“WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?” SERIES
Message #3 – “He Took My Place”
CWBC – 3/11/18
Good morning, everyone! I’m so glad you’re here today!
Today, I want to start by asking you to think about this:
Suppose you were driving down Siwell Road, going 41 MPH, & got pulled over by an over-zealous rookie police officer. Despite your objections, he writes you a ticket for the speeding violation & informs you that you need to show up in traffic court at a certain time on a certain day, which you do. What an inconvenience, &, in your opinion, totally absurd & ludicrous! You stand before the judge, give your impassioned argument as to why you shouldn’t have gotten the ticket in the first place, & await the judge’s verdict. To your surprise & dismay, the judge pronounces you guilty & orders you to pay a small fine. It’s not a big fine, but it’s a fine nonetheless.
Suddenly, someone in the back of the courtroom steps forward & tells the judge, “I will take his place & pay the penalty for his crime. Take the ticket off of his record & put it on mine.” The judge agrees, pronounces you not guilty, & tells you that you are free to go. You walk out as your innocent substitute pays your fine out of his own pocket. Pretty good feeling, huh?
Suppose you committed a more heinous crime than driving 41 MPH in a 40 MPH zone. Suppose you murdered someone in cold blood. It was a brutal, willful, premeditated act. The police arrest you for first-degree murder, put you in a squalid jail cell where you await your day in court. The day arrives & you stand before the judge, only this time, you don’t owe a small fine, but your very life hangs in the balance. The judge pronounces the guilty verdict & sentences you to death.
Suddenly, someone from the back of the courtroom steps forward & tells the judge, “I will take his place & pay the penalty for his crime. Take the murder off of his record & put it on mine.” The judge agrees, pronounces you not guilty, & tells you that you are free to go. You walk out as your innocent substitute is given the lethal injection of drugs that will end his life.
An old Gospel tract tells this story: An ungodly sea captain on a sailing ship lay in his cabin in mid-ocean, staring death in the face. He shrank back in the presence of “the king of terrors,” the dread of eternity weighing heavily upon him. Captain Coutts sent for his first mate & said, “Williams, pray for me or read me a bit from the Bible. I have been very wicked, as you know, and am soon to die.”
“You know I am not a praying man, captain, so I can’t pray. And I have no Bible to read to you.”
“Then send for Thomas, the second mate, perhaps he can pray a bit.” The second mate was soon in the presence of his dying captain, when he said to him: “I say, Thomas, I am afraid I am bound for eternity this trip. Get down and pray for me. Ask God to have mercy upon my poor soul.”
“I’d gladly do it to oblige you, captain, if I could; but I have not prayed since I was a lad.”
They searched the ship for a man who could pray, but they searched in vain; & for a Bible, but none could be found, until one of the sailors told the captain he had seen a book that looked like a Bible in the hands of the cook’s boy, a little fellow named Willie Platt. They summoned him to the captain’s quarters, & the captain asked him to read.
“Sit down, & find something in it that will help me, for I am afraid I am going to die. Find something about God having mercy on a sinner like me, & read it to me.”
Willie did not know where to read, but he remembered that his mother had him read the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah just before he left home.
Willie turned to that blessed chapter that so fully sets forth the love & mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ in dying for poor sinners such as John Coutts, & began to read. When he got to the fifth verse—”He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; & with His stripes we are healed,” the captain, who was listening for his very life, realized that he was surely having his last chance of being saved: “Stop, my lad! That sounds like it! Read it again.” Once more the boy read over the blessed words.
“Aye, my lad, that’s good—that’s it, sure.”
These words from the captain encouraged Willie, & he said, “Captain, when I was reading that verse at home, mother made me put my name in it. May I put it in now just where mother told me?”
“Certainly, sonny; put your name in just where your mother told you, & read it again.”
Reverently and slowly the boy read the verse: “He [Jesus] was wounded for Willie Platt’s transgressions, He was bruised for Willie Platt’s iniquities: the chastisement of Willie Platt’s peace was upon Him; & with His stripes Willie Platt is healed.”
When Willie had finished, the captain was halfway over the side of his bed, reaching toward the lad, and said, “My boy, put your captain’s name in the verse & read it again—John Coutts, John Coutts.”
He slowly read the verse again: “He was wounded for John Coutts’ transgressions, He was bruised for John Coutts’ iniquities: the chastisement of John Coutts’ peace was upon Him; & with His stripes John Coutts is healed.”
When the boy had finished reading, the captain said, “That will do, my lad; you may go now.”
Then the captain lay back upon his pillow and repeated over and over again those precious words of Isaiah 53:5, putting in his own name each time, and as he did so, the joy of heaven filled his soul.
You see, he realized that Jesus had taken his place.
Open your Bibles to 1 Peter 3:18 & let’s explore the beautiful truth that Jesus took our place. Please stand as we read this verse of Scripture:
1 Peter 3:18 English Standard Version (ESV)
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…
The Biblical truth that we are talking about today is called the doctrine of substitution, or substitutionary atonement. That can be summed up in 4 words: “Jesus took my place.” Look at these 3 phrases in 1 Peter 3:18:
“Christ suffered once for sins” – This could also be translated, “Christ died for sins once for all” (NASB). Same as in Rom. 6:10 – “For the death He died, He died once for all…”
There are many verses of Scripture that tell us about the suffering & death of Jesus as payment for our sins. The last part of v. 18 speaks to that – “…being put to death in the flesh…”
- 1 Peter 2:24 – “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
- Mark 10:45 – “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- Romans 5:6 – “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
- John 10:11 – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
The Word of God is so clear. Jesus endured incredible suffering in order to satisfy God’s legal requirement for the payment & the punishment for our sins. When Jesus cried, “It is finished!” right before He died on the cross, He was declaring that the necessary work had been done, the necessary suffering had been endured, & the necessary price had been paid.
- There was only 1 person who could pay the price for our sins – Jesus.
- There was only 1 sacrifice that could pay the price for our sin – His sacrifice.
- It was a once for all sacrifice.
“the righteous for the unrighteous” – We all know the hymn “Amazing Grace” – “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” Here is the biblical basis for that line in that great hymn – WE are the “unrighteous” wretch in this verse – Jesus is the “righteous” Savior. How many of you understand what a “wretch” is? It’s a despicable person, a person of base character. That’s us! WE are the guilty sinners – He is the innocent sacrifice.
B/c of the grace of God, He sent His one & only perfect, righteous Son to take our place, even though we are imperfect, unrighteous sinners. It’s called, “The Great Exchange” – our sin on Him; His righteousness on us. As John Piper says: “This is the gospel — the good news that our sins are laid on Christ & his righteousness is laid on us, & that this great exchange becomes ours not by works but by faith alone. ‘By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8-9)’” (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-great-exchange)
“that He might bring us to God” – The end result of this Great Exchange is that we are brought into an eternal relationship w/ God. This is the definition of “atonement” – We are made “at one” with God only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as our substitute – We made “at one” when He took our place!
1 John 2:2 – “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
“atoning sacrifice” – “propitiation”
“The ultimate purpose of Christ’s death was to bring you to God. Jesus died to reach across the gulf between God and humanity. Taking our hand, he leads us across the territory of the enemy into the presence of God the Father. Jesus Christ opens the way & introduces us to God the Father. By removing sin as the cause of our separation from God, Jesus Christ provides access to God & makes us acceptable in his sight.”
Martin Luther said, “Either sin is lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God – & if it is on Christ, you are free.”
APPLICATION – Here’s where I’m going w/ this message today: The Biblical truth is that Jesus took your place when He died on the cross. But for that truth to come alive in YOUR life, you must commit your life to Him, the One who died in your place to bring you to God.
I was 8 yrs. old when I made that commitment. Vicki was 10 yrs. old. Jim Farrish was 25. Gunner Wilson was 21. Ellie Lynch was 8. Tammie Miller was 15. Mark Sandifer was 12.
What about YOU today? Do you know w/ 100% certainty today that you have truly, completely committed your life to the One who took YOUR place on the cross?
If you & I were sitting together at a table at a coffee shop discussing this, & you told me that you were NOT 100% certain, but you WANTED to be, I would ask you these questions:
- Do you realize that you are a sinner?
- Do you realize that you can’t save yourself?
- Do you realize that only Jesus Christ can save you?
- Do you realize that you must repent of your sin & turn to Christ alone to save you?
- Would you like to pray & ask Jesus to save you right now?
In the early days when pioneers were crossing the American prairie heading west, the thing they feared most was a prairie fire. Those things would roar across the plains destroying everything in their paths. Then someone got smart. As soon as they spotted the fire headed their way, they set a backfire. They burned off a plot of ground, then pulled their wagons & animals onto it. When the fire came, it roared right on around them & went past. Why? B/c the fire had already “fallen” there. – Well, one of these days, all of mankind will stand before the Righteous Judge & give account. But there is 1 place–& only 1 place–where the fires of judgment have already fallen: the cross where Jesus took our place. Those who are on that safe ground will be forever protected b/c that’s where He took our place!
 Walls, D., & Anders, M. (1999). I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude (Vol. 11, p. 56). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.