The Scriptures are clear that it was God the Father who ordained that His Son would be the Lamb of God to bear the sin of fallen man, to be the propitiatory payment for sin that would satisfy God's justice. God the Father purposed that God the Son would make atonement for sin for His people. So in this sense, God the Father "asked" Jesus to die for us.

But this begs another question, doesn't it? If the Father asked, ordained and purposed that Jesus would die for sin, how did Jesus respond? Of course we know that He did in fact obey the will of the Father to go to the cross. But did He do so willingly? Did God the Son concur with the plan of redemption ordained by God the Father from eternity past, which included His incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection? Did He resist the will of the Father in this? Again, let's consider the question Biblically.

"...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28)

"...even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep." (John 10:15)

And He was saying, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will." (Mark 14:36)

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

As these and countless other passages point out, the sacrifice of Christ for the sin of the elect was not done grudgingly or with disagreement, but rather in total consensus with the plan of the Father, in complete submission to His will, and with complete joy in accomplishing the redemption that He and His Father had planned before the foundation of the world. There was no conflict in the Godhead in this, no hint of resistance on the part of Christ. In fact, He faced His mission with a sense of joy and fulfillment, knowing that the Father was to be glorified in His sacrifice. Far from the blasphemous statements of those who refer to the substitutionary atonement of Christ as "divine child abuse", nothing could be further from the truth. Christ was pleased to take on the chastisement for our sin.

Who asked Jesus Christ to die for my sin? God did - God the Father ordained it, God the Son agreed and performed it, and God the Spirit agrees and applies it to those who God brings to Himself. Meditate on these truths. Soak your mind and heart in the depths of the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ. And come to a new and deeper understanding of and appreciation for the amazing grace of God.

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