“The Torment of a Soul Estranged from God”

27 Mar

Content to simply “be saved,” we often lose sight of the price God paid to deliver us from spiritual bondage and eternal condemnation.  We reverently sing:  “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.”  But are we that curious?

In Basic Christianity, John Stott reminds us of the great cost associated with the Son’s loving obedience to the Father.  It was a cost that extended far beyond excruciating physical pain and personal humiliation.  By more fully understanding this cost, we can more clearly appreciate its worth.  Grace is free to us . . . but our debt fell upon another.

“And then in desolate spiritual abandonment that cry was wrung from his lips, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’  It was a quotation from the first verse of Psalm 22.  No doubt he had been meditating during his agony on its description of the sufferings and glory of the Christ.  But why did he quote that verse?  Why not one of the triumphant verses at the end?  Why not, ‘You who fear the Lord, praise him!’ or ‘Dominion belongs to the Lord’?  Are we to believe that it was a cry of human weakness and despair, or that the Son of God was imagining things?

“No.  These words must be taken at their face value.  He quoted this verse of Scripture . . . because he believed he was himself fulfilling it. He was bearing our sins.  And God who is ‘of purer eyes than to behold evil’ and cannot ‘look on wrong’ turned away his face.  Our sins came between the Father and the Son.  The Lord Jesus Christ who was eternally with the Father, who enjoyed unbroken communion with him throughout his life on earth, was thus momentarily abandoned.  Our sins sent Christ to hell.  He tasted the torment of a soul estranged from God.  Bearing our sins, he died our death.  He endured instead of us the penalty of separation from God which our sins deserved.

“Then at once, emerging from that outer darkness, he cried in triumph, ‘It is finished,’ and finally, ‘Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.’  And so he died.  The work he had come to do was completed.  The salvation he had come to win was accomplished.  The sins of the world were borne.  Reconciliation to God was available to all who would trust this Savior for themselves, and receive him as their own.  Immediately, as if to demonstrate this truth publicly, the unseen hand of God tore down the curtain of the Temple, and hurled it aside.  It was needed no longer.  The way into God’s holy presence was no longer barred.  Christ had ‘opened the gate of heaven to all believers.’  And thirty-six hours later he was raised from death, to prove that he had not died in vain.” (pp. 92-93)

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”      —2 Corinthians 5:21

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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Book Comments, Cross of Christ


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