We reconvene at 7:00pm for the "First Address," which is given by Jerry Bridges.
Bridges is well-known to all Pyro readers, I'm sure. He is an Alliance Council member and a staff member of The Navigators Collegiate Ministry. In fact, Bridges has been with The Navigators since 1955. You all know his very helpful books on holiness, godliness, grace, trusting God, and other vital aspects of Christian living.
This was more of the nature of a service, with singing (A Mighty Fortress! and hymns I've never heard of!), call to worship, reading of 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 and all - and then, Jerry Bridges.
Bridges opened by saying that 2 Corinthians 5:21 is his favorite verse. It was the foundation for his message.
First: "He knew no sin." This could be said of none of us, but it can be said of Christ. He perfectly obeyed, and knew no sin in word, thought, or deed. 1 Peter 1:22 says he committed no sin, to which Paul and John agree. The greatest testimony, though, is from Jesus' lips. In John 8, Jesus confronts self-righteous Jews and tells them that they are of their father, the Devil. And in that hostile environment, He dares to ask, "Which of you convicts me of sin?" (John 8:46). None could bring a charge that would stick.
Second: "He made to be sin." This truth is under severe attack by so-called evangelicals, which boggles Bridges' mind. See Isaiah 53, another favorite passage — it is the Gospel in the OT. It clearly depicts penal substitution: Christ bore our sin in His own body. 1 Corinthians 15:1ff says Jesus' death for our sins is of the essence of the Gospel.
Why do people evade the plain sense of such passages? Because they bring their presuppositions to the Bible and make it fit, rather than humbling themselves and accepting instruction from God through His word.
In 1962 or 1963, Bridges was serving the Navigators in Holland. Bridges went through some severe personal struggles, and temptations and attacks on top of those ("How can you try to serve, when you're having these temptations?"). Isaiah 53:6 was his lifeline and hope and plea.
Jesus asked if the cup could pass from Him. What was in the cup? Such passages as Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:17, 22; and Revelation 14 indicate that it was the cup of the wrath of God. He was going to bear our sins. He'd long known it, and now it loomed. And drink it He did.
The word for that is propitiation, a beautiful and wonderful word. Every first-grader should know it, Bridges insisted. It means to appease. But Jesus did not appease God's anger, He bore it; He exhausted it. It was poured out in full strength on Him.
Third: "so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." As Jesus was not made a sinner in His character and conduct, so neither are we made righteous in character and conduct. That is not Paul's meaning. The exchange is the same. Our sin is transferred and credited to Christ, His righteousness is transferred and credited to us. That is the Great Exchange.
In 1 Peter 1:19, Christ was the lamb without blemish. This harkens back to OT sacrifices, where the lambs which foreshadowed Christ had to be without blemish. Thus He has the perfect righteousness which we need. Everywhere where we failed, Jesus obeyed.
Bridges said to picture a moral ledger sheet with every word, thought, deed and motive entered on that sheet. Most people hope the good will outweigh the bad. The problem is that all of our deeds are stained, all are unclean and impure. There is no such thing as a positive ledger sheet.
Except in the case of Christ. His ledger sheet was perfect. So our ledger sheet was charged to Christ, all our sin; and so His ledger sheet is credited to us.
"Justified" is not "Just as if I'd never sinned." That is a great truth. But the reality is better: "Just as if I'd always obeyed." God has credited the very righteousness of Jesus Christ to every believer.
"Isn't that wonderful? That's the Gospel. That's justification, dear friends."