Answer to Correspondence—If we had only the New Testament, and not the Old, to what scriptures would you go for the doctrine that the judgment our sins deserved was borne by Jesus; and, in what did that judgment consist?
The answer to the question, “Can it be proved from the New Testament alone that the Lord bore judgment directly at the hands of God for sins?” is most decidedly yes; though it would be a fatal mistake to leave out the Old Testament in the examination of the subject of the sufferings of Christ. But what do we read in the New Testament?
“It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27), and that judgment results in eternal banishment from the presence of God in everlasting fire. Then again we read, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). And again, “How shall ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Gehenna) (Matt. 23:33).
Now all this our sins deserve, and God is no respecter of persons, for His judgment is against them that commit such things (Rom. 2), and the “death,” of which such are “worthy” (Rom. 1:32), does not end with the death of the body, but goes on to eternity (chap. 2:16). Our sins involve eternal consequences.
Now the love of God has come to light in this, that He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). He “bore our sins in His own body on the tree,” suffered for them (1 Peter 4:24; 3:18), died for them (1 Cor. 15). Whatever these sins merited He endured. God was compelled to justify in the sight of the universe His gracious ways toward the sinful sons of men. The cancelling of our sins was no arbitrary act on the part of God. On the cross our Saviour made purgation for them (Heb. 1:3), gave Himself to bear the judgment due to them, glorified God in the furnace of His affliction; and when He had borne all that our sins deserved, as far as wrath and forsaking were concerned, He said, “It is finished,” and dismissed His spirit.
When the Word tells us that He died for our sins, we “must not suppose that only the act of dismissing His spirit is contemplated. There are two parts in the death of the wicked. There is the separation of body and spirit, and there is the eternal separation of man from God. This is the second death. All this, or its equivalent, was suffered by our Lord when He hung on the cross. The cup given Him of the Father took in all that sin and our sins deserved. When we are told He was made sin (2 Cor. 5:21), what is meant but that in His cross God gave expression to His holy abhorrence and righteous judgment of that hateful thing? And where we are told that He bore our sins in His own body on the tree, what else is meant than that all that our sins deserved was borne by Him? And when the Word says, “Our old man is crucified with Him” (Rom. 6:6), what do we understand by the statement other than that, not only the sins have been made an end of judicially, but that the man that committed the sins also is judicially ended?
“By His stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Is this only the giving up of His spirit? What stripes were by this inflicted? The surrender of His spirit to the Father was His own act (John 10:18). The reference is clearly to Isaiah 5:5. The sufferings on the cross are looked at as one in Scripture, and therefore we have His dying for our sins as though it were the mere act of giving up the ghost. But when taught of the Holy Spirit we see that all that caused the agony in the garden took place before this.
We are said to be washed from our sins by his blood, and the blood of Jesus Christ is said to cleanse us from all sin (Rev. 1:5; 1 John 1:7). But it was after He had died the soldier pierced His side with a spear, and which caused blood and water to flow forth. All the work wrought for us on the cross is summed up in the one statement, “He died for our sins.” But Paul says of Him, “Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” What Paul deserved from the hand of divine justice fell upon Christ. But the Spirit alone can give us understanding regarding this holy subject. I think, however, that the scriptures I have exhibited justify the statement that the suffering of Christ for our sins is clearly set forth in the New Testament. Indeed, in the act of death there was no suffering at all.