Now let me draw this to a close with a quick summary of seven statements. They go by real fast, showing you that every grace, every blessing, every good thing you ever dreamed about having now or in eternity comes to you through suffering, and only through suffering; namely, the suffering of Jesus. It wasn’t an afterthought. It was the name of the book before the foundation of the world, and it was the ground of grace before the foundation of the world. I want you to feel, I owe everything I ever dreamed of having to suffering.
1. Christ absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf and he did it by suffering.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)
Your deliverance from God’s curse came through suffering.
2. Christ bore our sins and purchased our forgiveness, and he did it by suffering.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. (1 Peter 2:24)
He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities. (Isaiah 53:5)
This is the glory of grace, and it only comes by suffering.
3. Christ provided a perfect righteousness for us and it becomes ours in him, and he did it by suffering.
[He] emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death. (Philippians 2:7–8)
“Obedient to the point of death.” If he had stopped short of the suffering and death, we would not have a righteousness.
By the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)
If this obedience had not been completed in suffering, there’d be none for us, and we would enter the judgment hall of heaven in our own obedience, and we would all perish. Suffering finished our righteousness.
4. Christ defeated death, and he did it by suffering.
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might . . . deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14)
Do you want to be free from the fear of death and know you can move right through it into paradise? Bank on suffering.
5. He disarmed Satan, and he did it by suffering.
[The record of our debt he has] set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:14–15)
When our sins were nailed to the cross, the one damning weapon that Satan had in his hand was yanked out of his hand. He was disarmed. What is that one weapon with which he could have brought us to ruin? Unforgiven sin. That’s the only one.
He has no other weapon with which to send us to hell. If God, by Christ, takes out of his hand the weapon of unforgiven sin and uses that accusation, he can beat us up, he can kill us, but he can’t damn us! And so, you’re free from Satan powerfully, because of suffering.
6. Christ purchased perfect final healing and holiness for all his people, and he did it by suffering.
Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
That’s going to happen. It happens partly now, it’s going to happen fully in the age to come.
7. Christ secured for us eternal access to fellowship with God. Eternal, sweet, enjoyable, friendly, intimate, admiring fellowship with Christ and with our Father in heaven. He secured that, and he did it by suffering.
Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)
I want to be brought there. I want to be brought there, moment by moment, and I want to be brought there at the end of my life and at the coming of Christ.
I conclude that the ultimate purpose of the universe is to display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God (see Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). The highest, clearest, surest display of that glory is in the suffering of the best person that the universe has ever known, for millions of undeserving sinners.
So, the ultimate reason that suffering exists in the universe is so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of God’s grace in his infinitely perfect self, dying for those who infinitely deserve suffering — he takes our place.
The older I get, the more desperately I need something simple, clear, decisive, ultimate, a high plateau where I can look down on all the tangled pathways of the world and hold fast, and this is it: the praise of the glory of the grace of God, planned from the foundation of the world, and reaching its climax on Good Friday for me.
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