Monday, April 17, 2017



What is meant by the word “revival” when Christians use it? I’m sure most would agree that a rival has something to do with the movement of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men, women and children in any community, causing them to be born again, i.e., born of the Spirit.

Of the Spirit Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8.

The most obvious revival recorded in the Bible surely is that of Acts 2, where the “Promise of the Father” (Luke 24:49; cf., Joel 2:28-29) is poured out by the Father and the Son (John 14:26; 15:26) on the church into which about 3,000 souls were added at that time (Acts 2:41, 47).

Revival, then, is when God, by His Spirit working with His Word, convicts people of their sins and enables them to believe in God for salvation (Acts 2:8; 11,14-37).

Revival is Trinitarian. The Spirit enables people to see the Son who tells us, that to see and to know Him, is to see and to know the Father. (John 14:7; 16:14). God is triune. He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three distinct Persons who are/is one God – a community in eternal covenant with each Other.

Jesus says that His sheep hear His voice, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27. He is Saviour of His people. “You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21b. Jesus berated some Jews who were not His people, “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.” John 10:26. Thus, revival takes place wherever the Word is faithfully proclaimed, God’s people are present, and the Spirit is pleased to work in their hearts. E.g., “So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood [i.e., a pulpit] which they had made for the purpose... And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people … and the Levites helped the people understand the Law … So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.” Nehemiah 8:4-8 abridged). Thus, though the Spirit works with the Word, the Word needs to be proclaimed. The people need to be given the sense of it, and helped to understand it.

The Gospel message is the means by which Jesus calls His sheep. It is the duty of His Church to ensure that people hear the message of the Gospel. His people attend worship services and Bible gatherings, hear and are taught the Word. Then they take what they have learned and spread it abroad in their respective communities (whether at work, or at rest, or at play).

Revival only takes place when the Spirit is pleased to move in a special way in a community – like Europe during the Reformation, like America before its War of Independence and during its Civil War, like in Wales during the Welsh Revivals, like on the Isle of Lewis during its revival etc.

Revival is not about giving any given community or its members the opportunity of salvation. Rather, like ordinary faithful preaching, it is a means by which the Good Shepherd calls those who are His sheep, those who have been chosen beforehand by the Father (John 17:2, 9; Ephesians 1:4). Therefore, the Church needs to keep on getting the Gospel right. Otherwise the bugle call will be unclear and we may end up like the pre-Reformation Church (darkness!) as opposed to the Post- Reformation Church (light!) – post tenebras lux.

Revival would occur, (nay it would already be occurring because the Spirit would already be at work), if the Church was to follow that well-known “revival passage” in 2 Chronicles: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.  

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Our Resurrection (in Jesus’ Resurrection)


Have you ever wondered what is so special about the resurrection of Jesus Christ? I mean, it’s an amazing thing for someone to be raised from the dead. There’s no getting away from that. Yes, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a miracle – but Jesus is not the only human being who has ever been raised from the dead, is He? The Lord’s Prophet Elijah raised the widow’s son from the dead. And that was way back in the days of the Old Testament somewhere. And the Apostle Paul brought that fellow back to life – the one who fell asleep listening to one of his sermons. His name was Eutychus. And not only did he fall asleep, but he nodded off a third story window to his death. Paul raised him! And the Apostle Peter raised Dorcas – or Tabitha as she’s called – from the dead. And Jesus raised Lazarus from the tomb, and he had been dead four days! He also stopped a funeral procession and raised the widow from Nain’s son. Then there was the 12-year-old daughter of Jairus whom Jesus raised from the dead. I’m sure if we looked we could find others in the Bible who have been raised from the dead.

What then, makes the resurrection of Jesus Christ so special? For He’s certainly not the only person ever to have been raised from the dead! Well, that’s what we’re going to be looking at in the following. We’re given a clear statement of what makes the resurrection of Jesus Christ so special in Romans 4:25. “[Jesus] was delivered up for our offenses, and was raised for our justification.”

Of this verse Geoffrey Wilson says, “In this brief sentence of profound import and eloquent simplicity, there is distilled the very sum of saving knowledge.”

Now, above we already have had a look at the first half of this verse. Among other things we saw that our offenses, i.e., sins against God were imputed to Christ on the cross. And we saw that His righteousness is imputed or accredited to us. The cross was the place where the Great Exchange took place. That’s briefly what is meant by “[He] was delivered up for our offenses”. Let’s now focus on the second half of Romans 4:25, “[He] was raised for our justification.”

His Resurrection

Jesus was raised because of our justification. The New International Version puts it like this, “[Jesus] was raised to life for our justification.” So, there was a reason Jesus was raised from the dead. He was resurrected to justify us. That makes Christ’s resurrection unique, doesn’t it? No one else was raised to justify us, only Jesus! Therefore, not one of all those other people whom God raised from the dead, whom you read about in the Bible, was raised for our justification – only Jesus! But let’s not miss a very important point: God IS able to raise the dead, even you and me!

Now then, what else is so special about the resurrection of Jesus? Well, it’s a really remarkable thing to raise someone else from the dead, isn’t it? But how much more remarkable would it be to raise yourself from the dead? Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” John 2:19. He was of course talking about raising His own body from the dead, wasn’t He?  Although it was definitely God the Father who raised Him, He still raised Himself. As He says in John 10, “No one takes [My life] from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.”

So again we see the uniqueness of His resurrection. His was a self-raising resurrection. Think about it, we can’t even pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. But Jesus could raise Himself from the dead, remarkable! But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Jesus’ resurrection is usually ascribed to God the Father in the Scriptures. To be sure, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all three Persons involved in the resurrection of Jesus. However, in Acts 2:24 it says that God raised Him. Acts 2:32 says: “This Jesus God has raised up.” It’s the same in Acts 3:15; 3:26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30,33,34,37; 17:31. We could go on and on rattling off verse after verse where it says that God raised Him up. E.g., 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:15; 2 Cor. 4:14; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12.

Hang on to the fact that God the Father raised Him, for it is important. But the point that also needs to be made is that God the Father must have been satisfied with the work of Jesus otherwise He wouldn’t have raised Him! So we see then that Jesus’ resurrection is the proof that God the Father has accepted the perfect life and death of Jesus Christ as payment for our sins.

When I first arrived in Australia we used to hear people in shops talking about “dockets”. A “docket” as I discovered, was another word for a “bill of sale” or a “proof of purchase receipt”. Anyway, I was happy to stop talking about “receipts” and start talking about “dockets” like everyone else in Australia. But the point I make is that we believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, don’t we? That, “[Jesus] was delivered up for our offenses, and was raised for our justification.” Therefore Jesus Christ has already purchased our redemption.

Well then, our faith that God has raised Him from the dead is our “proof of purchase”. Therefore, our belief in Christ’s resurrection is our “docket”. If someone asks us how we know we have everlasting life we can say “I have a docket. Jesus Christ purchased my salvation upon Calvary’s cross. And His resurrection proves that I have been saved. And my faith, i.e., my belief that God has actually done this is my personal proof of that purchase!” So, the Christian carries this docket in his pocket with him wherever he or she goes, which is to say that the day has dawned and Christ the morning star has risen in our hearts. Therefore, make sure you have the docket in your pocket – don’t leave home without it!

How do you check to see if you really have faith? Well, as the Scripture says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” Romans 10:9. Your belief in God’s raising Jesus physically from the dead, then, is your docket. This belief, this faith that God is able to raise the dead, and has raised Jesus Christ from the dead, indicates that you are among the saved. For, as Charles Hodge positively puts it, “The resurrection of Christ … authenticates the whole Gospel. As surely as Christ has risen, so surely shall believers be saved.”

So, it goes without saying that if the resurrection of Christ is not real, then neither is your docket! If Christ was not raised, then your docket is useless. And it would mean that Christianity is a hollow religion – empty as a cheap Easter egg! If we don’t believe in a literal raising of the crucified, dead, and buried Jesus, then we have no docket! Therefore, your faith in Christ and His resurrection is your docket. It’s your proof that Jesus purchased everlasting life for you. It’s your proof that all your offenses, all your sins have been paid for. So, no docket, no refund on the Last Day! That’s God’s policy! Therefore the raising of Jesus Christ from the dead is directly related to our justification.

If Jesus is still in a tomb somewhere then we have not been justified and our faith is futile and we are to be pitied more than any! And if we have not been justified we are dead along with Jesus – if He has not been raised. But God’s Word spells out in the clearest of terms that God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. And, since Jesus has been raised, we have been justified. Therefore, His resurrection IS our justification. So let’s look at a bit more closely at our justification.

Our Justification

As we’ve seen, our faith is our proof that we have been justified. The Apostle Paul in the passage of Romans we read earlier demonstrates this. There he shows us the direct link between our faith and Christ’s death and resurrection.

As you know, faith must have an object outside of us. We don’t believe in ourselves, for that’s self-centeredness, not faith! The object of our faith,  just as it was for Abraham, is God – the God who is able to raise the dead. In Romans 4:19 the Apostle says of Abraham, “And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” Could you imagine meeting a centenarian and saying to him, “Och! You’re a dead man! You may as well count yourself dead, a hundred years old! You’re already dead!” Well, that’s what Paul under inspiration is doing here with regard to Abraham!

But how did Abraham feel about the fact that being a hundred he was as good as dead? Well, the LORD had made a promise to Abraham that he’d be the father of many nations. And, included in this promise was Christ and His work of redemption. For as Jesus Himself says in John 8:56, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So, as good as dead or no, Abraham believed in the LORD! He trusted in Him. He put His faith in Him. As Paul says in Romans 4:21&22, “And [Abraham] being fully convinced that what He had promised He was able to perform. And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness.’”

The faith Abraham had in God is even more remarkable when Sarah is taken into consideration. She’d be about ninety if Abraham was about a hundred. And just as the hundred-year-old Abraham was reckoned as dead, so was Sarah’s womb! Yet the LORD had told them that she would be the one to bear Abraham his offspring! That’s why the Apostle in Romans 4:17 speaks of God as Him “who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.”

So we see then, that Abraham believed in the promise of the LORD and it was “accounted to him for righteousness”. And then in Romans 5:23ff, we see that these words were not written for Abraham alone, but also for us, which is to say that, “Righteousness shall be imputed [or credited, accounted] to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of justification” Romans 4:24&25.

Have you got it? God had given Abraham (who was as good as dead) a docket. And on that docket was written God’s promise to him of everlasting life.

Now, you’ve all been on a train or a bus or whatever when the inspector has come along and asked to see your ticket? The inspector takes your ticket and he validates it, doesn’t he? Well, in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son to validate the faith of His people. Abraham’s docket, his faith was validated, ratified, confirmed, i.e., declared to be legally valid when God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

Jesus Christ personally signed every faith docket in His blood. That’s why Christians talk about having faith in Christ’s blood. It’s His shed blood that seals our faith and His resurrection declares it valid. So, in a word, Abraham was justified by faith. The object of His faith was the God who gives life to dead things – even the as-good-as-dead hundred year-old Abraham, including his ninety-year-old wife Sarah with her dead or barren womb!

One can only imagine how difficult, humanly speaking, it must have been for Abraham to believe. We have the easier task of looking back to something that has already happened. But Abraham had to strain to look forward to something that was only promised by God. The Apostle says in Romans 5:20 that Abraham was “strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.” Therefore, even though it all must have looked so impossible to Abraham, it was God who was working faith in Abraham.

Abraham believed that God was able to raise the dead. The Scriptures testify to this. For the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 11:17&18, “By faith Abraham ... offered up Isaac … accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” This faith then was “accounted to Abraham for righteousness” by the LORD. So this means that God accepted Abraham as righteous on account of his faith, which is not to say that that Abraham’s faith was the ground of his justification. But rather that his faith was the condition of his justification. Therefore if we would be justified we too need to exercise faith – a living faith. And our faith needs to be directed to the God who raises the dead, even Jesus Christ. God raised Jesus for our justification. Therefore we need to believe that Jesus was brought back to life by God in order for us to be justified.

All that’s left now is to have a look at the meaning of that word “justification”. And as we do so, we need to keep in mind the fact that we are the same as Abraham. Yes, Abraham was a hundred years old, “already dead” as the Apostle puts it. However, before our justification we too in a sense are “already dead!” For not to be justified by God is to be accounted dead in your sins, isn’t it?

To not have your offenses against God forgiven is to be already dead, which is to say that you are reckoned as dead by God. Therefore, Christ’s resurrection is also our resurrection. For if God never raised Jesus, we would still be dead – dead in our sins, wouldn’t we? Therefore, as Abraham was already dead, so to speak, so are we until we by God’s grace believe that God can raise the dead!

Can a man actually pull himself up by his bootstraps? Can a dead man pick up the phone and ring the doctor? Well, neither could Abraham (who was already dead) believe God could raise the dead, unless God took the initiative and did something.

Do you see what happened with Abraham? He knew he was already dead. When you get to be a hundred you know you’re on borrowed time, right? Your next breath could very well be your last. Yet God had made a promise to Abraham, and Abraham kept on believing in the LORD. Even though Abraham got to be a hundred, even though his wife was ninety and had never given birth, Abraham kept on believing in the LORD. He kept on believing that the LORD would provide him a son, a Saviour! For make no mistake, Abraham’s family line would have died unless he produced a son. For the LORD did not recognize Ishmael as Abraham’s son. So, Abraham kept on believing in the LORD that he would produce a son. And this belief, this faith that the LORD could give life to the dead was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. Therefore the righteousness Abraham had, came to him through faith. It did not come by trying to be good. So, we see then where we today fit in, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” Romans 10:9.

Do you believe that God is able to give life to the dead? And do you believe that God has given life to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified, dead, and buried? Well then, as He did for Abraham, so God credits your faith in Him for righteousness. Therefore, when we look at the words of Romans 5:25b, “[He] was raised for our justification” we know what is meant. We know that God is able to raise people from the dead. We know that God raised His Son, Jesus Christ from the dead. We know that if we truly believe this, God declares us righteous. Therefore, Christ’s resurrection is God’s proof that He has purchased life for me. And, as a docket, as proof of purchase, God has given me faith in Him.

Put another way, the question is this: How do I know I’m a Christian? Well, like Thomas, I confess that Jesus is my Lord and my God. And I believe in my heart that God has raised Him from the dead! Therefore, His resurrection is my justification.


We have seen that God has raised Jesus Christ for our justification. So let me just remind you what it means to be justified. To be justified is to be acquitted by God. It is to receive an acquittal for the guilt of your sins. God therefore pronounced the acquittal of all believers to the whole world when He raised Jesus from the dead. For the Gospel is to go out to all the ends of the earth. And as it spreads, so does the good news of your acquittal, doesn’t it? The whole world knows that Easter is the day Christ rose from the dead. Therefore, the whole world is getting to hear about your acquittal! For God raised Jesus because of OUR justification – i.e., the justification of those who, like Abraham, believe that God is able to raise the dead and actually did raise Jesus!

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus”. Our faith is valid because God raised Jesus from the dead! No resurrection, no justification, and our faith is invalid. But He is risen!

And if you meet anyone who asks you for proof of Christ’s resurrection you just show them your docket! You tell them in your own words that Jesus is your Lord and your God – confess Him. Tell them that His Father really did raise Him from the dead. Believe in His resurrection. Tell them that on account of His resurrection, the Triune God has acquitted you of all your sins. And don’t forget to tell them that they too will receive God’s acquittal if only they would confess Jesus as Lord, and keep on believing that God has raised Him from the dead.

Excerpted from my eBook Paving Paradise -

Friday, April 14, 2017


The Great Exchange in the Death of Jesus


What could be stranger than celebrating someone’s death? It might be understandable if people celebrated the death of tyrant. But Christians celebrate the death of an innocent Man! An innocent Man died at the hands of wicked men, and Christians rejoice! So what does that make us? Well, that’s what we need to look at. We need to look at what the death of Jesus Christ means for us.

Romans 4:25, “[Jesus] who was delivered because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” Commenting on this verse Charles Hodge says: “The two great truths of the Gospel are, that Christ died as a sacrifice for our sins, and that He rose again for our justification.”

In the following we’ll look at the first of these two truths. I want to talk about how the death of Jesus Christ has affected us. We can see that His death is quite different to other deaths. We mourn the passing of others. Yet we rejoice at the death of Jesus Christ. Why? First off, His death means that God no longer holds us guilty for our sins.

The Guilt Exchange

“[Jesus Christ] was delivered because of our offenses.” We need to ask the question: Delivered by whom and to whom? Well, the New International Version offers us a bit of a commentary on this verse where it states, “He was delivered over to death for our sins.”

So, we see then that Jesus was handed over to death on account of our sins. If the Grim Reaper actually were death personified, Jesus was placed into his hands. However, it was Jesus Himself who handed Himself over to death, which is to say that He did the Father’s will and sacrificed Himself. But why was it the Father’s will to offer up His Son as a sacrifice? And why did the Son offer Himself as a sacrifice to the Father? Well, we’re told that it was all because of our offenses.

God did it so that He could justly forgive us our sins, didn’t He? So there’s an exchange of sorts taking place here, isn’t there? Jesus is ransoming Himself. He’s paying the ransom God requires for our sins. What is the price of that ransom? “For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23a. So that’s what Jesus was doing. He was making an exchange.

At Calvary, He, as they say in the movies, “made the drop!” To make the drop is to make an exchange. Usually a brief case full of money is “dropped” somewhere for the release of a hostage. However, in the case we’re investigating, Jesus switched Himself for the hostages. He became the substitute for the hostages. But we need to be careful here, don’t we? We need to be careful not to make out that it was the Devil who held us hostage. I mean, there is a sense in which this is true. But Jesus never sacrificed Himself to satisfy the Devil! No, He was delivered because of our sins – but sins against whom? What is it that King David said, “Against You and You only have I sinned” Psalm 54:3. So, Jesus was delivered over to death because of our sins against God. Therefore, it is God who received the payment for our sins, not the Devil.

As you know, God is a just God, and therefore His justice needs to be satisfied. And the death of Jesus Christ is the proof that God is a just God. Jesus Christ was willing to offer up His life as a ransom for us, and God was willing to receive it. But how much was the life of Jesus Christ worth? His was a perfect life, wasn’t it? His life was worth a whole universe and more in the eyes of God.

What would you give for the life of your son or daughter? Would you give everything you have? Well, we can see that the life of Jesus Christ was sufficient to pay for the sins of the whole world if need be. His life is of infinite worth on account of who He is. God and Man in One Person, thus, He is a Divine Person. Therefore He is the perfect ransom for you and me.

So, the great exchange took place when Christ faced death, when He died. He went to the cross to make the switch – the Great Exchange. His sinless life for our sinful lives. Our guilt for His innocence. The Apostle Paul puts it like this in Romans 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Did you see the switch? Don’t miss it! God made Christ sin so that we could become right with God in Christ. So the great exchange that took place is this: God made Jesus our sin. And as He did so He made us Christ’s righteousness. As Isaiah says, “And the LORD laid on Him the iniquity of us all” Isaiah 53:6b. So, the place where the Great Exchange took place was at the cross of Calvary. It actually took place upon the cross for all to see. It was done in the open. But it wasn’t until Christ had breathed His last that His end of the bargain was sealed. For remember that the ransom price owed was His perfect life.

So, the death of Jesus shows us Jesus really did have all our sins upon Him as Scripture says. Otherwise, Jesus could not have possibly died. For, as we’ve already stated, “The wages of sin is death.” But Jesus had no sin of His own. He was perfectly innocent of all sin. Therefore God would have no business taking the life of His Son. But we read these words in Isaiah 53:5&10, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him … It pleased the LORD to bruise [or crush] Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin.”

So, we might say that it was the guilt of our sin that was laid upon Him by God. Therefore, this was a legal transaction that was taking place upon the cross. Our guiltiness was exchanged for Christ’s guiltlessness. He received our guilt and we receive His innocence – His righteousness.

Do you see what happened on the cross? Jesus became a sin-offering when God placed our guilt upon Jesus’ shoulders. Therefore we have no sin because Jesus has taken all our sins away – past, present, and future sins.  This means that God can justly declare us innocent because of what He did with Jesus. In other words, God accepted the life of Jesus as a substitute for your life and my life. Therefore, because Jesus died for our offenses against God we no longer need to die for them. We are no longer guilty sinners because God has removed our guilt in Jesus Christ. And, because we do not need to die for our own sins, the Bible says that we now have everlasting life.

We need to look at this piece of Good News a bit more closely.

The Life Exchange

To say that you will not die because of your sins is the same as saying that you have everlasting life. For death is the reward or punishment for sin – sin’s wages. Whereas, everlasting life is the reward for righteousness, which is the opposite of sin, sin is the opposite of righteousness and righteousness is the opposite of sin.

Jesus lived a perfect righteous, i.e., non-sinful guiltless life. And He lived that perfect righteous non-sinful guiltless life for you and me, for all believers. Therefore, not only is the Great Exchange a “guilt exchange,” it is also a “life exchange.” At the cross God placed our sinfulness, our guiltiness upon Jesus. And He took Jesus’ righteousness, His non-sinfulness and placed it upon us.

Now, we need to take careful note that this was all simply a legal transaction at this point. We have to be very clear here. Jesus didn’t become a sinner on the cross. He didn’t go through a change of nature and start rebelling against God, and cursing Him as He hung upon the cross. No, Jesus was perfectly obedient to God even to His very last breath. Had He failed and sinned at any point then He too, like us, would need a Saviour to save Him from His sins!

So, we need to understand that the righteous nature of Jesus did not change. He did not become a sinner. He became sin, i.e., a sin-offering. It’s as Isaiah says, God made His soul a sin-offering by laying our sin upon Him.

Now, likewise, as Jesus had no change in nature during the Great Exchange, neither did you or I at the point where we are justified or declared right with God. This is important, as Jesus hung on the cross God was dealing with our sins, because He had imputed, or accredited, or transacted, or accounted our guilt to Him. It stands to reason that if Christ is your substitute with God, then Christ’s righteousness has been gifted to you because He keeps on representing you before God. Therefore since God imputed our guilt to Jesus, He has imputed Jesus’ righteousness to us. Thus the Holy Spirit is now in a position to apply all the benefits of Christ’s cross to us. However, the great exchange is a legal exchange in that it does not affect the nature of Jesus or the nature of you and me.

At this point it only affects our standing with God. Jesus, on account of our sins, did not become a sinner, but rather became a sin-offering. The Great Exchange is that He receives our wages (which is death) so that we can receive His wages (which is life). In Christ we share the death we deserve (but He does not deserve) with Him so that He can share the life He deserves (but we don’t deserve) with us. So the cross then is the place where the Great Exchange takes place. It’s the place where our death is exchanged for His life, and His death is exchanged for our life.

God cannot look upon sin without condemning it, whereas, conversely, He cannot look upon righteousness without blessing it. That’s the nature of a Holy and Righteous God. He curses sin and blesses righteousness. The Scriptures attest to this. Therefore our sin is cursed in Jesus who, because God has imputed our sin to Him, removes that curse from us by His death. Then He is free to bless us with the everlasting life Jesus deserved on account of His perfect righteousness. Therefore, Jesus received our death and we received His life – everlasting life!

What a turnaround! What a switch! This is the Great Exchange! Instead of giving us what our sins deserve God gives us the exact opposite! And instead of giving Jesus what His righteousness deserves He gave Him the exact opposite! It’s like the Governor of Texas saying, “Un-strap that murderer from that electric chair and let him go free with a pardon – now strap me in to pay the penalty for his crime.” But, the Governor of Texas does not become a murderer, even though he is dying the death that belonged to the murderer. And neither is the murderer no longer a murderer even though he has now received the life that belonged to the governor. The murderer has simply had his guilt removed and paid for – a free pardon. He is free to live his life knowing that he will not be required to pay for his crime. Why? Because his guilt has already been paid for.

Now, if you’re thinking: “Wouldn’t it be great if that kind of thing happened in the real world?”, then think again. This is exactly the kind of thing that happened in the real world. For Jesus Christ died a real death on a real cross at the hands of a real God! He died for murderers, homosexuals, sodomites, adulterers, drunkards, you name it. He even died for the goody-two-shoes of whom butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths! How do we know this? We know because Jesus died for sinners! And Scripture makes it very clear that all of us are sinners. The well-known verse, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But let me just read a few verses from Romans chapter five, “For while we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

So Christ then died only for sinners. Tell me of any true Christian, you know, who is not a sinner! You won’t be able to point to any Christian who is not a sinner. To be sure, God no longer sees the Christian as a sinner on account of Christ’s righteousness. However, this is vastly different to saying that you are not, nor ever were, a sinner! When Adam disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit all mankind became sinners with him. Therefore, all mankind was deserving of death – the wages of sin. But God, by His grace has sent us another Adam, a second Man, the last Adam to perfectly obey Him on behalf of sinners. Therefore, those who know themselves to be condemned sinners sitting on death row also know their need for a Saviour. Christ is the only Saviour. He is the only one who died for sinners. Therefore Christ is the only one who can give us life – life everlasting.

And how is this life, this everlasting life, received? Well, it’s been received the same way ever since our forefather Adam rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden. It’s received through the Great Exchange. Scripture uses Abraham as an example. Think about it, Abraham lived at least 1800 years before Jesus. Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” This is what the Apostle Paul is writing about in Romans 4. In simple terms Paul is saying that Abraham’s faith is Abraham’s righteousness. The Great Exchange that took place was that the LORD revealed something to Abraham that was going to take place at a future point, and Abraham believed in the LORD.

It is through this “believing” in the LORD that the LORD accounts or accredits or imputes to Abraham righteousness. Do you see what’s happening? To paraphrase, the LORD is in essence saying, “Abraham, you know that I have revealed that I am sending a Saviour of sinners. Well, believe also this: He will come from your own loins.”

Paul informs us in Romans 4:20ff that Abraham did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief. He was fully convinced and therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness. So we see then, though Jesus died close to 2,000 years after Abraham, Abraham received everlasting life through faith. And so it is for us today, though we live 2,000 years after Jesus died, we too, like Abraham, receive everlasting life through faith.

Both Abraham and we look to the Great Exchange that took place on the cross. It was there that God took away our everlasting death and gave us everlasting life instead. But what good is everlasting life if you don’t know you have it? If you didn’t know you had everlasting life you’d be walking around in fear of judgment. You’d be walking around trying to avoid the whole issue of God and His judgment wouldn’t you? You’d be trying to deny the real God by perhaps inventing a replacement, i.e., a God who won’t judge sinners. Or you might be trying to convince yourself that you’re not a sinner! You might try any number of ways to escape the judgment of God. But the only escape is through faith in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross.


For us, as it is for all Christians, on account of what Christ did on the cross, we can now live life to its fullest! For Jesus says that He came to bring us life, life in abundance! Therefore we can get on with our lives knowing that all our offenses have been paid for.

So, for us, life has truly taken on a new meaning. We can see that there is a merciful and compassionate God at the helm of creation, guiding it forward. We can see that there is justice in this universe, because we can see the justice of God. He will not let sin, any sin big or small, go unpaid for.

And we see this most clearly at the cross. For there God satisfied His justice by pouring out His wrath upon His Son on account of our sin. And also there we see God expressly manifest His mercy by accounting Jesus’ righteous law-keeping to us. Therefore at the cross our death deserving guilt was removed and was exchanged for everlasting life.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”

The cross is the place of the Great Exchange. It was the place where Jesus was delivered up because of our offenses. That’s something to celebrate, isn’t it? Let’s all continue to glory in the cross of Christ and in nothing else! For we have everlasting life because of Him!

(Excerpted from my Paving Paradise eBook:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Religion in a Glasgow Pub

Religion in a Glasgow Pub

My birthday was coloured by a stranger in a Byres Road pub, where I was having a Happy Birthday To Me Pint of Guinness.

“Do you believe in black holes?” he asked.

“Why?” I asked, wondering if this was some manner of coded language.

“Do you believe in them?”

“Well, scientists tell us that stars have imploded, yet their compressed mass retains such gravitational pull that even light can’t escape, thus dark holes.”

“Aye, but do you believe in them?”

“I’ve never been in outer space,” I told him. “And, anyway, if I’d been anywhere near a dark hole, I wouldn’t be here.”

“What do you believe in?”

I told him, as I must when asked a direct question.

“Religion’s loadysh-te,” he enlightened me, “Loadysh-te.”

“Right,” I agreed, “loadysh-te.” I left my birthday pint of wallop hardly sipped.

Sorry to hear about the blight on your birthday celebrations. Bigoted strangers, such as the one you encountered, are what give good pubs a bad name! Mind you, I agree with his “religion’s loadysh-te” (read: “religion is nonsense”!) analysis – especially if, (as I did), you develop your view of it from standing on the soggy terracing (or sitting on the bum-wetting seats) of Ibrox (or Parkhead) watching the Saturday football match.

I remember as an eighteen-year-old, for once, actually paying attention to the words of some of the songs and the abuse we were hurling and hurtling (along with mutton-pies and bottles and “refilled!” Tennent’s lager cans) at the opposing green-hooped team and its supporters. Of course, their supporters were reciprocating with vitriol, with vim, vigour and vitality! Thus, the excremental effluvium flowed both ways! “Loadysh-te” right enough! It was King Billy versus the Pope of Rome! Our songs invariably ended with imprecatory curses, usually seeking the demise of the beanied-head of Roman Catholicism: FTP! Enough of this religious bigotry! this sectarianism! “Religion’s loadysh-te” I too thought.

From then on I became an (albeit adopted) “Son of the Rock” (i.e., a Dumbarton Football Club supporter). “‘M’on the Sons!” (i.e., Sons of Dumbarton Rock). True, Boghead didn’t quite have the electrical-storm-like atmosphere of a Ranger’s game at Ibrox, with its thunderous murderous roars punctuated with the flashes of fiery-darts of taunting chants! Aye, “religion’s loadysh-te” – especially if you grew up in the 70’s like I did on the West Coast of Scotland!

As already mentioned, whereas I found refuge from the Glasgow version of “religion” by changing teams and religiously supporting the, mediocre as it was, Dumbarton Football team, your Quantum Physicist pub-pundit seems to have found some solace from “religion” by retreating into a theoretical “black hole.” Each to their own, I say!

But what is religion, true religion? Is it about being devoted to one’s own belief-system and expressing your worldview in the hymns of sectarian-song-singing from the stands as you praise your idols? Is it about being so devoted to scientific theories that you feel the need to overtly defend your epistemological insecurities to pub-punters who’re enjoying a birthday beer? Or is true religion about seeking to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever? And, is it about loving God and your neighbour (including pub-patrons!) as yourself?

I’m sorry to hear that that “fly-in-the-ointment” left a bad taste in your mouth and put you off enjoying your birthday pint of wallop, your, as you called it, “Happy Birthday To Me Pint of Guinness.” But I am happy, nay, I’m more than happy, I’m very encouraged to hear that you stood up for true religion and answered the way you did when he asked you, “What do you believe in?” He did the asking! Obviously it was a loaded question. He simply wanted to ram his “religion” down your throat! Well, the positive thing is that this stranger got you to pub-lically confess and profess your trust in our Saviour!

May He be pleased to bless you for not being ashamed of Him! And may I be as prepared as indeed you were “to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have… with gentleness and respect.”

I’m so proud to have you as a big brother!